Monday, February 11, 2008

Why and How RVA MUST VOTE in the Primary

Where to vote and why I'm voting. First, here's the how to: a link to your poling place where you go to vote. Do it early and prepare some zingers for the exit polling people. Tell them that you are most motived by both the war AND the economy, because they're the same issue. See if that tiny bit of complex thought registers in the media.

Here's a primer on Virginia's primary from the Daily Press.

Below, you'll find my thinking about the two races (with a surprise ending, stay tuned).


Although I am diametrically opposed to the Republican platform, I've tried my best to pay attention to their machinations. McCain has it locked up, they say. Personally, I'm having trouble seeing how that happened. At age 72, he's really not very inspiring anymore - barely able to belt out a slogan, much less a stump speech. His days of pushing a reform agenda to the forefront of the Republican party, really seem behind him. I mean, considering all of the backsliding he has done under Bush, who is John McCain anymore? Under his presidency, I think we'd see many of the same faces in his cabinet as we have currently (Iran-Contra insiders and their ilk). McCain no longer projects a strong vision, following his misdirected party, rather than fighting for his principles from within. So, a vote for McCain, is a vote for more of the same, in my opinion.

Now, I understand if people have been voting for McCain this time around because it's finally his turn and maybe the right wing feels guilty for not having given him a chance while he was young enough to survive a term as president. It's sort of a tribute send-off in a general election that Republicans know they deserve to lose. So, letting McCain take the hit makes sense, because he's the ghost of Republican past; what could have been. Why waste Romney on a losing election when his perfect tan still has as decent shelf life? Now, I don't know how all of them got the memo on this strategy, but it seems like they've made the best play, while using this primary season to rearrange the identity of their party. I'm afraid, that McCain's landslide represents the perspective that everything is going hunky-dory and so, why not vote for the most familiar guy who's proven he can carry water for party ideologues.


Back in 1992, I worked on the Clinton campaign in Fairfax County and wore a campaign shirt that said, "Clinton: The Cure for the Blues." Ever since then, I've been slowly backing away from Bill, feeling sorry for Hillary, and wondering if the Democratic party would ever find its spine. Now, I'm glad that Hillary Clinton has transcended the debacle of her public domestic snafu, and took her place in the political history of the US as a leader, independent of her two term president husband. And I'm not one who would begrudge her the presidency because of her relationship to Bill. Nonetheless, Hillary is not the future of the Democratic party. She is too far removed from her own ideals (in bed with big pharma and insurance companies, etc), and her public beatings at the hands of the right wing mark a low point in American politics. Let's not go there again (as we most certainly would see if she headed up the Dem's ticket).

When Obama/Clinton showed up in Richmond this weekend, Barack had taken the momentum from Hillary with three Saturday primaries and I found myself ready to post an Obama yard sign out front. I didn't attend the event. Obama-mania has been a feeling that I've felt coming on since Edwards' campaign failed to get off the ground. I dunno how to put my finger on it, but Obama seems to have a big picture about politics that I don't think you'll find in the other candidates. He can and does see disputes from both sides, uses his arguments to straddle the "two Americas" that Edwards talks about, and seems most equipped to repair the damage done by the two Bush terms (and maybe Bill's mistakes with wellfare reform, etc). Hillary Clinton was too much a part of too many past messes for me to feel excited about her.

The media likes to say that Clinton is "polarizing", but if that's true, then Obama is too. Obama/Clinton's positions on most issues are about the same. So, what's the difference? It's almost as if the media just learned this word. Clinton isn't polarizing. She just inspires negativity (although, I don't share the common knee jerk reaction about her). Obama is more of a diffuser and a motivator. Not only are these better leadership qualities, they will deliver a bigger margin of victory in the general election. And isn't that what this whole primary business is about? Putting together a winning ticket?

No. It's about ideas. Vote your hopes, not your fears, right? That's what the Nader campaigns of the past always said. The 1000 plus people who attended the Nader speaking event at the Byrd on Sunday would probably attest that he's got more ideas for changing America for the better than both Democratic candidates put together. But, who's gonna work with him at this point? As much as I like the guy, I'd rather him focus on informing the grassroots where people can trickle-up their awareness to BOTH parties. In other words, "Ralph, please try a new strategy for the 2008 election."

