January 31, 2008

Why Obama?

Steve asked in the comments for a reason to vote for Obama. I have been wrestling with partisan ship and general angst the last few days. Some of it about personal stuff that is largely unimportant, some just moodiness, some the weather, etc. But I have also had a conversation with a conservative Christian republican who might be considered one of the 29 percenters--you know, those rare Americans who think Bush is doing a "heckuva job." The disconnect between us was jarring. Liberals are essentially socialists and unpatriotic--unless they support the President. Conservative policies don't have any unintended consequences. Republicans make mistakes, but only when they act like Democrats. Sigh.

That is part of what Obama, out of all the candidates brings to the table. I liked John Edwards too. I think he is a good person and has broadened the debate to focus on poverty and the working class. But Obama has a chance--a chance to do something beyond that. To be cliched, voting for him is a vote for some kind of optimism. Bush has taught us for the last 8 years to vote out of fear--fear of what the terrorists will do, and what the Democrats might do. (I can't tell you how many conservaives have suggested as much--they understood that Bush wasn't great, but what Kerry or Gore might do was terrible. Sure, Bush might torture and ignore a Hurricane, but Kerry might have, gasp, addressed climate change.)

Andrew Sullivan, in Goodbye to All That: Why Obama Matters suggests that the country has been divided over that Baby Boomer generation's central conflict of VN. That certainly was true about 2004's election:
"At its best, the Obama candidacy is about ending a war—not so much the war in Iraq, which now has a mo mentum that will propel the occupation into the next decade—but the war within America that has prevailed since Vietnam and that shows dangerous signs of intensifying, a nonviolent civil war that has crippled America at the very time the world needs it most. It is a war about war—and about culture and about religion and about race. And in that war, Obama—and Obama alone—offers the possibility of a truce."
Clinton plays to that divide in a way that her husband, I think, didn't as President--though he certainly has as potential First Husband. McCain is still a legacy of that generation and is more likely to continue failed Republican policies. Obama, whatever you think of his policies, has a chance to return us to something approaching a normal political debate where conservatives and liberals can debate the merits of proposed taxation policy.

9 comments:

Bitebark said...

If Obama can move us away -- even by a fraction -- from the same old Boomer arguments and pathologies, he's got my vote for any public office he can get himself up for. If it's president, so much the better.

As an aside, I find Sullivan a curious sort of conservative. He pays a lot of lipservice to conservatism, but also deeply understands -- and seems to agree with -- many of the central memes of the left blogosphere, of which the "everything's a proxy for VN when it's the boomers" is one. He acknowledges the lefty framing on a lot of things, and that's exactly opposite from the Rovian model, which is insist that up is down over and over and over until the aforementioned 29% have no choice to believe it.

steves said...

I just wanted to say thanks for the comments. They have been very helpful.

Bitebark said...

It's also worth mentioning that there isn't a whole lot separating Hillary and Obama on policy. There's remarkable (in my mind) agreement amongst Democrats on the broad items: universal healthcare, progress on ending the war in Iraq, restoration of our image abroad, repealing the Bush tax cuts, etc. Details tend to be a little fleeting at this point, but I'm neither suprised nor disturbed by that, seeing as how much time we have left in the election season . . . and how much things can change in that time.

IMO, this year the Democrats are the party of genuine change, and it's really about how you want that change flavored, rather than the exact ingredients at this point.

SOF said...

I'm voting for Obama, too, and not because Streak is voting this way.

I'm currently reading Obama's book "The Audacity of Hope" and see a depth of understanding in him of the issues beyond partisanship. He clearly admits he has democrat leanings and I wouldn't expect him to admit otherwise. He is a Democrat so his views, in his words, "correspond more closely to the editorial pages of the New York Times than those of the Wall Street Journal."

But his look at the problems with entrenched views kinda startled me in a good way.

