Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Why I voted for Barack Obama

So I just voted for Barack Obama in the Democratic Primary.

I was genuinely conflicted about this choice. There are many things I like about Hillary Clinton, but primarily the depth of her knowledge about government and her clear mastery of the issues speaks to my inner policy wonk. Listen to her talk about NCLB, or HealthCare, or the desperate need to address the physical infrastructure of this country and you come away impressed by this candidate. Particularly in light of the current occupant of the white house who seems to consider his ignorance and lack of curiosity on these issues to be some point in his favor.

I'm also royally cranked by most of the talking heads and op/ed columinists of this country who cannot seem to generate any sort of even mild outrage in this coup d'etat' going on in Washington as the Bush Administration demonstrates it's contempt for the rule of law, it's boldfaced lying about everything and anything, and it's contempt for human dignity in it's embrace of torture, yet Hillary Clinton tearing up on the campaign trail sends them into a state of fury they have to devote endless hours of chatter and miles of newshole space too. I wish I were exaggerating here, but you really cannot overstate the degree these people are whacked into insanity about her, and their casual disregard for the criminal behavior of the President and his cronies. I was ready to vote for her just to spite these FrakHeads.

Yet, I remember the Clinton years well, and how I found myself constantly in a state of accepting the lesser possible outcome. How it seemd our party and our President had to bow to political neccesity, be on the defensive, couching our views and ideas in a way that obscured what we really believe in so as not to upset the bipartisan apple cart. All the while, the Tom Delays and Rush Limbaugh could push the debate further to the right with any sexist, racist, homophobic and just batshit insane diatribe, and that was okay, they were believers, not mere politicians. And perhaps in that enviroment, that was appropriate. But it left a bitter taste in my mouth that never went away.

That bitter taste reached truly poisonous levels in 2000, and drove me away from voting for Al Gore. A smart, capable and decent human being who was maligned and lied about, not just by his deviant political opponents, but by the "objective" reporters who covered him. No lie was too bizarre too pass along as truth, whether it was distorting his support for the development of the internet as a Senator, or the nasty quip about getting wardrobe advice from Naomi Klein that was tossed off by Dick Morris, that no reporter can find a single real source for yet cannot stop repeating. Yet the Al Gore who bravely stood up to condemn the War in Iraq and fight for Climate Change when our media elites were calling him a pudgy sore loser was not present in that campaign. A similair chain of events happened in 2004 with the terrible lies of the SwiftBoaters and Kerry's inability to make his campaign about what he and we in this party truly believe.

And Hillary Clinton, I think, despite her obvious competence and smarts, is closer to the 2000 Al Gore than the Al Gore of today. She will take the middle road, the practical road, that of the manager and the careful politician. And don't get me wrong, I respect and value that skill in a President and a legislator, it's how things get done. But my fear is that we won't just compromise on tactics, but on principle. That this path of moderation is really a path of fear. A fear of being called the hippie, the LIBERAL, the latte drinking elitist that Fox News hosts titter about on Sunday Mornings. And I simply cannot live with that anymore.

I'm not completely subsumed in the Obamamania. His Social Security take bugs the hell out of me, and his healthcare rhetoric is equally annoying. But ultimately, arguments about policy details are not really the issue. Will this guy stand up for what we beleive? I'm willing to take the gamble he will. Because we need to do more than squeak out a victory. We need to blow the doors off. We need to change the whole game. Thats how you get the big changes. The New deal. The Great Society. Voting rights act. Social Security. Medicare. All from great change elections that offered a narrow window of opportunity for big change. And I think this is the best chance this generation is going to get before the curtain really comes down. We need to roll back the unitary executive and the facist state that it has created. We need to end the war in Iraq and end now the notion of an American Empire. We need to change our economic values to something that is more than just, "I got mine, frak off and die hippie". And we won't get near enough of that with Hillary. WE might get some or all of that with Obama.

So I had to vote for him. Even if doesn't win the nomination. Because I had to say I took this chance when it came my way.

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