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Matthew Freeman is a Brooklyn based playwright with a BFA from Emerson College. His plays include THE DEATH OF KING ARTHUR, REASONS FOR MOVING, THE GREAT ESCAPE, THE AMERICANS, THE WHITE SWALLOW, AN INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR, THE MOST WONDERFUL LOVE, WHEN IS A CLOCK, GLEE CLUB, THAT OLD SOFT SHOE and BRANDYWINE DISTILLERY FIRE. He served as Assistant Producer and Senior Writer for the live webcast from Times Square on New Year's Eve 2010-2012. As a freelance writer, he has contributed to Gamespy, Premiere, Complex Magazine, Maxim Online, and MTV Magazine. His plays have been published by Playscripts, Inc., New York Theatre Experience, and Samuel French.

Friday, May 16, 2008

Question ...

How much impact do you feel endorsements have on your own decisions politically?

One thing I've noticed is that there's almost no one I know that feels particularly swayed by political endorsements. I assume I'm atypical (don't you?) but I probably am not. The value of endorsements seems entirely symbolic at this point, a way to send signals to Clinton, more than to the voters, for example.

If you were an Edwards supporter, does his endorsement of Obama push you in his direction? What about the Naral endorsement of Obama? Or Maya Angelou endorsing Clinton?

5 comments:

isaac butler said...

Great question, matt, especially from a theatre perspective. I would argue that endorsements have no immediate value for swaying people, they are instead a valuable (and highly theatrical) Political Ritual, wherein the endorser is symbolic for a group of people. It sort of is like a human metaphor for representative democracy.

Edwards here stands in for white progressives, even though I think that white progressives who supported Edwards and now support Clinton may not be swayed at all by the endorsement. Edwards also represents HEALTHCARE which is important to Obama as Obama's health care plan is weaker than Clinton's.

Meawhile NARAL stands for Pro Choice Women and Maya Angelou stands for women of color.

Or something. It's alla bout shaping the narrative. Obama can point to Edwards as somehow symbolic of working class white men and the media will say "well, he has their symbol's support". Does that make sense? It's all pure theatre, and it's value is entirely in shaping the narrative.

My two cents anyway

Mac said...

Timing's also a big deal. Kerry and Kennedy endorsed Obama early enough that it seemed credible that they thought he was the best candidate. NARAL and Edwards, by contrast, look like they're just trying to do their bit to get the general election going.

I'm much more influenced by the writing of policy analysts and intellectuals than in endorsements by other politicians.

Ian G. said...

I think it makes no difference to me, but I also find myself assuming that each endorsement will help sway a particular bloc of voter. Because most people are much more easily lead by the nose than me, right? Of course right.

I also find it reassuring and vindicating when some prominent person I respect endoses a candidate I support, but if that same person endorsed the other guy I'd say "Meh, respected person sure backed the wrong horse here".

It's like reviews. When the reviews are bad, they're always written by some know-nothing hack. But when that same hack praises me to the skies the next time he writes a review, I'm always astounded by how much taste, discernment, and perception he developed in the interim.

Kerry said...

Well, since the nomination is all but wrapped up, I think the Edwards endorsement in particular is now framed more as "What will he get out of it from a possible Obama administration?" That might sway people who think "Gee, Edwards as VP [which he dismissed as a possibility today in an interview] or AG [which he was cagier about] is an exciting idea!"

At the least, it puts the focus on the question of "What kind of people would Obama put in place?," which, given the clusterfuck nature of the current administration and its tendency to prize loyalty over competence ("Heckuva job, Brownie!"), is a good focus to have.

It is also, btw, one of the things that gave me pause about Hillary Clinton. Not that I think she'd put the Arabian Horse Association dude in charge of disaster relief, but her campaign staff, at least, seemed larded with loyalists who told her what she wanted to hear ("This will be in the bag by February 5, you're inevitable, no worries!") rather than what she, in retrospect, SHOULD have been told a -- "Get ready for a long haul, think small online donors over the Old Reliable Moneybags Network, caucuses count," etc., etc. And after two terms of a president who seemed to only want to hear the good news and shut out the bad, I haven't been eager to revisit that scenario.

Joshua James said...

I think endorsements play a bigger part in a candidates MEDIA narrative and within party factions than they do with voters - in the end, most endorsements don't sway voters (though I believe Bill Richardson's endorsement of Obama had a big impact, some of which was on the large number of Hispanic voters, but mostly within the Democratic party itself, it was an endorsement which hurt Hilary with the supers, I think) but the media narrative that can result from said endorsements can, at times, affect voters perception of a candidate.

My two cents.