Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Why I Will Be Voting for Barack Obama

Let me preface this with two statements: first, the reason this post is so well-written is because most of it is written by a friend who for various reasons wishes to remain anonymous. Secondly, if in the unfortunate event of the November being Clinton v. McCain, then yes, I will vote for Clinton. As it should be clear to anyone who has attempted to make the Obama v. Clinton decision based on policy alone, the two candidates simply don't differ substantially on the issues, forcing us to make our decision based on other reasons (see the end of this post for a better-phrased rendition of this point).

Practical Reasons Why Barack Obama Should Be the Next President of the United States, and Hillary Clinton Should Not

Much of the media coverage surrounding Barack Obama's campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination has focused on the Illinois senator's theme of "change." While Senator Obama downplays the obvious and awkward race/gender implications, he has deliberately framed the contest as a generational conflict. While a conspiracy to prematurely put the Baby Boomers out to pasture is indeed seductive, it does not earn my vote. Irritating as it may be, there must be substance. So, here are my practical reasons why Barack Obama should be the next president of the United States:

1. "He Has No Experience. Nobody Knows This Guy." That's the Point.

Senator Clinton's most durable and effective jab against Obama's potential as President is that he just does not have the necessary political resume to assume the highest political office in the land. After all, he's only a first-term senator (more on that later). To Obama's supporters, this argument misses the point. They support him because he does not carry forty years of political obligation with him into the Oval Office. He has not spent the greater part of his adult life learning what can't be accomplished on Capitol Hill. The political climate in America is perhaps more polarized and vindictive than it has been since the late 1960s. Hillary Clinton can endure that climate. Barack Obama can change it. It is counterintuitive to argue that a politician whose entire public life is emblematic of the political polarization of a nation is somehow most qualified to unite it.

Perhaps equally importantly, he is not saddled with the cult of hatred that has burdened Hillary Clinton since 1992. Whatever Hillary Clinton would gain as president from her political "experience" would be negated by the fact that so many legislators and citizens would reflexively stonewall her purely by fault of what (they perceive) she is and what (they perceive) she stands for. Is anybody under the impression that another Clinton administration would not be the target of a new generation of Kenneth Starrs and Ralph Reeds? That we wouldn't all have to endure another round of Whitewater and similar absurdities? We would, and it would mean, once again, neglecting the real business of the nation.

2. Now, Let's Discuss Experience...

Hillary Clinton is neither an experienced politician nor an experienced administrator. She has won only two elections, and that only with a massive financial base, almost-universal name recognition and—of course—the strong and vigorous endorsement of an ex-president. The majority of her public life has been spent in the capacity of First Lady, first of Arkansas and then of the United States. Being in close proximity to power is far cry from wielding it, and Mrs. Clinton hopes that the voters will not realize that. She over-estimates and over-represents the breadth of her political experience. Her argument that Mr. Obama is either not electable or not an able politician ignores the fact that he more or less single-handedly built a political base rivaling hers in the past twelve years. He has won more elections than she has with fewer resources. His recent work as a ground-level inner-city community organizer gives him a much better perspective on the realities of race, class and, yes, gender, than does Clinton's work as a prominent corporate nearly attorney thirty years ago.

3. ...And Gender.

Among Hillary Clinton's most reliable supporters has been a demographic of baby-boomer women frustrated at what they perceive as entrenched patriarchy at the highest levels of national power. They lived through and led the women's liberation movements of the sixties and seventies. For them, a second Clinton administration has the potential to complete a feminist narrative that began with suffrage. The problem is the first Clinton administration. It is difficult to understand why a generation that has identified so strongly with the idea of feminine autonomy chooses to champion a woman who spent a quarter century supporting her husband's rise to power. And after her husband fulfilled his every ambition, he allowed her to use his political machine to achieve some of hers. A feminist triumph indeed. References to her long-ago legal career notwithstanding, the majority of Clinton's public life has been spent in the capacity of First Lady. Furthermore, unqualified feminist support for Hillary Clinton assumes that any woman, by virtue of her gender, will be a better advocate for women's issues than any man. If this is indeed why Clinton enjoys such strong support from women of her generation, it is a sad testimonial to the state of contemporary feminist thinking. Modern feminists should consider not only which candidate is most representative of their struggle, but which is most able to build the consensuses and piece together the coalitions necessary to continue real progress towards gender equality in America. Much of America has already decided—by no fault of her own—that Hillary Clinton is a dangerous and radical relic of the more bizarre elements of the women's liberation movement. Barack Obama does not have this image. By virtue of his strong and charismatic masculinity, he will be more able to successfully continue the work to which Senator Clinton's generation is committed.

