Part of moving to Iowa (at least this year for me) means a renewed attention to politics. Arguably, I haven't been as politically minded or active since volunteering for Nader/ LaDuke in 2000 (and more her than him, really). The Kerry/ Edwards ticket just wasn't all that: too entrenched, too old school and a re-hash of hippie visionaries v. straight-laced Americana. Nader and LaDuke both had remarkable policy insights and a far-sightedness that I still don't see in Edwards and only saw as a glimmer of a possibility in Kerry. From my then Madisonian perspective, Kerry/ Edwards were certainly better than Bush/ Cheney, but between 2002 and 2004, we had slid so far back into despair it looked to me that we were willing to settle for middle-of-the-road.
Things are different now, and not just because I'm looking out from Iowa instead of Madison (which is, as I imply, it's own little sphere only technically part of the state). Currently the mediasphere is ablaze with talk of Oprah's endorsement of Obama. Normally, I wouldn't care. Kevin Bacon was just here stumping for Edwards (yawn), but Obama has swayed Cornell West to follow up Oprah's appearance in Cedar Rapids. Despite the fun in 6 degree games, the Obama campaign is not only putting together a collection of the finest African-American thinkers and speakers, I think it has some of the finest American thinkers and speakers.
More importantly, with the support of Oprah, there is a sense of dreaming again -- not just a dream of schadenfreude where we get back to a democracy before our current fascist interruption, but a real dream that recognizes the democracy we had before Bush II was itself broken. We shouldn't forget how the rich grew richer under the "Clinton I" regime, how he signed NAFTA, and how corporate profits supported Clinton policies. As this article from The Nation points out, there is a real dream awakening here and I think the anger directed at Oprah is part of that awakening. As the article says, even if Obama doesn't get the nomination, it is always "not too much to hope that the redemptive power of an intelligent dream might reinvigorate the exhaustion of our embattled political landscape."