Kinda Not There Yet

Don’t get me wrong: I’m happy that Senator Obama will be the Democratic nominee. It says a hell of a lot about how far the country has come. And I was starting to realize just how much of a typical politician Senator Clinton is. If someone had told me a year ago that this would be the outcome, I would have been thrilled.

But I’m not as excited as I thought I would be back in, say, January. And the reason, I’m sad to say, is that the more I see of Obama, the more I’m concerned that there’s no there there. Intellectually, I know there is. I know that he’s on the right side of all the issues we care about, I know that he’s very intelligent, I know that he knows about organization and whatever else it takes to win an election. But somehow, watching him on TV, I get the feeling that he’s this kind of mystical figure who has everyone convinced he’ll lead us out of the desert.

Which is fine … the country needs a leader now, and if his greatest ability is to inspire people, so be it. Because I have a feeling he’s going to surround himself with a lot of really good people, and they’ll figure out how to get us out of this mess.

I just wish I knew better what he really intended to do.

And I know a lot of people who feel that way.

Part of this is sour grapes, I suspect. Before the first votes were cast, I decided John Edwards was my candidate. Once I got past the hair and the good-old-boyness, I realized that his concerns for poor and middle-class people seemed terribly real to me, and that he seemed more qualified than Obama to actually do something about it. I felt misgivings about choosing him over the first serious woman candidate and the first serious black candidate, but that’s how the dice fell. And I am convinced that if Senator Obama hadn’t run, John Edwards would be the Democratic nominee.

What surprised me is that just about every socially conscious person I know here in L.A. agreed with me. Once we became convinced Al Gore wasn’t running, we all came to the Edwards conclusion. It surprised the hell out of me.

But all that’s in the past. Barack Obama will be the nominee, and I’ll have to be satisfied with John Edwards in the Cabinet or some other position where he can do some good. Democracy has spoken.

I’m sure, in time, I’ll get fully behind the nominee. I’m sure, as November approaches, and the choice is between a progressive, energetic candidate who will begin to lead the country out of the terrible mess it’s in, and, well, John McCain, I’ll get excited about the prospects for our side winning. I’m sure I’ll get to know Barack Obama better and work for him and be thrilled to death when he wins.

I’m just not there yet.

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Nathan Walpow is the editor of FourStory.org, an affordable housing advocacy site concentrating on Southern California housing, transportation, and sustainability. He’s also the author of four Joe Portugal mystery novels, with the fifth, Bad Developments, currently appearing on FourStory as a weekly serial.

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