Animadversions.

The weblog of Joshua Drescher

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Why I’m voting for Barack Obama.

October 10th, 2008 · No Comments · Politics, Rants

My opinion at the start of the campaign-proper, when Obama and McCain had secured their respective nominations, was as follows:

“Neither is great, but both are definitely better than Bush.”

I was satisfied with both options and confident that, regardless of who won, we’d see improvement over the next four years. As such, I was able to take a step back from the precipice of desperation (where I WOULD have been had Mitt Romney or Rudy Giuliani or some other fanatical reptile gotten a nomination) and resist reactionary endorsement.

Issues

At the start of the General Election campaign, I had major reservations about certain parts of each candidate’s stated platform. McCain’s social programs and views on basic rights issues were troubling, Obama’s plans for handling the Iraq War were either horribly naive or offensively misleading. Both had (and still have) terrible and craven health care plans.

As the campaign wore on, McCain did very little to mitigate the concerns I had about him. Obama, on the other hand, made dramatic shifts on a number of issues (Iraq, hand guns, NAFTA) that I have found compelling. More importantly, those shifts indicated that there was more to his campaign and his platform than the shallow and obnoxiously vague “campaign of hope” he’d been running on aimlessly for over a year leading into the late stages of the primaries.

The Full Ticket

For a variety of reasons, the choice of VP was more significant than usual for each campaign. Obama made a great choice, McCain made - at best - a weaker one.

I really like Joe Biden. He’s an excellent choice on his own merits, but he’s an especially strong choice for Obama whose inexperience and vacuous ranting against “the system” would have been amplified had he chosen a similarly youthful running mate. His tapping of Biden was another indication that his campaign had matured beyond “change as a platform” and into something that had an awareness of its own strengths and weaknesses and acted with greater pragmatism.

I understand why McCain chose Palin. Strategically, she was probably the only KIND of choice that made any real sense for his campaign. No Democrat was going to agree to run with McCain to try and woo the anti-establishment crowd. Lieberman is a national disgrace and would have been a poisonous addition to the ticket. The other major GOP candidates from the primaries were all either wounded or crazy and would’ve done nothing to attract new voters to the campaign. Like it or not, the Hard Right base IS going to vote for McCain in the end, so the idea that he needs to appeal to his base is, I think, overstated.

So why NOT pick a completely dark horse candidate and hope to confuse or dazzle people just long enough to enjoy a bit of a bump?

Picking a young woman helped to add some sense of diversity to the ticket while also (if somewhat awkwardly) balancing out the issue of McCain’s age. In the end, Palin is probably a net positive for McCain, but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like her at all. The idea of McCain, Obama or Biden in the White House is fine by me. The thought of Palin there, however, is deeply unsettling.

The Grim Meathook Future

I was still not totally committed to Obama as late as last week. I had actually been pretty much resigned to voting for him prior to the first of the major market crashes, but felt compelled to hold back and see if either candidate was able to REALLY seize the reigns of leadership and present a coherent, focused plan of action. In exchange for that patience, I basically got to watch the $700 billion “rescue” plan fail to do anything at all to stop (hell - to even SLOW) the bleeding on Wall Street.

This past month has essentially turned this into a single-issue race. The price of oil, the Iraq War, the availability of health care, social justice, Iran, North Korea, Russia - none of these issues matter any more. All that matters is that we appear to be teetering precariously on the edge of global economic ruin and this has triggered an absolute panic world wide in nearly every major market.

Let’s face facts - neither of the candidates has a plan for dealing with the absolute chaos on Wall Street when they take office. They assign blame or talk in circles about needing to cuts taxes in one way or another or needing oversight or regulation, but at the end of the day they’re simply trying to look engaged without getting so close to the whole mess as to become culpable for anything they say or do.

Which, in their defense, is understandable. The type of bloodletting we’re seeing at the moment isn’t going to be stopped by nationalizing financial institutions, regulatory overhauls or policy initiatives. Simply put, we’ve reached the point where momentum and mass panic is driving the market.

While they’re both impotent in that regard, Obama DOES offer a potential solution that has nothing to do with his policies or his political will. If Obama wins in November, the response worldwide may be sufficient to distract everyone long enough to let the world’s markets calm down a bit. Psychologically-driven panic can, one hopes, be addressed most effectively with a psychological “solution”. If consumers BELIEVE that Obama’s election will mean change and a return to economic health, then that’s exactly what it WILL mean. I believe McCain’s election would have the opposite effect.

That distinction put me fully over the edge in terms of who I’ll vote for next month. I don’t pretend to believe that Obama’s election will definitely “fix” the economy, but I think it represents one of our best possible chances of calming the frayed nerves of people everywhere any time in the near future.

So Obama it is, at least for me.

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