September 23, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama, Part 3: Final Thoughts

In part one of this series, I focused on the issues I consider the most important in the upcoming presidential elections, and concluded that Barack Obama's positions align much more closely with my own than do John McCain's. In part two, I examined the judgment and leadership of the two candidates, considering this election in the broader context of recent history, and again determined that I am much more comfortable with the prospect of an Obama presidency than a McCain Administration.

However, while everyone understands intellectually that issues and leadership ability are the most important factors in choosing a president, if the two most recent presidential ballots have taught us anything, it is that they are often relegated to secondary status by manufactured crises and flimsy concerns generated by the worst elements of our political class and propagated by a complicit media. In this, the conclusion of this series, I want to provide some brief final thoughts centering on the tenor of the election and the distractions associated with it.


The magnitude of the misgovernment by the Republican Party and the Bush Adminstration - even with the airwaves alive with chatter about a $700 billion bailout for Wall Street - is barely understood by the average citizen. As I have written extensively in past posts, it truly and literally touches every single aspect of our society and our nation's institutions.

Even if none of the political issues I discussed in part one, or the holistic view I took in part two, convince you that Barack Obama is the right candidate to support, at the end of the day, what this election boils down to is this: the John McCain of 2008 is so closely linked to George W. Bush that his presidency would effectively be a third term with slightly different rhetoric. There is simply no way that can be allowed to happen; we cannot afford to hand the keys back to the same people who drove our country into a ditch, despite their ludicrous claims that they're the best people to fix the horrific mess they've made, if we'll only give them one more chance.

Looking back with the benefit of hindsight, does anyone really believe that Al Gore or John Kerry would have brought the country to where it is today? That the performance of either man could possibly have been worse than, or even "only" as bad as, George Bush's? That, at the end of the day, the ginned-up press narratives around Gore's supposed "serial exaggeration" and Kerry's alleged failure to have earned his war medals somehow mattered? At all?

Fast forwarding to today, the same type of question remains; do we honestly think that Barack Obama's membership in a particular church or his choice of euphemism or his failure to always have a flag pin on his lapel or even his shorter resume make him so egregiously unqualified when compared to a man who has turned his back on everything for which he once stood, and helped push the United States to the brink at which it presently teeters? I think with a few moments' pause, and some reflection - away from the prattle about preachers and lipstick on a pig and jewelry and hockey moms and mavericks and all the rest of the useless pabulum generated by the media - the answer is clearly, "no."

Barack Obama is certainly not perfect and he's not the messiah, but he has never claimed to be either of those things. For me, he is simply a better candidate than his opponent on the issues, he continues to demonstrate genuine leadership, and in the larger picture, the GOP very definitely needs some time in the wilderness to regroup as a viable and respectable party of opposition.

And that's why I'm voting for Barack Obama.


lokywoky said...

Ah yes, the 'gut' argument. Join Lakoff and a few illustrious others who have proclaimed over and over again that elections are won and lost by that 'gut' reaction to the candidates. Never mind what they believe or their policies or their connections or their past history.

And that is the part that really makes me fear for this country. The people who vote from the "gut" are the ones who still believe - in the face of all the lies and spin, that John McCain is honorable, is a maverick, and is for his country first. (Not!)

My first choice of candidate was Dennis Kucinich - he of the short stature, the UFO's and of the absolutely gigantic principles in the face of ridicule and yes, willingness to lose his office by doing the right thing. But you know, he's short, and he looks funny (check out that dish of a wife - whoda thunk it) and, well, he's just kinda nutty cuz he believes we should actually IMPEACH Cheney and Bush.

Then I wanted John Edwards - because he was a little like Robert Kennedy - a champion of poor people. You notice Obama never says anything about poor people - only middle class, and workers, etc. John actually went out and WORKED in New Orleans - and went more than once, and helped in union organizing and strikes all across the country. But he's rich so you can't trust him to talk about poor people, and by the way, he paid $400 for a haircut and he lives in a mansion.