Speaking of ideas, here's one that may be a little half-baked and over-simplified, but I believe it all the same:


Why? The City of Richmond, a Democratic party stronghold, is divided on racial lines, lives in two (if not more) separate universes, and we desperately need to pull together and find common cause. A black democrat for president can be a catalyst for collaboration - not a panacea - but I believe Barack Obama's campaign for president can make a difference in the racial dynamic of Richmond. Imagine if Richmonders were all saying "Yes, we can" instead of looking sideways at each other.

Call me a dreamer, but I'm not the only one.


Now that the results are in and Obama has won Virginia with 65% of the votes (more than Clinton, McCain, and Huckabee combined!): I am going to compile some of my favorite local analysis right here:


  1. Jason - While I disagree with your take on McCain, but I think you've hit it with your Dems take.

    Obama has the chance of pulling the Dems together in a way that's been lacking for a while now, which makes him a dangerous candidate to face come November. While Dems have been gaining ground nationwide for years, there hasn't been an individual to pull it all together. Obama may be that guy.

    Hillary is "polarizing" in that her negatives are through the roof and most people have already decided whether or not they like her. She's not going to bring in any new votes or blood and could very well turn off many of Obama's current supporters, especially if the fight gets nasty or Hillary's nomination is viewed as a steal because of super delegates or a push to reinstate Florida's delegates.

    McCain doesn't exactly represent the Republican "establishment" in Washington. While he's more conservative than some (even those within the party) might think, he's shown through his years of service that he has a mind of his own and can go beyond ideology and lock-step following to get things done.

    McCain's nomination is less a send off and more of an assertion that he is the right man for the job. Of all candidates in the field, on both sides, he comes in with more experience and knowledge on issues that matter most. Where Obama and Clinton call for change, the question comes as to whether or not either of them have enough experience to know what exactly to change or to have the will to make that change happen. He has run a campaign based more on issues and less on persona, avoiding the "rockstar" status of Obama or the "heir apparent" status of Clinton. That he has been able to do this despite a seeming collapse last summer shows the strength of his message and his candidacy.

    But that's also depending on which side of the spectrum you fall on.

    As a Republican I want to see Clinton win. She's damaged goods, has negatives starting in the low 50s, and is someone McCain can destroy among independents while the base is inspired to turn out just to beat a Clinton.

    As an outside observer and fan of politics, Obama would be the Dem's best bet. His brand of populism and ability to inspire young voters and people across the spectrum is almost frightening. I think Clinton supporters will have an easier time going to Obama than Obama's supporters would going to Clinton, especially since so much of his momentum is merely based on his persona. If he can milk that excitement and turn it into actual votes, he'd be the guy to beat come November.

  2. scott2:46 PM

    With everything going on in the world today and around this country, I'm not sure solving the racial divide in the City of Richmond is high on my list of presidential requirements.

    But excellent post nonetheless. Richmonders need to get out to vote. I personally will be voting for Ron Paul and encourage everyone to take a closer look at his platform. While mocked or ignored by the media, Ron Paul has built quite a following and is truly committed to getting us out of Iraq and back to getting government out of our daily lives.

  3. Obama's appeal is so much larger than the Democrats. He's more than the Dems best bet, he's *America's* best bet. He is a voice to Americans who are done with the 'Nixon vs. Hippies' political tone.

  4. J.Kenny, you have made my "get out the vote, Richmond" point better than I ever could have. You're like a local version of David Brooks. Thanks for putting your time into this comment section.

    Scott, I would love to support a referendum on Iraq type candidate, but from here to November, I'm resolved to pressure the two tickets to bring the troops home and institute a health care system that works for everyone. But who doesn't have their combination of issues and tactics? Anyone else want to chime in?

  5. scott9:37 AM

    I feel your pain Jason, I know health-care is an important issue for so many people and myself included. I think we have to keep government out of health-care for so many reasons, but primarily as an effort to hold onto our last bit of liberty. Once we give control of the health of our bodies to the government, than they have complete control over our lifestyles. Further, they'll have access to our private health records.

    Finally, in many countries the cost of the government run health systems have led to cuts in basic services.

