Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Obama's 50-State Strategy

Obama's 50-state strategy is a welcome relief from the previous strategy of the
Democratic party which concentrated on states with large urban populations and
generally ignored the south and rural constituencies. Will it work? yes and No.

It will not work if the focus in the southern states and the other blue states is
on the traditional democratic voters and the new young voters. The south in
particular and the rural populations in general have tilted the Presidential
Elections in the Republican's favor since the civil rights movement; so it is these
voters that need to be addressed.

Mr. Obama has the opprtunity, in fact the obligation, to transform the south and
the rural areas. The transformation needs to be both economic as well bringing a
change in long held attitudes. The south still carries its grudge from the civil
rights movement and has been left behind from the forward-looking world; so much so
that the otherwise rural and poor voters repeatedly vote against their economic
self interest. It is time to approach these populations and to even challenge their
tendency to resist change.

Addressing these voters through general economic programs at the national stage has
never sufficed. While Mr. Obama generally wins the arguments at the national stage
both regarding the war and the economy, the politics at local levels remains
untouched by that.

How to make the same impact at the local level? First is to pick someone from the
south as his VP. Jim Webb is ideal for that. He is a former republican who has
considerable administrative and military experience and has slowly transformed from
being conservative to progressive (which incidently is a very rare quality). He
completely supplements the experience Mr. obama needs and is in sync with Obama on
all major issues. It makes a compelling team for a tranformative figure like Mr.
Obama to team with one who has been transformed over the years. Jim Webb himself
becomes an argument for transformation. Additionally. Jim Webb is very aware of the
plight of the rural poor, particularly Appalachia, and has definitve and positive
views as to how to address their problems. In the past Democrats have looked at
Appalachia, decried its poverty, but have never come up with any specific programs
to help the 'poor whites'.

First a rural development program needs to be developed, and in a hurry. The
architects of these to include Jim Webb, John Edwards, Dick Lugar whos has often
expressed concerns about rural poverty which is endemic. What better way to
transform a society than to alter the economics of the region(s) so they
participate in the larger economy and then to challenge them to embrace change as,
otherwise, they would continue to be left behind. Mr. Obama should make the slogan
'if you are poor and white, you will NOT be out of sight' as part of his political

Armed with a specific rural development program,So Mr. Obama needs to take a tour
of the countryside with Jim Webb and local leaders in those states like Ed Rendell
in Penn, Strickland in Ohio, the governor and senators from West Virginia and
likewise in southern states. There should be no county left unvisited. The
surrogates should do a resume introduction of Mr. Obama at every townhall that he
holds. As a matter of strategy, a few townhall meetings should be followed by a
larger rally as Mr. Obama is at his best in those large settings but by then voters
would have had a chance to see him up close (and even have had asked questions),
and would be more inclined to listen to his larger message.

Given the unique nature of his candidacy, its admirable that Obama is taking on all
the states. Only he can pull it off if he does it right and deviates from the
standard Democratic party line of just offering healthcare etc. These voters have
repeatedly voted against their economic self inetrest and need to be addressed in a
multifaceted way; some ways have been described above; I will welcome comments and
suggestions so an effective strategy can evolve.