Sunday, February 03, 2008


Although most of you know this, I will start this essay by saying I'm not a Democrat. I am a progressive, a group which used to be influential in that party but has become virtually irrelevant.

But I am an American and I am following closely the race Democratic presidential nomination. Although I'm not a Democrat anymore, whoever they nominate has a very good chance of becoming the next president.

I thought the Democrats had some good candidates. I liked what Mike Gravel and Dennis Kucinich had to say, although they never had a chance of winning in today's corporate controlled Democratic Party. I had issues with John Edwards, but I appreciated the fact that he was the only major candidate who actually talked about poor people as though they were human beings to the same degree as middle class folks. He talked about them like they were actually part of this country. He was the only one that acknowledged their existence. I think this was useful.

Of the two remaining candidates, I prefer Barack Obama. I know that will displease some people who are Hillary Clinton fanatics and others who think I shouldn't like any Democrat. But although some of my preference for Obama is based on a mistrust of Hillary Clinton, there are aspects of Obama that I actively like. So please hear me out.

I was reading this article about how Obama went to Martin Luther King Jr's church in Atlanta and condemned the homophobia that many blacks hold. He said that bigotry was bigotry, no matter who was engaging in it. He said that you shouldn't get a free pass for gay bashing or anti-Semitism just because you're black. He countered that blacks should be MORE sensitive to others suffering from immoral discrimination. Humanity and empathy are not a zero sum gain. He said this in a black church.

I contrast this with Hillary Clinton's vote in favor of giving President Bush a blank check to launch his unprovoked assaults against both Iraq and the Constitution. It's my suspicion that Hillary truly believed that these were bad ideas but didn't have the guts to cast the right vote. I believe she was afraid that Republicans would tar her as soft on "national security" and she didn't want to give them that. Because she did the wrong thing to appease them, I'm sure they're going to take it easy on her come summertime if she wins the nomination (rolls eyes).

And that's exactly what's wrong with Hillary Clinton. She's spent seven years as my senator desperately trying to not give the Republicans ammunition for the presidential bid we all knew would happen eventually. Even though the most politically unsavvy person knew that they were going to pillory her anyway, no matter how conservative her voting record as an elected official was.

I say good for Barack Obama. Guts means saying what's right to an unfriendly audience. Cowardice is voting for the wrong thing not because you believe it's right but because someone might call you meanie names.

If one's most important experience is cowardice when it most matters, then maybe that's not the kind of experience one should want from their prospective commander-in-chief.

I will not vote for anyone whose objective is to win Ann Coulter's support, however backhanded it may be. I will not vote for a corporate tool for president, regardless of whether there's a D or R or Z or X or V after their name.

The corporatists desperately want Hillary. So Obama is the only chance to prevent the them from completely emasculating what little progressivism is left in the Democratic Party. Eight years of Clinton II will surely finish what Clinton I got rolling.

Obama's the only chance to get a semi-decent candidate out of one of the major parties. If you're a Democrat and don't want your party to become as corporate-owned as the Republicans (they're pretty close as it is already but Hillary would seal the deal), then please vote for Obama.

But my preference for Obama is not solely based on the fact that he's not Hillary Clinton. I actually think he might make a decent president.

In this time of America's tattered international reputation, it's even more important to have a president who actually has a worldview. A worldview beyond "let's bomb the hell out of (devil country of the month)." A president with a worldview will be better able to challenge advisors. A president without a worldview will swallow whole hog whatever bill of goods advisors are trying to sell. Witness the last eight years.

It's important to have a president that can truly engage with other countries, rather than acting like we have a God-given right to their subservience. If a candidate thinks she has a God-given right to the female vote or the Latino vote or the gay vote, then that Bushesque sense of entitlement will carry over into governance and foreign policy.

What I like about Obama is that when he addresses foreign policy questions, he actually betrays that most mocked of emotions in political circles: empathy. He actually tries to put himself in the shoes of other people. I don't doubt that's related to the fact that he's lived in a developing country (Indonesia) and has roots in another (Kenya).

There's no doubt in my mind that as president, his judgment would be wisened by this humanity... something that has been sorely lacking in the White House for a long time and something that none of the other candidates have had the guts to show on foreign policy questions whatsoever.


scoop said...

Good post, very well said.

I have always been a Republican but during the Bush mess I started to fade. This idiot has destroyed the party. I have looked at McCain, Romney, Huckabee and the rest that are long gone and I say to myself, "This is it, this is the best we can do?" It is pitiful, there is so much damage to repair.

So now I wonder which path to take. I do like Obama even though many says he has no expierence, to them I say, Bush had expierence and look at the mess we are in across the world and here at home.

Renegade Eye said...

See this.

The Democratic Party still hasn't, or ever will, be a party that represents it's contituencies that aren't monied. I'm sure if a real alternative existed, many would jump from it.

Mark said...

I too respect Obama's worldview. Our foreign policy credentials have been so damaged that a clean break with the past could be seen and made if Obama's elected. I also admire that his philosopher of choice is one known for advocating skepticism, Reinhold Neibuhr, and that he does challenge party orthodoxy at times, like with the teachers' unions or the failures within the black community.
But you know me, Brian. I can't vote for him in a general election.