He’s an inspirational guy, he’s obviously smart and charismatic, he gives a great speech, and his wife’s a babe. But enough about John McCain.
Of course there’s all the obvious stuff: change and hope, charisma, adorable kids, reminds you of a Kennedy, fascinating life story, Michelle, the first black candidate of a major American political party, incredibly likable, great speaker, smart as a whip.
That’s not why I voted for Barack Obama.
I voted for him for two big reasons: first of all, the last eight years were terrible.
The Republican party seems to be eating itself, and it’s not surprising. Their philosophy is ridiculous, and it’s destructive. It’s not even that good for the super-rich, because the super-rich can only stay rich so long as people keep buying their stuff, unless they screw things up and get a huge bailout. Big businesses are all but encouraged to screw things up, though, through deregulation and a system that basically says the ultimate goal is to make tons of money for your shareholders, regardless of the quality of your product. Uh-huh.
They’re pro-life, until the kids get born, at which point they’re on their own, because while regulating people’s sex lives is “compassionate conservatism,” helping poor kids see a doctor is “big government socialism.” Uh-huh. Oh, and it’s your fault if you’re poor, even though these guys have done everything they possibly can to tilt the playing field of the free market so far towards the rich, it’s almost impossible to stand up. Pull yourself up by your bootstaps, they say. Problem is, bootstraps are made in China these days. But it’s the Democrats fault you’re poor, they say, because of Mexican gay abortionists. Boogity-boo.
This is, shall we say, not a particularly tenable political philosophy. Maybe McCain could fix things, but he’s getting on in years, and then we’ve got Palin. Palin’s a classic culture warrior, so expect Bush III.
Reason two is this: despite what you might have read in Aunt Betsy’s e-mails, Obama’s no radical socialist. If you get past the inspirational rhetoric in his speeches, you see a guy who really does look at all sides of an issue, who will do what he thinks is right and not what is necessarily popular, and who believes in team building. It’s easy to imagine him as the sort of President who might hire cabinet secretaries and advisors with whom he does not necessarily agree.
Personally, he had me at his Iraq policy. Back in 2006 or so, I heard him on the radio giving a speech where he talked about a gradual withdrawal, a policy where the Iraqis knew we weren’t going to be there to help/hinder them forever. (It’s not a retreat, Aunt Betsy.) The idea was that we’ve done almost all we can possibly do, and it’s not our place to be there any longer, and we’ll have the help of the rest of the world if we need it, just because they’ll be so relieved we’ve left. And it made perfect sense to me.
Here’s a guy who never wanted to go to Iraq in the first place, who knew we had to get out, but who also knew that we needed to be really careful leaving. This wasn’t Clinton’s “I’m glad I voted for this war which was a bad idea and we should stay, but also it’s a bad idea,” or Kucinich’s “Let’s leave right now! That will totally work! Also, we’ll ride out of Baghdad on the backs of unicorns!” It was a solid, sober solution to a difficult problem. He wasn’t trying to appease bloodthirsty hawks or moonbat doves.
Bush campaigned as a uniter, not a divider, and Obama’s done pretty much the same thing. The difference is this: Obama isn’t hiring Dick Cheney, Karl Rove, and Donald Rumsfeld (or whoever the left-wing equivalents are). Bush surrounded himself with people who agreed with him all the time, people who made purely idealogical decisions about everything. Before the smoke cleared on 9/11, Democrats were already being called traitors and un-American simply for questioning the President’s judgement about who we should be attacking. That spirit of divisiveness is really what hurt America in the days after. Bin Ladin’s gang might have killed 3,000 innocent people that day, but they triggered a brief American unification, where we all felt like brothers and sisters and more people gave blood than was necessary, simply because we wanted to do something.
Let me say that a different way: the freaking Taliban made us want to give of ourselves for our fellow Americans. Karl Rove made us believe that giving of ourselves for our fellow Americans is socialism. That’s what I mean.
I want a President who’s actually going to do whatever is in the best interest of this country, regardless of party politics, regardless of idealogy, and regardless of what is popular. Obama’s a good, smart guy who’s smart enough to admit when he doesn’t know something and good enough to want to do what’s right. He’s strong enough to face any problem with a cool head and reasonable enough not to make rash decisions without checking all the facts. He’s a team player who kept a massive, volunteer based campaign extremely well-organized and focused.
If that’s not enough for ya, consider this: he picked a running mate who’d make a good Vice-President, while his opponent picked a running mate for cynically political reasons. He’s run a basically positive campaign characterized by stadiums and halls full of excited, happy supporters, while his opponent has run an extremely negative campaign, with rallies attended by the angry, the fearful, and the ignorant. He primarily funded his campaign not on oil money or special interest groups, but on the donations of ordinary people who just happened to like him. He understand how to use “new media” better than any other candidate since the dawn of the internet. And his wife would seriously be the hottest First Lady since Frances Cleveland.
Polls close at 7pm. You still have time to do something you’ll be telling your grandkids about. Go vote for Obama.