Friday, June 20, 2008

Will Edwards or Gore help Barack in November?

I read comments about people getting excited at the thought of Barack picking Gore or Edwards for VP, but I do not see any real upside for Barack. I think Barack could win despite whoever he picks for VP, but I do not see any prospect that either Gore or Edwards would broaden Barack's appeal beyond the votes that he is already likely to get even with "any of the above" as VP. Ultimately, it is still a question of how Barack intends to govern once elected. He could decide to stick tightly to the so-called "progressive" agenda and have very limited success at true "change", or he could decide to broaden his base and achieve a much broader degree of change, albeit at the cost of watering down the "progressive" agenda. To date, he hasn't offered much in the way of clues, one way or the other. Personally, I think he is simply being a shrewd politician, the kind he claims he is not, and simply waiting to see how the political wind is blowing as the various subgroups of America's political landscape gradually firm up their collective opinions of him. I strongly suspect that he is simply waiting for the right moment to announce a "visionary grand compromise" where he sticks to a core subset of liberal/progressive "values" and principles (e.g., universal health care) and couples that with a collection of compromises designed to lock in the centrists (e.g., Hillary supporters and moderate Republicans) and implicitly put limits on how hard he will push on conservatives on their "values" in areas such as abortion, religion in schools, flag desecration, gun control, etc.

For example, I suspect that he will agree to tighten regulations on businesses in some ways, but agree to loosen other regulations to foster economic growth. But timing is everything, so it is unclear when he might make or announce such "compromises" which are blatantly unacceptable to the hard-core left-wing "progressives', but essentially to form a coalition that can govern effectively in Washington without immediately encountering legislative and social gridlock.

In short, Barack might pick Gore or Edwards simply to assuage his "progressive" supporters, but it would be a move that would require him to commit to very strong principle and policy compromises in order to build an effective governing coalition after the election.

-- Jack Krupansky


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