So then we were down to Obama and Clinton. As a woman - I had been thrilled years ago when the idea of Hillary running for President was first floated - and longed (still do) for the day when a woman can take her rightful place in the White House. But then Hillary started lying. And trashing Obama in the best Rovian style. we have Obama. His health care plan is not as good as Hillary's. Neither of them were what Dennis offered. But I'll take the small step in the right direction. I was destroyed when he voted for FISA upgrade - and he being a constitional lawyer and all, how could he? I don't give a damn about William Ayres, or Tony Rezko (Hillary's ties to Rezko were much more significant than Obama's but you never heard about that...Hmmm) or Rev. Jeremiah Wright. I could care less if he is black, Hispanic, or purple with pink dots. I want to know how his mind works.

I don't know. I think he's in the right place (community organizing instead of high-powered token black at big law firm). I want him to be in the right place. But when people say they don't 'know' Obama - I sort of know what they mean. There is that little niggle in the back of your brain that says that I truly do NOT know how he thinks. And that disturbs me.

Mind you, I would never vote for McCain in a million years, (unless he was running for emperor of Jupitor or something far away) and I have contributed to and worked for and will continue to do for the Obama campaign.

And I am hoping that Obama will prove to be that different kind of politician - one who really can work with the other side - not just capitulate to them. One who will pay attention to the workers and the poor people once he gets into the highest office in the land. Hope. That's what I have. Along with just a little fear that McCain might win. Heaven help us if he does.

PBI said...


I was leaning toward Edwards myself, in the primaries, but as recent events surrounding his personal life have shown, it's impossible to truly "know" anybody in public life. As it turns out, had he gotten the nomination, the Republicans would be guaranteed victory. For me, Hillary would have been ground-breaking, but I felt like she was carrying too much baggage - undeserved baggage to be sure - to be effective, so I ended up with Obama as my second choice out of the field. He seems like he can LEAD, and I think above all, that's what we need.

The FISA forced me to look at him more closely, and his actions on that issue pushed me from a whole-hearted backer to one with reservations, which is probably a good thing in terms of vigilance. The EFF is challenging the new law in court, and I think there is a good chance that it will be overturned. Given Obama's constitutional law credentials, that may have even been a calculation, although the Machiavellian nature of such a thought process would give me at least as much pause as the action itself.

I do think Obama can work both sides of the aisle. The GOP has sullied its brand to such a degree that I think there is a very good chance they will get the decade or so in the wilderness that they deserve. But you're right; heaven help us if McCain and Palin get elected.


lokywoky said...

Yeah, that FISA thing really bothered me too. The vote was significant enough in the affirmative that his vote would not have changed things either way - so why not vote NO?

But even that is not what bothers me the most about it. His explanation afterward which used some of Bushco's talking points was what really did it.

I am also listening to his language on the subject of Iran, and while he has put "talking" back on the table, the rest is the belligerant, in-your-face rants and demands that are used by Bushco again.

I personally think this whole nuclear thing with Iran is way overblown for a number of reasons.

1) Bushco and apparently Obama do not apparently have a good understanding of who's really in charge over there. And neither do any of them have a good understanding of just what is meant by the title "Grand Ayatollah" in terms of how these individuals are revered and respected - and that goes with their fatwas. People in this country, including the radical right fundies, keep their religion for Sunday only - and only rarely does it make an appearance other then there. On the other hand, even Muslims who don't consider themselves especially devout will obey a fatwah from a Grand Ayatollah unquestioningly, and to what seems (to us anyway) ridiculous ends. (Remember Salman Rushdie?). In light of all that, Grand Ayatollah issued his fatway that said nuclear weapons and Islam are incompatible in 2003. And lo and behold, the latest NIE (you know the one - unanimous agreement among all 16 of our highly vaunted intelligence agencies) said the Iranian weapons program appears to have been halted in 2003, and IAEA inspectors report nothing that indicates they have re-started it since then.

You add that to all the crap we have done to Iran including deposing a democratically elected government and installing our puppet Shah - a brutal dictator right in the same league as Saddam Hussein - and it goes back even farther than that.

Recently, Iran has made overtures to the US Government both through the usual 'backdoor' channels and other informal contacts - and been hit with a stunning wall of silence.

Yet, when we needed help in stopping that little dust-up between al-Maliki and al-Sadr, who did we call to help? And yes, they came right in and helped.

I hear this belligerent language from Obama and I wonder just who he is/was listening to before he developed that position. And what does that say about him in terms of how he processes information - and who he surrounds himself with.

I would much rather be able to support him wholeheartedly - but I definitely agree - vigilance.