Processing South Carolina

In my most optimistic guesses about tonight’s result, I wasn’t expecting anything close to the 2-1 thumping Obama gave Clinton tonight. The Clintons are already trying to characterize it as a black thing (Bill goes so far as to invoke Jesse Jackson) but it is so very clearly much more than that. To put it in perspective, Obama got more votes tonight than were cast for all of the candidates in the 2004 Democratic primary, and they weren’t all cast by black voters.

The best part about tonight was Obama’s victory speech, that didn’t quite hit the inspirational heights of his Iowa speech but delivered a clean gut punch to the Clinton’s strategy of “experience” and their embracing of typical Republican tactics, without ever mentioning them by name.

We are up against the idea that it’s acceptable to say anything and do anything to win an election. We know that this is exactly what’s wrong with our politics; this is why people don’t believe what their leaders say anymore; this is why they tune out. And this election is our chance to give the American people a reason to believe again… 

The choice in this election is not between regions or religions or genders. It’s not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white.

It’s about the past versus the future.

It’s about whether we settle for the same divisions and distractions and drama that passes for politics today, or whether we reach for a politics of common sense, and innovation – a shared sacrifice and shared prosperity.

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-iVAPH_EcmQ]

If Iowa was the call, South Carolina was the response, and the next 10 days leading up to February 5th are going to be very, very interesting.

ETA: Very classy of Hillary Clinton to offer a concession statement and move on to a campaign stop in Nashville, TN.

ETA 2: Andrew Sullivan nails tonight in two separate posts, one about the exit poll data:

The exit polls show a couple of fascinating data points: Obama won 52 percent of the non-black vote under 30. Among the over-60s, he won a mere 15 percent of the non-black vote. The legacy is racism is clearly dying.

And another about the underlying meaning of Obama’s campaign, noted in the context of tomorrow’s endorsement of Obama by Caroline Kennedy:

Sometimes, things come together. Watching a black man win the South Carolina primary in a landslide by transcending race: I can’t help be moved and inspired. Like so many of my generation and many, many more younger than me, Obama makes me believe in America again, after seven years of brutal, painful, searing disillusionment. I won’t let that go. Neither, I have a feeling, will the American people.

To-date, Clinton’s strength seems to lie primarily with women, “under-educated” whites and Latinos, the latter of which I’m sincerely hoping is due solely to name recognition and not the “divisions” between blacks and Latinos many pundits keep harping on.

ETA: Time‘s Gregory Rodriguez offers some perspective in “The Black-Brown Divide“.

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Guy LeCharles Gonzalez

As in guillotine. Old/new media pragmatist. Sometimes loud, one-time poet, still opinionated. Reading, writing, running, gaming, soccer, beer.

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