I had more to say on this earlier, but was rudely interrupted by the State of the Union Address and decided to put it off.
Obama’s victory in South Carolina wasn’t just a win, it was a slaughter. Across the board, across nearly every demographic, Obama swept the floor. In the end, it wasn’t even close. The CNN Exit Poll results tell the story:
What’s interesting to me is that young people, my age and younger, overwhelmingly voted across gender and racial lines to support Obama. This isn’t just a landslide victory for Obama, it’s a major setback for Hillary.
Why the sudden shift? After Vermont, Hillary was riding high on a tidal wave of renewed expectations. Never mind that Vermont was actually a “Clinton Victory” by little more than 1% of the vote; she was the favored candidate of the day.
Then Bill weighed in, and ruined everything. That’s right, the “first black president” couldn’t keep his big mouth shut. He had to wade in and go into attack mode on behalf of his wife, and it unleashed a whole raft of problems for Hillary.
First of all, it reminded people that the “first black president” wasn’t really black. I think people looked at him and said “wait a minute, here. Maybe it’s time we had a real black man in the White House.” All the “not black enough” crap that had been flung at Obama in previous months just kind of evaporated in the form of landslide support in S.C.
Second, Bill’s relentless campaigning created the impression that it was him running, not her. If Hillary is going to expect people to vote for her in November, she’d better start showing some independence from her husband. In other words, if she expects people to believe she’s capable of standing on her own and leading the country, she’d better start telling Bill to sit down and shut the f*** up. Otherwise the best that’ll happen is that she’ll lose the election to Obama. The worst is that she’ll get the nom, but lose the nationals to the Republicans. And no Democrat wants that.
So, why did 20-somethings and 30-somethings turn out in droves for Barack? I have a theory, and it makes sense to me, but it needs some setup before I launch into it. Partly it’s generational, and partly it’s technological.
First, the generational bit. Hillary is from the Baby Boom generation. I’ve talked about this before. She represents, for many Gen-X’ers like me, the generation that caused all the problems we’re inheriting. Obama, at 46, is only 6 years my senior. He still “officially” qualifies as a Boomer, but is closer to Generation X in attitude and experience. That gives him a certain charisma among people my age.
Now for the technological bit. Gen-X’ers grew up in a different world from our parents. Our world was dynamic, fluid, and malleable. We saw the advent of CD’s, the internet, and online communities. For us, racial and gender barriers exist, but they’re not so important as they still are for the Boomer crowd, who still for all their protestations retain many of their parents’ old prejudices.
The 30-somethings, so-called “Gen-Y”, are even more open-minded. In my experience, they tend to be less prejudiced and sexist than even Gen-X. They’re ready and willing to accept a woman or a black man as president. Of course, there are exceptions. But they saw the internet and other socially equalizing forces really take off.
The 20-somethings don’t yet have an “official title” but they’re shaping up to a force to be reckoned with. For them, online life is just as real and important as real life. Let’s call them the Gamer Generation, or “Generation X-Box.” Why is this important, you ask? Glad you asked. It’s important because, as any Halo player can tell you, online gaming is the ultimate social equalizer. The player who just PWNED (look it up, old farts) with a rocket launcher could be a guy, a girl, black, white, asian, latino, or whatever. You don’t know, and probably won’t find out. What matters in online games is skill. They saw this in Obama, and responded. With crushing force on Hillary.
They PWNED her.
And as a final point, Hillary has behaved reprehensibly to her Democratic colleagues throughout the campaign. She’s been arrogant, conceited and bitchy the whole time. She’s treated the Presidency not as an honorable office to be earned, but as an inheritance that’s somehow hers by birthright. She’s treated Obama with an almost parental contempt, as though he’s an upstart child who needs a spanking, and she’s treated Edwards with an almost casual indifference, acknowledging him when he speaks but basically ignoring him otherwise.
This is not how a President is expected to behave. If and when she loses the primaries, the nomination, and/or the general election, she’ll have no one but herself to blame.