4. P.S. - The Rest of the World.

No foreseeable political event could redeem America's standing in the world more than Barack Obama taking the oath of office as President of the United States. His election would represent a clean break from the face of America which has earned us such antipathy from enemies and allies alike. Consider his potential for international credibility: the biracial son of a Muslim African, raised in Indonesia, who was a vigorous opponent of the Iraq War from the beginning, could hardly be cast as the Ugly American. He would have a wealth of international political capital completely unavailable to Senators Clinton or McCain, largely because nobody could argue that he doesn't care. His insistence on meeting with problematic world leaders such as Chavez, Ahmadinejad & Co. challenges the dangerous and juvenile American myth that you can make progress with a nation by ignoring it. Furthermore, don't be concerned that a man so liberal will be perceived as a push-over. I doubt his administration will have trouble convincing anybody that a tall black man from inner-city Chicago is aggressive enough.

More than a few political reporters have noted that the two Senators have remarkably similar political platforms. Their observation is accurate. Quibbling on particulars of health care plans aside, there are few glaring political or ideological differences between the two politicians. In very general terms, therefore, it is a contest of both image and leadership. Senator Obama is a bold and capable leader. He is not encumbered by the political baggage or obligations of a quarter-century at the highest levels of American politics. And he represents a vision of America that the rest of the world did—and could—love. Through his political intuition and force of personality, he has the potential to advance a strong progressive agenda at home and abroad. These are my practical reasons why Barack Obama should be the next President of the United States.


Michelle said...

BRAVO! I couldn't have said it better myself. Well written!

Anonymous said...

Well written and very convincing.

Anonymous said...


i copy pasted a link to this blog page at a high traffic pro-Obama facebook group . here:

keep it up!

Anonymous said...

Vote Obama! Integrity, intelligence, leadership and change! That's Obama! He would be a great asset to this country and to ALL AMERICANS!

Anonymous said...

Respectable points and very convincing argument!! My vote is going to Obama for President!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful endorsement of Mr. Obama. I too believe he is the President we need at this time. He exempliefies those high standards we so desperately need in our leader: Good character, integrity, honesty, wisdom, good judgement, great leadership and managerial skills, the ability to bring the nation together, and his belief in "A GOVERNMENT BY THE PEOPLE FOR THE PEOPLE AND OF THE PEOPLE". The fact he has invited and encouraged us all to join him in bring true change is awesome. When was the last time we heard anything like this? I believe it was during John F. Kennedy's Presidency": "Ask not what your country can do for you, rather ask what can you do for your country. NinaK

Anonymous said...

"Why i will be voting for Barack obama"? Because you have eyes but you can't see, because you have ears but you can't hear and because you have a brain but you are brain dead.

Anonymous said...

I like Obama. I respect his stance on many issues, and should he win the nomination, I plan to vote for him. But here's something to ponder upon, when the economy is on the brink of a disaster, do you really want someone with less experience to run the country over someone who has had many years of experience? The fact is, the Clintons have had many successful years in Washington, which we all benefited from either directly or indirectly. Remember the surplus the country had before Bush gov't started spending it all? or the wealth of jobs available then? Remember that the Clintons were in the office then when all these positive things were happening. Here's the thing, Hillary=Experience, Hillary=Bill Clinton. If you elect Hillary, you are not only electing one president, you will be electing two presidents. Two minds is better than one. Moreover, the fact that they have been in the white house before is actually a good thing and to our country's advantage. Here's how I see it, whatever mistakes they may have encountered then- I am certain they will do better now. Again, a benefit for the country.
You see, Mr. Obama is young if you compare him with past presidents. My point is this, give your Vote to Hillary. I am sure Hillary will make a sound decision to get Obama on her ticket. Mr. Obama can learn from Hillary, and Mr. Obama can have not only 8 years in the white house but 16 years, 8 years as VP and another 8 years as President? Wouldn't be an overall win-win situation?

