20080105obama.jpgPolitics piss me off. Everyone is too worried about keeping their job or getting a new one to bother doing what's best for their constituents. Most politicians enter Washington with the best of intentions, but a potential failure looms and their scruples go to the wayside.

"'You've got to do what's right, OK?' [McCain] told me, 'but if you want to succeed, you have to adjust to the American people's desires and priorities".

Unfortunately, the people don't always know what's best for themselves. As James Surowiecki says, crowds are smart, people are dumb. This is why I want a leader who is smart and has a mind of his/her own. I'm not so worried about aligning perfectly with their views, so long as it's close. I also don't mind if they're lacking in experience if they seem willing to turn to any of their dozens of advisers.

I singled out McCain above because, despite having very different views on social policy, I always liked him. After failing to get the nomination in 2000, he has been sucked into the robot vacuum. Sure, he'll talk off the cuff and verbally attack an audience member now and again, but he has sold out. He's just too willing to play the game.

Obama also seemed in danger of a one way trip to the vacuum. His speech at the 2006 DNC really moved me, but I was a bit turned off at the beginning of his campaign. Somehow, his advisers managed to make him boring, which is a travesty. In the last month or two, and especially at his Iowa victory speech, he's got me back into the fold. He's a real person and I love it.

Harold Washington

While this ended up being about the current election, the idea for this post came from an episode of This American Life about Chicago Mayor Harold Washington. I didn't know much about him, but the episode painted him as the rare politician who could both play the game and speak his mind.

There's plenty more to say about Harold and this episode of TAL, but an interesting statistic from Washington's original campaign is that he was able to register 140,000 new voters when his campaign thought 50,000 would be a stretch. On Thursday Democrats nearly doubled 2004's caucus with 100,000 additional voters.

Okay, to finish it off here is my favorite quote from that episode. This is what Harold had to say about Richard J. Daly, a man revered by white Chicagoans. Try to imagine anyone saying this today.

"When he says that he had hoped I'd have the good qualities of past mayors, there are no good qualities of past mayors to be had. None. None. None. None." "I regret anyone dying. I have no regrets about [Daly] leaving. He was a racist to the core, head to toe, hip to hip, there's no ding or doubt about it. He eschewed and fought and oppressed black people to the point that some thought that was the way they were supposed to live, just like some slaves on the plantation thought that that was the way they were supposed to live. I give no hosannas to a racist, nor did I appreciate or respect his son. If his name were anything other than Daley, his campaign would be a joke."