Walking to my grocery store yesterday I noticed Barack Obama on the cover of the San Francisco Bay Guardian, a local free weekly paper. I normally don’t read the Guardian but thought I would pick it up to read their endorsement of Barack. I was surprised. What a crappy endorsement. They support him for all the wrong reasons.
In fact, our biggest problem with Obama is that he talks as if all the nation needs to do is come together in some sort of grand coalition of Democrats and Republicans, of “blue states and red states.” But some of us have no interest in making common cause with the religious right or Dick Cheney or Halliburton or Don Fisher. There are forces and interests in the United States that need to be opposed, defeated, consigned to the dustbin of history, and for all of Obama’s talk of unity, we worry that he lacks the interest in or ability to take on a tough, bloody fight against an entrenched political foe.
They don’t seem to get it. The tough, bloody fighting is what we need to end. Politics is about resolution of conflict, finding solutions that we can all live with, together, not forcing the majority’s views onto the minority. The thing about finding solutions is you can’t say exactly what the solution will be until you try to find it. Republicans and “the religious right” have just as much right to their wacked-out opinions as anyone. Listening to those who oppose you and finding common ground gets things done. If there’s a right and wrong answer on an issue, the only way for whoever is wrong to figure it out is to talk about it. It’s the Guardian’s war-like attitudes that “need to be opposed, defeated, consigned to the dustbin of history.” It’s been 15 years since we elected Bill Clinton largely on health care reform issues, and the only thing that’s changed since then is costs have skyrocketed. We see the result of years worth of “tough, bloody fighting,” I’d like to move on. Fighting is not the objective, resolution is.
For me, although it helps, I don’t need a shopping list of issues with Barack’s checkboxes all in the same boxes as mine. I’m not voting for a bill or a voter referendum, I’m voting for a person, a representative and a leader. I’m more interested in the approach they take to getting things done, their general vision of how the world works and the president’s role in it, and how they respond to people who disagree with them.
I’m not as interested in which side they take on the specifics of who gets what tax break or the exact process or dates used to remove our troops from Iraq. I would hope their opinions are more informed than mine, so if they can demonstrate that they are informed on the topic I’m willing to let a representative do what they think is best or convince me when maybe I don’t have the whole picture. I don’t care if a reporter can twist their statement into something controversial. I don’t want to read their entire health care bill and call them liars if the bill that becomes law isn’t exactly the same as what they proposed in their campaign. Do we need a refresher on why “campaign promises” are stupid? Politics involves compromise.
The Guardian seems clueless to the source of Barack’s support, their endorsement embodies what repels me from so much of our political discourse. They appear as party hacks who see issues only in black and white, us and them, creating lists of enemies and allies and issues one must support and oppose to be included in their little gang of progressive idealists.
The cost of his soaring rhetoric is a disappointing lack of specific plans. It can be hard at times to tell exactly what Obama stands for
They haven’t been listening, he couldn’t be more clear about what he stands for. He stands for hope and unity, bringing people together instead of dividing them, listening to and learning from those who oppose you. Maybe he tries not to take a specific stand on the issue of, say, civil unions vs. gay marriage because that’s not why he’s running. He’s not running because he believes strongly in the definition of the word “marriage.” Yes, he believes in equal rights and ending discrimination, but his campaign is about a new approach to solving our political problems, not some laundry list of campaign promises. For me, that’s the right level of detail, that’s change I can believe in, that’s someone who “gets it” and sees what drives us not just how to manipulate us. That’s someone I can trust to work out the specifics and find the right solution. As Charles Peters says, Judge him by his laws. I don’t need specific campaign promises. I don’t know/care if building a fence between us an Mexico is a good idea or not, or drivers licenses for immigrants or what should be done about social security or any of the other issues that reporters ask about. I like watching how the candidates think about and respond to those issues and address people’s concerns, what’s important to them in a solution. But I don’t know the answers or expect them to lay out specifics of an implementation in their campaign, I just want to believe I can trust them to find the best solution.
Bush’s election should show us the importance of conviction. It was said that many people voted for Bush not because they agreed with him on everything, but because they felt he actually believed what he was saying. He had conviction. Barack has that conviction about his beliefs, and the beliefs themselves are sooo much better. He’s willing to take a stand against political pressure, as we saw in his vote against the war. He’s also willing to be realistic and compromise even when it costs him politically, as we saw in his subsequent voting to fund the troops (that were sent against his advice).
I did do a bit of soul searching though after reading articles like Gloria Steinem’s in the NY Times. Do we have a sex barrier in politics? True, women didn’t get the right to vote until 50 years after black men. Although today we have 2 black male senators and 16 women, historically we’ve had 4 black senators and 35 women of which almost all have been elected since 1992. The House seems to be similar.
I don’t have a negative reaction to Hillary. I like her. I can’t say that I like her in the same way that I like Barack though. She doesn’t give me shivers of hope and inspiration when she speaks, Barack does. To quote from Babylon 5, “Our thoughts form the universe, they always matter.” So much can be done with hope and a reason to be motivated. I think Hillary would make a much better president than Bush or any of the Republican candidates that I’ve seen. I do think we don’t realize the ways sex plays a role in our selection of political candidates and how sex shades our view of their statements. How would it look if Hillary thanked her spouse for his support after every speech, as so many of the male candidates do? Hillary’s candidacy brings a lot of these issues up for evaluation and I welcome that. But I relate to the Guardian in that I see she’s been positioning and maneuvering to become president ever since her husband left office. Her health care plan feels like it was written by health insurance lobbyists. I feel like she is willing to do what it takes to become president, while Barack is willing to become president if we are willing to do what it takes to elect him. In the end though, I think if Barack were a white woman and Hillary were a black man, I’d still be voting for Barack.
Barack puts a lot of what I like about him into this victory speech from the Iowa caucuses.
The republican candidates seem a bit of a freak show. Three of the candidates, Senator Sam Brownback, Govenor Mike Huckabee, and Congressman Tom Tancredo, publicly stated in the first republican debate that they don’t believe in evolution. Thankfully two of them have dropped out, with Huckabee being the last hold-out.
Here’s Mike Huckabee telling us we should amend the constitution to be more in-line with “God’s law,” presumably he means the Bible and not the laws of nature.
Here’s Mitt Romney needing a nap and having a spat with a reporter who wouldn’t let him say his campaign isn’t run by lobbyists, cause it turns out, actually it is. Well, one lobbyist, Ron Kaufman so I guess “run by lobbyists” could be debated. Depends what you mean by “run” and the number of lobbyists needed to constitute a plural use of the word.