Anonymous said...

these reasons assume that this man with no history, cred, experience or accomplishments of note will not be stone walled more than hillary, and someone more excepted around the world and seen more of a change than voting a brilliant woman in the white house. Seeing a female in the white house is more of a change than another man just because he is have black.... the rest of the world will see a woman being voted president much more symbolic than a black man.... and for you to make this statement you have probably not traveled to more than 10 or 15 countries outside the US.

Barack has no cred and will be an even bigger Target than Hillary could ever be by the republicans our enemies and more... who knows what is in this guys closet and to see so many americans as true believer brainwashed like america once was for George Bush even though most will not admit it is a scary representation of how fickle our country is.

I think it is funny that most people use the word polarizing to refer to Hillary... the majority of hate for her come form Alfa Males online who hide behind blogs like this.

I am an alfa male and proudly support this brilliant, tough woman who has been through more than almost any other political figure in history under the public eye and scrutinized and is not only still standing but still winning despite the media bias and deplorable abuse of media power towards obama....

this country badly needs a Mother especially after having such an irresponsible Father for 8 years who is unaccountable.

Joey P.

Anonymous said...

Well said.

Anonymous said...

Your friend should be commended for writing such articulate and well thought out reasons for why Sen. Obama's paper boat has so far managed to take over (for now, at least) the massive ocean liner that is the Clinton campaign. The ultimate reason really is the collective endeavors of the "small" people. Sen. Obama's message of getting down to the grassroots level and building up, one U.S. citizen at a time, caught my attention a year ago. The idea that he was asking each of us to actively contribute to the political process, instead of expecting us to passively watch from afar, is the antithesis of the entrenched politicians' guide to democracy. His is a revolutionary idea, even though it is the most basic foundation of democracy. The fact that he expects me to do more than just donate the last $75.00 I had for this month's grocery bills to his campaign empowers me first and foremost. What a novel concept in politics, right?

For me what is amazing about Sen. Obama is the fact that I recognize him: in the faces of my students who are increasingly multiracial, multicultural, multilingual; in the faces of my travel buddies with whom I bummed my way (on almost zero budget) through Asia, eating rice cakes and trying to figure out train schedules; in the faces of my former classmates who are now exhausted parents juggling careers, finances, two cats, and a blue couch that totally went out of style a decade ago.

That is, Sen. Obama represents a generation that is not afraid of the outside world, but is aware of its dangers (only eat from the street vendors with the longest customer line); that can interact with people of a multitude of backgrounds without feeling threatened; that feels and understands its own power and super power and understands the power of that power (do no evil--thank you, Google); that has the idealism of those youth-tainted days and the realism of everyday bills.

Sen. Obama, I hope you win Texas and Ohio. I hope you are the Democratic nominee. I hope you are our next president. Most of all, I hope I do my part to make YOU proud of your faith in me.

Anonymous said...

With regard to Barack being targeted by the opposition....He has been and has firmly stood his ground. In fact, he has been attacked by McCain, both Clintons, Fox news, and Ralph Nader all simultaneously...and still he retains his standing and dignity and managed to pack a few punches in himself. So if it's a concern over targeted attacks, he is certainly tested and passed (thank you Hillary)!

I invite you all to read Andrew Sullivan's article "Goodbye to all that: Why Obama Matters" I believe he addresses issues concerning why Barack is the neccesary candidate for the times. Now I read alot and am up on a lot of my stuff, but Mr. Sullivan is a highly accredited political historian. I believe his article lays out why, given the US "damaged" place in the world, needs Obama...indeed, he argues that if the economy were better, if things were good, that Hillary would be the best choice; but because of the state of the union, it is Obama that is neccessary.

Kurt said...

