June 16, 2006

'08 Prez Campaign

What'll be interesting to watch in the next election is which of the Forces-Which-Determine-Who-Will-Be-Elected will dominate. I think the three forces are:
1) Whiplash Syndrome
2) The Smiler Gets the Worm
3) Authenticity: If you can fake it you can make it
The Three Forces

  • Generally there is a natural tendency to vote for the person who is least like the last president. Call it a pendulum or "previous occupant fatigue" but this is how we got squeaky-clean outsider like Carter after Nixon and straight-talking Bush after smooth but forked-tongue talking Clinton. This would suggest that Hilary is in a good position because people might be ready for nuance and talking-out-of--both-sides-of-your-mouth again. (As well as someone who can pronounce "nuclear".) This force also favors Hilary in the sense that she's a woman. On the Republican side one could argue that Newt Gingrich could woo voters with his smartness and fluid command of the English language.

  • The nicest person wins. This theory is that most of the time the more genuinely likeable person wins. (Someone said that if Bill Clinton could've met every voter individually he would've won his elections unaminously.) This would seem to favor John Edwards, Mike Huckabee, John McCain. Test the candidate by forming a mental image of them bonding with Oprah. If you can't really imagine it then they don't have much of a chance of winning.

  • In post-modernity the hunger for authenticity is so great that it might trump everything else including competency or ideology. Gore in '00 was perceived as non-authentic (recall his dumping his environmental agenda, his consultations with Naomi Wolf about how to dress like an alpha male (if you have to ask...) and the "I invented the internet" attitude). Kerry in '04 was as fake as the day is long. It's difficult to see his "I voted for it before I voted against it" as anything other than subjugating the war to his political ambition. If the Democrats had nominated someone capable of authenticity we might well have had a Democratic president. For '08, John Edwards or Russ Feingold seem well-positioned here since this is Hillary's Achilles' Heel.
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