As some readers may recall, I think the quest for a New Politics is perhaps the single greatest example of a political siren song, fool’s gold, will-o-the-wisp and mirage in American life and it’s greatest dupe is the left. Indeed, the faith in New Politics (like New Men, New Ages and the like) is in many ways central to the leftist tradition and remains at the core of leftist psychology. See here for more on that. Or, heh, here for that matter.
I agree with Rich about the Messianism in Barack’s campaign. And in my column today I argue that it’s working. As counter-intuitive as it seems, Hillary, the candidate of experience, benefited from the era of hope among Democrats rather than Barack, the self-styled candidate of Hope. Hillary would argue that since any Democratic would usher in the age of New Politics, why not go with the one who had the best chance of winning? Besides, she implied, it was her turn and she’s a girl. But now that Democrats in Washington are losing their luster and Hillary has managed to cast herself as a calculating pol who is more of Washington than against it, she’s having a harder time tapping into the sense that any Democratic will do. Moreover the failures of Pelosi and Reid are demonstrating in vivid detail that it’s not the case that any Democrat will do. So, voters are ticked off at Washington and they increasingly think Hillary’s of Washington. A Clinton presidency no longer promises the “transformational” change the activists and netrooters have been yearning for. Barack meanwhile has assiduously cast himself as the only legitimate candidate of New Politics, of “transformation.” He will create “politics anew” according to Oprah. And so, I would argue, we’re seeing a flight to Obama because he’s the last safe harbor of unbridled liberal idealism.
The “Audacity of Hope” strategy seemed dumb to me a few months ago, but now it seems just crazy enough to work.
Of course, this is just one trend line among many and Hillary is still more than the nominal frontrunner. But I think this dynamic is very real.