Your endorsement is flawed. It's not practical to write a long point by point rebuttal. I will say
1. He is not electable. If he loses Ohio, PA, and/or Florida, he will lose. Don't be naive and think he will win Idaho, Nebraska, Georgia, Montana and Alaska to make up for it. The general election is not a caucus either. Plus Clinton will get the democrats in his base, will he get her base? from what I'm hearing it will be 50-50. that's not good enough!
2. He is not original and passionate about anything. The only reason he has plans on the healthcare and the economy is because Edwards and Clinton do.
3. ANYTIME a politician that talks about 'change' you should be VERY cautious. Great leaders don't talk about change they make it happen first. George Bush talked about change. Andrew Jackson, Jimmary Carter etc etc all talked about "change".
4. Obama has NO foreign policy experience and knows very little about how to make the economy better. He will make symbolic appointments and surround himself with yes men.
He need a president who has KNOWLEDGE. Experience is secondary.
5. He is not the second coming of JFK or Jesus. Without a script he is not very eloquent. He has only made promises In Houston he said he would end standardized exams! We have no idea how he is going to deliver anything. As corny as this sounds, we need Clinton because she has the KNOWLEDGE and she is a fighter. When she says she will work her heart out I believe her. Obama is just lights camera without the action.

Anonymous said...

I will not vote for Obama, in the primary, or in the general.

Obama is a fake. The only question in my mind is when the backlash will come - before November or after.

Obama has no plan to change Washington. He plays the same Washington politics as everyone else. However, he pretends otherwise, and the sad thing is that people believe him. That isn't going to be the case for long.

To the extent he has a plan, it is "bipartisanship." That's laughable. The Democrats were conciliatory under Bill Clinton, and have rolled over again and again for Bush. The reality is that the base of the Republican party is dangerously radical, and does not compromise. McCain's problems with the conservative base are more evidence of this.

This fits with the rest of his political style - he is a man of zero conviction. He likes to vote present to duck issues. He proposes the weakest healthcare plan, and attacks his opponents with Republican talking points. In other words, he is a slick, slimy, snakeoil saleman, a coward, and the worst choice the Democrats and the country could make.

Kurt said...

Obama speaks like a centrist but has an extremely liberal voting record. There's nothing wrong with that but don't pretend to be a uniter nor a divider. We have heard that before a 100 times.
He plays SO many dirty tricks. He takes money from lobbyists, spouses of lobbyists, attorneys that hire lobbyists. OK fine but don't say at every rally that you don't take money from special interests and lobbyists! that is just a BIG lie.

Michael said...

The problem with your post, as with all pro-Obama supporters is your inability to recognize the same challenges or assumptions about Hillary can also be placed upon Mr. Obama. You have the nerve to describe woman's support of Mrs. Clinton, which has a much smaller gap than the Black support. Both of these are examples of identity politics, and make the important point that yes, it is silly to believe this sense of empathy to another candidate should really be what anyone bases their decision, but its interesting how you, and many point to gender and not the same issue of race. The fact is, whatever you can muster, these are two strong candidates, each for different reasons. By saying someone else is succeeding based on name recognition as Mr. Obama purports is to suggest the American people are stupid. That we are not familiar with the scandals or her record. Your post basically says, wait, its clear Mr. Obama is, almost by fact, the better candidate, and so there are just struggles internally taking place or ignorance as to why we are not frolicking to vote for Mr. Obama. Don't get me wrong, I understand why people are voting for Mr. Obama, and I respect it. But many of your statements are nothing new. In fact, they have been used by the Obama campaign over and over to make a point. Your post is weak because you can't step away from both candidates, and see the game Mr. Obama is playing just happens to resonate with you. But it doesn't resonate with everybody, and you are know better, or more right, or more insightful because of your observations and beliefs.

Vincent said...

Obama and Clinton have identical progressive policy positions. Both are very intelligent individuals with many strengths. Each has weaknesses, but each has the wisdom to surround him/herself with advisors with expertise in those areas (and it's not like the GOP nominee doesn't have weaknesses himself). On paper, then, there's little to choose between them.

