Friday, February 01, 2008

My Endorsement

On Tuesday, February 5th, I will get to vote in the first meaningful presidential primary of my lifetime. I am voting for Barack Obama and I urge you to do the same.

Barack Obama is a gifted orator and an inspiring figure. He has crossed this country and found record audiences waiting for him wherever he went. This is important. Our political system is very disempowering and anything that is exciting citizens and bringing new people into the system is a positive development, as Barack has the power to make us a more Democratic nation. But, admittedly, this is only a ‘feel good’ reason. There are also several concrete reasons to elect him.

First of all, this country engaged in a war of aggression against Iraq. There is no other way to express this. There is also no way to minimize the impact that it has had on our standing in the world. Barack offers hope that we can regain our standing in the world. I feel that Hillary does not offer the same opportunities. Barack opposed the war, Hillary supported the war. She may try to equivocate that she only supported the authorization, but she never spoke up as we rushed into battle.

This isn’t semantical or looking in the rear-view mirror. For one, Barack was always in front on this issue. When we try to re-engage the world following the Bush debacle, we need someone with credibility. Hillary has never overcome her Iraq vote. First of all, she admits that she never read the National Security Estimate in advance of authorizing force. Second, she refuses to admit that it was a mistake, instead she hangs her hat on the fact that she was wrong to expect Bush not to screw up. This is no different than McCain’s position, who believes that he could have done a better job in Iraq. This is important as well. WE DON’T RUSH TO WAR! This is America. We don’t seek war. Among the many reasons why you don’t rush to a war of choice is that there are unintended consequences. Among these, is that things can go wrong. Hillary seems to still not understand this as she has voted to label the Iranian National Guard a terrorist organization, giving Bush the pretense to lead us in to war. She has not learned her lesson, and the world knows this as well. Barack Obama shows the world that we are eager to be part of the world community again, and his name, skin color, and position on the Iraq war are all important aspects of that.

On domestic policy, there is little difference between the two candidates – and I believe that credit for this goes to John Edwards, who was the first to talk about climate change, universal healthcare and poverty issues. That said, the biggest strike against Obama may be his stance on non-mandated health care. This is not something that I am happy with as it seems a bit naïve, but it is far from a dealbreaker. One thing that has really impressed me about Obama is that he is not shy in telling Americans that a sacrifice will be required from us to work toward energy independence and a stable environment. This may not make him popular, but politicians should value honesty over pandering. I believe that Barack does.

Ethically, I feel very bad for the Clintons. They are vilified, largely through no fault of their own. But their own deafness to this problem cost this nation dearly during Bill’s presidency and will likely cost us dearly during a Clinton II administration. People hate them and will do anything to destroy them – and, likewise, they play in the mud. She has been very unethical in her attacks on Obama and it sours people on politics. Additionally, Hillary takes a lot of money from lobbyists. Her chief advisors are Mark Penn and Howard Wolfson. Google them. These are not progressives, these are manipulators. If you really want to change things, then show it with your actions, not your words. Stop accepting money from lobbyists. Tell Bill to announce the donors to his library. Let us judge whether those donors have given money to curry favor. Hillary plays into our cynicism and tells us to ignore that cynicism – since everyone does it. I reject this answer, because I want more.

On hope, this is not a contest – and it is not meaningless. People of my generation are cynical by nature. We’ve stopped believing. We see handout after handout to big business. Policies that are destined to fail because they are handcuffed by giveaways. We don’t believe that there really can be something better. Obama believes this, and he’s already inspired millions to this belief as well. I’m still holding on to my cynicism, but I’m thankful that not everyone is.

For all these reasons, and because he would destroy McCain, I support Barack Obama for President and urge you to do the same.

PS - I welcome any discussion on this so please share your opinion

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