LDV readers say: we’re luke-warm about Obama

by Stephen Tall on August 26, 2008

For the last month, Liberal Democrat Voice has been asking our readers what you think of Senator Barack Obama, the Democrats’ hope for the White House.

Slightly to my surprise, you take a pretty sceptical line, with 44% of you viewing him either as a cynical opportunist, or someone who will disappoint more than he inspires. A little over half, 56% of you, have a more benign/positive outlook on his candidacy. Perhaps LDV readers are more likely than most to subscribe to the view that Senator Obama is a little too Blair-like (or – worse still? – too Cameron-like) for our tastes.

Here’s the full results breakdown…

We asked: Which of the following statements comes closest to your view of Senator Barack Obama, the Democratic US presidential nominee?

You said:
• He’s a liberal progressive who will restore pride to the US presidency -127 (24%)
• He’s a moderate pragmatist who will stick to the populist centre ground – 170 (32%)
• He’s an impressive communicator with few beliefs who will disappoint more than he inspires – 135 (25%)
• He’s a cynical opportunist who has dazzled the media by virtue of who he is, not what he stands for – 103 (19%)
Total Votes: 535. Poll ran: 28th July to 26th August, 2008

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Obama would be very cautious as president, & would certainly do little or nothing to move the country in a more progressive direction as Edwards would have done. His devotees are in for a big disappointment. I hope it doesn’t drive them to cynicism: yes, they shouldn’t put their trust in politicians, but they should hopefully remain passionate about the issues.

At the moment, party politics has not caught up with the interests of the younger generation as it was designed for an earlier age in which people were conservatives of one form or another (settlers if you like). I hope that when the disillusionment about politicians comes, it will drive the elite to catch up with us rather than breed negativity about “politics”, which will simply allow the likes of Brown to do whatever they like while a load of vegetables sit around uncomplainingly, satiated by plasma screen TVs.

by asquith on August 26, 2008 at 3:21 pm. Reply #

In short, the Obamamaniacs will hopefully put their passion to good use in future, as Blair’s supporters conspicuously didn’t once they realised that he couldn’t satisfy their needs.

by asquith on August 26, 2008 at 3:22 pm. Reply #

I wish him the best.
The problem in the US is that there are considerably more people who identify themselves as conservative rather than liberal.
So I am not sure he is a liberal. I am concerned at his foreign policies in particular. I hope he turns out to be liberal after he is elected.
What I do like is the way he has mobilised lots of people who have never been politically active before. I hope that benefits the Democrats for years to come. It is also noticable that voters under 30 are going for him in a big way. Hopefully this is a generation gap that will isolate Conservatives in the same way that the generations subsequent to the 1960s beat the Conservatives in the UK in 1997.

by Geoffrey Payne on August 26, 2008 at 4:08 pm. Reply #

I’m not sure he’s a liberal either, although I suspect my concerns are different to Geoffrey’s: namely, Obama’s vascillations over free trade (which should be non-negotiable for liberals and internationalists) and a somewhat interventionist bent on economics.

However I do think he comes across as a humane, likeable and intelligent person. And he is certainly more liberal on social matters than McCain and indeed most Democrats (hence the slightly misleading characterisation of him as the most ‘liberal’ or left-wing senator).

There is also an attractive libertarian streak to his thinking on immigration, on standing up for the individual against bureaucracies and (hopefully) on school choice.

Overall, I’d say he is ‘progressive’ in a general sense but not a liberal as such (at least in the European meaning of that word).

I can’t agree with Asquith that Edwards would have been a better choice for the Democrats. He was the most protectionist of all the candidates from the two main parties (disastrous from an international perspective), he was populist in his pandering to the unions and he didn’t seem particularly interested in personal freedom – pretty reactionary sentiments in my view.

It’s already worrying how much the Democrats have abandoned the free-trade and fiscally sensible policies of the 1990s and Edwards was threatening to veer much further away from them.

by Alex Sabine on August 27, 2008 at 1:15 am. Reply #

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