This spectacle of a race for the Democratic nomination for President is unlike anything any of us have seen in our lifetimes and seems to be transforming the entire electoral landscape that we have known for at least 30 years in ways that will not become entirely clear for years to come. I have never seen a phenomenon like Obama and how he has captured the imagination of so many unlikely supporters. He is probably farther to the left than any candidate who has come this close to the presidency since maybe Eugene Debs of the Socialist Party in the 1920s, but none of his supporters seem to care. Have we come to this level of superficiality? Has he really touched a meaningful chord of communitarianism? Or will it become evident that “the emperor has no clothes” and buyers’ remorse will eventually overcome the charisma?
In a recent letter to the editor in The Houston Chronicle, a reader wrote, “As a long time Republican, I’ve got to say that Obama is someone I could live with.” Think about that statement, even if it is possibly motivated by a desire to avoid Clinton. Where is the core here? It reminds me of a quote by Groucho Marx: “These are my principles, and if you don’t like them, I have others.” But, all of this seeming incoherence aside, there is very little doubt that there is a pervasive sentiment abroad in the land that almost anything and anyone is acceptable as an alternative to more of the same from the past 20 years. Where will that take us? I don’t know, but we had better figure it out and come to our collective senses before November.