Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Common Iowan Endorses Obama

I have seen all the candidates numerous times over the past year and have gone back and forth between about 5 candidates. There truly are very talented candidates on the Democratic side and that is making it hard for many caucus-goers to decide on which candidate to support.

All along I tried to convey on my blog, my thinking and which way I was leaning (check out Still Undecided Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3). To help me decided, I made a list of what I want in a presidential candidate and compared each candidate to it.

Most of the year, I had been saying that I was strongly leaning towards John Edwards. Edwards is saying everything that I would want a candidate to say. I highly respect that Edwards is saying what needs to be said. However, there was something holding me back from supporting him. I look at his rhetoric now and how it differs compared to how he voted while he was in the Senate. He is speaking about helping the poor, but voted for the Bankruptcy bill, he is against the Iraq War, but voted for it. He is against NCLB, but he voted for it.

Another candidate that isn't afraid to, unapologetically, say what they believe in is Joe Biden. Coming into this race, I was not a Biden fan at all. However, after meeting him in person, my opinion of him quickly changed. It is clear that Biden is extremely knowledgeable on foreign affairs. I have been outspoken against the war not just because we went to war under false claims, but also because it doesn't seem that we have a mission there anymore. Joe Biden has a mission that can bring stability to Iraq.

Out of all the candidates on Iraq, I probably agree most with Bill Richardson. Richardson understands that our troops are stuck in the middle of a civil war and are walking around with targets on their backs. He wants to get every single troop out of Iraq as soon as possible and he has the experience to accomplish that in a responsible manner. Also, Richardson has come out the strongest against NCLB, saying we need to get rid of it. However, one of my top issues is fair trade and Richardson has used the right talking points, but looking at past history he has been less supportive of fair trade.

I never really considered Hillary Clinton. Too many people have their minds made up that they don't like her and a lot of that isn't her fault. If Clinton is the nominee, we will be going through the divisive politics of the 90's all over again. More importantly, Clinton been one of the biggest Democratic hawks in the Senate on the war. It is one thing to vote for the war and say you made a mistake, but it is another to vote for it and to be a spokesperson for failed policies.

That leaves two candidate that were strong on every important issue and had backed it up with past experience: Chris Dodd and Barack Obama.

Chris Dodd has shown remarkable leadership throughout the campaign, often times showing the other Senators in this race when they must stand up on key issues. There was no better example than Dodd's successful one-man stand, filibustering telecom immunity. His plan for free community college education is much needed and would work. His call for community service would restore a sense of community that is badly needed in this country.

It is clear that Dodd is a tremendous Senator that understands the issues and holds strong progressive ideals and clear policy stances on the issues of education, energy, ending the war, health care, and restoring the rule of law. Unfortunately, Dodd's campaign never took off and I am not sure why.

That leaves Barack Obama. When I looked at Barack Obama, at the beginning of the campaign, I saw a lot of potential, but I also saw him being reluctant to take tough stands on important issues. As Obama talked about bringing people together to compromise, I had to ask if Republicans like Dick Cheney and Karl Rove would ever be willing to compromise. That isn't the game they play. If you try and compromise with people like that and don't have strongly held beliefs then it will just be more of the same: wimpy Democrats failing to accomplish anything.

Then I read something about the difference between Edwards fighting for change and Obama talking about changing Washington. Edwards is talking about fighting for change on a micro level. He is talking about fighting at the negotiating table and not backing down and that is very important. However, Obama is talking about changing Washington on a macro level by bringing people together behind common values and once enough people are behind him then corporations and lobbyists will be forced to change. That reminded me of what John Perkins, author of Confessions of an Economic Hit Man, said at a lecture earlier this fall...

The corporations have great power, but we, as consumers, have great power over them. We can use this power to transform the empire into a viable model.
We must use consumer demand to change the corporatocracy's goal from windfall profits to creating a stable, sensible, and peaceful future. No CEO wants Florida to go under water, terrorism, or polluted water. They all have kids and want them to have a quality life.
Perkins said this will be the easiest revolution ever because it is bloodless and the opponent, deep down in their hearts, is on our side, even if they don't realize it. He said, "we need to turn the intent of our economy around."
Obama described this kind of change at a speech last week...

I’ve learned in my life that you can stand firm in your principles while still reaching out to those who might not always agree with you. And although the Republican operatives in Washington might not be interested in hearing what we have to say, I think Republican and independent voters outside of Washington are. That’s the once-in-a-generation opportunity we have in this election.

To lead this kind of change, a leader must have strong core principles and not back down. When I saw Obama speak last week, I needed to see if he had a back bone and hear what his core principles were and I did.

Because I know that when the American people believe in something, it happens.

If you believe, then we can tell the lobbyists that their days of setting the agenda in Washington are over.

If you believe, then we can stop making promises to America’s workers and start delivering – jobs that pay, health care that’s affordable, pensions you can count on, and a tax cut for working Americans instead of the companies who send their jobs overseas.

If you believe, we can offer a world-class education to every child, and pay our teachers more, and make college dreams a reality for every American.

