Monday, August 25, 2008

Barack Might Just End Up My Homeboy

Alright, I guess it's time for me to go on the record here, and admit something I'd rather not. I don't hate Barack Obama. I don't even dislike the guy. In fact, to be perfectly honest, I rather enjoy listening to the man speak....he's a great orator and his rhetoric can be quite inspirational. After 8 years of a President whom couldn't speak his way out of a paper bag, it's a fantastic change of pace. I even agree with the man on a fair amount of issues, but before we get into those, let's get into what has led me to this point.

I used to adore John McCain. Atleast I thought I did, and while that adoration might have been due to a lack of scrutiny is very possible, at the tail end of the 20th century and in the 2000 primaries I thought John McCain was the man. The first time I ever cast a ballot in a federal election, it was for John McCain in the GOP primaries. When he got bounced in said primaries, I quickly ran back to the far left and cast my vote in the general election for Green candidate Ralph Nader (how many voters in America voted for McCain and Nader? I bet I'm one of like five). I was, and still am, sickened by the role of special interest money in politics (sure, there is money funneled in by good causes like teachers groups as well, it's not just Big Oil or Tobacco), and while McCain/Feingold was by no means perfect, it seemed like a nice starting point for a solution. I respected that John McCain shared my disdain and sought to fix it, and in the process reached across the aisle to do so. I also respected that John McCain was a veteran and a POW, and more than anything I respected the speeches and straight forward manner in which he campaigned in 2000. Sure, some of that Maverick thing was spin from his campaign, but he played the part so well. Whereas George W. Bush's campaign tried to play the cowboy angle making Bush more like a Blazing Saddles cowboy than Wyatt Earp, John McCain really did come off as the freewheelin' straight talkin' cowboy.

What's not to love?

And since the 2000 election, he had maintained that persona. I actually did agree with him that we needed to stay in Iraq (if you're going to go to war, then you've got to finish the job, even if I disagreed with the war in the first place), and when he came out against the Bush administration on torture, I was again elated. Of course then came the last six months, where that John McCain somehow died and was replaced with a GOP puppet that parrots each and every one of the failed policies of the past eight years. I don't know what happened, and I can't pretend I'm not extoardinarily disappointed-but the writing is on the walls, and it's clear that this isn't the John McCain of old.

Thing is, at the same time I've been intrigued by Barack Obama all along. When Obama was in Dallas I attempted to go (failed), and while I was a McCain supporter I was curious to see what Obama was going to bring to the table. Now this wasn't something I'd readily admit, being a recovering liberal (I will get into the actual politics in a bit), I found that it was far more enjoyable-and informative-to chastise the members of the Cult of Obama and see what sort of opinions and facts shook loose while at the same time doing my own research on the side. I was one of those few voters that was actually planning to go into this process open minded.

My biggest beef was never really with Obama himself, but moreso with the Democratic party. I'm a left leaning moderate, but I absolutely hate the Democratic party. Not only have they repeatedly proven their incompetence, they're the type of folks that get behind nanny state programs to satisfy the uninformed housewives screaming, "but what about the children?" instead of tackling real, modern, and important issues. As Gorbachev found realized, speeches on class warfare and promising to make this world a better place one smoking ban at a time doesn't work-I want substance and a plan, and the Democrats have been unable to give any sort of coherent plan for anything since Clinton crafted one himself. The 2000 election never should have been as close as it was, and 2004 gave us one of the worst campaigns in the history of campaigning with John Kerry-these people can't even get elected, how the hell am I supposed to trust them to govern? But I digress;

I still have severe reservations that Obama is a populist by word only, that these speeches are going to end up being pie-in-the-sky rhetoric and that when he is elected, he will settle in as President and instead of Big Oil getting it's day in the sun Trial Lawyers will. That he will do what the Democrats and Republicans do when they win power, which is namely just shift the power to a different group of special interests. But if I put that skepticism aside, I do see an engaging and progressive President. Sure I'm mildly annoyed when on his website he lists Disabilities just below defense and the economy on his issues (not that I have a problem with the handicapped getting into libraries, just that i don't think that should be among the Presidents primary concerns).

But I am not only willing to give the man a chance at this point, I am leaning towards him. I still shudder at his plan to leave Iraq before the end of 2009, but I back him on privacy and civil rights. I think his energy policy, especially with the breakthrough in Solar Energy Storage last month, shows a lot of promise, even if I hate some of the environmental measures. And while I laugh at his claims that he's concerned about the national debt and paying it down, especially while he touts nationalized healthcare, I do believe he's got the foundation of the most advanced policy regarding technology well, ever.

In short, it's pretty much a split for me, I disagree on issues with him just about as often as I agree. And yet, that's somehow more than the new John McCain. So I'm guessing it's time to choke it down, and accept that Obama is the better choice-even if he's not the best.

1 comment:

Paul McEnany said...

Good to hear. Welcome to the club. And for the record, I side much more often with democratic positions, but I think both parties are mostly full of incompetent blowhards. But hell, we got two choices and a few others that waste our votes for nothing. So that's where we're at until some fundamental shift happens.

As far as economy, I haven't read this yet, but there's an enormous (which is why I haven't read it) article from a couple days ago on his economic policy. Apparently it's a pretty good explanation.

A snippet:
"As anyone who has spent time with Obama knows, he likes experts, and his choice of advisers stems in part from his interest in empirical research. (James Heckman, a Nobel laureate who critiqued the campaign’s education plan at Goolsbee’s request, said, “I’ve never worked with a campaign that was more interested in what the research shows.”) By surrounding himself with economists, however, Obama was also making a decision with ideological consequences. Far more than many other policy advisers, economists believe in the power of markets. What tends to distinguish Democratic economists is that they set out to uncover imperfections of the market and then come up with incremental, market-based solutions to these imperfections. This helps explain the Obama campaign’s interest in behavioral economics, a relatively new field that has pointed out many ways in which people make irrational, short-term decisions. To deal with one example of such myopia, Obama would require companies to automatically set aside a portion of their workers’ salary in a 401(k) plan. Any worker could override the decision — and save nothing at all or save even more — but the default would be to save."

What I like, again, is the pragmatism. He's constantly surrounding himself with non-ideologues, which after the last 8, is probably the most appealing plus of all.

And another good article on how Obama's use of technology in campaigning will translate to governing. Pretty interesting.

"Obama clearly intends to use the Web, if he is elected president, to transform governance just as he has transformed campaigning. Notably, he has spoken of conducting “online fireside chats” as president. And when one imagines how Obama’s political army, presumably intact, might be mobilized to lobby for major legislation with just a few keystrokes, it becomes possible, for a moment at least, to imagine that he might change the political culture of Washington simply by overwhelming it.

What Obama seems to promise is, at its outer limits, a participatory democracy in which the opportunities for participation have been radically expanded. He proposes creating a public, Google-like database of every federal dollar spent. He aims to post every piece of non-emergency legislation online for five days before he signs it so that Americans can comment. A White House blog—also with comments—would be a near certainty. Overseeing this new apparatus would be a chief technology officer."