    For example a panel of doctors in the UK is urging that the UK health system begin to stop treatments for elderly patients. (
    They already neglect the elderly there and I'm afraid of where it leads (

    Canada is struggling with the same exact issues: - major services denied to the elderly

    Tough challenges ahead. I hope our desire for free health care doesn't lead us to toss our freedoms away. But excellent dialog. Keep up the good work Jason.

  6. Not quite sure where Scott is going with universal health care through the government equating to them controlling our lifestyle. The right (more specifically the Christian right) seems to want to mandate a specific lifestyle on everyone and that worries me much more.

    Pointing out a few shortcomings of other government run systems should not deter us from doing the right thing and ensuring that every American is guaranteed access to health care and removing the fear of bankruptcy if we do become ill.

    Placing our health care in the hands of corporations, whose main goal is profit not health, has been a disaster. Access to specialists, if your PPO or HMO begrudgingly agrees, can take months. Sick patients are routinely dropped from coverage to increase 'profitability'. Denial of coverage has caused the deaths of many (why pay when you can delay...).

    Government health care won't be perfect. But I would rather have that then have the next Enron creating a medical house of cards and endangering me and my family.

    As far as the government having access to your health records... The NSA already listens to all our phones calls and who know how much of the internet traffic. If they don't already have access to your medical records exactly what could they learn from that? Not a whole lot more.

  7. Government health care will not only fail to provide equitable coverage to those that need it but it will bankrupt our government after it derails our economy and sucks individual incomes dry. The cost of a system will be detrimental to individuals, alter their spending habits, turn the income of a large sector of our economy either to negligible or to abusive of the government system, and still fail to achieve what it needs to because of bureaucracy and the inability of the government to adequately operate any welfare system effectively.

    A more appropriate solution would be a private arbitration system that would allow citizens the bargaining power that insurance companies have to argue down $20 asprin and other huge costs. Coupled with interest bearing medical savings accounts that allow people to prepare themselves, you'd allow for individual choice in coverage while providing protection from price gouging.

    Really, though, neither Clinton or Obama's plans will cover everyone effectively. Neither has said how they intend for their program to be paid for. Neither has said how intrusive a system would end up being in ones life (if the government provides your health care, they then will have a vested interest in limiting what risks you take: ie - no skydiving or eating sammiches).

  8. Jason - Perhaps you can better explain your first paragraph. It all sounds very scary but it hasn't happened that way in other countries so why the doom and gloom? I speak frequently with my relatives in Denmark and, while they have some complaints about their system, they are horrified when I explain the way ours works.

    As far as restrictions on sammiches (I would be horrified by that...)... Once again, hasn't happened elsewhere so why would it happen here?

  9. Hey Everyone,
    What about getting the U.S. out of Afghanistan and Iraq? Obama said ahwile back he would go into Pakistan if necessary. Well, spilling over into Cambodia and Laos in the early 1970's in 'hot pursuit' did not work out that well. Foreign policy as well as health care must stay at forefront of the discourse.

  10. Total national spending on health care in America broke $1.7 trillion in 2003. To completely remove $1.7 trillion out of the free market system and put it on the shoulders of the government would have devastating effects across the board. No other country has implemented it on this level, either having entered at a lower rate or denying services to avoid such costs.

    Would universal health care take into account medical malpractice suits which increase insurance for doctors and overall cost of care? A government then having to foot that bill may suddenly find itself in favor of putting caps on your ability to sue the government to recoup any losses you may incur.

    If the government is footing this bill and finds smokers cost too much, you're inviting a ban on smoking. If they find that eating a certain food creates a health issue they then have to care for, you're inviting a restriction there.

    I'm not saying the current system is perfect, far from it, but a universal health care system is an unnecessary expansion and provides a dangerous and scary foundation of a nanny state that no one will fully understand the risks of until it is too late. There are other alternatives to universal health care that require individuals to think about their own health and futures and even a bit of individual responsibility as opposed to the easy fix of looking to mama government to take care of it. Until we explore these other options, we are inviting the government to become an HMO of a bad system.

  11. Stakolee - Iraq and Afghanistan are situations we will not leave for a very long time now. That's not saying there will be perpetual war. It's not like we're still fighting in Germany or Italy, but we still have troops there.

  12. I'm no expert, but this is my blog, and I say go watch "Sicko." If you've seen it, watch it again. After watching it this weekend, my wife wants to relocate in pursuit of better health care and we're both covered through our work (but really dislike the heartless insurance companies). I don't want to move. I want America to get with the program and take care of its people (all of them) and bring the troops home.

  13. It sounds a bit like your saying that your willing to sacrifice peoples health for the sake of profitability (the $1.7 trillion). Neither of us will probably be able to change the others mind on this.

    I keep going back to your fear of government intrusion. It's happening piecemeal on the corporate/local level already. My brother-in-law, a police officer, cannot smoke. The reason, Roanoke has entered into an agreement with their health insurer for lower rates by firing any smokers. Arrangements like this are becoming more commonplace. On a personal level I don't believe the government would engage in such restrictions while a corporation, with an eye on the bottom line, would restrict its employee behaviors to save a buck. Once again, doubt we will change each others mind.

    I think we have tested this blog hosts theory on 'infinite column inches' on the web and probably his patience as well. I will refrain from further comment here on this subject. :)

  14. Ah, I'm sure we could milk a couple more inches out of this, but I'm not sure Jason wants me to keep yelling from his soapbox, so I'll pull back as well. It was good to have a bit of a policy discussion, though. Too often things turn to "well, you're wrong and a doodie head!" and, well, while I can't entirely refute the second part, it does still wound the soul just a little.

  15. I was actually hoping Stakolee would fire off some health care thoughts. For me, it's an honor to host political debate (especially when it doesn't get ugly). Of course, I'm one to talk cuz I'm usually the one to get p.o'd when I hear anti-immigrant, homophobic, anti-choice, type of agendas promoted on Richmond blogs. It's tempting to write others off as "political enemies", but it's a small town and you never know when a personal connection will present some value.

    So, with that in mind, preach on! And can someone get on here and promote Hillary? I didn't vote for her and I hope she loses, but she deserves some fans along with second place.

  16. I'll root for Hillary. C'mon easy pickins!

  17. Here's a sideways support of Hilary. Hope she looses. Why? Let me explain.

    For years Ted Kennedy has been the demon bugaboo of the right. the reality, according to his fellow senators, is that he is the one to work with. Sure, you'll have to pay a price, but he works both sides so everybody gets a little of what they want. Early reports are Hillary is the same way. Working for consensus.

    Hillary in the Senate, for term after term, may be better for all of us than 4 or 8 years of her in the White House.

  18. JK and BP, pithy political strategies. Just what people need to make up their minds about how to vote. Well, unless loads of Republicans are crossing over to vote for Hillary because they're anxious to drag her (our political process) through the mud even further with their mysogyny. Crossing my fingers that we don't have to endure that again.

  19. Things that make you go "Hmmmm..."

    This morning, I stood in line with 15 others. The poll worker pointed to a spot on the floor and said,
    "I need all republicans to form a line right here." No one moved. We all looked at each other and some of us grinned. Richmond may be a democratic stronghold, but there may have been a couple moles. The elderly black pollworker with the clipboard walked up to a middle aged white woman in a pantsuit, pumps and platinum died hair. "Excuse me. Republicans need to use that machine over there." She pointed to a lonely voting machine in the corner away from the three democrat machines. "Um, I'm a democrat and I'm voting for Obama" responded the blond, looking a little embarrassed. Innocent mistake - was my initial thought. But maybe that poll worker knew how to sniff out an imposter. Hmmmmm...

  20. I was steered towards the Republican line this morning. I glanced at her sheet and noted only two other 'red' voters for the day. Can't really blame her. I've crossed the line on more than a few primaries just to gum things up for the loyal opposition.

    The 'blue' sheet, where I was tallied, showed me to be 129 at 9 this morning. Pretty good turnout for my precinct. We're so gerrymandered it isn't funny. The two polling places within 5 blocks of my house aren't good enough. I have to drive nearly 10 minutes from Battery Park to Highland Park to vote.

  21. Ambivalent Richmonder4:35 PM

    OK, I'm a latecomer to this discussion. When I read "Why and How..." there were no comments yet.

    I've lived with a single-payer system, experienced health problems, and have to say that my care in Canada was far preferable to what I've received for the same condition in the US. A few points:

    1. rationed care. Scott(and countless others) try to scare people with "health care denied" stories from other countries. The funny thing is, Canadian politicians used the same tactic of picking horror stories from the US to defend their current system. But if you look at overall health stats (life expectancy, infant mortality, etc.) countries with single payer universal care almost without exception perform better than we do. So for all the horror stories you hear, know that people elsewhere are healthier and live longer than we do.
    Furthermore, health care is rationed here- it's just done based on wealth, employment, and the whims of corporate bureaucrats empowered to deny benefits instead of other factors. Don't kid yourself.

    2. Jason presents an economic fallacy: "Total national spending on health care in America broke $1.7 trillion in 2003. To completely remove $1.7 trillion out of the free market system and put it on the shoulders of the government would have devastating effects across the board."
    Single payer health care has lower costs associated with administration. I filled out paperwork exactly ONCE while in Canada- on my initial application. Never again. Here in the US I fill out medical histories YEARLY for every doctor I see. I've filled out so many copied of the same damn form I could reproduce it in my sleep. There's a lot of waste in our system that the simplification of doing away with (for profit) insurance companies would help.

    Look, the basic point is that both single payer systems and the American systems have flaws. The question is- which good are we trying to achieve? Health care for everyone? Freeing the market from all gov't interference?

    For me, the moral goal of ensuring everyone can access health care trumps most every other argument I've heard. But I challenge others who engage in this debate to be clear with what values you espouse.

  22. To ambivalent richmonder - Bravo! Well said. Now duck, I think I hear incoming...

  23. I've been emailing with a pundit in California (he'll remain anonymous). Here's his take. Sounds like Repubs voting for Hillary may backfire.

    "Obama has the best chance of beating McCain. No matter what anyone thinks of Hillary's
    policies, the Clintons are polarizing figures and would galvanize conservative support
    behind McCain. Doesn't mean she can't win. The anti-Bush sentiment is pretty strong and over 65% of the country is against the Iraq war. McCain needs support among independents and moderate reps, and proposing future wars in the middle east and saying we could be in
    Iraq for a century isn't the kind of thing middle of the road voters want to hear right now."

    Of course, please continue the health care talk. My household is eating this stuff up.

  24. Why and How RVA MUST VOTE in the Primary

    I really thought this was a Tobacco Ave farce. Was that a poor choice of words or are you serious?

    I'll just skip to the chase. Voting for Barack Obama is not going put us into some kind of racial "Camelot". Racial reconciliation comes one person at a time. Its treating everybody with honesty and respect and not being afraid to call somebody out when they are wrong, no matter what their race. Barack is an inspirational man with almost no experience. He is only 4 years out of the Illinois Senate. Do you really want to put an amateur in charge of the White House AGAIN?

    24 (25 now) comments. Quite a coup! I'm lucky if I get 24 readers.

  25. This just in: 62/37% for Obama.

    That's pretty dramatic - not neck and neck, but a trouncing in virtually every demographic. Tonight, I think I'll have a cocktail. Richmond has sports bars, but do we have any political bars? I can damage my liver and just plan to get it fixed up under that universal health care coverage, right?

  26. I guess it is all about winning. Unless there's a train wreck Obama's got the nod. Anybody ever listen to his racist mentor? Oh well, they are not his sins, though a conservative associated with a white supremicist would be crucified.

    Kennedy had charisma too, but he brought us closer to nuclear winter than any other president, abandoned U.S. backed Cuban rebels on the beach and escalated our involvement in Vietnam.

    What foriegn crisis will Obama cut his teeth on? Fortunately for us, he's a quick learner. He might have to be.

  27. Jaosn - You can easily make any bar a political bar, but I personally dig Chioccas and have had many a political conversation there. The atmosphere's pretty good for it. Same with Sine, but I'd still put Chioccas first.

  28. As many times as I've passed Chiocca's, I've never been in. Not even sure how to pronounce it. But, I'll remedy that sometime soon and ask the barkeep to please turn on CNN. Actually, my ideal situation would be news on one screen and UFC fighting on the other. Both are hate to love spectacles for me. But I digress.

    For future notice, everyone:

    Soon to be overtaken by political food snobs.

  29. I believe the correct pronunciation is chee-oh-kah, but I could be mistaken. FT Rea had a good write up on the history of the Chiocca family biz here:

    I know Drinking Liberally once had their every other week meet-ups there. Not that I attended, I just happened to be meeting other folks there to talk politics while they were there. I haven't been in a while myself, maybe it'd be worth setting up a mini-meet-up for folks to discuss politics, RVA, and the awesomeness of beer.

