Strawberry Fields Forever - Nothing is real

Friday, February 01, 2008

Everybody's talking and no one says a word...

Well, here we are once again - at (or near) the start of a new year, and at the eve (at least in the State of California) of yet another Presidential election season. The New York and LA Times have had their say on who they prefer. Senators galore, elder statesmen and stateswomen, as well as Oprah have had their say. Now, it's time for the endorsement that truly matters - the publisher of a primarily Beatles-themed blog that gets an average of .01 readers per day: me.
I have only been able to vote in 2 different Presidential elections (I missed the age cut-off by a cruel 3 months in 1996). However, this may be the first time in a primary in which my vote is both not primarily or even largely defined by a desire to stop a particular candidate I don't like, or as in the case of 2004, largely symbolic. (a sample size of two is excellent to draw historical conclusions after all)
Really, this year the dilemma for a registered Democrat is that we have two excellent candidates, each with the full capacity to be an excellent President - not simply better than the current President, and having two viable choices is rough in that we have to choose.
Hillary Clinton is smart, shows deep understanding of the issues and more importantly a deep understanding of how to govern effectively - I have no doubt that she would be an excellent President.
However, I am not planning on voting for her on Tuesday. I plan to vote for Barrack Obama. He too shows a deep understanding for the issues, but demonstrates a strong possibility for a transformative leadership that can reshape our nation for the better. The word change is bandied around so much right now by every candidate, including Obama, that the word has largely lost its meaning. Change is one thing. George W. Bush represented change as well. Indeed, this nation has been on a radically different track since he took office. Change is a neutral word implying simply a difference. We don't need change, we need to move forward. When I look at Hillary Clinton I see a person who can reign back the excesses of the Bush administration and put us back on the track that her husband led us on. Fundamentally that makes her conservative (in the dictionary definition) in my book. When I look at Barack Obama, I don't see an agent of change, but rather the potential for actual progress. The analogies comparing him to JFK are not unfounded. There were doubts about both men's experience to lead, and there was an undeniable charisma to both men. JFK was hardly a perfect President, and in reality history may never be able to look upon his record in a real manner due to his assassination - but what IS clear was he was a visionary that could dare this nation to dream great dreams and then achieve them. I see this potential with Barack Obama.
Already Obama has been quietly working to diffuse the horrible violence in his father's homeland of Kenya (while in the middle of campaigning mind you!). Already Obama has shown courage and leadership on difficult issues such as his stand on the War in Iraq, and a clearer stand in ethics and campaign reform. Let me be clear, while the pressure was no where near what it was on sitting Senators in the U.S. Congress to vote for the war, it was still a courageous position for him to take back in 2002. He also demonstrated frankly better judgment than my own. At the start of the war, I was on the fence because I held out some degree of hope that maybe despite really flimsy pretenses, that we could do good for the Iraqi people. I misjudged the abject wretchedness of the Bush administration, yet Obama did not.
That said, Barack is not without his flaws. While clearly his words were twisted during the interview in which he supposedly praised Republican policies and ideas (he in fact claimed that Reagan was a transformative leader, and that Republicans have been a party of ideas - neither claim actually meaning he thinks either are good), he clearly at the very least, chose his words poorly. I also despise the nastiness that both his and Clintons' campaign have resorted to at times - though I must admit that overall it has not gone beyond the pale, and in the end, I'm very glad to see that Obama CAN survive the firestorm - he will need to in the general election.
I need to once again reiterate, I really do like both candidates, and I think either would be an excellent President. What really surprises and even shocks me is that there are DEMOCRATS who actively dislike one or the other and will refuse to support the other. The level of vitriol may not equal the Republican vitriol between supporters of their various candidates, but it is still undue. I would rather not have another Clinton in the White House for no other reason than it would mean at the least 32 years straight of a Bush or Clinton being President or Vice President - but that's not enough of a reason not to vote for Clinton. I also get that Obama may actually get knocked for the hype and praise on his campaign by the so-called media. Once again, I could care less.
In the end, especially in a primary, one should simply vote for the person they most want to be President. Strategic voting, concerns over electability, anything else is in my view rather silly. As a person who has a degree in Political Science, I am pretty well convinced that there is little if any science in Politics. It may be necessary to become pragmatic in a general election since the choices are locked, but in a primary no such compromises are necessary. In the end, if people vote for someone, then he or she is electable.
Anyway, in the end, I plan to vote for Barack Obama. If you too have the privilege of voting on this upcoming Tuesday or another day, I do recommend you do your research. Read up on him and Hillary Clinton - even read up on the Republicans. You should watch the debates, view speeches, and on your election day, vote for the person you most want to the President of the United States. I know I will be proudly doing so this Tuesday when I vote for Barack Obama.

Does this post mean more will follow? It may.

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