James McPherson's Media & Politics Blog

Observations of a patriotic progressive historian, media critic & former journalist

  • By the author of The Conservative Resurgence and the Press: The Media’s Role in the Rise of the Right and of Journalism at the End of the American Century, 1965-Present. A former journalist with a Ph.D. in journalism, history and political science, McPherson is a past president of the American Journalism Historians Association and a board member for the Northwest Alliance for Responsible Media.

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Archive for May 24th, 2008

Clinton, Obama and changing politics

Posted by James McPherson on May 24, 2008

Some now believe that Obama’s inabililty to put away Hillary Clinton–indeed, she blew him out in West Virginia and Kentucky–proves she has a better chance to win in November against John McCain because she attracts voters who just won’t vote for Obama. Some of those voters are women, upset with how the media and the Obama campaign have treated Hillary. Some are racist idiots. Some are essentially conservatives in Democratic donkey clothing who recognize that her politics align more closely to theirs.

As I’ve noted previously, most of the voters who consider themselves to be progressives or liberals likely will vote for the Democratic nominee, whoever it is, come November. Some immature short-sighted idiots won’t (except in the unlikely instance that Clinton becomes Obama’s VP candidate). Still, despite the fact that Clinton has virtually no chance of winning the Democratic nomination, I don’t think she should drop out. She should not try, as some suggest she is doing, to sabotage Obama’s November prospects, but as I’ve said before, I think an extended race helps Democrats more than it hurts. 

Though we cannot know how many of Clinton’s voters will stay home or vote for McCain, the fact remains that we also still cannot know how many Obama supporters will turn out in November. Critics rightfully point out that every election is supposed to be the one in which young people make a difference, but they never do. Some of those critics suggest that Obama’s support is artificially inflated by infatuated youngsters who will vanish in November. I happen to think those critics are wrong for three reasons:

  1. Those voters have already turned out for primaries and caucuses, which always draw far smaller crowds than do general elections.
  2. They’ve been voting with their money. Obama has generated amazing amounts of cash from people who have never before donated to campaigns, and because they’ve invested financially, they’re likely to want to see their investment pay off.
  3. Change. This is Obama’s buzzword, but I mean it in a different sense–not that we need change, but that change has already come. Every pundit recognizes that the Internet and YouTube have had influence, but I think most Americans over 40 still underestimate how dramatic the change has been.

One example comes from Kansas State University’s mediatedcultures.net a class project that has demonstrated in fascinating (and public) ways how young people view the world. Many of the videos have much to teach the rest of us, too. I’ll share another favorite, about modern education, some other day.

Spreading of Ideas on YouTube (Curtis Schwieterman)

Posted in Education, Journalism, Media literacy, Politics, Video, Women | Tagged: , , , , , | 7 Comments »