27 October 2008

Political Balance

A.D. Freudenheim, The Editor

If you are reading this in the hopes of finding an endorsement for a presidential candidate, here it is: I will be voting for Senator Barack Obama for president on November 4th.

That said, my vote for Obama will be as much a vote against Senator John McCain. McCain seems like a fine American, with no more—and certainly no less—sleaze surrounding him than any other American politician, Obama included. Neither candidate is perfect, but there are far more negatives attached to McCain, from his erratic and completely hypocritical positions on the role of government in managing the economy, to his flip-flop on immigration issues, to his support for the war in Iraq, to his choice of an extremely unqualified running mate in Alaska governor Sarah Palin. Then there is the hypocrisy involved in the McCain campaign having spent $150,000 for clothing for Ms. Palin, or more than $20,000 for two weeks of a make-up “artist,” or his wanting to run for president but failing to open his wife’s tax returns for public scrutiny, while ruminating endlessly about earmarks and taxpayer waste. Senator McCain may once have been a “maverick,” but he is no longer; at this point his authenticity is flaccid and he is difficult to take seriously.

Let me be clear: I do not like many of Obama’s proposals for his time in office. In some cases, I find his ideas so weak on detail that it is difficult to assess them, never mind endorse them. In other instances, his plans may be directly counter to my family’s long-term economic interest, such as his income tax proposals, which will do nothing to alleviate the financial challenges faced by middle-class Americans living in America’s big cities. And while I understand that much talk on the campaign trail is designed to address groups of voters with limited interests, I find Obama’s comments about globalization and international trade to be too regressive in the face of an intricately linked world economy. Repealing NAFTA or reversing the tide of global trade simply are not options.

Nonetheless, and despite all of the above, Senator Obama represents the better choice over John McCain. First of all, Obama’s demeanor throughout this long campaign has been impeccable, nearly Reaganesque in his poise, calm, and level-headedness, which has expressed itself at almost every level. This represents more than just Obama’s ability to stay on message; it suggests that this is a man whose poise, calm, and level-headedness would be working for him in office, not just on the campaign trail. Moreover, even if I do not agree with all of his positions, Obama has been consistent and unwavering; he has not flip-flopped on issues in order to accommodate the needs of different voter audiences. He has always seemed true to himself and his own beliefs, authentic to his his core. (As McCain has not.)

Finally, there is single the biggest issue: Obama represents the best opportunity to change the direction of the country broadly, and to change the nature of American involvement with the rest of the world—for the better. Why does this matter?

This matters because improving our role and approach to international issues will benefit the United States and its citizens in the long-run, more than any Bush-McCain tax cut ever could. The United States needs to be a place open to ideas and people from around the world—as it was for much of its history. It is as a result of that openness that we became a leader in everything from basic industrial development to higher education to space exploration to medicine to computers. But a nation at war with the world, a nation that tortures those in its custody, a nation bent on using military aggression to pursue its (poorly concealed) economic objectives—such a nation cannot and will not succeed. As proof, one need look no further than the demolished Soviet Union. The long-term health of the United States depends on the long-term health of the world, from environmental issues to basic foreign relationships. In almost every area in which these issues arise, Senator Obama’s proposals, plans, and basic attitude are better, stronger, clearer, and more desirable than John McCain’s.


I know there are American citizens who choose not to vote, and I hope that this year they will reconsider. I understand the deep cynicism some people feel, towards America’s political parties and its politicians, and towards the system as a whole. The system is, in a word, fucked. I also understand the conflicted feelings people have towards the different candidates, the sense that both are far from perfect. This is not a compelling reason not to vote for either of them. (And I truly do not understand the people who are genuinely undecided—but I’m not the only one.)

November 4th offers an opportunity to direct (and perhaps correct) the course of our nation’s history. I firmly believe Senator Barack Obama will make a better president and a better leader than his opponent.

Whether you agree or not, please vote.


UPDATES: Update: In the days since I wrote this, a number of additional links have come to my attention that deserve, in turn, to be shared here. These include:

- "This election is not about issues." Um...

- And here's one (non-)issue I referenced above, but did not link to.

- Conservatives for Obama. It's real.

- Speaking of conservatives, here are two on Palin. (Alas, a little late, ladies.)

- - And last but not least, the Associated Press has done some more McCain fact checking.


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