Well, it now seems that we are down to two main presidential candidates, John McCain and Barack Obama. Interestingly, both represent the more liberal portion of their respective parties’ ideologies. The question is, who should you vote for and why?
In The Idealist’s world, neither would be the candidate. In my world we would have presidential candidates who are not chosen via the party system. The party system allows for pervasive and corrupt financial interests to control who the candidates are. Only the district-by-district distribution of delegates in the Democratic party allowed Obama to defeat Clinton, who won more states, and if the Democrats arranged their primary elections in a manner similar to the Republicans (who are inherently more aristocratic) would have won the Democratic primary election.
Reality is, however, that we are saddled with the current system (yes, we are the horse and the parties are riding our backs to enhance their powers). So the Idealist will state why Barack Obama is the correct choice for president.
First of all, I disagree with most of Obama’s domestic policies and would tend to agree with more conservative economic and bureaucratic and judicial ideas than Obama. However, the president’s job is foreign policy and international affairs and national security. McCain has officially climbed into bed with the neo-conservative movement and this ideology has done more to weaken our national security, damage our ability to act as a force for good in the world, and bankrupt our present and mortgage our future than any approach since the Reagan administration (we are still dealing with the fallout from the foreign policy and national security blunders of the 1980’s including: 1) the funding of Iraq and Sadaam Hussein in their war against Iran, teaching them all they needed to know about weapons of mass destruction; 2) selling weapons to the Iranians later that decade (in order to fund the Nicaraguan Contra rebels in an effort to depose another democratically elected regime) because Iraq began to win the war and was seen as more dangerous; and 3) the tactical support (via the CIA) of Osama Bin Laden in his battle against the Soviets in Afghanistan).
Obama is actually willing to talk to Iran, just as Israel has been engaging in talks with Syria. Obama wants America to stand for something internationally besides a distorted and twisted sense of Manifest Destiny. He believes that the greatness of America lies in its goodness and that once we cease to be good, we will cease to be great. He sees (together with McCain on this topic) that torture is evil and our willingness to use evil means to an end demonstrates the deterioration of our “goodness” and understands that our “greatness” will not be restored unless we are the example, not the enforcer of the world.
Domestically, the legislative branch should be in control. The president has very little say in domestic policies and many presidents have felt that unless an act of Congress was unconstitutional or encroaching upon the enumerated powers of the executive, a vote by the two branches of Congress was the voice of the people and no veto would be forthcoming. Thus the people can hold the legislature accountable every two years at a local level (as happened in 2006 as the electorate expressed their frustration with the war in Iraq and the spending of supposed “conservatives”).
Since there are no fiscal conservatives in the federal government (name one…anybody? Okay I’ll give you Ron Paul) you’re on your own for your local elections. But realize that domestic policies are the purview of the legislature and our voting regarding domestic issues should be done in legislative elections. Foreign policy- and national security-based issues are presidential issues and voting should be done with that in mind.
One further comment: History will tell the story of a young lawyer from Illinois who had very little experience in national politics (two years in a branch of Congress); who had emphatically opposed a war prior to his involvement in national politics; whose goal it was to unify the country; who identified dramatic needs for change and dramatic hope for the future and felt that if he became president, he could accomplish these changes. Actually, history may tell the story of two such lawyers: Abraham Lincoln held national office from 1846-48 as a Congressman from Illinois; he opposed Pres. Polk’s Mexican-American war; he identified slavery as an issue that needed to be settled in order to unify and preserve the union; he appealed to the constitution and the law of nations to argue how to preserve and unify. The other: Barack Obama has been in national government only from 2004 to present; he spoke out against the Iraq war in 2002 and 2003; he has the “audacity” to hope that things can change in politics in America (I agree, but only if the parties have their influence dramatically lessened).
I’m not saying that Obama is the next Lincoln. What I’m saying is that many of the political arguments against Obama (like lack of experience and unwillingness to support an earlier president at war) do not in any way lessen the likelihood that he will be an adequate president and perhaps a great one.
Obama in ’08!