So yesterday TG and I went and had dim sum (Empress Pavilion, crowded and excellent as usual) with a colleague and his wife, and then went to a Democratic fundraiser in the afternoon.
And somehow the experience completely summarized the state of the election for me.
My colleague is a young technology worker who drives a Prius and lives in Eagle Rock (the place where the hip people priced out of Silverlake move – which was in turn the place where the hip people who were priced out of Los Feliz moved). Over the holidays, we talked politics and he was a rabid Obama supporter. Today, not so much. He’ll vote for him, but it’s very tepid support. Why? Well, three things were mentioned: 1) Obama seems to only hold positions of convenience; 2) Obama seems to be a little more full of himself than his real accomplishments warrant; and 3) my friend no longer seems to be certain of exactly who Obama is.
Would he vote for McCain? No – and partly for the same reasons I wouldn’t. We need to shake the carpet in Washington, and changing parties seems like a good way to do things. What, exactly, does McCain stand for except the war (where my friend and I disagree on our views of his stance)? Seriously – neither of us could articulate a clear vision of what McCain believes other than no taxes and fighting Islamic radicals. McCain’s energy policy is as much a muddle as Obama’s (pandering with his gas tax holiday). Will he be crushed if McCain wins? No – just as I won’t be.
Could Obama lose his vote? Possibly – possibly easier than he could lose mine. And that’s not good.
What my friend is looking for is some clear foundation under Obama’s positions, other than “elect me”. What I’m looking for is some narrative arc from the master speechmaker that will tie his dazzling constellation of positions into one coherent view of who Obama was and who he has become and why. We’d both like to see the townhall debates that Obama is blowing off happen – because we both believe enough in Obama to think that by revealing more of himself, he’ll win over doubtful voters like my friend.
So – if any Obama speechwriters happen to be reading this – your work is cut out for you.
We headed off home to change and then up to a mansion overlooking the Pacific not too far from our much more modest home. Valets took our car, we were served fresh lemonade and excellent wine on a terrace overlooking the sea, and nibbled on good cheese and fruit while we mingled with the crowd and chatted. I ran into an old dear friend from my Venice days, who I was kind of surprised to see here – she’s a conservative Republican who supports this one candidate – and we chatted and caught up. While we did two friends of hers joined our circle – a prosperously-dressed couple in their early 60’s. He apparently owns an art gallery in West LA and his wife is involved in real estate – pretty archetypical for high-end California Democrats.
We chatted a little bit about the elections, and I mentioned our breakfast that morning and expressed concern that the election was going to be damn close, and that Obama could easily lose. Gallery Guy commented that the only way Obama might lose is because of the stupidity of the typical working class voter.
Years ago, I might have laughed that off, or told a joke about Swing Vote, or ignored it.
Not so much any more. I replied that he was wrong as a matter of fact and morality, that his position was dangerous to the Democratic Party, and that it was personally offensive to hear him belittle people who couldn’t afford houses like the one we were standing in. A quick discussion ensued, and he was pretty pissed off by the end of it and stormed away – glaring at me from time to time for the balance of the event.
It’s funny how irascible pacifists seem to be, isn’t it?
I’m stocking up on popcorn. It’s going to wild for the next three months.