Two additional factors come into play. The first, and perhaps the weaker of the two, is that Barack Obama has managed to take a commanding lead based on the voting in the two-thirds of the country that has already voted. It is the prerogative of the voters of Ohio (and all other states/territories that have not yet voted) to cast their vote however they see fit. Pragmatically, though, wins for Obama in OH, TX, VT, and RI would effectively end the nominating race. Victories for Hillary Clinton in all of those states will cause the primary battle to stretch out through at least early-to-mid May. Ohioans therefore have two choices: ratify the results of the previous primaries, which will allow Obama to focus on the general election fight versus McCain, or raise Clinton back up, effectively letting later states decide the nominee. The latter strategy has a small potential upside (due to the amazing party building that the Obama campaign does whenever they contest a state), but the downsides are much larger. Specifically, the primary will turn bloody, weakening the eventual victor for the general election. If the nomination is seen to be stolen based on back-room deals with superdelegates, the Democratic base will be fractured, and the Democrats will have found a way to blow a once-in-two-generations opportunity for a realigning election. The Sixth Party System is dysfunctional, and I'd really like to move into the Seventh.

The stronger, more compelling reason to support Obama is that he is more likely to be able to advance progressive goals. I'm not talking just about electability, although he certainly is more electable than Clinton. Obama is more likely than Clinton to be effective at enlarging Democratic majorities in the House and Senate, which are important for advancing progressive legislation (due to Senate filibusters and conservative Democratic defectors in the House). He has built infrastructure from scratch in a lot of states where he may not win, but by turning out the vote for him he may help elect Democratic Representatives and Senators in very Republican districts, especially in Illinois, the Great Plains states, the Mountain West, and Alaska. He is the more likely candidate to obtain a landslide proportion of the popular and electoral votes, which helps provide a mandate for progressive legislation now and may help build a large centre-left coalition for the future. The importance of this last point cannot be overstated. The Republican party became a governing coalition thanks to Reagan Democrats, weakening the Democratic party and ushering in majority-conservative rule. The sad state we're in now (an unchecked corrupt executive, a powerless legislature, a 17th century judiciary, neoconservative wars, theoconservative public policies on science and society, paleoconservative/cryptoracist immigration policy, a tax code that funnels money to corporations and the wealthy rather than into infrastructure, and the fear, the fear, the neverending fear) could never have happened without the Reagan revolution.

Basically, that's it for me. Hillary Clinton is an excellent candidate, and she'd make a good President. Those who wish to vote for her for that reason are not making a mistake, but I think they fail to take a long-term view. We are at a historic moment right now. The country is fed up with Bush and the Republican brand. Youth voters are turning out in numbers without recent precedent. Enthusiasm on the Democratic side is at the highest level I've seen in my lifetime. This is our one and only chance to build a real, long-term progressive governing coalition; to consolidate our electoral strengths in the Northeast, Midwest, West coast, and Mississippi valley; to break into the once impenetrable Republican strongholds of the border South, the mountain West, and the upper Great Plains; to break the stranglehold of special interests on our government; to restore competence and ethics to our government; to bring hope and enthusiasm to our people; and to make sure that the government works for everyone, not just the privileged few. This is not about Clinton or even about Obama. It is about people becoming connected to government in a positive manner, about bringing back the "of the people, by the people, for the people" to government that another Illinoisan believed in 145 years ago.

mollishka said...

Apparently the internet and the crazy people on it still exist, and the people who are dead-set pro-Obama are still dead-set pro-Obama and the people who are dead-set anti-Obama are, well, still dead-set anti-Obama. Whatever; hopefully at least some of the people trying to make a rational, well-informed decision found some of the points I raised useful. I'm doubting any of these new commenters will ever be back to this blog, but hey, some of the "points" made are so outrageous that I might as well "respond" to them now that I have the time.

Joey P. somehow decided that I am an "Alfa Male." Well done. This individual also somehow thinks that women are inherently more international than non-whites, and, oh yeah, that somehow having traveled to "only 10–" countries outside of the U.S. is a small number (though I will concede that I have been to "only" about 12 [if you count England/Scotland+Hong Kong/China as 3]). I'll ignore the fact that I was unable to take this particular comment seriously after the claim that "hillary" would be more "excepted" internationally. Whee fun.

Oh, and kurt: what politician doesn't advocate change? Who wants to get up in front of a crowd and say, "Let's keep the status quo!" By your "logic," we should be "VERY cautious" of anyone running for office ... which doesn't get us anywhere when it comes to actually choosing one of those types to vote for. And, actually, no, not "all" of the complaints against Hillary Clinton can be pinned on Barack Obama (did you even read the post?) because Obama's spouse is not a former president, and Obama does not have a cult of hatred pre-formed around him.

