Your Thoughts Exactly: February 2008

Wednesday, February 06, 2008


Yet Another Political Endorsement

If you've been a long-standing reader of Your Thoughts Exactly, you know we differ on the relevance and importance of voting. I do feel its worthwhile to put my vote down, and trudged a whole 100 yards through the slush this morning to show my faith in Democracy and the Greatest Nation of All Time.

I try to have as great a grasp of the issues as possible when going into vote for the candidates, which becomes more difficult in primaries where the nuances between the candidates are slight. Many pundits have been reiterating that the policy differences between Hilary and Barack are almost inconsequential, so instead you need to look at alternative factors: The vision of the country in the next ten years. The personalities of the candidates and their abilities to inspire and lead. And the role the candidates see themselves in as President, in terms of how they will do their job once elected.

To me though, policy always comes first. I have specific ideas about policies I would like the country to enforce in order to transform our society. In 2008, they prioritize this way:

  1. Foreign policy, both in trade and relations, with getting out of Iraq within the next 18 months being priority A short-term and relations with China being priority A long-term,
  2. Reversing the moves made by the Bush Administration to curtail civil liberties while expanding the power of the executive branch, with new FISA regulations and the closing of Guantanamo Bay being priority A.
  3. Universal Healthcare
  4. Education.
  5. Energy Reform.

In terms of policy, Hilary and Barack are both vast improvements over the current clown-in-chief, and the differences are slight. I prefer Barack's ideas on Iraq and engagement with Iran, but Hilary is a little more pro free-trade. I'm wary of how the Clintons would do at curtailing executive power. Hilary has been a stronger advocate for universal healthcare throughout her career. Policy wise, I lean towards Obama, but for the first time the other factors almost equal out. There is one man to thank for this: George W. Bush.

As awful as his policies are, the style of his government is that much worse. Staunch, unquestioned partisanship that punishes party members who go against the grain. Secrecy and misdirection. Willfull ignorance points of view and perspectives different from your beliefs.

We've seen a Clinton White House before, and so we have an idea of what to expect. Partisanship and secrecy were major problems of the Clinton White House, especially in the last six years of office after the Republican takeover. The Clintons play the victimization card as a political tool, and are also both skilled and comfortable slandering and defying those whom they see as providing little political gain or suction to themselves. What they failed to learn, in my opinion, is that its better to have enemies that tolerate you than those that hate you passionately.

The other major flaw of the Clinton White House is how the personal relationship of the Clintons dominated their presidency in ways that hindered Bill's ability to govern and provided ammunition for the same enemies they made already. Is this is bad as the Bush Presidencies foibles? Hell no. But it was a problem and remains a problem today.

Meanwhile, Obama's greatest strength is the vision he offers of his Presidency and the fundamentals he claims he will run his government by. The role of the Presidency, for Obama, is providing a uniting force and positive image for America, in order to allow and enable the government as a whole to legislate based on the principles this country is based on. Many a candidate has played this card in my lifetime, but none has done it as poetically or as convincingly as Barack Obama. Being able to persuade, to have a vision of the office and gain the support of the people would be crucial to actually fulfilling this vision. It's a similar one to what Bill Clinton had in 1992, that he was ultimately unable to enact. Partly because maybe Americans weren't ready, and partly because he might not have been the man to do it.

Now we are ready. And I believe Barack's the man to do start us down that path. Hopefully, he'll get a chance to.

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