In one week, campaigning will shut down across the US and we will all head to the polls. Most likely more people will vote on that single day than has ever occurred in our history, perhaps even the history of the world.
A great many of us do see that we are at a crossroads in history. And we are. For our own citizenry, we have decisions to make about our governance: How much surveillance is too much? Does habeas corpus still have meaning? Do we accept fear over reason? Do we continue defining ourselves by the various battles of the 1960s?
(Word of note: Habeas Corpus is a right to have a writ saying why you are being brought to court. In short, it is a right to know what charges have been brought against you.)
So yes, things really are incredibly important to consider right now. Of course, elections are always important. But in this case, we are at the cusp of something big. The longer these provisions are in place, the harder they are to roll back.
I have been posting lots and lots of links and short snips about both presidential candidates. Everyone is well aware that I support Barack Obama. But I think it would be useful to outline my own case against McCain and for Obama. To break things down, I will look at domestic policy, foreign policy, and personal factors.
It is rare when my views on domestic policy and those of Obama’s line up in any major ways. I naturally lean libertarian and old-school, small-c conservative. However, he has also been an advocate of personal responsibility, something that is a core necessity of my own views. Parents need to actually parent in order for students to succeed in schools is a great example of where he and I line up. But there is also the redistribution of wealth, which is a more socialist idea (oOo… I said the s-word!) In times of trial, which we are about to face, the idea of hunkering down and looking out for one another holds a strong place in society as well. So I am not fearful of his policies. Also, there is the fact that his tax plan generates more revenue and taxes the majority less, something we need after the 80s and 90s have left us with CEOs making not 40-50 times the base pay of staff (as it is in Europe) but 400-500 times the base pay of the common workers. A societal restructuring toward that is also not something to be discarded.
On foreign policy, Obama and I agree on many more points. He wishes to be the great ambassador the Presidency is meant for, and for the US to regain its status as the great moderator for peace. He will negotiate with anyone, a stance taken by that ultra-liberal, pro-socialist, Euro-centric pansy Richard Nixon. In this realm, I see Obama as the man of nuance, a man with deft negotiating skills. He’ll be the one who can, dare I use realpolitik here, coerce and manipulate lesser states into doing what we want. It at least tends to be less violent, and really avoids us spending American blood overthrowing societies (oh, and failing at it). Shallow as it is, tacked onto this is the image that the United States finally lives up to its fame of a land where a black man, a son of an immigrant, can indeed become President of the greatest republic in history.
Then of course are the personal factors. I think that Obama has proven his managerial skills. Looking at his campaign, it has been nearly flawless. Slow, steady, organizing grassroots, using modern technologies, across the whole country. He has been relatively gaffe-free. Even when attacked with childish ideas, he comes back to the people by talking to us as if we were indeed reasonable adults. He has been polite and even-tempered throughout a two year ordeal of everyone tearing into his life. And he actually loves his wife and family. They were never selected for political reasons. He married Michelle as a complimentary head of the family. I can appreciate that. Lastly, he picked Joe Biden as his running mate. A man who required that he be a part of policy decisions in an Obama administration and one who definitely could handle presidential duties in a pinch.
As I am unabashedly biased, here is my case against John McCain. On domestic issues, McCain falls short on his title as a conservative. Anyone following in Bush 43’s path fails as a conservative. He will maintain the tax incentives for the wealthy to just keep reaping more wealth. His reactions to our economic crises going up and down faster than the stock market do not lend to any stabilizing force to help us in any way (don’t get me started on the foolishness of an across the board spending freeze). And I don’t think he would reinstate an unwavering use of habeas corpus, that silly tradition being a holdover of our ancient English Common Law. It’s been so important to our basic rights for over one thousand years. But I guess that since we’re going after a few dozen trrists [sic] bent on doing peanuts damage against us using a tactic that only strengthens a citizenry’s resolve (eg Germany’s bombing of Britain in two wars), we had better eliminate that common law custom that has helped protect our rights for over a millennium.
Sorry for the digression.
On McCain’s foreign policy we also run into temperament. He has taken a stance on the world that sees only absolutes, a stance that is divorced from his own views eight years ago. This is also a point where his age shows. If one is not at their best game at all times on the international stage, then they ought not be there. Most of us cannot do this job. McCain may have done well 15 or 20 years ago. But now, confusing Germany and Russia, Sunni and Shia, al Queda and Iraqi insurgents just doesn’t work. The world is a tricky enough place as it is, and we cannot afford to have more missteps. Time will not look favorably upon this chapter of our history, as well it should not, and we desperately need someone to restore our integrity and goodwill in the world. McCain is not capable of doing this.
Finally, McCain picked Sarah Palin to be the backup leader of the most powerful nation Earth has ever seen. He selected her without forethought. He never met her, never knew her. It was a cold, purely political decision, and condescending and sexist one at that. Other than managing the campaign (which has been done so poorly and is now running on Karl Rove’s fumes), this was his big moment of executive motion. He did a terrible job and picked a woman because she’s a woman. She has no national policy credentials, barely executive credentials, and never gave a thought to international policy issues. And frankly, given how poor a decision it was, it seems made by a committee and put on his desk. I don’t know if McCain ever actually thought about it. Once he heard that it could get him votes with racist evangelical religious fanatics, that was all right with him.
To me the choice has been abundantly clear for ages. I had lots of respect for McCain, but the past decade has not been kind to his intellect or his integrity, and the choice of running mate has forced me to give up on him entirely.
Obama is the choice to help lead us into the future. He is a pragmatic Democrat. He will not lead us into more war, but he will not shy away from exerting force. He is considerate of all angles before making decisions and has a penchant for being surrounded by people more knowledgeable than himself. He does not treat the average person like a fool and he reminds us of the respect and dignity that is due to all human beings.
Best of all, Obama reminds us that our lives are in our hands. That we control our destiny. That this government is indeed ours, and he is the first true choice of the people for quite a long time.