  30. I've got to support Ambivalent Richmonder with my own personal perspective. I have a family, and we are paying for our own health care right now out of pocket. Between my wife and I, we have five hourly jobs, none of which offer health benefits. And under the "free market" system, health care consumers are encouraged to lie about ongoing ailments they responsibly seek help for when applying, so as not to trigger the pre-existing condition denial alarm. So, with the "free market," those who have not yet sought medical help are rewarded for their negligence in caring for themselves and their loved ones with higher rates of acceptance and lower premiums.

  31. Alright Stakolee, first beer is on me, but after that, you'll have to pull yourself up by your bootstraps.

  32. It's kind of funny that today I am at The Jefferson hawking Ronald Brownstein's book, The Second Civil War: How Extrem Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America... to a health care symposium... (the author is the lunch speaker)

  33. Jason Kenny rejoices that McCain received about 1/3 as many votes in Virginia as Obama (Ha! I kid. Just a joke between Jasons), and then turns his analysis toward the Dems.

    Starters, I'm offended. It's KennEy. Two Es, no Ds, all awesome.

    Second, I've been watching the numbers and mentioned the Super Tuesday ones in particular as very telling. Dems are turning out in much higher numbers than Republicans. Part of this is the trend that Dems typically show up in greater numbers to primaries, but they're also more inspired by the selections available to them. Republican primary numbers in Virginia are going to be lower with a smaller field and a belief held by many that McCain's already got it in the bag.

    But looking at Super Tuesday, for Dems to out vote the GOP almost two to one is frightening from the Republican side.

  34. The latest in the health care de(bacle)bate....

    Seems Blue Cross/Shield of CA was asking doctors to report any conditions that may be classified as pre-existing in order to drop coverage...

    Critics of this practice claim BC/BS would sell policies and only follow-up on those who ran up medical bills. Basically ensuring profitability by dropping the sick.

    BC/BS claims they were trying to identify fraud.

    One could argue either way but do we really want to be a society that forces people to commit 'fraud' to live?

  35. ambivalent richmonder8:45 PM

    I'm not sure what Paul H's points are in his two comments - though 2 are worth mentioning. "I'm lucky if I get 24 readers." Then how are you the #2 most popular RVA blog?

    And the notion that electing an african-american president won't help with racial reconciliation is ridiculous. Demonstrating that Americans can break with the white male presidential tradition would go a long way towards building trust in communities across the country where people are still living with memories of being excluded from housing, jobs, power, etc. based on their skin color. So Obama's election would demonstrate (not create) a change in our society that many don't believe has happened yet.

    As for health care, I echo what stakolee said. I'm on COBRA and researching non-work based health care before my other runs out. The options are seriously crappy- either you pay an exorbitant monthly premium OR you pay an enormous deductible (5-10,000). There's a real racket going on in this "free market"- Anthem's CEO brings home millions (4?) every year.

  36. ambivalent richmonder8:47 PM

    Oh and Chiocca's is a great drinking spot with apparently great sandwiches, though us hippie vegetarians don't find much on the menu.

  37. I'd be glad to expand upon that. Using Blogger Analyitics and a counter I know I have 24 readers a day. I hope I never have 38 comments on a post, but I know that is a more accurate measurement of readership and interest than RVABlogs and I respect that. Being relatively new, though I have been blogging for 3 years, I know the respect is earned and maturity is developed. Discovering RVABlogs was a breakthrough and a revalation. It's whats done in the long haul that is important. The blogosphere is a peculiar and new experience. Till 3 months ago, I was lucky if my own family read what I wrote. Having gotten tired of talking to myself and boring my wife with this stuff, it is interesting to actually have somebody else read what I have written. If it furthers what I believe in, then I'll keep doing it. 2nd place is somewhat of an embarrassment. I'll be happy if I keep the passion to persue what I believe in, either on or offline.

    I often don't serve the things that I believe in and sometimes intentionally offend, but I always offer the opportunity for rebuttal. You have been most gracious in your willingness to host alternative viewpoints and it has been greatly apreciated. RVA Foodie has been gracious enough to publish my comments as antagonistic as they are. As always, the last word goes to the host.


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