Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Different kinds of change

There are two quite amusing criticisms of Barack Obama. The first is that he doesn't have any policies. This appears to be based on the fact that unlike other Democratic Party candidates in recent times, he doesn't give speeches which are long lists of policies aimed at particular interest groups, identified by polling and focus groups. Instead he gives speeches which inspire people and make them more likely to vote for him.

Happily, the internet isn't just something which helps Obama raise money, but also somewhere where he puts information about his policies. After searching on his website for nearly 10 seconds, I managed to find the bit with his policies. There is a page here with summaries of his views on 20 different policy areas, each of which has their own page with more detail, and link to detailed plans and speeches on the issue.

So some critics have dropped the line about how he has no policies, and instead complain that he does have policies, but that none of his policies are conservative. The 'thinking' here is that he claims that he wants change, but only the kind of change that would be different from what Bush did, rather than policies which Bush and McCain would support. Real change is about doing the same, not doing something different!

Here's one from the Independent website RealClearPolitics. The author says that Obama will struggle to win the election unless he can 'slaughter some liberal sacred cows', and says that Obama should support school vouchers (even though most of the public oppose them), make it easier for people to own guns, and realise that the United Nations is Very Bad: 'Petty tyrants and anti-Semitic gasbags have long since corrupted Turtle Bay. Even when you take out the riffraff what remains is an ineffective peace-keeping body whose guiding light is reactionary anti-Americanism.'

The USA already has a President who believe all of those things, and he is very unpopular. They have a candidate for President who also supports those things, and he is losing. And they have a candidate who opposes those things, and he is winning.

What the 'Obama has no policies' and 'Obama has the wrong policies' arguments have in common is that they exactly contradict the available evidence. And, hopefully, people brought up on the idea that the only way lefties can win is to adopt right-wing policies and arguments will watch and learn.


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