Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Voices on the election

The New York Review of Books asked some of their contributors for their views on the upcoming Presidential election. Bit of a long read, but very important. Some excerpts below...

Mark Danner
It is no accident that the largest single polling disparity between McCain and Obama voters, apart from race itself, is age. Obama's candidacy is in large part a rebellion of the young, for whom race has much less saliency, and one of the great indeterminacies of the election is how many young people will turn out to vote. Another is whether the increase in those who will vote for Obama in part because of his race—most notably, African-Americans, who are registering in large numbers—will offset or exceed those who will vote against him in part for the same reason. This immensely complex question, which goes far beyond the debate over the so-called "Bradley Effect"
Andrew Delbanco
My daughter, who teaches in a charter school in Harlem, had a similar but more significant experience. Last spring, she felt a surge of excitement among her mostly African-American first-graders, whose young lives are terribly short on hope and shadowed by fear. Suddenly, their sense of the future was enlarged by an eloquent black man whom they saw on TV and whom they heard adults talking about all the time. The grandmother of one six-year-old said to her grandchild, "this time the White House will be the Black House." She didn't mean it as a threat of usurpation. She meant that now the American promise might be extended through a black president to black children who could look up to him with pride and a new sense of possibility.

Timothy Garton Ash
That someone from Obama's modest migrant background can make it this far also revives a potent, positive image of the United States as a land of opportunity—an American self-image which much of the world has internalized, however little it corresponds with the statistically recorded facts of limited social mobility.
Joseph Lelyveld
He was patronized as inexperienced and naive when more than a year ago he started calling for cross-border raids into Pakistan on al-Qaeda targets if there was "actionable intelligence" and our supposed ally declined to act. The idea may yet backfire but it recently became Bush administration policy. Ditto for his calls for a shift of forces from Iraq to Afghanistan. John McCain pays him the highest compliment by stealing his campaign themes. McCain is now the candidate of "change" who wants to reform the financial system and its legions of K Street lobbyists, which is where the supposedly inexperienced Obama began. I'm not contending that Obama is a seer, only that he seems to have read our time and the country's mood more intelligently than any of his rivals. We'll now see how well the country has read him.

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