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February 18, 2008
Why I Will Vote for
no longer have a shot at voting for my first choice for president.
wanted to cast my ballot for former South Carolina Sen. John Edwards,
whose “two Americas” campaign highlighted the economic devastation that
four decades of knee-jerk free marketeering have wrought on blue-collar
and middle-class Americans, and offered specific proposals to solve many
of the problems confronting this country.
Having been denied that option through electoral attrition, I
nonetheless still can vote with a happy heart for one Democratic
candidate: Illinois Sen. Barack Obama. He gets my vote in the March 4
Texas primary for many reasons.
First and foremost of those reasons is Obama’s prescient leadership.
While an Illinois state senator back in 2002, he publicly denounced the
rush to invade Iraq. His main Democratic rival, New York Sen. Hillary
Clinton, voted to authorize President Bush to use force against Iraq and
then later claimed she “never imagined” he might actually do so.
Really? She must lack even a basic imagination. It was obvious
throughout 2002 (and even in 2001 to those paying attention) that Bush
was determined to invade Iraq and was casting about for any excuse to do
Americans have short memories. We already seem to have forgotten what it
was like in the months following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Few public
figures or journalists dared question the Bush administration, and those
who did paid a heavy price in smears and retaliation (think Dixie Chicks
or Ambassador Joseph Wilson and his wife, Valerie Plame).
early October 2002 the U.S. media (with one or two notable exceptions)
resounded with many of the Bush administration’s 935 specific lies
designed to get public opinion behind an Iraq invasion and conflate
Saddam Hussein with the 9/11 attacks, even though he had nothing to do
with them whatsoever.
Yet on Oct. 7, 2002, Obama stood on the Federal Plaza in Chicago and
told listeners, “I don’t oppose all wars. What I am opposed to is a dumb
war. What I am opposed to is a rash war. What I am opposed to is the
cynical attempt by Richard Perle and Paul Wolfowitz and other armchair,
weekend warriors in this administration to shove their own ideological
agendas down our throats, irrespective of the cost in lives lost and in
“What I am opposed to is the attempt by political hacks like Karl Rove
to distract us from a rise in the uninsured, a rise in the poverty rate,
a drop in the median income, to distract us from corporate scandals and
a stock market that has just gone through the worst month since the
Obama saw through the lies and obfuscation then, and he can see through
the lies and obfuscation after he becomes president.
second reason for choosing Obama is his electrifying ability to inspire.
Like an insatiable magnet, his campaign is attracting all manner of
political novices, especially young ones, into paying attention to the
elections and, most important, voting. Anyone who motivates Americans to
fulfill our basic obligations of citizenship is invaluable to a country
obsessed with trivia like celebrities and sports. Yes, we can!
Obama’s chief Democratic opponent and his likely Republican rival in
November can rightly claim more experience in public office. Experience
is important, but frankly, there is no real preparation for the office
of U.S. president because it is unique. There are certain personal
characteristics that make some people more suited to hold that office
than others. Bush sorely lacked them. Obama has them and then some –
intelligence, courage, imagination, persistence, flexibility. Unlike
Bush, I doubt we’ll ever hear Obama whine over and over on television
about how the presidency is “hard work.”
third reason for my selection: Inauguration Day next January will mark
two full decades of someone in the White House named either Bush or
Clinton. Enough already. The presidency is not the exclusive domain of
only two families. It’s long past time to pass the mantle of leadership
on to someone with a different last name.
the end, I just want a person I can respect to occupy the White House,
even if I cannot fully agree with that person’s opinions and choices. Is
that really so much to ask?
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