Barack Obama went to Florida this weekend and gave me something real to write about.
It has been some time since I have posted to this blog. The campaign became to dully repetitive. How many times can we all make our same points in slightly different metaphors as the Democratic primaries grinds down? I have actually come to believe that, despite all the hoopla about its democratic potential, the Internet and the blogoshpere have become culprits in the oft-noted animosity of this campaign, as bloggers feel compelled to write their posts day in and day out while the campaign wakes up to yet another morning of grey haze and political drizzle.
And no, I am not going to write about HRC's incredible comment about the Robert Kennedy assassination, except to point out that even I, who consider myself jaded to the point that very little in electoral politics offends me, am astounded that after she was hit by the deluge of criticism her comment created, she apologized - to the Kennedys and not to Obama!
Enough of that. The real news is that Obama went to Florida and addressed the Cuban American National Foundation, where he announced that if elected would immediately lift the bans on family travel to Cuba and the limits on how much money people can send to their relatives in the communist nation.
The Cuban American National Foundation is the most prominent of the anti-Castro Cuban exile groups in Miami. This sector has had an extraordinary influence on US presidential politics, from the time of JFK right on down to the last two US presidential elections swinging on the vote in Florida.
For 40 years, American presidential candidates have done just what McCain did a couple of days ago. As Obama recapped in yesterday's speech, "I know what the easy thing is to do for American politicians. Every four years, they come down to Miami, they talk tough, they go back to Washington and nothing changes in Cuba. That's what John McCain did the other day. He joined the parade of politicians who make the same empty promises year after year, decade after decade."
Obama did something quite different. He took his politics of openness and engagement with the world to Florida and presented it to the bulwarks of the Cuban embargo.
This is, in my opinion, the actual substance in Obama's "new post-partisan politics." It is what is, in the end, most exciting about this candidate. Obama political experiences and his evidently acute political intuition has convinced him that there is some major movement waiting to happen among the American electorate, and that a candidate with the right appeal and, paradoxically, a limited record not tied too tightly to any well-established camp in the American political arena, might be able to capitalize on it. His high rankings in polls among young evangelicals is one indicator of this. His big wins in overwhelmingly white states in the north and northwest are another.
With the speech in Florida. Obama is signaling that he is for real about this. In fact, he is willing to bet his entire campaign on it. So he goes to Florida, to the heart of the Cuban American community, to the Cuban American National Foundation, where he is introduced by Jorge Mas Santos, son of the group's founder, who endorsed Obama's plan to lift restrictions on visiting relatives in Cuba and sending money.
Obama is betting on Mr. Mas Santos and his new generation of Cuban Americans who are fed up with the politics of their parents, just as he is appealing to the new generation of evangelicals who are fed up with the political alliances that community has made that resulted in 8 years of George Bush.
In this light, one can see that it is hardly surprising that the strongest predictor of which way a Democrat is likely to vote in this primary is age. Obama is betting the farm on the young generation. And he has a good chance of actually winning. How exciting and refreshing is that?