Why I’m Voting For Barack Obama

Just below Stuart has a post explaining how he’s gone over to the Clinton camp. I thought I’d post a similar explanation on how I’ve gone over to Obama’s camp, and cast my vote for him here in Georgia today (and thank you, Pamela, for encouraging dissenting voices on the Dem Daily).

First, this isn’t really an “endorsement” as much as it an explanation of why I think Barack Obama is the right person for the job at this time.

The best way for me to explain why I’m for him is to first explain why I’m not. I’m not for Obama because of the anti-war loony left (like Move On) and others who are still proffering straw men arguments over the distinction between his opposition and Hillary Clinton’s support of the IWR in ’02. What matters is that both want to end this bloody mess post haste and that’s the only thing that matters regarding Iraq.

I’m not for him because I support the Hillary-haters or the Clinton-haters either. Stanley Fish hits it out of the ballpark yesterday in the Times with a blistering column called “All You Need Is Hate.”

This is why I’m going to great lengths to distance myself from those on the the loony left and the cuckoo right who are as obsessed with the Clinton’s as they are. Let me reiterate: the fact that I support Barack Obama does not in any way mean I agree that Hillary Clinton is unqualified to be president. For if she does win the nomination, I will vote for her enthusiastically. Hell, I’d vote for my dog enthusiastically before I voted for John McCain.

That said, it’s precisely the hateful attitudes and polarizing feelings people seem to have of the Clinton’s, and the misogyny running through so much of the vituperative comments made about her (even by people I normally otherwise respect), that makes me want to go in a different and new direction. While Erica Jong maee some interesting points on this, it’s precisely those points that push me elsewhere. It’s not ultimately about “the patriarchy” for most voters, but about the past.
This election is about repudiating and eradicating the last 8 years of Bush and anything remotely connected to him or his “legacy” of war, death and fear. And while it may be unfair to lump Clinton in with any of that (forget the IWR, what about the Patriot Act or her initial support of the NSA program?), the fact of the matter is that she and her husband represent a continuation of the dynastic Bush/Clinton/Bush/Clinton lineage that I’m just tired of.

When young voters talk about having never known anything but a Bush or Clinton in the White House, I can relate to that. Certainly from a coming of age standpoint, and counting Bush Sr.’s eight years as Veep, 2/3 of my life has been spent with a Bush or Clinton in, or with proximity to, the Oval Office.

Obama offers a fresh re-direction from all of the past 28 years. He provides an opportunity for a new direction away from the morally degenerate, ideologically bankrupt philosophy known as conservatism, and its philosophical doppelganger “triangulation”. Obama offers a progressive agenda and will put good, solid, progressive judges, who don’t legislate a conservative bias from the bench, in the courts and on the Supreme Court, of which he could easily fill three slots in his first term.

The experience issue is also a non-starter. Compared to the current occupant of the White House, who was the most unqualified, unprepared, ill-equipped person to ever be “appointed” president, Obama is already supremely qualified to hold the office. We survived 9/11 with such a simpleton in the Oval Office, we’ll be just fine with Barack Obama in there too. Check out Michael Chabon’s WaPo op-ed for a much better-written reason on why to vote for Obama.

My vote does come with qualifications, however:

  • While I appreciate all the wonderful rhetorical flourishes Obama makes from the pulpit, I’d like to see more details about what he’s actually going to do regarding healthcare, economy, prison reform, and Iraq.
  • The fact that many Republicans are supporting him makes me suspicious.
  • And while race is a non-issue for most Democrats, you can expect it to get ugly once the racists in the Republican party come out en masse to “Swiftboat” him using the issue. If you thought South Carolina was ugly, that wasn’t even a warm-up for what these “scum-sucking bottom dwellers” on the right (h/t John McCain) will cook up for the fall.

But I don’t care about that either. I welcome that fight. What I don’t welcome is fighting over the 90’s or the 60’s (or ’02) again. I don’t want a continuation or a “third term” for Bill Clinton, and fighting the same culture wars that the Boomers have been fighting since the decade I (and Obama) was born nauseates me as much now as it did 20 years ago, when we had to suffer through the first wave of 60’s nostalgia.

And ultimately, that’s what it boils down to for me: it’s generational, more than anything else. I’ve written several times on this issue over at AoF that the generational appeal I feel about the guy transcends much of the campaign minutiae and boring, trite culture wars rhetoric that Baby Boomers still want to keep fighting.

It’s time for a change, time for the proverbial “torch to be passed to a new generation.” I harbor no illusions that the guy is “another Kennedy”, but frankly, I never thought we Gen Xers would get our chance, given how big the Boomers and their kids, the Millennials, are.

But this is it, this is our chance. At the end of the day, Obama will no doubt make “rookie mistakes” and have his share of screw-ups. I imagine the “learning curve” on the presidency is staggering. But just as the Giants dumped the storied Patriots Sunday night, there is a real chance for Obama to score a big victory today. I believe there’s a good chance the “nothing will be different on Wednesday” prognosticators will be wrong.

To borrow the phrase, his time has come and the torch should be passed. Then pass me a cigarette.

Cross posted from AoF

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3 Responses to Why I’m Voting For Barack Obama

  1. Pass the torch….a phrase from the past. It comes from JFK’s inaugeration speech, “….the torch has been passed to a new generation…”

    I understand. I heard those words at age 11 and never forgot them.

    Unlike you and many new voters, I’ve experienced nearly ‘evil’ administrations. Nixon is the one most recognized. I’ve seen good men like George McGovern and Eugene McCarthy be vilified and defeated in landslide elections.

    I’ve seen good men like Jimmy Carter screw themselves and their administrations into the ground by not having the ‘insider’s ‘ understanding of how things work on The Hill.

    You say experience is a ‘non-starter’. Of course Bush is the perfect example of an unqualified president. Could Barack Obama to better? Of course. But we know the CEO style governing doesn’t work. Witness Reagan and Bush. And Obama has advocated the Presidency as primarily a ‘bully pulpit’; a place that sets the tone and direction of the conversation.

    It doesn’t work when the President gets too far into detail, (witness Carter), or when he doesn’t get detailed enough, (witness Bush).

    I believe HRC will hit a medium that allows for effective governance. She will also be a fight constantly with the Right. So will Obama.

    I believe Obama isn’t a warrior but a preacher (and world class organizer) that has found a forum.

    Both are necessary in our government; the warrior and the preacher.

    But I’ll take the warrior for the next 8 years and hope the preacher continues to try and set the tone that allows legislative change to happen when combined with the warrior’s political skills.

    They are both good people.

    Yet I have an unusual reaction to my vote today. Never felt it before…
    As I sort it out I’ll get an article up.

    Good work today, my friend.

  2. Thanks, Stuart. And to you as well. Ultimately, I think we all win, regardless of who actually “wins” today.

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