It’s Super Tuesday. Indulge me in a little politics.
It seems trite to say that I’m throwing the immense weight of the blog behind the candidacy of Barack Obama simply because he is campaigning on a promise to bring change to this country. After all. doesn’t every candidate claim to support change of one kind or another? Isn’t it more important to select a candidate that offers a platform or area of expertise that you believe best fits the nation’s needs? Or perhaps the candidate that will mean the most pork/tax breaks for your community/state/business?
Please don’t misunderstand or oversimplify my reasoning. I think Barack’s overall plan is excellent. He combines many of the things those of us who label ourselves and liberals/progressives want from government with the knowledge that you can’t govern with a rigid ideaology. But, I believe he gives the nation the best chance to move forward into a new age. Since at least 1993, we’ve been living in an era of hyper-partisanship, where Republicans and Democrats work together for the good of the country only as a last resort and see compromise as surrender. Politicians and those behind the scenes have been more interested in demonizing each other, and questioning the patriotism of those they disagree with, than finding common ground and getting things done. It is time for a new age, where those who are willing to listen to their opponents, thoughtfully consider different ideas, and then honestly and openly debate and in order to get policies that represent the interests of more than just 50% plus one regain control. Our nation deserves better than what the last 15 years have given us.
Make no mistake, Barrack will not change things overnight, nor will he eliminate the culture that dominated both Washington and the political punditry. If he manages to gain the Democratic nomination, the Republican money machine will spring into action, tearing him apart with half-truths and exaggerations, telling us he’s a Muslim, a drug dealer, in debt to black separatists, and who knows what else. But, if he can get elected, I honestly believe he will reach out to those who have different visions for our nation, both politicians and regular Americans, and work to bridge at least some of the artificial gaps that have been created during the Clinton-Bush years.
For the record, I think Hillary Clinton would make a fine president. However, I have no interest in reliving the scandals of the 90s. If she gets the nomination, we’re going to be subjected to six months of ads about everything that went wrong in the 90s, while she defends herself by telling us about everything that went right in the 90s. The fact that the next president will take office in 2009 will get lost in the noise. If elected, you know there is a host of congressional Republicans who will want to open every investigation that ended when Bill Clinton left office, and probably add a few new ones to the docket. And while Hillary has earned a reputation for being able to work with Republicans in the Senate, John McCain notably, I doubt the goodwill she’s built in her time in the Senate will carry over to the White House. In short, we’ll be subjected to at least four more years of zero-sum, slash-and-burn politics from both sides, with scandal and rumor taking precedence over policy. I also have trouble with the fact I don’t think she’s comfortable being herself. Everyone, even her detractors, say that she is much different in private than what we see in public. She’s warm, engaging, and interested in hearing out others. I have a hard time trusting someone who is afraid to be themselves.
I greatly admire John McCain. His service to this nation can not be questioned. This nation would be a much better place if others shared his ability to move beyond the Vietnam war and forgive people for their perceived mistakes 30-40 years ago. I admire some of his ideas related to public service, and his willingness not to cave on immigration reforms based on demonizing immigrants rather than considering all the costs of the problem. However, I think his reputation as a Maverick is overstated, and frankly am concerned about anyone who defends President Bush and the Iraq war as aggressively as McCain has done. I said this before, but he has a Bob Dole 1996 smell to him: the old war veteran who has put in his time, kissed and made up with those he’s crossed in the past, and sold his soul in order to become president.
I support Barrack for more than just change, though. He was brave enough to speak publicly against the Iraq war from the beginning, something that could have easily derailed his political career before the left the Illinois statehouse. Those of us who were also against the war in 2003 remember what a bad time that was, when anyone who dared speak out against the war was branded a collaborator with Al-Queda or hater of America. I believe Barrack is someone who will thoughtfully consider policy options rather than adhering to a rigid philosophy and refusing to adjust course when things don’t go as planned.
And, frankly, his candidacy excites me. You should base your vote on more than who generates the most excitement, but I look forward to what an Obama administration would mean for this country. I’m not excited about Clinton, McCain, or some mystery candidate (Bloomberg, Gingrich, Gore) taking office.
He may not be the perfect candidate, despite some of the mythology that is being created about him, but I think Barack Obama gives our nation the best chance to move forward.
So, that’s that. Most people expect Hillary to have the advantage today, but many feel if she can’t knock out Barack, he’s positioned very well over the next month of primaries and caucuses. He clearly has all the momentum at this point, it’s just a matter of whether than can be sustained through, at the surface, what may appear to many as a disappointing result today. We shall see. Unless Romney pulls multiple major surprises, I expect McCain to pretty much have the nomination secured after tonight.