Monday, February 11, 2008

Are we too lazy to choose Hillary?

One of the strongest and most frequent arguments I've heard from the Obama supporters about why he should be the Democrats' choice is that poll after poll shows he's most likely to defeat McCain.

It's true.

But, sadly, one of the reasons it's true is because we Democrats are out-of-shape and lazy about campaigning. I read reports of the Washington caucuses, and noted how many of the participants complained — whined, really — about the caucus system. Oh my God, people had to wait in line for a half hour to get into the caucuses. The rooms were crowded. And there were people — arguing! Eewww, gross.

One blogger got in a terrible huff about getting the wrong information about his caucus location. I'd certainly agree with him that the local Democrats had a feeble information system. My friend Rae called the caucus information hotline, only to find that the voice mailbox was full. I got emails telling me to look at the previous email by someone else to see my caucus location, but I wasn't on the mailing list for the previous email, so had never gotten it. The website for finding your caucus location for my district looked like some web design instructor's example for how not to design navigation.

Now, I'm about to unload a shocking revelation here, so hold onto your delegate hats: The Democratic party that organized the caucuses is made up of volunteers. Volunteers being people like you and me, only with more energy and commitment.

If we'd gotten involved a few months ago, the voicemails would have been answered, the website might have been comprehensible, the emails would have been get the idea. The organizers I saw were working their butts off to make the caucus a good experience for the political dilettantes who thought it might be fun to show up and go rah-rah for Barack or Hillary, then go home and watch "Lost" until the November elections appear on their radar and they sashay over to the mail table to sign and stamp their ballots.

I listened to some of the Obama people shrug off arguments that Clinton has the better skill set and experience needed to get the legislature in line and govern the country, and then keep talking about how electable Obama is, and I realized we're at the point where we think politics is like the Oscars or the Grammys. We like to watch, we might like to vote, but we don't like get involved in producing any of the options we can later vote on.

Sure, some of this is the fault of the stultifying and complacently corrupt two-party system. But a lot of it is just us, and our preference for the "low effort" choice.

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