Okay, I know everyone has been waiting for this. John Edwards and Bill Richardson have been calling me, saying they're waiting for S & C to make an endorsement before they make theirs. So here goes...
Please, please vote for Barack Obama on Tuesday if you have a primary in your state.
I had been torn between Obama and Edwards. Obama's policies do not always go far enough in the progressive direction for me. I prefer both the Edwards and the Clinton health care plans to Obama's. I am concerned that Obama might be too conciliatory to stand up to Republicans who are too accustomed to having their. Edwards is out now, though, and the choice for Democrats is down to two.
Hillary Clinton is intelligent, knowledgeable, and determined. She would make a better president than any of the candidates from the GOP. Many of those who oppose her do for the wrong reasons. Still, the way she has run her campaign has shown a disturbing lack of integrity. The use of surrogates to inject questions of race into the campaign, her attempts to change the rules halfway through the game, and the continuing misrepresentation of Obama's views and statements are far too close to the kind of politics employed by Karl Rove.
There are other issues that are important -- Hillary's connections to big business, her support of the Kyle-Lieberman amendment, and her inability to explain her vote on authorizing the Iraq war to name a few. Even putting these aside, Hillary has serious electability problems, especially against John McCain. Frank Rich has pointed out the dangerous shadow of Bill Clinton over Hillary, which seems even worse now that the Borat affair has been revealed. Hillary Clinton could also mobilize right wing voters who otherwise would be too demoralized to leave home on election day.
If John McCain wins the Republican nomination, which seems likely at this point, his aura of "integrity" will stand in sharp contrast to Hillary. I don't think that's fair, especially since I think McCain has sold his soul to advance his candidacy in the GOP, pandering to groups on the far right that are dangerous and that he previously denounced. Still, the press will continue to portray him as the "maverick," and it will convince a lot of independent voters. McCain would be a disaster as president. This is a man who has promised more wars, claimed that a hundred-year occupation of Iraq is acceptable to him, and tastelessly joked about bombing Iran. At a time of recession, he admits not understanding economics. McCain's approach to stimulating the economy is similar to George Bush's -- tax cuts. If he is more interested in reducing the deficit than Bush, as he claims, and he's paying for all of his wars, the only alternative is brutal spending cuts on social programs, infrastructure, and education, further widening the gap between the rich and the rest of us in this country.
So, back to Obama. The important question that is raised by his candidacy is that of substance. It's all very good to talk about change and hope, but don't we need more than talk? Yes, of course, and Obama has his policy ideas which are on his website -- some, not all, don't go far enough for me (e.g., his ideas on Iraq and his health care proposal). Like many other people, however, it's the intangible excitement around his campaign that gets my attention. Is that shallow? I don't know. I do believe, however, that Obama was right in the New Hampshire debate when he said, "words do inspire." Words and expressions like "if you're not with us, you're against us," "axis of evil," and "terrorist" have been very powerful over the past seven years. I think one of Hillary's low points was when, Giuliani-style, she invoked the threat of a terrorist attack to support her candidacy. I am tired of politics of fear and divisiveness, and for all my doubts, Obama can electrify me. He won't solve all the country's problems, but it's time for a change of style. If you have a few minutes, watch his victory speech in South Carolina:
Not bad, huh?
By the way, thanks to Kevin for many of the links. I highly recommend his blog, Ghost in the Machine, for those following this election.
Vote Obama on Tuesday, please.