I have to admit, although I'm not as starry-eyed over Barack Obama as many other progressives and liberals are right now, I do think that having him as President would most likely be a huge improvement over a Clinton. And today's news that Barack took the Democratic caucuses in Iowa by storm, with another progressive, John Edwards (who probably would've gotten my vote if I was an Iowan), in second place and Hilary trailing behind in third, is great news to election-weary folks like me.
Overall, I don't put a whole lot of store into Presidential elections, although it's hard not to get so excited with so much media hype piled onto them. I think local and state elections have just as much if not more impact on people's everyday lives a the Presidential elections, and wish more people who voted in droves during the big election days would come out to the polls more regularly during more 'boring' elections. And really, that's one of the key strategies that the Right employed to builld power, and why they've been able to cement their power in so many parts of the country. They've gotten their base to vote early and often, in all kinds of elections, not just the Presidentials. But this election's a little different--there's a lot at stake, with the war in Iraq, social security on the verge of bottoming out, our country's healthcare crisis, and public education being 'left behind' thanks to Bush's awful 'reform' policies. And I do believe that under the Democratics, we progressives can get a helluva lot more done than we can under the Republicans, under whom we're usually just fighting fires and trying to keep our people from getting sucked even deeper into a hellish hole of poverty, violence and mind-numbing, pseudo-patriotic, right-wing propaganda.
So I've gone ahead and done it--I was previously registered Green Party but I've just switched over to being a registered Democrat for the first time in at least eight years, just so I could vote for Barack Obama in California's early February 5 primary. I'm not voting for him because he's Black, or because so many others think he's the Second Coming. I like John Edwards' politics better and think he has a better track record at fighting on issues I care about, like corporate accountability. But I don't think he's running a very good campaign right now while Barack's captured people's imaginations with his inspiring speeches and is therefore turning out volunteers like crazy and raising money like a frickin' tornado in a bank vault.
But I'm also voting Democratic and for Barack because he represents the drastic, bottom-up change this country needs. Obama and Edwards are representatives of what I hope is a real sea-change in national-level politics--a change that sees the Democrats finally trying to cater to their own base of young people, liberals and progressives, instead of trying to win over moderate-conservative Dems and Republicans with a watered down anti-choice, pro-corporate, pro-war agenda. Who knows if Barack will win, or even if he does win, if he'll do everything he's promised to do? History and conventional wisdom tell us that he won't--I don't know if truly honest politicians exist; it seems like an oxymoron. But if he can help galvanize the supposedly apathetic folks out there who need to be at the polls and engaged in their communities, then I'm all for him.
Go Barack! I'll be there on Feb. 5 to give you my vote.