For the first time in my life, I’m nervous about politics.
I’ve always had a passing interest in politics, but with our country in such a dismal state, as it has been since for the last few years now, it’s hard not to get involved. I started this blog last April, and few months after that I proudly put up my mini banner declaring that I stood behind Obama, as I still do today. I honestly feel like Obama is the only candidate who is actually going to change our country, who will make America a strong country, somewhere I’m proud to call home.
I had written a long rant that I had about the other candidates, but I just deleted it all and decided that it’s not the route I want to go. There’s been enough mud slinging and shit talking from all sides. Let’s call it the “Barack High Road”. Instead I’ve pasted in e-mails that I’ve received from two friends of mine, explaining the reasons they’re voting for Obama. I don’t really feel like I’m that great of a writer, I’m just a guy who’s passionate about things. The first is by Kyle Buchanan, who is one of the smartest, most well spoken/written people I know, and the second is Japhy Grant, a freelance a writer with razor sharp wit.
More than anything though, just be sure to get out there and vote, and be heard.
Kyle Buchanan / Ostrich Ink
Hey everyone! As many of you know from talking to me, I’m supporting Barack Obama in the primaries. There are a truckload of reasons why, and since some of you are on the fence (or willing to be persuaded), I thought I’d take the time to whip up an email outlining some of the best arguments for supporting Obama in the primaries and beyond. Here are three of the most important: electability, accountability, and possibility.
(And yeah, I really did write this. No form emails for KB!)
This is my bluntest argument, but it’s an important one: I not only believe Obama will beat John McCain, I believe Hillary will lose to him.
In a matchup against McCain, all of Hillary’s perceived strengths are neutralized. Experience? McCain has more of it. Ability to command an army? He was IN one. Not only that, but McCain is widely noted for his ability to lure independent voters (even Democrats) while Hillary (with sky-high negatives in polling) will not only lose Democrats, she’ll incite Republicans to show up — and in a year when they’re demoralized, no less! We can’t afford that.
Unlike Hillary, Obama can draw new voters into the Democratic party and keep them there — just look at Iowa. That’s the reason that so many Democratic officials in red states (Sen. Claire McCaskill, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius) are endorsing Obama, not Clinton. They believe that only Obama can win in red states and southern states that the Democrats have not traditionally been competitive in (and I believe them — I know plenty of Republicans beguiled by Obama). Hillary would be routed easily in those places, and that’s why McCaskill and Sebelius denied her those highly coveted endorsements.
Additionally, polling trends are breaking Obama’s way. According to Gallup, Clinton’s national polling results have declined literally every day of the past week, by one to two points each day. Meanwhile, Obama’s results have climbed every single day by one or two points. She’s lost six points; he’s gained eight. Do you want to vote for a candidate who lacks national momentum?
Out of the last four official primaries, Obama won more delegates than Clinton in all but New Hampshire. Yes, he even won more delegates in Nevada, despite Clinton’s narrow popular win. Make no mistake, this contest will come down to delegates awarded by each congressional district, not a statewide popular vote. That’s another reason that your vote and volunteering are so important — they can have a tangible effect in each small congressional district.
I’ll grit my teeth and vote for Hillary Clinton if she ends up being the nominee (make no mistake — we cannot afford to put another Republican into office right now), but I have been massively disappointed by how her and her husband have run their campaign lately. And I was a fan of theirs! Among the things that have offended me: their scorched earth strategy to tar Obama as “the black candidate,” for Bill Clinton to smear Obama’s South Carolina win by comparing him to Jesse Jackson, for Hillary to sit and smile as Robert Johnson launched nasty slurs against Obama while introducing her, for her to say nothing when her own pollster, Sergio Bendixen, advanced the offensive canard that Hispanic voters have “not shown a lot of willingness or affinity to support black candidates”…I could go on and on. Time and time again, they have shown themselves willing to play the race card and — most troubling — to disenfranchise the Democrats’ most reliable base, African-American voters. We need someone who is going to bring in new Democrats, not alienate the ones we already have.
It’s notable how many times Hillary has been asked to apologize for remarks that her surrogates or Bill Clinton have made, and how many times she has refused to do so. You may argue that it is not Hillary herself who is saying these offensive things, but she IS the presidential candidate, and she could easily rein in people like Bill, Bendixen, and Johnson if need be. She refuses to do so.
She also advances outright lies about Obama’s record. She slammed him on voting “present” during abortion issues, even though she knew that Planned Parenthood itself had coordinated with Obama on those very votes. In fact, Clinton has long distorted Obama’s “present” votes without noting that it is a quirk of Illinois legislature (a few other states have this option as well) that allows lawmakers to address the constitutionality of a bill without endorsing it. So why would she say that? Because she doesn’t care if it’s a lie as long as you might believe it. Don’t you want a candidate you can trust?
This is an exceedingly rare and valuable time when we can actually put a true Democrat into office — the winds of change are at our backs and we must take advantage of them. National Journal just rated Obama as the #1 most liberal member of the Senate, and I have no doubt he would advance a truly progressive agenda at a time when the world (and the climate) need it most. Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, did not even rank within the Top 10 on the National Journal’s list. She has voted for anti-Democratic bills like the Patriot Act and she not only authorized the War in Iraq (a vote she refuses to apologize for, unlike John Edwards), she gave Bush similar authorization for an invasion in Iran. Why would we run such a hawkish, conservative Democrat when we don’t have to? And make no mistake, you know Hillary would pick a VP even more hawkish than she in order to offset any idea she might not be tough on national security. Obama was against the War in Iraq from the very beginning. Imagine if we’d had his leadership back then, instead of Democratic leaders like Hillary Clinton compromising party ideals with an eye toward their Presidential run!
