In private conversations I have had with various friends I have stated my reasons for supporting Senator Barack Obama in our current Presidential campaign. What I haven’t done is put down my reasons for supporting this candidacy. As this is, I feel, an important election given where we are at, I’ve decided to put down my reasons for supporting Barack Obama.
This is an issue that is deeply felt by people on both sides. I have listened to both sides, tried to study and often find myself, in the end, saddened by the whole discussion. I have watched Republican candidates, from the local level, all the way up to the Presidential level, use this issue to their advantage. They’ve talked like real pro-lifers and yet, when you look at the level of action, you’d be hard pressed to see any concrete results. As I’ve looked at McCain’s position on this incredibly controversial topic, I do not feel that this is an issue he truly cares about…outside of soundbites. His position has wavered, including, and up to his selection of VP choices. The top two candidates being vetted for this position were both pro-choice [Ridge and Lieberman]. While he did go with a candidate with strong pro-choice credentials, it seemed like he did it for reasons other than her position on abortion. Barack Obama truly holds a very liberal position on this topic. At the same time, he has talked consistently about working to reduce the number of abortions in this country. I’d rather see something done than an “all-or-nothing” policy which is what many on the pro-life side of the aisle seem to want. Obama talks about working to reduce poverty, which, is one of the primary factors in abortions today. He talks about offering viable alternatives to abortions. He talks about offering something other than “abstinence-only” education. How does that translate to real life? During the Clinton years with some of the same emphasis on poverty, education, alternatives, we saw the number of abortions go down. They have risen during the Bush years when there has been a lack of focus on reducing poverty and education that was too narrowly focused. Attempting to legislate this issue has been an abject failure. Working together though, we can reduce abortions in this country by addressing poverty, offering education that is all-encompassing and by offering viable alternatives to those who find themselves in a situation that they do not want to be in.
I have watched both candidates as we have witnessed this global economic meltdown occur. One has shown a cool, steady-handed approach, the other has “flailed” around with differing messages on different days. I have looked at both tax plans, I have listened to the “experts” and in the end came back to the one person I truly do listen to when it comes to financial advice. Warren Buffett, with a net worth of $50 Billion is at the top of the list when it comes to the acquisition of wealth. Despite that, he is a frugal man. I admire him a great deal, and I listen to what he has to say. When I hear him say that it isn’t fair for his secretary to pay more in taxes than he does, that rings true to me. We hear a lot of red-herring talk right now about socialism, marxism, communism especially as it relates to Obama and his tax plan. Except when you actually look at the plans, you find that not to be the case at all. I don’t make $250K per year. Heck, I won’t hit six figures this year. But, even if I did, I too would find it extremely unfair to find myself paying less taxes than my assistant. My layman’s review of these tax plans, coupled with Warren Buffett’s endorsement of Obama’s plan, makes this a very easy call for me.
Currently we are facing two wars. One I supported. One I did not. After the awfulness that was September 11th, I joined with all Americans in our support of the decision to hunt down, and bring to justice, the man who perpetrated this evil on us. I supported our decision to invade Afghanistan due to the Taliban’s support, comfort and aid to Osama bin Laden. Then came the drum beat from the current Administration regarding Iraq. It didn’t feel right. I listened with my gut clenched and in the end, despite what one of my heroes, Colin Powell, said, I could not support the decision. Since then I have been vindicated in my belief that we the American people were railroaded in a war carried on the back of misstatements and, in some cases, flat out lies. We have lost valuable American lives in a fight for one man’s reputation…George W. Bush. I find that scandalizing. Saddam Hussein was not a good man, but we had other, much more serious problems to contend with. Despite this talk of “victory”, it has become an elusive word that is not defined by those who use it. What is victory? Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska said –
The notion of winning in Iraq is a failed way of thinking. If we frame this as win or lose, we’ll be there forever.
McCain’s strategy seems to be “more military” without much thought given to diplomatic endeavors. We’ve seen this “maverick” instinct for the last 8 years leave our reputation, even with our Allies, in total disarray. As the World Leader, we cannot lead by force alone. It doesn’t work that way. We must lead by example and, when the world sees, poorly thought out and poorly managed occupations of another sovereign country, we diminish our ability to lead.
Afghanistan needs our attention desperately. We diverted resources, funds, etc. from the original and true fight. We’ve seen those results lately with a resurrgence of the Taliban and with violence at levels almost unseen since our invasion. According to Hagel, to –
…confront the problems in Afghanistan requires an understanding of its internal politics, its narcotics trade, and its endemic corruption, as well as a regional diplomatic approach, involving Pakistan, India, and Iran. McCain thinks we just need more military.
I believe that Obama is better able to disentangle us from the debacle that is Iraq; hopefully salvaging our reputation and at least a fledgling peace. I also believe that Obama better understands what is needed in Afghanistan and, despite McCain’s promises to get bin Laden if he becomes President (what, he needs the title before he can or will do it?), will bring a lasting peace in the region. I also believe he will increase our role in tracking and bringing to justice bin Laden.
McCain promised earlier this year that he would run an honorable campaign. I believed him. I remember what he went through in the South Carolina primary when Bush’s campaign pulled some real “dirty tricks.” Then McCain hired some of the same people. Since then he’s run a race that is typical when it comes to politics. It’s not that it’s the “nastiest” but it’s just typical. I’ve grown tired of typical politics! At the DNC in 2004, a young man gave a speech in which he said –
We are not a red state America or a blue state American, we are the United States of America!
I knew then I had found someone who shared my beliefs that divided we fall. Doesn’t mean we have to be in lock-step agreement. It does mean that we are all Americans. This notion that some of us are somehow less patriotic because we didn’t support the war in Iraq hit me with full force during the lead up to the war. I was denounced as un-patriotic, an embarrassment and un-American. I am none of those things. In Obama I saw a man who said, despite our differences, we are all Americans and we should treat each other with respect. Even in our current campaign, I have witnessed Obama often taking the high road. He hasn’t slandered McCain. He hasn’t tried to tie him to silliness like “socialism” or take our eyes off the ball. He has been consistent. And he’s been tough!
In Obama I see a pattern of respectfully listening to all sides. To allowing everyone a seat at the table. There isn’t impetuousness, but real, thoughtful, debate that includes everyone. I read an interview with one of the conservative members of the Harvard Law Review who said that even though Obama was considered “liberal” he treated them fairly and with respect and listened to what they had to say. I believe that has always been his modus operondi and I expect it to continue should he be elected to the White House. To me, this counts for a lot given the past 16 years of partisan attacks.
Leadership in our time requires a steady hand. Requires someone who rises above the petty. Requires someone who is intelligent. Barack Obama has faced two years of constant, merciless attacks. He has shown grace and poise. He has shown strength. He has shown that he is a smart guy. I, quite frankly, don’t want to vote for a guy who was lack-luster in school and who didn’t consider his or her studies to be the most important thing they had going at the time. I am not particularly interested in voting for the guy or gal that I would like to sit and have a beer with. Being the leader of the free world requires someone who is not a dunderhead. While I don’t believe McCain is that, I do believe that Obama has an intellectual curiosity that will serve him well as Leader of the Free World. I believe that McCain’s decision to choose Gov. Palin was not well-thought-out. I believe it showed an attention to the short term and not the long term. Shortsightedness is what got us into some of the messes we currently face. I believe Gov. Palin to be an impressive person in her own right, but I don’t believe she’s ready to be President on “day one.” There was a political movement in the 1850’s called the Know Nothing movement that eventually formed into a political party (The American Party). Do we really want to “dumb” down politics? It seems that way to me when the topic becomes peripheral issues.
For those reasons, and probably more, I am voting for Barack Obama.