Monday, February 4, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and many of you have the chance to go to the polls and vote in the primaries of the presidential election. I should have done this before now, but it's not too late for me to tell you why I'm voting for Barack Obama. Here it is:

1. I believe he is the most likely candidate to bring a swift end to the costly war in Iraq--or at least, to our participation in it. The civil war (are they even calling it that yet?) will probably go on for years, but our presence there is not making things better. It's only getting Americans killed and turning our foreign policy into target practice for the rest of the free world.

Mr. Peevie said to me yesterday that this single issue is becoming a litmus test for a presidential candidate. It seems likely that McCain will get the Republican nod, and he seems committed to the surge and a long-term commitment of troops to the region.

2. He has creative, aggressive, and bold ideas for dealing with this country's most urgent and far-reaching domestic concern: energy. We use oil, gas, and electricity often without even thinking about it--but we need to be paying attention, and not only when we're complaining about how expensive gas is. (Maybe it's good that gas is $45 per gallon because we will finally begin to be willing to invest in alternatives to fossil fuels!)

Look at John McCain's web site. He doesn't even mention energy, gas, alternative sources of energy, fuel--nothing. Also, nothing about poverty, helping low-income working families, or education, either.

3. Obama is better equipped than anyone else in this race to understand and respond to national and international issues in an open-minded, fair, and politically sensitive way. We as a nation will gradually shed the image of a bossy, narrow-minded, jingoistic bully, and we will regain the admiration and respect of other nations who look to the United States to set the standard for human rights and self-determination.

4. Obama is believable when he talks about changing the way politics works. I'm not saying that I naively believe that the system won't change him, or that he'll be able to do everything he says he wants to do. But Obama makes a strong case for making bi-partisanship, process, and fairness realities in our political environment. Reading his book The Audacity of Hope actually put a glimmer of hope for our political future in my cynical soul!

To my Republican friends (you know who you are!), I am respectfully urging you to become a crossover voter, like lifelong Republican Susan Eisenhower, granddaughter of Republican president Dwight D. Eisenhower. She described Obama as "a man who can salve our national wounds and both inspire and pursue genuine bipartisan cooperation. Just as important, Obama can assure the world and Americans that this great nation's impulses are still free, open, fair and broad-minded."

To my Democratic or undecided friends, I am respectfully urging you to make a choice for change: change in the direction of the war in Iraq, change in our dependence on non-renewable fossil fuels, change in politics-as-usual (including the influence of special interest groups), and change in the grumpy, mildly depressed political mood of our country. (You feel it, too, right?)

This hope for change, this anti-depressant in the form of a candidate, is Barack Obama. Vote tomorrow!

21 comments:

Meg said...

I'm going to vote for Obama too.

People who believe that Obama is all style and no substance haven't looked at the issue pages on his Web site or read his statements from the Senate floor.

I don't agree with all of Obama's positions, but I do believe he has a track record of bringing people together advance creative solutions to difficult problems. Isn't this what we need now?

Meg

Hpaul said...

I find no candidate in either party that I can actually vote for. 3 issues particularly perturb me. 1)Abortion, and specifically partial birth abortion. Some candidates say they oppose this holocaust, but in the past even 'pro-life' candidates have left much to be desired. Of course, Obama has worked in favor of government funded partial birth abortion. 2)The Iraq War. Unquestionably, the surge has worked so well that the NY Times no longer mentions Iraq on the front page. My thought is that we as Americans have a choice. We can fight Islamic terrorists with an equipped military on the streets of Baghdad, or we can fight them with an unarmed citizenry on the streets of New York. My preference is obvious. And 3) Is there any candidate that won't raise my taxes ? All of the candidates have never seen a tax cut they liked nor a tax they don't like. I am already paying taxes from January 1st through the end of May. Does the incompetent government need more of my money? And why is it when they tax 'the rich' my taxes go up? I note that the 'evangelical' candidate, Huckabee, raised taxes MORE than Bill Clinton in his term as governor. It's enough to make a preacher swear.

E. Peevie said...

"Enough to make a preacher swear"--nice sound bite, there, preacherman.

I agree with you about partial-birth abortion, and my hope is that since Obama has shown himself to be a rational, compassionate man, he can be persuaded to change his mind about this.

Regarding Iraq, obviously you're wrong, and I mean that in the most civil way. Weirdly, the surge does appear to be working in some ways--but does that mean that we want a long-term commitment of American troops in Iraq? Also, your either/or scenario is a tiny bit hyperbolic, wouldn't you say?

And finally, taxes. You're right--they all raise taxes, except our local guy, Forrest Claypool. (When he runs for president, I'm quitting my job so I can be a full-time campaign volunteer.) So that means taxes are a moot issue for this election.

E. Peevie

E. Peevie said...

Meg,

I know--I'm tired of hearing people say he lacks experience and is all style and no substance. They are seeing what they want to see and hearing what they want to hear, and it's not helpful in the debate.

The other Obama opponents (see HPaul's comment, below) at least read his ideas and opinions, and counter them with a real argument.

I don't agree with all of his positions, either--but there has never been a candidate that I've agreed with 100 percent.