Oh, and thank you, Vincent, for your well-posed remarks. I at least appreciated them after the vitriol I'd been emailed all day Thursday.

Kurt said...

Actually I did read the article. Did you read mine? FDR didn;t run on a message of change. Neither did Bill Clinton or any great leader I can think of. They offered SPECIFICS. They offered a different kind of change. Barack Obama offers a lot of promises and very little specifics. Not only that but he does not have any real knowledge to make it happen.
My point is what does change mean??? change to what? change how? He has never explained it.

Kurt said...

Obama has built himself to be the second coming and he will never be able to live up to all the promises and hype. His whole campaign is insulting to the voters. Generalities like "yes we can" (stolen from THE FARMERS UNION based in California which endorsed Clinton) and "change we can believe in"?? Gimme a break.
If we was offering real change he wouldn't deny constantly that he doesn't take money from lobbyists. He has taken money from lobbyists, spouses of lobbyists, attorneys who represent lobbyists etc. How do you think he is raising more money than McCain and Clinton combined? From college student living off of ramen noodles?
If he was offering real change he wouldn't be mailing nasty dirty republican style mailers attacking Clinton on Healthcare and NAFTA of all things!
Is he against HealthCare and free trade now?
If he was offering real change he wouldn't speak like a centrist when he has the most liberal voting record in the senate. Lincoln for example spoke like a centrist and he had the voting record to back it up.

mollishka said...

I don't want a centrist; I want a progressive liberal. And Obama might just be a progressive liberal who has a chance of unifying the nation under common causes, thereby progressing the nation. Furthermore, The argument that Obama is not electable rests on an assumption that the single most (okay, second most) polarizing figure in contemporary American politics is electable. You don't realize, or perhaps choose not to acknowledge, how many Americans favor a more progressive agenda but simply can not stomach the thought of your candidate sitting in the Oval Office. We've already established that these candidates share much in terms of major policy issues. Obama allows Americans to mandate a more liberal agenda without approving another gridlock-inducing contest of personalities of the type which plagued much of the first Clinton administration. It's also peculiar how the howls about Obama's non-electability grow progressively louder as he captures more of the "base" which was supposed to make Clinton electable in the first base.

And, seriously, where does "He is not passionate about anything." come from? If you're reduced to questioning the "passion" of a presidential front-runner whose name was largely unknown outside his state a year ago, you're flailing already.

The concepts of change and renewal are indeed important themes of the Obama candidacy. While they may be "insulting" to you, they are not to many, many voters. Furthermore, Obama does, in fact, have very specific plans and—solutions!—to policy issues. You can read about them on his website, or hear about them in one of the fantastic and eloquent policy speeches he gives every day. That is, if it's not too insulting.

Me, I'm just going to go vote for him.

Kurt said...

First, my making the point of centrist I was saying that Obama is falsely claiming to be something he is not. He is trying to mislead the voters on this.

Next, It's good to vote.

Third, I have read several of Obama's pdf files from his website on several issues. have you? One thing I noticed is that he promises a lot of things. But he never talks about how he will pay for things and never gets into any detail on his website or rallies. He also doesn't take many audience questions. It makes me skeptical if he can actually deliver.

Lastly, I have no idea why you think Obama is progressive democrat.
For example, your friend/you writes "Quibbling on particulars of health care plans aside"
Quibbling?? Tell that to the 25 million Americans who would be left without health insurance or bad health insurance under Obama's plan. His plan supposedly costs $103 billion and covers half of the uninsured and gives a few million others better insurance than they currently have. Clinton's plan covers ALL people for supposedly $125 billion and offers tens of millions of others the choice to get better health insurance.
Obama's plan is good but Clinton's is vastly better.
There are many other reasons to doubt that he is not more progressive than Senator Clinton like his ridiculous rhetoric on NAFTA, Social Security etc etc.
If you want to vote for a progressive, vote Clinton. She idolizes FDR and has constantly talked about him in her campaign.

You can read more about how is not relatively more progressive than Sen. Clinton.

Yes Obama is progressive but compared to what?? Not compared to Sen.Clinton and John Edwards are.