February 5th is this Tuesday. In many states like my own that means it’s primary day. If you’re registered in Massachusetts to vote, like myself, as an Independent you may vote in the Democratic or Republican primaries. This year I will be voting in the Democratic primary and I will be supporting Barack H. Obama. Here’s why.
I had prepared a long post comparing Clinton, Edwards, Obama and Richardson. After writing that I sat on it for a while. Two candidates dropped out. My analysis boiled down to this: the candidates platforms are largely the same. I downloaded PDFs and read the small print. Since political promises from campaigns rarely make it to the light of day in tact, I determined that any of the Democratic candidates would steer the country in roughly the same direction, policy-wise.
So you won’t be seeing my policy comparative analysis. It was long and its conclusion was that someone could make a choice based on policy alone, but in this race, that would not really be sufficient.
In this race the differentiator is character. Hillary Clinton is a fine American. She has fought hard for progressive values her whole life. She is tough and determined. She has many characteristics that you would need in a Commander-in-Chief. She is impressively intelligent. She can rattle of policies and why they were made off the top of her head for a myriad of topics. She’s worked inside the government on a couple levels, outside the government, served on corporate boards, and even lived in the White House for eight years. She is capable of leading the nation competently.
However, she does have one trait that has served her well as a politician that I do not approve of. She is absolutely ruthless in the game of politics. She plays a no-holds-barred style of politics that has been best-of-class in this nation for the past 20 years or so. She will say anything to win an election. Usually, these statements are roughly based around the truth, but often they are stretches of the imagination that the smallest amount of research would show as untrue. An example of this was her mischaracterization of statements that Mr. Obama made with regard to Fmr. President Ronald Reagan. You can fact check those statements easily. These statements have become common enough to lead the Obama campaign to set up a website dedicated to rebuking them. See also, factcheck.org for a great, neutral source on political statements from all contenders.
Mrs. Clinton practices an old-style, divisive form of politics that are simply not healthy for our country. The second huge problem for Mrs. Clinton is that these tactics have lead her to become the right-wing’s cause-du-jour on many occasions. She is seen in the same light as Democrats see a Newt Grinwich or Dick Cheney. The hatred for her is deep and strong. Should she be the Democratic nominee, the attacks on her would make Senator Kerry’s 2004 “Swiftboating” and John McCain’s 2000 “illegitimate black baby” look like child’s play. The reason the Republicans hate her is that she plays their game of devising politics better than they do.
As Americans, we need to stamp out this kind of politics altogether. The biggest reason I am an independent voter is that I have not approved of the brand of politics that have been used by any party thus far in my voting life.
Barack Obama doesn’t play politics in this manner. He stands up for what he believes, and doesn’t beat down those who disagree. His brand of politics is one of union, not division. He realizes the reason nothing has been accomplished in Washington since the Democrats have come to power is that they don’t have enough votes to override their counterparts across the aisle. They have to reach compromises. Mr. Obama’s attitude is pushing us in the right direction a little less aggressively gets us to our goal better and faster than attacking our political enemies and only gaining pyrrhic victories.
The election of Barack Obama sends a positive message to our country and the rest of the world, who have been detached from us for the last seven years due to our “Yeehaw!” style of foreign policy. It says Americans are standing up for change from the attitudes that have gotten us into this mess on both sides of the aisle. And we’re starting change at the top. We will engage any other country in discourse first. We’ll yield our “big stick” with our former level of control. We will lead by example. This is the only way to lead–it’s been a while since our actions have followed our supposed values.
Let us not forget that Barack Obama led the opposition to the war in Iraq. He understood that the factions there did not welcome Al Qaeda. And even in the current war, they only make up 2% of the fighters there. And that the major warring factions there now both hate Al-Qaeda. He won’t be fooled by neo-conservative rhetoric. He won’t have his appointments change intelligence when it disagrees with their policies. He is open and thoughtful. And the middle east will certainly not miss his four years of school in Indonesia and his understanding of their culture.
Barack Obama is the story of America. He himself is a melting pot of cultures, has risen from having no privledge and little money to the highest levels of education and national service. All while maintaining his roots and never forgetting the Americans who couldn’t lift themselves up.
Mr. Obama has the same governing credentials as Mrs. Clinton: several years in the Senate. Mrs. Clinton has two more years, but with that time, she also voted to go to war in Iraq, and did not support the Levin amendment to the war authorization bill that would have stipulated completed UN inspections for force could be considered. During this time, as a State Senator in Illinois, Mr. Obama was one the the most eloquent and outspoken dissenters against our nation’s march to war. And if you don’t recall, it was not popular to stand up and oppose the war at the time. This is the kind of leader I want running our country.
Americans have been without an inspirational leader in the White House since John F. Kennedy. Many rallied behind Reagan for the Cold War, but despised him for his pro-greed, pro-privileged domestic and trade policies. Thus, it is no coincidence that most of John F. Kennedy’s relatives who are very friendly with Mrs. Clinton still endorsed Mr. Obama. Most notably JFK’s brother Ted, and his daughter Caroline. And now Maria Schriver has also come out for Obama as well.
For me the choice is clear. The younger voting public support Mr. Obama in overwhelmingly strong numbers. This is because they see him as standing up against the politics of divisiveness that has stranded our country in its time of need. I guess the older population has simply given up, that they don’t believe there is any other way to operate in politics. It’s hard to blame them. That’s the way it has always seemed.
I refuse to support that notion. I will not give up on my country. And as a Massachusetts Independent voter, on February 5th, I will enthusiastically vote for Barack Obama.
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