Obama, the Democrats, and the psychology of decision making

Andrew Sullivan posted an email from me yesterday. (Without attribution, which is how Sullivan always publishes correspondence from his readers.)

The email brings two things together:  the Democratic primary process and the psychology of decision making. I’ll explain here what I didn’t explain there.

The Clinton candidacy
Hillary Clinton represents all that is familiar to Democrats. Not just name recognition and nostalgia (“Weren’t the 90s great, when Clinton was President?”), but also her brass-knuckle, partisan approach to politics.

If you have to make race an issue to beat your opponent, then do it. If you have to misrepresent your opponent’s record on a key issue, then do it.

That’s politics:  as in baseball, nice guys finish last; no one remembers who came in second (hence the win-at-all-costs mentality). “Politics ain’t [a game of] beanbag.”

That may be an ugly approach to getting elected, but it’s also a familiar one. That’s how the Republicans play the game. A lot of Democrats think that, to win, they must play the game the way Karl Rove did.

The Obama candidacy
Barack Obama represents authentic change. A black candidate? A consensus-builder who is appealing to blacks and whites, Independents and even many Republicans? Is it possible to win at the game of politics with a candidate like that?

That’s where the psychology of decision making becomes a factor. On the face of it, to nominate Obama looks risky:  which leads to the “high diving board” analogy in my email to Andrew Sullivan.

Surely saner heads will prevail when the Democrats think things through!



3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Roger Veritas
    Aug 18, 2008 @ 20:45:21

    When you actually look at Barack Obama changing politics you will have to disregard his actual history of hammering his opponents out of the race a la Alice Palmer. You also have to look at how he triumphed over his opponent in the race for senate. In his current race his operatives in South Carolina did a nice job of turning Bill Clinton’s statements into racial statements. He also did a good job of agonizing the caucus states. Caucuses are not secret ballot democratic processes. He and his operatives did a good job of strong arming the super delegates. His netroots were effectively astroturfing.

    Having called a spade a political spade I will relent if he wins and can actually deliver an actual change in the political culture our founding fathers bequeathed to us. If I recall W was the “1” for the Neocons and all we got was some serious issues(debt&war) and some great bumper stickers.

    Read all about Obama’s message in Thom Hartmans “Cracking the Code”.


  2. Anthony Kariuki
    Nov 13, 2008 @ 07:45:34

    Ha,ha,ha,ha! Dude what are you saying?! Ha,ha, ha! If this is good at trauncing his opponents give the man credit where credit is due! Look, all of us want to traunce our opponents and eclpise them the very chance we get because, any on eof us would feel good if we had the ability to do it. I mean, that just shows what a grat politiician Barak Obama is an frankly, right now the U.S could seriously use some good politics. You certainly need change!


  3. Mustapha muhydeen adekola
    Jan 04, 2009 @ 04:36:04

    What can u say? about conchrepublic in kaywest florida.people say is a state in America and order say is a country seceed from america.


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