Sunday, November 2, 2008

Barack Obama for President

Imagine this country as a 2005 Honda Accord, if you can. It has some issues and you have to take it to a repair shop. You have a choice of two shops.

On the one hand, you can take it to the dealership. The warranty is done, but you figure you should go with the people who built the car, even though it’s already defective. The dealership has been around Honda Accords for decades. They offer you a price you know would be impossible to follow through on. And then, they warn you about this new kooky repair shop down the street. They say that shop is new and doesn’t know what it’s doing.

On the other hand, someone tells you about a brand new shop you’ve never heard of. The owner just finished an apprenticeship and graduated from an elite engineering school before that. You go talk to the owner. S/he says they're going to fix your car up with all this amazing stuff that will make it more efficient, safer, and better for the environment. Then s/he goes on and on, talking about this new technology that will fundamentally change how we fix cars for the foreseeable future. The owner of this shop wants to install a new technology in the car that will help the project. S/he asks for your trust, but the price is lower than the dealership’s because the shop is supported by bigwig investors.

If this were me, I’d choose the new shop and its technology to fix my car. Knowing that it was Honda who messed up the car in the first place, I wouldn’t trust them to work on it again. Also, as a member of a generation that is completely comfortable with trying out new ideas (especially those supported by influential investors), I would not only be OK with volunteering my car, I would want to be a part of this shop’s mission to change the auto industry for the better.

If you can’t figure out which repair shop represents John McCain or Barack Obama, then go read the political section of every major news outlet right this second. If you follow me, then let’s go.

I’ve been chewing my fingernails for hours. I’m down to the cuticles now. My fingers look like I stuck them down a garbage disposal and ran the thing for a few minutes.

But I can’t help it. It’s how anxious I feel about the election tomorrow.

I’ve heard journalists and others talk about how covering politics is just like covering sports. And that following the two is often similar. I can dig. But there’s a major difference between sports and the election tomorrow.

No matter how passionate you are about sports, no matter what big game you are anticipating, no matter how much sports have viscerally impacted the lives of humans across the globe, the election tomorrow will have a larger impact.

Because, you understand, the election tomorrow has life and death implications. It is not about something so fickle as pride, or so weightless as honor. The lives of human beings across this country and the world over will be drastically affected in ways a sporting event simply could not touch.

Here’s what’s at stake in the election tomorrow:


The definitive opportunity to nominate Supreme Court justices that will either stack up the conservatives and place the Court in prime position to overturn Roe v Wade, establish firmer gun laws, and limit marriage to select citizens; or to nominate justices that will balance the Court, retain Americans' fundamental liberties, and allow the healthy discourse that’s not only helpful but necessary on the nation’s highest court.

The continuation or abondonment of trickle down economic principles that erased Clinton’s $127 billion surplus, created a $455 billion deficit, and set the pieces in motion for what has become the biggest economic crisis in this country not called the Great Depression. Ugh.

Advisers that run it

As much as we all love the people that have worked behind the scenes to consolidate the Bush administration’s power via illegal memos and hiring practices, brutal partisan high handedness, and a comprehensive spying program that history will judge most harshly upon, I’m ready to try another hand. It’s scary and downright pathetic that McCain has run his campaign by trying to steal the mantle of change that Obama promulgated in the primaries, and has used that mantle while relying on the same advisers that smeared the living crap out of him in 2000 and helped craft the policies that he purports to change in the next four years. Wow.

The foreign policy of the Bush advisers has turned American into a cussword across the globe. We are loathed and that is nothing short of embarrassing for a country whose entire basis relies on acting as a shining light for others to follow.

Shining light we are not, my friends.

I also think that, while it is impossible to argue against McCain’s foreign policy acumen (he did beat Obama to the punch on the right call with Georgia), McCain is wrong to give the Iraq War a blank check. Experts and generals have agreed that the true war on terror is in Afghanistan. Obama’s foreign policy experience is seriously limited, but by surrounding himself with people like Joe Biden and other expert advisers, he removes any doubt or fear of growing pains—indeed, he was right on with his call to shift focus to Afghanistan.


The best gauge of leadership is the way a candidate runs his/her own campaign. From the Obama campaign, we’ve witnessed an unprecedented fundraising and activist movement that has incorporated millions and millions of Americans who were previously uninvolved and uninterested in participating in politics. He has done so through a campaign that has been unified and on point since the moment he entered the race. His nomination of one of the most experienced and knowledgeable senators alive in Joe Biden as Vice-President shows that Obama has real, solid judgment. Running against Hillary Clinton and then McCain has only made the well-run nature of Obama’s campaign that much more evident, and truthfully, I don’t see why Obama wouldn’t apply this same leadership to the White House.

On the other hand we have an ancient politician who has run a hodge-podge campaign that his advocates call scrappy but which anyone with common sense would call a mess. His nomination of the inexperienced Sarah Palin for Vice-President was so drastically irresponsible that traditionally conservative newspapers like the L.A. Times and the Chicago Tribune (who has never, never, never endorsed a democrat before) hinged their endorsements for Obama on McCain’s aloofness. Moreover, the McCain campaign has switched their central message about 38 times during this campaign, and has stooped to attacks on Obama that are so ineffective you could see Obama almost start laughing during the debates. (For example, since when did it become a bad thing to go to Harvard Law and become a constitutional law scholar before practicing politics? Seriously?)


Obama’s focus on energy and education seals my support for him. I have heard nothing from McCain about education. Obama’s energy plan is audacious but I think represents the kind of bold propositional optimism this country has been lacking—unless you think running around trying to find and then kill terrorists is inspirational.

McCain’s old age and health is a serious issue to me. In 2008, the thought of electing a president not comfortable with sending an email is incomprehensible (don't tell me it's because Vietnamese "torturers prohibited McCain's use of a keyboard"--if you can survive the grueling campaign schedule, you can type an email on a friggin wireless keyboard). The McCain family, moreover, has a history of heart problems, and the thought of Palin taking over this country is just chilling.

There you have it. It’s hard to imagine this country as a better place in four years with McCain/Palin at the helm. It’s really hard. With Obama, you have a large number of unknowns, it’s true, but you also have a man who has proven to be inspirational, intelligent, and ready to lead this country back to its former glory.