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A More Thoughtful Commentary

I have been asked how I could vote for inexperience and oratory* over years of service and a solid record. Here is why, edited from my prior comment (on a wedding website, of all places- the election truly is perfusing the public consciousness!)

I've never been a conservative voter. I would have voted for Gore in '00- I followed the election passionately but was not allowed to vote. I followed Howard Dean's almost meteoric rise and fall with regret- I wanted to vote for him. I did vote for Kerry in '04. Given the subsequent poor performance of George Bush (and the excellent performance of his challengers in their later careers- a Nobel Prize, chairmanship of the DNC, leadership in the Senate), I think my choices were reasonable.

On the other hand, I do consider myself a moral voter, even a Christian voter. My moral priorities are helping the poor, feeding the hungry, nursing the sick, taking in the outcasts, caring for the earth, and working towards peace. Obama's policies serve these ends much better than John McCain's.

Before he started running for president, I greatly admired John McCain, especially his principled moral stance against torture and his bravery in fighting against his party when he believed it to be necessary. He lost my respect by the way he ran his campaign.

I'll be the first to admit that Obama didn't always take the high ground (he certainly did his share of bending the truth; just check out the non-partisan factcheck.org and budgetwatch.org), but the McCain campaign's rhetoric was, frankly, ridiculous. The accusations that Obama "palled around with terrorists" and was an Un-American Socialist were so patently untrue (come on, plenty of REPUBLICANS served on that committee with Bill Ayers, and as one of Bernie Sanders's constituents I KNOW Obama is not more liberal than he) that the campaigners came off as hysterical fear-mongers and modern-day McCarthyists.

Thankfully, McCain's concession speech was extraordinarily gracious and did much to restore my good opinion of him. I felt that as soon as he was free of the constraints of his campaign, he was able to revert to the old, bipartisan McCain that I once admired. I hope that his future career will be long and illustrious. McCain's own mentor, Reagan, said it very well- that Reagan hoped he had "appealed to your greatest hopes and not your worst fears." This is what McCain failed to do, and what Obama succeeded at so spectacularly.

I cannot but agree with critics who say that Obama is inexperienced. This was certainly a strike against him as I considered which way to vote in the Democratic primary (I did vote for Obama). However, Obama's performance throughout the campaign has done much to put aside this worry. The ability to lead well is only partially predicated on experience- a great deal of it rests on a ability to choose wise advisors. Obama's pick of Biden as VP and the news already leaked about his possible picks for top staffers (Rahm Emanuel and John Podesta are both experienced party stalwarts) prove that he is capable of making intelligent decisions in this regard. McCain's pick was so poor (and so hypocritical! he who had been touting experience as the main issue!) that I lost even more respect for his campaign.

I feel real sadness today as I hear from people who say they have lost their pride in our country, when today for the first time I am proud. In his victory speech, Obama reached out to all the people who didn't vote for him. I cried. I hope that his attempt to reach across the current divide will succeed, and we can finally move our country forward, together.

*and damn, is he a good orator


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 5th, 2008 11:38 pm (UTC)
Had the same experience re: McCain, in every particular you've mentioned. Well, that and the fact that he insisted he had the experience to fix everything just right, but could only really offer clear detailed examples of his qualifications by resorting to his military background...I think his big problem was that his "maverick" reputation made it necessary for him to spend most of the campaign trying to appeal to conservatives on the right, rather than moderates and disappointed lefties.

And the fact that Obama's policy promises seem to align better with improving the world and american society and being decent (did you catch mccain's accidental racist comment about obama being a decent person, not an arab?) are certainly bonuses...
Nov. 6th, 2008 12:15 am (UTC)
Yup. Jeepers. Even if Obama WAS of Middle-Eastern heritage, or WAS a Muslim, why would that be a bad thing? Like people from the Middle East are somehow different from me, the white girl? What? How is bigotry more American than a president with a diverse background?
Nov. 6th, 2008 10:17 pm (UTC)
Biden was definitely a big influence in my vote (as was Palin). If you compare them both to Cheney, wow. I think things are certianly looking up in this country. (Ah, the thought of a White House without Cheney... so refreshing...)

I admit I'm not 100% satisfied with my vote, but if Obama comes through on his campaign promise to reduce the number of abortions, I think I may be able to get there.

I'm really hoping the secret service doesn't let him get assassinated like several great presidents from history. Did you hear the boos in McCain's audience during his concession speech? Yikes! And at my school people were stealing Obama signs, and I even saw a McCain bumper sticker stuck over an Obama one, and heard about a particularly offensive anagram for CHANGE (Hint: The N). The woman in line behind us to vote was saying how he's the antichrist.

So yeah, I'm a little worried. Hopeful at the same time, though.
Nov. 7th, 2008 03:10 pm (UTC)
I had been loosely following Obama's career since I started toying around with Fantasy Congress, and was quite happy to see him on the ticket. I was also quite happy to see McCain. I thought the election would have been much, much closer - an up-and-coming liberal with strong community building experiences against a seasoned conservative politician with an independent streak. I think the results of the election were very much the result of the McCain team mismanaging their election. I believe the result would have been the same, but that some critical errors were made that ensured his loss. They primarily boil down to a lack of consistency and very negative message.

I think the Reagan selection was well made, and summed this election up beautifully. People want to have hope, not to live in fear. I am very hopeful for the coming years, and I expect we will see some positive change.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )