Tomgram: Laura Flanders, Whose Political Moment Is This?

“Not long ago,” began Wednesday’s lead Los Angeles Times election piece by Doyle McManus and Peter Wallsten, “political strategists viewed Super Tuesday as a day that would likely crown the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, a 24-state extravaganza that would bring the long primary campaign to an orderly conclusion. They were wrong.” That was pretty typical of the press coverage of what ABC had labeled a “showdown coast to coast” and, while it wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t quite right either.

After all, there already was a winner from this primary season (other than Senator McCain): the media, which had mustered its all, campaigned extravagantly coast to coast, and installed “eye-popping technological wizardry” like CNN’s MagicWall, “a huge monitor upon which newsman John King could manipulate maps and images with the poke of a finger as if handling an oversized iPhone.” The good news — for cable TV in particular, which has been getting splendid enough ratings off the “historic” primary season to generate a “ratings war” — is that it is now guaranteed to go on and on. Okay, it’s not “American Idol,” but by November 4th, it is likely to be the longest running continuous “reality show” on television, which isn’t bad either. As Ch! arlie McCollum of the San Jose Mercury has written: “Television executives have reacted to these [ratings] numbers the way television executives always do when ratings spike. They have ordered more ‘episodes,’ expanding the time devoted to the campaign.” In fact, media enthusiasm for the primary season, as I wrote recently, has reached “feeding frenzy” proportions.

It seems that Democratic voters have also ordered a few more “episodes” of our electoral reality show. Host of RadioNation on Air America Radio Laura Flanders has spent her time in recent years considering quite a different kind of enthusiasm than the media one, an enthusiasm that has slowly been rising from grassroots activism in and around the Democratic Party and whose spirit she’s caught in her book (just published in paperback), Blue Grit: Making Impossible, Improbable, Inspirational Political Change in America. Now, as the media revs up for the next set of primaries leading to the two super-Conventions and a superduper presidential election for “change” (which will put neither a Superman, nor a Superwoman in the White House), she suggests we take a breath and consider where change is really coming from and whether it will ever actua! lly arrive. Tom

A New Moment?

The Grassroots and the Party, 1964 and 2008

By Laura Flanders

The swirl of the primary season is intoxicating and the media love it. If the ratings records set by the recent political debates are any indication, the ongoing primary battle may yet save cable TV. “Super Tuesday” — the night that was supposed to wrap everything up — didn’t (for either party). Clearly, this extended nomination contest is getting people excited, but will that excitement translate into substantive change — for Democrats in particular? The past offers some hard-knocks lessons worth thinking about.

Give this long primary season credit: It has, at least, turned that overused word “change” from a bumper slogan pooh-poohed by all knowledgeable pundits into a fact-based phenomenon. In the closest thing the nation has seen to a countrywide primary, first term Senator Barack Obama overcame Hillary Clinton’s double-digit leads in major states and national polls to win a majority of states on February 5th and draw into a tight battle over the delegate count. The two candidates closed out the evening with their spinmeisters already talking up Beltway Tuesday — the next catch-phrase friendly multiple-primary day — while promising more debates. Now, their operatives are off to Ohio for a March 4th primary that everyone assumes will be crucial.

The chance to be seen and heard in more than just a handful of quirky early-primary states has already made a striking difference for the Illinois Senator, who was the clear underdog when he entered the race. “What was a whisper has turned into a chorus,” Obama told his hometown crowd in Chicago on Tuesday night.

Click here to read more of this dispatch.

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3 Responses to Tomgram: Laura Flanders, Whose Political Moment Is This?

  1. […] faboo wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt“Not long ago,” began Wednesday’s lead Los Angeles Times election piece by Doyle McManus and Peter Wallsten, “political strategists viewed Super Tuesday as a day that would likely crown the Republican and Democratic presidential nominees, a 24-state extravaganza that would bring the long primary campaign to an orderly conclusion. They were wrong.” That was pretty typical of the press coverage of what ABC had labeled a “showdown coast to coast” and, while it wasn’t wrong, it wasn’t quite right either. After all, there already was a winner from this primary season (other than Senator McCain): the media, which had mustered its all, campaigned extravagantly coast to coast, and installed “eye-popping technological wizardry” like CNN’s MagicWall, “a huge monitor upon which newsman John King could manipulate maps and images with the poke of a finger as if handling an oversized […] […]

  2. whydidyoudoit says:

    According to the demographics, I should be voting for Hillary Clinton: I’m a white, 60-year-old, highly educated woman from the Northeast. But I’m voting for Obama. I’ve waited all my life for a viable woman candidate for the presidency, but this is not the right woman. I want a woman of the highest ability and virtue, who would serve as a glorious role model to all young women. Hillary Clinton is not that woman.
    She rode into power with her husband, and together they’ve acquired a long and seriously flawed history of self-serving and secretive financial and political dealings. The most cursory research will prove that true. She started out her political life supporting the racist Barry Goldwater. She is as comfortable with deception and trickery as George Bush. When I hear woman saying, “Oh, but that’s how you get things done in Washington,” I literally cringe.
    I am passionately supporting Barack Obama. He can beat the Republicans; she cannot. Obama has attracted Independents and even Republicans to his camp, and in a general election they would vote for him, but not for Clinton. Clinton voted for the war, and has never apologized for it. Obama has spoken out against it from the beginning. Obama brings us hope–and not just that. Take a serious look at his ideas and experience.
    Please, I beg of you, Sisters young and old: wait for the right woman. Then we can be proud.

    Diane Wald

  3. verbena19 says:

    Diane,

    Thank you so much for your astute comment. I fully agree with you as do many of my colleagues. Indeed, Hillary Clinton is not the right woman. She is a Republican in Democrat’s clothing. As you correctly stated, she started out as a member of the Young Republicans. She is a member of the Clinton Dynasty, as Bush is a member of the Bush Dynasty. Isn’t it time Americans broke this hold on government by powerful dynasties? Isn’t it time to clean up the highest office in the land from the rampant corruption, greed, and lust for imperial power of the ‘old guard’?

    Obama is a much better choice. Please keep supporting him and let others know. Get them on board. Do your utmost to work toward this.

    Although I am a Canadian, living in Canada, I had lived and travelled throughout the US extensively in the past. The politics of your country are of great interest to us, your northern neighbours. Our economies are extremely intervowen. Whatever happens in the US affects us — and indeed the rest of the world. That is why we are particularly interested in this race for the presidency. After so many terrible years under the Bush regime, all of us are hoping for a renewal, for a REAL CHANGE.

    I wish you the best.

    ~Annamarie

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