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: Adventures in a Strange and Distant Land

Politics (Don't Worry, It'll Be Just This Once)

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Despite the general disutility of labels in general, I am prepared to finally find a name for my political inclinations: I am a liberal-leaning independent. As a liberal sympathizer, I generally prefer the democratic platform to the republican. But as an independent, I am part of that vigorously courted class of Americans who is not completely adverse to voting for the candidate it believes will better serve the country, regardless of his political allegiances. If McCain had convinced me that he would be a better president than Obama enough to override my general preference for the democrats, he would have won me over. However, watching both the Democratic and Republican Conventions, McCain and his party has only deepened my conviction that Obama should be the next American President. In fact, I have become so disillusioned of the Republicans over the past couple of weeks that I am writing this post to ask any of you who were planning on putting your check next to the little R in November to reconsider. Here?s why:

First of all, it is always a good idea to look seriously at your political alliances. After conversing with friends, I have realized it is not a simple matter to transfer Canadian political ideas into an American election, and that I need to consider my choice carefully. So, I encourage everyone to join me in my political introspection ? are you political convictions merely a product of your surroundings, or have you come to them yourself?

Second, there are numerous reasons why Obama and the Democrats have appealed to me. For one thing, as I liberal, I like their policies. But I know that any attempt to convince most conservatives to alter their fundamental belief system will be futile. So instead, I will list a few reasons why Obama would be a better president than McCain, independent of their platforms.

1. Obama is a true agent of change. As a relative newcomer and Washington outsider, who has routinely disagreed with the Bush administration, he is in a much better position to alter the course of this country in a good way. He has spent his life serving the poor and needy and is more in touch with the rising generation, who has to deal with eight years worth of Bush?s influence. John McCain has attempted to paint himself as a maverick, but can an old white, rich man, entrenched in Washington politics and greatly supportive of Bush?s policies really bring about the change we need? He wants to be independent, but he is running with Bush?s old playbook and has shown that he is unable to truly stand up to his party in choosing a running mate ? opting for a hard-core conservative instead of reaching across the isle to Lieberman, his first choice. And don?t try to tell me that Palin will bring about any real change: although most people have forgotten this, she is only running to be vice-president.

2. Obama has shown much more integrity than McCain. Throughout this campaign, Obama has shown great personal integrity. Although all politicians stretch the truth and attack their opponents, Obama has played petty politics to a much lesser degree than McCain and the Republicans. For one things, the Republicans are much more consistent and personal in their attacks on Obama; the tone of the entire Republican Convention was more about mocking Obama then on promoting their own party. And their attacks are often unfounded, personal, and demeaning. Mocking his service as a community organizer and then turning around and calling him an elitist, comparing him to Paris Hilton and even sarcastically calling him a self-proclaimed Messiah. Obama?s attacks on McCain, however, have been fewer and more appropriate. They mostly focus on issues, and never stoop to the lows that I?ve seen from the McCain camp. When asked about Palin?s daughter being pregnant, for example, Obama responded that family privacy should be respected; the Republicans don?t seem to agree, since they have took aim at Michelle on many occasions.

Also, Obama is more honest than McCain. Both have stretched the truth, but according to Politifact.com, a non-partisan fact-checking website, McCain?s statements are either barely true or outright false twice as often as Obama?s. UPDATE: this issue is becoming more and more troubling for me; it seems that the McCain camp has no problem with continuing its bold-faced lies, even after they have been discredited, since most voters don't take enough time to discover their falsity. See this article.

3. Obama has shown himself to be very reasonable and intelligent. He has run his campaign amazingly: time and time again, he calmly and rationally deals with each problem and promptly brings the discussion back to the issues. And he has shown himself to be very intelligent and an extremely fast learner, which helps quell some concerns about his lack of experience. Isn?t it about time to get someone into the Whitehouse that will carefully and intelligently deliberate over our problems instead of adopting the ?shoot first ask questions later? approach of George W? McCain, like Bush, seems much more prone to hasty and risky choices. The best example of this is how he handled the most important choice of his campaign: choosing a VP. Now, Sarah Palin may turn out to be a good choice, but even so, the way he selected her worries me. I mean, McCain has had months to carefully research and decide upon a running mate (especially while Obama and Hillary were still battling it out), and yet at the very last second he chooses someone he only met once and had barely vetted. To me, this just seems reckless, and is not the way I would like my president to make decisions.

4. Even as McCain announces his plans to ?reach across the isle,? the Republicans are methodically tearing the country apart. Through Sarah Palin and many of the convention?s other speakers, the GOP have reignited the culture wars. More and more, they are shifting the focus of this election from important issues like the economy and the War to little things that are comparatively less important and yet extremely divisive: abortion, teen pregnancy, and the role of God in the public sphere. They are also actively attempting to pit the rural population against the urban elitists who don?t think Wasilla is ?cosmopolitan enough.? (Which is quite ironic, considering that the GOP is filled with rich white men, while Obama grew up on food stamps, and got through school on student loans). A good indication of this division is the fact that after Palin's speech was the largest fundraising day ever - for the Democrats (she really made some people upset). In the end, this country needs to work together, and fostering these kinds of divisions is not the way to do it.

5. Obama will be good for America. He is extremely popular internationally, and as president, he will do a lot to restore America?s status in the world and help us make the alliances we need to stay safe and compete in the global economy. Electing Obama will also show the world that we are an intelligent, progressive country that really believes in the equality we so often profess. Imagine the children who grow up under the first black president: what better lesson in civil rights could we give?

6. Do we really need more war? OK, this one is more of an ideological complaint, but I really don?t think we should elect someone who is as committed to the war and tied to the military as much as McCain is. And I don?t see the problem with meeting hostile world leaders? Is diplomacy dead? This is not giving in, but trying to resolve problems without killing.

In conclusion, I think McCain is national hero and fairly decent guy. I was impressed with his acceptance speech. It is more his party in general who I am opposed to, and I don?t think that he is maverick enough to separate himself to a degree that would win my vote.

And that is why I support Barack Obama.

Full post as published by Adventures in a Strange and Distant Land on September 07, 2008 (boomark / email).

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