If you believe, we can save this planet and end our dependence on foreign oil.

If you believe, we can end this war, close Guantanamo , restore our standing, renew our diplomacy, and once again respect the Constitution of the United States of America.

That’s the future within our reach. That’s what hope is – that thing inside us that insists, despite all evidence to the contrary, that something better is waiting for us around the corner. But only if we’re willing to work for it and fight for it. To shed our fears and our doubts and our cynicism. To glory in the task before us of remaking this country block by block, precinct by precinct, county by county, state by state.

I truly believe that Barack Obama has the strength and conviction to lead the nation, not just to right the ship, but to lead it in the direction it needs to go. Obama has the ability to fundamentally change the way we live in our nation, not just the way Washington works. I hope you get on board.


benny06 said...

Interesting process of elimination you went through.

My problem with Obama has to do with with the spine needed to lead change. I don't think he has it. He also is obsessed about money, which bothers me as well.

As a constituent, I've been very disappointed in his record in the Senate. He's ducked many votes, and did the same when he was a state senator, particularly on women's reproductive rights.

His recent veiled snipes at Kerry and Gore are not good for the Democratic party.

But many folks believe in his rhetoric. To me, that is all it is.

Anonymous said...

I understand your decision. I think the Edwards/Obama supporters mostly talk past each other. You either find one man's approach and rhetoric convincing, or you are drawn to the other. I think it's like an argument over whether John or Paul was the best Beatle.

Like Benny, I am not inspired by Obama at all. For most of the year he wasn't even using the words "Democrat" or "Democratic Party" in his speeches. I don't see him as someone who will stand up for our values. He will move halfway toward the Republican position before the battle is joined in the name of compromise and uniting the country.

I have also grown to like Biden a lot more this year. Right now Dodd's my second choice, but Biden would be close behind for third.

I think you have been misled regarding Edwards' Senate career.

He had a 97 percent lifetime rating from the AFL-CIO, reflecting the fact that he was very consistent in standing up for working people's interests.

The many national unions who have endorsed Edwards have examined the totality of his career. Zero national unions have endorsed Obama. As we just saw a few weeks ago, Obama was happy to schedule his NH Oprah event at an arena that's had a picket line in front of it for the past several years.

I think the Republicans would eat Obama alive during the general. He started the year as my second choice but has dropped to fourth or fifth for me.

I am anything but a Hillary fan, but I am almost coming to believe that Hillary would have a better chance in the general than Obama. His negatives are already approaching 50 percent, and the media coverage of him has been overwhelmingly positive. When the media starts to get tough and the GOP hate machine starts educating people about all of his "present" votes, etc., he will drop sharply.


Anonymous said...

Excellent article endorsing why Obama would be preferable over Edwards. To me Obama is that much more credible than either Hillary or Edwards.

If Edwards is so willing to fight the corporations now, how come he never fought the good fight as a senator.

Anonymous said...

I am not an Iowan, so please take my comments with that in mind. I did spend many summer months working with Iowans doing archaeology as a college student. My experience led me to respect what Iowans have to offer the presidential electoral process.
And I respect that you have carefully weighed this choice.
Having said that, I must disagree with your choice. I believe we have a chance in this country to embrace progressive values. And Obama, through his actions, does not strike me as the one to do that. I hear too much of the triangulation used by Bill Clinton coming out of his mouth. And let's not forget what that led to; two terms of a non-majority elected Democratic president, and the loss of the Congress.
To heck with amity. The Republicans and their masters have never played fair, and are not about to start. Obama's attitude of collegiality is naive, and destined for failure. FDR pushed through the New Deal, and was branded a Socialist by the Republicans of his day. LBJ got civil rights legislation which attempted to remove the greatest stain in American history passed, and the Republicans appealed to racism. The battle for the soul of America will be long and bitter. And we can win. But we need a fighter like John Edwards to do so.
I live in Pennsylvania. That means that, by the time my primary vote is counted, the race will likely be over. Obama may be fresh, but he is not seasoned enough to take on the machine. Please reconsider your vote.
I say all of this with respect, and will, naturally, vote for whomever the Democratic Party nominates.

Tom said...

Good choice! You have probably worked harder than anyone to come to your conclusion.

As you know, I have been solid-Obama since February and am more confident each day as we head into the caucus.

Edwards is OK, but he has little going for him after Iowa and would not be able to take on Hillary. The money problem is the most serious reason not to support him, but he has no credible campaign or following in the other states.

Anonymous said...

Obama is the man!

Have you seen the guy live? This is not a shallow consideration. We need someone who can communicate our values in a genuine way to America as a whole.

And I too am a constituent of Obama and I've been thrilled with him! He's the only politician I know of that consistently stands up on the things I care about. I'm constantly writing letters to complain to Dick Durbin because he lacks spine. Not Obama.

Besides, Obama is the most likely anti-Hilary and if she is the candidate, people like me will abandon the party in droves. I love Hilary, but she's too divisive. If she's the candidate, it will be a great year for the greens!