Sunday, March 02, 2008

Why I will vote for Barack Obama in the Ohio Primary

I do not believe that Barack Obama's presidency would immediately and automatically transform the world. I am not a dewy-eyed idealist who believes his presidency would end poverty, make us all love one another, and eradicate the problems of partisanship forever. I am not a member of some irrational cult of Obama.

And that is, in part, why I wholeheartedly and happily endorse Barack Obama for president. He's an inspirational speaker, an electric presence--but that's not what makes him such a great candidate. Here's what does:
  • His legislative record demonstrates both progressive ideals and a willingness to focus on issues that are critical but not politicized. In the Illinois Senate and the U.S. Senate, he's helped make health care more affordable for children and adults. He's worked to curb nuclear proliferation, he's supported women's rights (including at 100% voting score from NARAL), and he's fought for ethics and transparency in government. Consider how deeply important this last issue is in light of the Bush presidency.
  • He's demonstrated an impressive ability to adapt and turn his weaknesses into strengths. In early Democratic debates, Obama didn't perform well. He seemed to stumble, unable to use the forum to articulate his ideas. Twenty debates later, he answers questions clearly and openly, pointing both to his record and to his specific ideas. As much as people like to parody his repetitions of "hope" and "change," the debates have shown he's invested in specific policy, not "just words."
  • He's thoughtful and self-aware. Read his memoirs. They have a lot of the hallmarks of political memoir, but they also show a man willing to acknowledge his mistakes and grow from them.
  • He inspires legislators from both parties. There are various kinds of bipartisanship (and I wish we had more than two parties, by the way). One is full, active resistance. I'd point to recent Democratic examples, but there simply aren't many. Another is capitulation by the weaker party. On so many issues of foreign policy, the majority party in Congress, the Democrats, have given in, serving as a functional minority party. The third, which Obama has embodied, is one that treats issues as neither liberal nor conservative, but broader. Consider the example of his passing legislation in Illinois to ensure the human rights by making police videotape interrogations (there had been a high rate of forced confessions in the state). Go read Hilzoy's endorsement of Obama for more details.
  • He will dramatically reshape the image of the United States across the world. Not only will Obama institute diplomacy instead of the many-times-over failures of the Bush administration's foreign policy, he will, as an African-American, as a candidate who has no foundation of political nepotism to run on, embody a major step forward for American culture.
Obama isn't perfect; where Clinton supported the Kyl-Lieberman amendment, Bush's ticket to move closer to war with Iran, Obama did not vote. (Interestingly enough, John McCain was the only other senator not to vote.)

But politicians can't be perfect. I don't have any illusions about a potential Obama presidency. I just look at his record and see a candidate willing to act openly and honestly, to represent progressive issues and work beyond media- and party-dictated positions. Vote Obama.

1 comment:

Lesley said...

Am I the only one giving the love? Go Crazy!