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Friday, July 25, 2008

The Last Time 80% Voted for Anything

A top 10 food blogger wrote recently how most Richmonders will vote in this never ending Presidential election, 80% for Barack. I wouldn't dispute those numbers. History, both recent and distant, demographics and intelligence are coming together for another perfect storm in Richmond. These local landslides seem to come about as often as hurricanes in Virginia and sometimes have a similar effect on the political landscape.

  • First, in 2003 we voted 80% for a new city charter, which has since been amended twice with prospects for another round next year. The victory of form over function. Richmond was already coming back strongly and a bit of optimism was creeping back into the political landscape. The Blyley/Wilder/Goldman commission came in with a plan to save us from the corruption of the past. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Cities with strong mayors have made big strides all over the country. Look at New York and Chicago. That could be us, at least on a smaller scale. Seemed like a good idea to me too, if it got us where we needed to go.
  • Second, in 2004 we voted 80% for Mayor Wilder with pretty much the same demographic mix, overwhelming support in the black community and a strong plurality of the new white middle class, a formula that works all over the country and looks again to win in November. I am in pretty much agreement with Style's take on Mayor Wilder.
    Wilder was a total and complete flameout."

So 80% doesn't always get it right. Landslides are based more on emotion than intellect. Sometimes they get it right, often they don't. When it works you get a Roosevelt and 14 years of steady leadership through some of the worst times this country has been through. When it doesn't you get a Huey Long or a Doug Wilder.

Whether Barack Obama can fulfill his Kennedyesque vision for America remains to be seen. As new and different as Kennedy seemed, he came from a long established political family and had served 10 years in congress and served in WWII and he still got a lot wrong. I can't figure out what about Obama's career in Illinois politics and 1/2 term as Senator qualifies him to be President. His main draw seems to be that he is young, bi-racial, personable, good looking and says all the right things. He never seems to miss a beat, even when he steps squarely in a pile of shit. Maybe that's exactly what we need in the next President, but when I see him touring the world making policy pronouncements based on what, "zero" years foriegn policy experience, I get worried.

80% means nothing to me except that a lot of people haven't given it much thought.

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