Friday, June 13, 2008

The Choice is Clear

So many people now feel like they are without a candidate of their choice, and I admit it's hard to get behind a candidate that was not your first or second choice, but this is not so unusual. This is how every primary season ends up: Two candidates are left standing and neither is my original choice. Even so, the choice now for Democrats and progressives should be obvious. Barack Obama is the Democratic nominee and he would be a far better president than the angry and very conservative John McCain. McCain would be a disastrous president for a lot of reasons, not the least of which because he has a problem with his temper and in dealing with people. What kind of diplomat would he be, when that is more important now than ever? He also doesn't seem to respect women. A book called "The Real McCain" points that out painfully in a story about how he spoke to his wife and how he treats his friends and people in general. After reading that, I was sure no Hillary supporter could ever seriously support John McCain.

In fact, if we are concerned about the temperament of the next president, (and we should be) you could do much worse than the nearly unflappable Obama. He's the opposite of the hothead McCain. John McCain's own friends and associates are worried about his personality to the point where they have endorsed other candidates.

In January of this year, Senator Thad Cochran of Mississippi, who has known Senator John McCain for more than three decades, endorsed Mitt Romney for president. From the Boston Globe:

"Thad Cochran said in the past he has seen McCain's temper fly too often in committee hearings or on the Senate floor.

Cochran said his choice was prompted partly by his fear of how McCain might behave in the Oval Office.

"The thought of his being president sends a cold chill down my spine," Cochran said about McCain by phone. "He is erratic. He is hotheaded. He loses his temper and he worries me."
That is something every McCain supporter should consider before supporting him further. Even so, it is kind of tough for me to switch to Obama too, even when I know it has to be done for the good of our country. I have spent the last six months criticizing Obama. That's politics. (I could criticize any politician if I decided to focus on them, even my favorites).

Hillary Clinton ran an amazing campaign. She showed the world how tough American women are. In the case of Hillary, she is made of steel, and was (and is) smarter than any man in the room. Her campaign made me proud, and absolutely epitomized "grace under pressure". In the fact of long odds she was out there every day talking to the people of this country, telling them there was real hope and real optimism for the future of they would turn away from the policies of the conservative right-wing. Her hard work in the senate proved her level of experience and knowledge every day and she would have made an incredible president.

But I'm a realist, and I know it's time to move on and support the person who needs to win. To be honest, Hillary was not my first choice, and I tried not to get too emotionally invested in her historic campaign, even though I didn't always succeed. From the start of this election season I always assumed two things: First, that a Democratic (or progressive) needed to win this election. Two, that whoever that person was, they would be so much better than any Republican who was running. So when it got down to the two of them, Hillary and Obama, my personal choice was Hillary, but I never completely ruled out Obama either.

I chose Hillary of the two because she is so tough, so experienced, so right on many things, and a feminist I respected. Now that I see she will not get the nomination, I can celebrate her triumphs and feel so proud of her for all that she has accomplished. Hillary Clinton did not actually need to get the top job in the U.S. for us to admire her enormous accomplishments. Like Alice Paul and Lucy Burns and Caty Stanton, like Susan B. Anthony and Shirley Chisholm, like the first American female governor and senator, Hillary has broken ground, broken through walls, shattered the top glass ceiling (if not broken through it) and proven that American women can do anything, can be anything. Her supporters should realize the enormous accomplishment of that and know that because of her a woman in the White House is now something Americans fully accept as inevitable.

One of the great things about Hillary is that she is both down to earth and radical. Many Americans found both of those sides of her very appealing. She was radical because she actually had the audacity to believe that a woman could and should be president of the most powerful country in the world. And as president, she would have fought for all of us equally, because she believes so strongly in equality.

It's not overly hard for me to support her self-described "friend" and someone she has endorsed, Barack Obama, for president. I always thought they had such similar policies and they do, with small but important differences. I think Obama can be pressured to be more progressive on many of his policies when this election is over, and I hope he adopts more of Hillary's viewpoints. There is no doubt she has made him a stronger candidate. Obama was and remains less experienced than her, but she can help him and so can everyone else.

Obama will not ignore her and where ever she goes from here, she will be heard and respected like never before. Hillary has made everyone aware of not just her abilities, not just women's abilities, but those very attitudes that stand in the way of women reaching their full potentials in this country. We can thank her for that too. If we needed a dialogue about race, we sure need one about sexism too.

I still have the freedom to vote for anyone, as does everyone, but I see no point in supporting someone other than Obama to further the issues I care about. From health care to climate change to the economy to civil rights and human rights, Obama is closer to Hillary's positions on those by far, than John McCain.

In no way do I understand going from supporting Hillary to supporting John McCain! We don't have to be bitter about Hillary losing the nomination, so bitter that we support her true opposition -- the Republican candidate! This campaign was never about her. It was about the country we love and how to take it forward and get the respect of the world back. It was about how to get us there: via the same old failed conservatives, or a new way forward that is progressive.

Obama's policies stand light years ahead of John McCain's in logic, and realism and compassion. It's true Obama promises a lot to a lot of people, and there are problems I have with his approaches to some things, but I believe his intentions are good. He loves this country, as does his wife, and he's not obsessed with oil and imperialism as the Bush and Cheney families are. He cares about America. He cares about the people in it and he has seen the huge level of trust and belief in him. I don't believe he will violate that trust.

Obama has never been a conservative or felt the need to identify and defend Republicans, as McCain has. He will want to help average Americans, something John McCain has never displayed. John McCain is married to a super-rich heiress and he was born into a privileged military family. He's never really had a regular middle class experience, like Obama and Hillary once had. How can McCain relate to the average American? He always seems to think in terms of the soldiers and the military and applies that first and foremost to his world view. Under John McCain, everything about our American future will be wars, more wars, even 100-year wars. As an anti-war person myself, that is impossible for me to relate to. John McCain will carry on the policies of the Bush administration, there is no doubt about that in my mind.

So to anyone torn between who to support now that Hillary is out of the race, (and she really is) I can only recommend her own endorsement. She and Obama both believe in the strength and the potential of this country and of every American in it. John McCain sees American through the lens of power and military strength and little else. Their world-views could not be more different. We need to move forward as a country and evolve, not do everything with military might. With John McCain, who has even admitted he doesn't understand economic issues, he will continue to funnel most of this country's wealth into the Pentagon and the military and into contractors. And speaking of economic issues -- today it was reported that McCain and his wife have $100,000 in credit card debt! That's a good indicator of how unlike the average American John McCain really is.

This country really needs to heal from the last 8 years but also change course. Obama will lead us into the future as John McCain cannot, and I hope people can and will support him as much as possible as he faces the challenges that are waiting for him. Hillary will be there helping him too, as much as she can.


Lin said...

Hi, shell--we have to begin to correct what was done in the last 8 years--you are so right. Only one responsible choice now.

DCDemocrat said...

Thank you, Sherry. Your sentiments are mine exactly. Ultimately, at the end of this, each of us will be left what we did in this moment. Were we possessed by our sadness, anger, or resentment, or did we rise above our loss to do what is best for our country given the circumstances in which our country finds itself. Being able to look in my eyes in the mirror in the morning when I shave is very important to me.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree. I made a pact with myself in January 2007 that I would support the nominee no matter what. Every time I even considered going to the other side, I reminded myself of that pact and what was at stake.

Good post!

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