Monday, July 07, 2008

the political strategies

Both of our Presidential candidates have clear and obvious strategies when it comes to making themselves attractive to all Americans.

Let's start with Obama. His over-all strategy is to run with mostly politically "left" positions while seeming more "centrist." In order to do this he includes invitations in his speeches to moderates and Republicans to join his cause. Another tactic he uses to seem more "centrist" is to criticize those who come out on the "far left" on certain issues. For instance, he criticized John Murtha's position of immediate withdrawal from Iraq. Instead, he talks about a year-long redeployment and uses language like being "as careful getting out as we were careless getting in." His criticism of his "far left" colleagues tends to make him to appear more "centrist" than he really is.

Now let's turn to McCain. His over-all strategy is to run with mostly "right" positions even though for most of his voting history he has been a moderate, centrist Senator. For most conservative Republicans, McCain's voting record is too moderate or too liberal. So he has had to make a shift in many of his positions so that he appears to be more conservative than he really is. He can get the moderates with his voting record in the Senate but he struggles to get the Republican base. So he has tried to become more hardline conservative in his run for the White House. He hopes this will win over the red states that he needs in November.

What we see here from both candidates is interesting. In Obama, we have a liberal candidate trying to avoid the "liberal elitist" label by appearing moderate. In McCain, we have a moderate Republican trying to appear more conservative so that he too can avoid the dreaded "liberal" label.

What I find interesting is the common movement that both McCain and Obama are making. They both are trying to appeal to the general population. Usually this attempt at appearing "electable" means that both candidates try to move to the center. Usually the leftist slides to the right and the right-wing slides to the left. What is interesting about this election is that in order to appeal to the general population and to their own parties both candidates are trying to take a half-step to the right so that they won't appear too "liberal."

This seems to hint at the fact that Washington is more liberal over-all in both parties than the general public is. When both candidates from both parties have to slide to the right just to seem electable to the American people, it could be a sign that Washington continues to be out of sync with the general population.


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