Thanks for joining the discussion.

E. Peevie

Meg said...

HPaul: For what it's worth, Obama has said he would be willing to support restrictions on late-term abortions if there were an exception for the health of the mother. This tells me that he might be amenable to carving out middle ground on the issue.

It would be nice if we had a candidate who believed in the sanctity of the lives of both born and unborn people, both in the United States and in other countries around the world. But we don't.

As for taxes, when that time comes around each year, I tell my children that I'm happy to pay my state taxes because they support schools and public transportation and so on, but that I feel sad when I'm paying my federal taxes part of that money will be used to drop bombs on children and moms and dads far away.

Meg

Anonymous said...

I feel so torn about this election and I am supposed to go vote---TODAY!! I agree with John McCain's position on abortion. This is a very improtant issue for me. Another major issue (for me) in this election is education. I hate John McCain's position here. I think Barack Obama takes the best stance for educating our youth. I agree with Meg when she says, "It would be nice if we had a candidate who believed in the sanctity of the lives of both born and unborn people, both in the United States and in other countries around the world. But we don't." So now what?

E. Peevie said...

Anon,

I know. Many of my friends will not vote for any candidate who is not pro-life. But pro-life is far greater than abortion, isn't it? It encompasses the war, capital punishment, human rights, poverty, torture.

So since the pro-life issue is a wash (to me) or nearly so, we have to look at the candidates' other positions.

Look at the video I posted today ( 2/4) and get inspired.

Thanks for joining the fray.

E. Peevie

Anonymous said...

Regarding war---Some people believe that the reason we are in Iraq and Afganistan is to preserve human rights for all citizens on this great earth.
Regarding abortion--There is no bright side of the coin on issue.

Boy George said...

Regarding war: I believe that the primary reason we are in Iraq is money, usually spelled O-I-L (with one of the alternative spellings being H-A-L-L-I-B-U-R-T-O-N).

Regarding abortion: I agree with anonymous that there is no bright side of the coin. However, the most enlightening thing that I have found on this issue is John Irving's The Cider House Rules, a heartbreaking book, and one of the most life-affirming that I have ever read (as Irving’s books tend to be). This definitely had a major impact on my views on this topic.

Anonymous said...

Had there been no war, Saddam Hussein would still be in power rather than put on trial and executed for crimes against humanity. He would still be tormenting, torturing, and killing his own subjects, destabilizing the Middle East, and giving succor to international terrorists who are the avowed enemies of liberal democracy.

Boy George said...

Saddam's trial and execution, and the supposed reasons we are in Iraq now have nothing to do with the official stated reasons for the invasion (which have proved to be untrue). I'm not arguing at all that Saddam was a good man, nor that his fate--in and of itself (i.e., apart from the route getting there)--may not have been just. But how could anyone seriously believe that overall conditions in the Middle East are any better than they were before the invasion? The so-called War on Terror had a focus when we were first only in Afghanistan. Moving into Iraq was a humongous distraction, and in fact a move that was in its planning stages even before the attacks of 9/11.

Dearest Ms. Peevie: If this is straying too far from the topic, please shut us down. I myself intend to discuss this particular issue no further in this forum.

Anonymous said...

To Boy George:
It is apparent that you (nor I) have ever been under the rule of a tyrant evil doer. Had you been (knowing what you know about freedom) you would not dare say the folowing (and I quote you)"But how could anyone seriously believe that overall conditions in the Middle East are any better than they were before the invasion?" There are countless Iraqi people who would say that things are trememdously better without Hussein.
You are correct in stating that the purpose of the war was misleading but here is one aspect that cannot be argued as being a positve outcome of this war.
I rest my case as well, Mr. George!

E. Peevie said...

Boy, Anon, et al,

What the reasons were for invading Iraq are moot, as far as I'm concerned. We did. It's done.

Now the question is, should we remain for the long haul, or should we put a plan in place to get ourselves out as soon as possible. Are we doing more good there than harm?

Here's what my favorite cartoonist and blogger (Scott Adams) said eight months ago:

"An argument can be made that the troops are preventing a wider civil war, and Iraqi lives are worth as much as any other lives, so keeping the troops in Iraq is morally right. My view is there’s no way to know if ripping the bandage off the wound now is better or worse than waiting. There’s just as much reason to believe the U.S. presence is making things worse. I don’t support putting troops in harm’s way when the benefit of doing so is completely unpredictable.

"If the U.S. leaves Iraq, my best guess on what happens next is Iran gets further sucked into it, discovers that Arabs don’t want Persian overlords as much as you’d think, and the drain on Iran eventually topples the existing Iranian government. They’re already a fiscal basket case. It wouldn’t take much of a push. And there’s enough of a democratic culture that the next form of government could indeed be more of a democracy.

"Your wild-ass guess for the future is no better than mine. The only thing we know for sure is that troops are dying for ambiguous reasons. If you support that, you support the troops less than I do. Deal with it."

Here's the link in case you want to read Adams' entire post: http://dilbertblog.typepad.com/the_dilbert_blog/2007/05/i_support_the_t.html

E. Peevie

Meg said...

