Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Senator Barack Obama Speaks in South Bend Tonight

South Bend, Indiana--In the 1920s, Notre Dame University students routed the Ku Klux Klan when they marched through downtown South Bend. This part of Northern Indiana is atypical of much of the rest of the state, and it's heavily-populated by orthodox Catholics. We're a kind of a citadel of Democratic voting, but even the rest of the 2nd District of Indiana has voted primarily Republican for the last 40 years, when they became the predominant party of racism and general division.

That trend was virtually reversed in the now-historic midterms of 2006 when the GOP was routed from many of their "easy-win" enclaves. Those wins not only aren't easy anymore, they're becoming impossible in a state that has previously been determined to vote against their own interests, beginning in 1968.

But in 2006, Michiana was part of a larger trend in overall Hoosier voting behavior: things have changed radically in the voting-patterns in a way that goes beyond generational or demographic lines. As in many other states, people are simply tired of the Republican Party and their obviously corrupt nature and policies. With scandal-after-scandal, it's not hard to understand the outrage, and the declining economy is only going aid in spreading the love back to the GOP and her allies in the business and financial-sectors.

I'm not going to support Barack Obama whole-hog, but he's the best bet that Americans who want reasonable have. He at least has my vote already. We don't want social chaos, we want fair-play for the average American (as well as immigrants, legal and illegal), and we want a return to progressive taxation. We don't want a police state, something both parties appear intent on. It's time for the wealthy to pay their shares, and the excuses have lost their steam (Libertarians-be-damned).

How you phrase the questions to Americans--we don't mind paying our taxes if we get what we pay for--is key to understanding the polls. The majority of us feel that government can be made to deliver. It's why we pay taxes at all. That the bridge that unites us all. We all want social services whether we're going to admit it or not. Runaway military-spending prevents this being expedited properly, as the Johnson administration learned during the Vietnam War. But then, there are the nuts out there with their science-fiction answers to everything. But enough about 9/11 truth zealots, harping on phantasms when there's plenty of evidence on other issues towards impeachment of the Bush administration. Then, there are the real kooks...

Ron Paul was never the answer to anything, contrary to the pipe-dreams of closet racists, terminal reactionaries, and rednecks-in-general. There are plenty of these mooks right here in Michiana, and being tolerant, I even know a few of them...but, some of them are finally changing and seeing the light that racism is a traditional divider in American politics and its relation to commerce (the two being inextricably-linked).

"Revolution" is merely the turning of the wheel when an established power crumbles and a new order arises. The interim is key, and ordinary people have to seize-the-day when the opportunities for greater liberty--or the reinstatement of old ones--arises. That time is now. I'm still waiting for habeas corpus to be restored, but I'd trust Obama on that one before I would Clinton. Where my trust is flagging surrounds charging the key-members of the Bush administration with war crimes, and rolling-back every piece of legislation (including executive orders) that they either backed or pushed.

My own brother was one of a few thousand who signed Senator Barack Obama onto the ballot here in Indiana. He's going to see the candidate speak at Washington High School tonight, at 10:00 PM, and he's very excited about what hasn't happened here since 1968 when Bobby Kennedy came here to speak. Say what you want about RFK, but he inspired genuine hope in people. Obama has the same effect.

Just last-week, Bobby's widow Ethel and his son Max came here voicing the same excitement over Senator Obama. I echo their hopes, but we need to temper this all with a bold-pragmatism: a president Obama will have a lot of roadblocks, many of the coming from the GOP, but also from within his own fractured party.
But School Board President Sheila Bergeron says the superintendent had good reason to veto a visit by Clinton and sign off on a stop by Obama. "We've never held political things during school hours in the school building,” she explained. The Clinton campaign wanted its rally at the school mid-morning on a school day. That, Bergeron says, would've violated the district's long-standing policy against campaigning of any kind during the school day. But because the Obama camp wants an evening visit and while students are away on spring break, Bergeron says “the situation is different.” ("School Board Members Defend Decision to Deny Clinton, Allow Obama," WSBT News-22, 04.08.2008)

As a sign of that fracture, many local Democrats are making very vocal protests over the fact that Senator Clinton was unable to speak at the predominantly-Black Washington High. This was brought about by the South Bend School Superintendent, Robert Zimmerman. Zimmerman isn't responding to requests for an interview on the subject, but the outrage on-the-part of Clinton supporters here is palpable.

Local television news station WSBT went so far as to run a telephone poll asking, "Does Barack Obama have a right to speak in South Bend?" From that, you can safely presume who they support. WSBT is owned by a local corporation, old money. They exactly aren't known for their "progressive" tendencies, but there it is.

Never mind all of that: the main concern is exactly how much willpower Senator Obama can muster to bring about truly fundamental change in America. This is where my concern is greatest; but as he's the best candidate we have for this, we're going to have to at least give him the ability to choose which road he wants to go down. Will it be one of radical reforms that help average Americans, something in-the-middle, or more of the same, leading to social chaos and repression.

The stakes have never been higher, and there is concern that the normal historical cycle in our politics of excess, then reform, have been broken. The GOP and their backers are hoping for the latter to preserve their power. They don't care what the cost is to the public, and never have (and likely never will). Nonetheless, "Obama girl" is incredibly annoying.


"School Board Members Defend Decision to Deny Clinton, Allow Obama," WSBT News-22, 04.08.2008: http://www.wsbt.com/news/election/2008/17396079.html

Schurz Communications, the owners of WSBT and the South bend Tribune: http://www.schurz.com/sci_pages/about_us/