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Why I’m Not Excited by Barack Obama (But Don’t Regret Voting for Him over Clinton)

15 July 2008

So, as well all know Barack Obama has decided that the recently-discussed FISA bill is acceptable. Not only that but he has been attempting what looks to me like finessing his way out of his Iraq pull-out promise.  Needless to say, I am not overly excited about him being our next President. Still, I have almost no doubt that I will be marking his name in the upcoming election, with very little reluctance and I have no regret in voting for him in the NY Primary over Clinton.

Why?

Well, the first and most obvious is that he is not John McCain who wants to maintain troops in Iraq for a long period of time (whether or not there is violence occurring is not the issue, we should not be occupying Iraq at all). Not only that, but most of Obama’s positions (even those I disagree with) are FAR more sensible than John McCain. Here’s a short run-down of some basic positions that I think are important, and where both candidates stand:

Health Care – John McCain supports a free-market approach which will ultimately limit how many people are able to receive proper treatment for medical conditions. He seems to have no issue with insurance companies practices of using quote, “pre-existing conditions” as an excuse to deny coverage. Obama, on the other hand, while not giving us a true single-payor healthcare system, (which I would like to see happen), he is taking steps towards the goal of ‘universal coverage’ while McCain is at best going nowhere and at worst taking us backwards.  While Obama’s healthcare plan isn’t even close to what I would prefer (for the record, neither was Clinton’s, despite what she claimed), it is far better than McCains. Obama – .5 , McCain – 0.

Foreign Policy – This one is simple. Barack Obama has shown a willingness to engage in discussion even with those leaders who disagree with our policies in what can be best described as a mature manner. John McCain, following Bush’s lead, takes the childish approach of “with us or against us”. Whether or not Republicans want to believe it, there is a nuance to agreement and disagreement, and just because Israel and Palestine do not agree, that does not mean Israel is automatically right.  We need to find a solution that doesn’t just make one party (like Israel, for example) happy. That just breeds more distrust and anger towards our country. This is one of the few issues where I truly agree with Obama. Obama – 1.5, McCain – 0

Energy Policy – I am in disagreement with both candidates in different ways here. Barack Obama wants to implement a market-based approach called a “cap-and-trade” system. I don’t believe that this is the most effective way to deal with the need for cleaner energy such as wind and solar power. I personally think a higher tax on dirty energy and a lower tax on technologies such as wind or solar power would be the way to go.  However, I am even more opposed to the asinine ideas John McCain is proposing such as opening up our continental shelf to drilling as well as a gas-tax holiday. First of all, if you get rid of the gas-tax that increases demand, which reduces supply which will cause the prices to rise again anyway. Bad idea. Second of all, these solutions are like putting a band-aid on a severed limb that has already fallen off.  We need to innovate, not sit back and do more of the same. It’s not working. Obama 2, Mc Cain 0.

Homeland Security/Middle East Policy (separate from foreign policy as a whole) – Barack Obama’s original claim to the spotlight was the anti-war speech he delivered in which he stated that he did not support the War in Iraq. In the beginning of the campaign he stated when elected he would withdraw troops and has until recently maintained this plan. However, now it appears he is trying to weasel his way out of this by using phrases like “listening to the commanders on the ground”.  This phrase has been used by the Bush Administration as a code for “we’re not withdrawing troops” for quite some time, and Obama repeating that just doesn’t sound good to me.  We need to get out of Iraq. We never should have been there in the first place, and at this point our presence in the Middle East is really doing more harm than good. Al-Qaeda in Iraq did not exist until we invaded and our presence is easily used as propaganda to inspire young people in the Middle East to take up arms against a country who is (correctly) seen as an occupying force. John McCain of course thinks being in the Middle East for a century is no big deal as long as no Americans are being killed.  But the kicker is, if Americans are being killed he will claim we need to stay there to quell the violence. On this point, John McCain gets nothing, and Barack Obama gets half a point. Obama 2.5 McCain 0.

So it seems that Barack Obama, while showing the classic symptoms of Compulsive-Centrist Disorder, is the better choice than John McCain, but still not the best choice.  So does that mean I regret voting for him instead of Hillary?

Nope.

Her main goal always seemed to be winning the presidency, no matter what she had to do. Barack Obama, while he certainly did slip, never seemed to fall to the levels of dirty politics that Clinton and her surrogates did.  For me the choice between them had little to do with policy, as many of theirs were the almost identical. It was about personality. Who do I want representing the United States to the world? Someone who acts mature and calm in the face of stress, adversity, and negative attention? Or someone who lashes out at his or her opponent when he or she is in danger of losing.  Clearly the first. And Obama represents that more to me than Clinton ever could. It’s the same with John McCain. John McCain is known for his outbursts and anger issues.  Is this really what we want the world to see as the leader of the United States? Someone who lashes out when another person disagrees with them?
Barack Obama isn’t perfect, but he is sure as hell a better choice than McCain, and was a better choice than Clinton.

(For the record, I was a Kucinich supporter)

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