An Assyrian Iraqi (read: Christian) hairdresser once told me how her family felt about the war in Iraq. They said at first they were glad that Saddam was gone because he truly had suppressed his people.

But now, she said, things are so much worse than when Saddam was in power. She sadly said that she never expected her family to be able to return.

When I hear commentators on Christian radio cheering while we drop the mother of all bombs, I am appalled and grieved. Don't they know that we're blowing children's bodies to bits, that mothers and fathers later have to gather the bloody body parts of their beloved children? Don't they know that we're destroying plumbing and sewage systems and separating people from their source of food and water? Don't they know that we're scattering radioactive material (depleted uranium) that will make people ill for centuries to come?

Starting a war where there is no war is no way to promote human rights.

Meg

Anonymous said...

An excert from an article in the New York Times Online: (late 2007)
Iraqis: life is getting better
by Marie Colvin
MOST Iraqis believe life is better for them now than it was under Saddam Hussein, according to a British opinion poll published today.

The survey of more than 5,000 Iraqis found the majority optimistic despite their suffering in sectarian violence since the American-led invasion four years ago this week.

One in four Iraqis has had a family member murdered, says the poll by Opinion Research Business. In Baghdad, the capital, one in four has had a relative kidnapped and one in three said members of their family had fled abroad. But when asked whether they preferred life under Saddam, the dictator who was executed last December, or under Nouri al-Maliki, the prime minister, most replied that things were better for them today.

E. Peevie said...

Dee-dee,

Is that you?

I wonder what "the majority of Iraqis" means. Fifty-one percent?

I do believe it's likely that for many people, things are better without Saddam Hussein. But I also think the real question at this stage in the war is do we stay or do we go.

I found this report from late 2006:

"The Program on International Policy Attitudes released a new poll on Iraqi public opinion today which finds that seven in ten Iraqis want US-led forces to commit to withdraw within a year. Moreover, an overwhelming majority believes that the US military presence in Iraq is provoking more conflict than it is preventing. The poll was conducted during the first week of September. Here are some of its key findings:

"– A large majority of Iraqis–71%–say they would like the Iraqi government to ask for US-led forces to be withdrawn from Iraq within a year or less. Given four options, 37 percent take the position that they would like US-led forces withdrawn “within six months,” while another 34 percent opt for “gradually withdraw[ing] US-led forces according to a one-year timeline.”

"– More broadly, 79 percent of Iraqis say that the US is having a negative influence on the situation in Iraq, with just 14 percent saying that it is having a positive influence."

Here's a link to the full report: http://www.worldpublicopinion.org/pipa/pdf/sep06/Iraq_Sep06_rpt.pdf

E. Peevie

Boy George said...

[sarcasm on]
Ooh, how dare a people object to foreigners coming in and occupying their country. How ungrateful!
[sarcasm off]

Anonymous said...

The year is 1940. The setting is a small town outside of Munich. A sympathetic older German man gives a piece of bread to a passing Jew who is slowly dying on his way to concentrate. This older man is whipped and beaten in front of his teenage daugher. Later he is sent off to fight for the Fuhrer.
When Hitler was finally stopped there were numerous Germans who were elated and others who were outraged. Do the percentages matter here? Should foreigners not have been on that soil either?
Democracy is a beautiful thing. We are allowed to read and write blogs, we are encouraged to have opinions about our government and how it should be run. We are not forced to read Mein Kampf.
Don't all people in this beautiful world deserve to have such luxeries?

Anonymous said...

OOPS! LUXURIES!

E. Peevie said...

Anon (I wish you anons would use pen names so we can tell you apart!),

Yes, everyone deserves the luxury of freedom. I would even submit that it's not a "luxury" but rather a basic right. Inalienable, even.

And yes, foreigners were right to stop Hitler--and the free world unanimously agreed.

However, there is no such unanimous international agreement about the war in Iraq. And in answer to your question, yes, percentages matter. The opinions of the majority of Iraqis matter. It's ironic that we're ostensibly promoting democracy and at the same time prohibiting the self-determination of that nation.

And finally, it's not clear to me at all that our presence in Iraq will ultimately result in a stable democracy.

Meg said...

We could compare any rogue leader to Hitler to justify blowing people up.

Maybe it would be more constructive to stop supporting rogue leaders in the first place.

Guess who supported the Taliban's rise to power in Afghanistan? Who helped Zaire's Mobutu into office? Who overthrew an elected government to set off decades of oppressive rule in Guatemala? Who did business with Noriega before going after him (and moms, dads and kids living in Panama City)? Who supported Saddam against Iran? Who supports Uribe in Colombia while the few survivors of a wave of assassinations of leaders of the most viable peaceful political opposition live in exile?

We say we want democracy, but when Palestinians chose Hamas, we cut off trade so that hospitals could barely treat people anymore. Do you really think we'll support Iraqis' choice if it's not the choice of the American head of state as well?

We don't want democracy for Iraq any more than we wanted democracy for Guatemala, Zaire, or Panama. We want to be able to call the shots, so we off leaders whose interests don't converge with ours. Even. If. They. Are. Democratically. Elected.

Meg