Thursday, October 23, 2008

Why My Vote Went To Senator Obama

I voted last week by absentee ballot. I will be traveling home on the day of the election and there was no other means for me to get to the polls aside from voting early, so my right to suffrage has been exercised, and my ballot had Obama's name clearly marked. Our state happens to run elections on the scantron system so there is a sheet of paper marked with black ink - no confusion on who one votes for.

So why did I vote for a one-term Senator? The choice was not very difficult at all.

Barack Obama has shown throughout his long campaign for the nomination and for the office of President that he has the capacity to think through situations and issues, to base his decisions based on clear input from advisors and to stand on liberal principles.  While some stances he has taken I do not entirely agree with (his siding with Georgia over Russia when the issue was a bit more complex than a right and wrong position, and his notion that Afghanistan only needs thousands of more troops to bend to our nation's will), his temperament suits me as quite superb for the office.

I also look at what the possibilities will be with each candidate and I note that which ever team gets to the critical 270 electoral college votes, they will face a Congress that is decidedly Democratic. How will the President work with and enable passage of key parts of their plan? For Sen. Obama, this looks quite promising for various proposals, including the tax increase on the upper bounds of income-earners in America which may put the smallest little scratch in the United States deficit splurging budget. Health care proposals may come closer to universal coverage with a Democratic Congress and President (though Sen. Obama's plan does not call for universal federally-funded coverage, it may be an opportunity that comes during an Obama administration).  In short, his priorities on the domestic front appeal to me, and I could even forgo the tax cut plan for the middle-class if the budget was pinched. I really do not see how every four years the United States can keep cutting various taxes and not eventually pay for this debtor nation policy.

One major plus for Obama's campaign on the international front is a desire to communicate first, act second if necessary. Time and again in the U.S. those in the foreign policy arena feel compelled to lord over many other countries the "superpower" status of our Pentagon behemoth. It happens practically daily. If ever there were a way to make America more isolated, it would be to threaten and cajole foreign countries in the press and in diplomatic relations with bellicose statements about "options being left on the table"; of threatening destruction unless the country in question toes the line. At least there is some glimmer of hope that an Obama presidency would parlay some modest amount of good will internationally into solutions that would work towards our favor rather than directly against our national interest. Iraq can only be seen a worst-case scenario for how not to conduct foreign policy and I believe it would be far less likely to happen under Sen. Obama's tenure then Sen. McCain's.

There are many other things that compelled me to vote for Obama. Personality, leadership quality, oration skills and a magnanimity that pervades his communications one-on-one and in the press. But to further explain why I voted for him, I need only compare his opponent.

While Senator McCain is often portrayed as one who rebels against his party when his principles dictate, I have seen far too much pandering in his campaign to the far right wing, taking stands irreconcilably different from prior stands he has sought and held. President George W. Bush's tax cuts for the wealthy were opposed earlier in the decade; now they are embraced by his campaign. Offshore drilling for oil was opposed; now it is acceptable. Scurrilous campaign tricks and tactics were deplored by Senator McCain in 2000; he now uses not only these tactics, but the same outfit that smeared him.

It is also hard to square Sen. McCain's propensity to take incredible personal umbrage at political situations as his history of personal derision and insults to fellow Republicans as well as Democrats clearly attests. There is something worrisome about an individual that can propel the nation to war who sees confrontation in such a personal manner. Indeed, I fear that he sees Iran as something for which battle plans are the only solution available.

There is also the purely political selection of Governor Palin as a Vice Presidential candidate. If adding 10% of your political base was worth that choice, it has to be countered with losing 5% of the more independent minded voters across America who see the nod to the Alaskan as anything but reassuring.

Hence, these and many more reasons put the mark next to Obama's name. As of this writing, it looks like there is a decent chance that he will take the keys to the White House come the 4th of November. I believe the nation will be better off with that outcome.

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