"In a country as diverse as ours, there will always be passionate arguments about how we draw the line when it comes to government action. That is how our democracy works. But our democracy might work a bit better if we recognized that all of us possess values that are worthy of respect: if liberals at least acknowledged that the recreational hunter feels the same way about his gun as they feel about their library books, and if conservatives recognized that most women feel as protective of the right to reproductive freedom as evangelicals do about their right to worship." [p. 57]

I'm under no illusion that just extending respect to others will solve our country's issues, but I believe if we stand in the shoes of those with whom we differ than we might be able to walk through these difficult issues our country faces with some confidence of success. We need this after a decade of division. I count the last two years of the Clinton administration in this just as much as these last seven with Bush. Incidentally, this is why I prefer Hilary not be nominated because she too is a product of the division approach.

We need a president who can help us to recognize anew that more often we have more in common than not.

Incidentally, as I thought about the long thread spawned by Al Mohler's comments I'll summarize my thoughts this way.

1) Education is never a bad thing. If more women are choosing this pathway I applaud them just as I applaud men. In America's economy now we have fewer jobs than ever in traditional fields such as manufacturing. More and more jobs are in the service sectors which means a different skill set is needed some of which require college degrees (most of which...)

2) I applaud women who seek to add "tools" in their tool boxes. If they decide to be at-home moms with their kids, the education they received at college will not hurt this. I support those who choose to stay at home not because I think women by nature are more nurturing, but because my hope is they make this decision based on what they think is better for their family. I support women who decide to continue working whether it be need-based or career. Standing outside their family I do not know what factors they face and I can't pretend to know what is best for them. They and their spouse need to make this decision not outsiders. None of these are easy decisions.

3) My hope is that those women (or men) who choose to stay home with their children can release themselves from needing external validation from society. If they made this decision based on what is best for their family, then they don't need others to validate this decision. They are free from criticism. (This goes both ways).

Hope this makes sense and sorry for the long length.

SOF

P.S. I'm glad Streak made his "partisan ship" typo because this partisanship of division is truly a treacherous and deadly one. Reminds me of a ship on very turbulent waters.

steves said...

I would certainly never vote some way because others were doing so, but the fact that so many intelligent people are voting for Obama is one that cannot be ignored.

Of my small group of friends, are a few people that are very politically active. They work with the state legislature in several capacities and I trust their knowledge of politics. They are all Obama supporters. My father, who has mostly voted for Republicans over the course of his life, voted for Obama in the primary.

I don't know any of you personally, but it is clear from reading your posts that your support for Obama came after careful thought. I have been pouring over his speeches and articles on him. I just wanted to make sure. At this point, I see him as the best choice (by far) of any of the people still in the race.

Sarah said...

I've been going back and forth between Obama and Clinton for months (and before this week, I'd been going back and forth between Obama, Clinton and Edwards). Really, I kind of like them all. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.

I'd been leaning more towards Clinton, but I think I've decided to go with Obama, for the simple reason that I think he has the best chance of surviving a general election. The Republican candidates seem to be chomping at the bit to get at Hillary, so let's deny them that opportunity.

However, I'm cynical enough that I'm really worried about Obama's potential fall from grace. I feel like a lot of people are making him out to be the second coming of Christ, and I can't help but feel the higher the expectations, the bigger the eventual disappointment when he turns out to be like every other politician.

I hope Obama proves me wrong.

Bootleg Blogger said...

I'm voting for Obama because he could be the first candidate that admits inhaling. While that kind of honesty isn't often politically expedient, it's a precedent of being somewhat real that I find refreshing. It also makes him alot better to relate to for quite a number of people. There's plenty of other reasons he's appealing I'd expand on later, but this is actually a big one for me. One of the things I have detested about recent presidents are the denials of activities everyone knows/knew to be true. The self-righteousness that then follows is pretty nauseating.
Later-BB

ubub said...

BB's post reminds me to make my campaign sign "Bong hits 4 Obama."

ackza said...

hehehe you are right,
so if you want to make that your banner,
just go to http://www.bongrips4obama.com