I should also refute one of the biggest falsehoods launched by Hillary Clinton’s campaign: that she has more experience than Obama. As of this year, Obama will have twelve years of legislative experience to Hillary Clinton’s eight. The only way Hillary has more experience is if you count her years as First Lady — and if you do, then what exactly are you including. Hillary’s own pet project, health care reform, was a resounding failure (and now people want to let her have a second go-round at it?). If you accept that she advised her husband on certain policies…well, let me allow journalist Patrick Healy to elucidate: “During those two terms in the White House, Clinton did not hold a security clearance. She did not attend National Security Council meetings. She was not given a copy of the president’s daily intelligence briefing. She did not assert herself on the crises in Somalia, Haiti or Rwanda. And during one of President Bill Clinton’s major tests on terrorism, whether to bomb Afghanistan and Sudan in 1998, Clinton was barely speaking to her husband, let alone advising him, as the Lewinsky scandal dragged on.”
You’d also have to blame Hillary for allowing Bill to sign the vile, homophobic Defense of Marriage Act. She supported it then and to this day she won’t fully repudiate DOMA.
Obama has a Clinton-encouraged reputation for being all talk and no substance, but that’s a falsehood propagated by people who don’t really follow Obama. I encourage you to check out his thorough positions at http://www.barackobama.com/issues/ . Not only does Obama have concrete, well-researched opinions on a host of issues, but he delivers them in an inspiring way. Make no mistake, that inspiration is important. We have been disenfranchised and disappointed by politicians for so long that many are resigned to it — but what if we didn’t have to be? What if we actually looked forward to the State of the Union? What if our best and brightest minds wanted to work for the government instead of shunning it? Can you imagine the advances we would make?
I can. That’s why I am doing everything in my power to volunteer for Barack Obama.
I encourage you to make the choice along with me — to talk about it, to donate, and to spread the word.
Please shoot me an email if you’ve got any questions, or if you want to volunteer alongside me. I will be phone banking and volunteering for Obama throughout February. There are a ton of bright, motivated young people doing the same…come join us!
Japhy Grant / The Modern Romantic
For most of the course of human events, we’ve all been witnesses to history. The few and the powerful, the kings and businessmen, warlords and pharaohs have been the actors and the rest of us, their audience. We’ve fought in their wars, died of starvation from their poor planning, and have been enslaved both literally and figuratively in their quests to make profit. This was the way of the world until a new nation arose upon the premise that all of us are bound to one another — that all of us deserve the same opportunity. It’s the great promise of America — and far more than our vast resources or military power — this promise is what has made this nation great in the eyes of its citizens and in the eyes of a world that believed that it could not be done.
Think about that promise for a moment and it just doesn’t seem audacious, it seems like a folly- how could you or I be real agents of history? How could your neighbor, your mother, father or deli store clerk have the power to move the world? From King George III’s laughter upon receiving to the Declaration to the nation ripping itself asunder over the inhumanity of slavery or the robber-baron’s dismissal of the cries of the coal worker who slogged in a poisonous pit 18 hours a day for less than a dollar, the promise of America has always been in danger of turning into flash paper; ignited for a brief moment before vanishing forever. In our own time, it is fashionable to say that the dream’s time is over: that we are too interconnected with the rest of the world, that too much blood and scandal has been spilled on the founding documents to make them legible, that politics is a dead-end contact sport that is available only to the wealthy and which only the most cynical hard-edged and scarred can hope to succeed. In short, we’re told that the promise now belongs only to the few: to special interest groups who fund political dynasties. We’re told that we can’t be actors in our own history.
Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to say, “Yes, We Can.” Through a confluence of events none of us could have foreseen, each of us stand in the doorway of history, with the choice of what path we will set this nation on resting on each of us.
Those of you, who have known me for years, know that I often have had a gloomy view of the future of our country. I see the challenges facing this nation and facing the world and look down the road a few years and shudder. The planet our generation inherits will be unlike any in the past 50,000 years of human existence. The upheaval we are beginning to see and will see in the coming years will dwarf that of the Industrial Revolution a thousand times over. Already, because of the vast planetary changes we have recently wrought, scientists are lobbying to call the time we live in a new geologic era: The Anthropocene– which means, “new human”. America is no longer a sole superpower, but part of a triumvirate, balanced between the EU and China. The economy and the heretofore never before seen disparity between rich and poor, how we communicate, new diseases and the prospect of extending our life through new technologies and above all, the unrelenting pace of this new world we are rushing towards has many convinced that that we must ride the tide and accept whatever may happen next. We’re told that the old promises of America cannot be fulfilled in such a time.
Tomorrow, we have the opportunity to say, “Yes, We Can.”
There are those who argue that Barack Obama cannot possibly save the country on speeches alone. They’re right. Barack Obama can’t change this country; neither can Hillary Clinton or John McCain. What Barack Obama asks, and why I believe he’s not just the best choice for 2008, but the best choice for the long-term future of this nation, is for all of us to be agents of change. He calls us to public service like no statesman has done in my lifetime. He embodies the notion that idealism is not naivetÃ©. He gives voice to the truth that idealism comes not from a lack of experience, but a lifetime of it. He answers those who say that in the face of great challenges we must sublimate our values and divide our enemies and friends and says, “No! The greater the challenge the more valuable and powerful our principles become.” Barack Obama’s campaign isn’t about him. It’s about a man who can say to this nation, “Do we still believe we can fulfill the promise of this nation?” and who helps calls on us to shout loudly, as one people, “YES, WE CAN!”
Because this is how change happens in America.
I urge you, as your colleague and friend, to vote for Barack Obama tomorrow.