Why I’m voting for Obama

I just got back from a 30 mile ride — which makes 110 miles so far for my first (hopefully) 200+ mile week.  As you can imagine, spending time alone on the bike gives me quite a bit of time to think.  I use the time to pray, plan my day or just think.  This past week, politics have been on my mind quite a bit. It all started at my grandfather’s funeral.  His death was not unexpected.  He had suffered a stroke the weekend before and died peacefully in his sleep during the week.  Still, as an impromptu reunion of my (fairly conservative) extended family during the final days leading up to a presidential election, we had some interesting conversations. Since they all know I worked on a campaign for a Democratic nominee for president when Bush was up for re-election, one of the first questions I’m asked is: “Who are you voting for?”  I’ve stepped out of the Protestant, Republican straight jacket, so I’m not quite as predictable politically.  (I get the feeling that I experienced a smidgen of what William F. Buckley’s son went through.) Just to be clear: back in 2000, I was rooting for McCain.  He was (is?) a man who stood up for what he believed in.  I was no fan of Gore and thought McCain was the best of the Republican lot.  But no matter.  That was during my “I don’t vote” phase. However, in the past eight years, I got to know McCain better.  And it seemed like McCain changed.  A former victim of torture, he went soft on torture.  In the debates, he specifically listed veteran’s benefits and war spending as one of the programs exempt from his idiotic “spending freeze”.  If we’re going to freeze spending, why exempt those?  It seems like blatant pandering to vets.  His ambition to be president is consuming him. And, in the past couple of weeks, it looked like his campaign ran away from him.  When he had previously said he would run a clean campaign, his running mate started accusing Obama of “pallin’ around with terrorists“.  And that’s another thing: while I think Palin was a smart choice to shore up the “base” of voters and make McCain 50 times more appealing to Evangelicals (my bother admitted McCain didn’t interest him until Palin was selected because she seems to be a devout member of the Assemblies of God church), I don’t think she is qualified.  She does look, as one person reported, “shockingly amateurish“. So those are reasons to vote against McCain.  I’m sure that if I wanted to (because, to be frank, I knew I was going to vote for Obama before many of these reasons came out) I could find just as many damning statements to make against Obama.  But that is part of what I don’t like about the campaign against Obama.  Much of it (“Nobama”, “Barack Hussain Obama”) seems childish and stupid.  Sure, that sort of stuff works for some people. But it isn’t attractive to me.  And just to be clear, if I was going to let someone’s associates scare me away (Jeremiah Wright, Bill Ayers, ACORN), I wouldn’t have anyone to vote for (Keating Five, ACORN, William Timmons). What about the issues?  There was one consistent reason my family gave for voting against Obama: Abortion.  Make no mistake: I do not like Obama’s position.  But, suppose I thought I had to vote my concience on this issue alone.  Suppose I thought that I must vote for a pro-life candidate. Neither party, the Republicans nor the Democrats, has given me that choice.  McCain is not pro-life. But he’ll appoint conservative judges!  Doubtful.  McCain isn’t that conservative.  And trying to get a clearly pro-life judge through a Democratically controlled senate just isn’t going to happen, even if that was what McCain wanted to do. From my point of view, there isn’t much else to consider.  The economy? McCain is flailing around on the economy and doesn’t seem to have any ideas.  He admitted long ago that he doesn’t know anything about the economy.  Not that Obama is much better here.  Since the economy tanked under the Republicans, the Democratic nominee gets all the political benefit without any work. In the end, it does come down to personality.  Obama has more control over his temper.  He can inspire people.  He can think big while still being aware of budgetary constraints.  I doubt he’ll be able to cut taxes as much as he says on those making less than $250,000, but at least he is honest about saying that we do have to pay for programs by raising money somewhere. Other people can push their candidate better than I can.  I’m not looking for a savior in the political arena.  I’m not even looking for the person who best represents what I believe.  I’m not keeping track of promises, since, from a politician who has to push most of his ideas through two houses of congress, they’re meaningless. I’m looking for someone who can lead.  Someone who can inspire people.  Someone who can deal with people respectfully.  Someone with an actual chance of being elected. For now, that person appears to be Obama.

17 thoughts on “Why I’m voting for Obama”

  1. Some reasons to vote for Obama

    I think that America has suffered a huge blow of credibility and moral authority under Bush. Torturing prisoners. Suspending habeas corpus. Pulling out of Kyoto. Defying the U.N. and attacking Iraq. Ignoring the constitution and spying on Americans.

    I think Obama is much more likely to roll back these abuses.

    1. Re: Some reasons to vote for Obama

      Sure. All those are reasons I have for voting for Obama (well, not so much Kyoto), but I’m also afraid that the next president, no matter what, is going to find reason to find new (ab)uses for the power that Bush gave the presidency.

      For example, while I’m sure Bush could have invaded Iraq anyhow, he relied on Clinton’s intervention in Serbia for a rationale to invade Iraq.

      I am hopeful that Obama will roll back the abuses Bush introduced, but I can’t be sure he will.

  2. I am way too steamed up from watching the debate to leave a rational response here (which might not have happened at the best of times).

    It drives me insane that I am being lumped in as part of your fundamentalist, anti-abortion, perhaps McCain-supporting family, but if it must be so I’ll stay in character by mentioning that Hitler was a great leader, able to inspire, and had an actual chance at being, uh, put in power.

    Jeremy says that, according to Godwin’s Law, the discussion is over and I lose. Oops.

    1. Tara?

      Geez…. Um…

      I think I’m speechless.

      I don’t really know what to say except that I don’t lump you in with “them”. In truth, I don’t know what to make of you guys. We need to talk some more.

  3. I’ve been meaning to thank you for this for a few days, and trying to figure out how to phrase it, especially since we disagree on the abortion point. However, something that just came across my Twitter stream finally pushed me to act.

    On the abortion issue, it’s not like there’s anyone who wants to up the number of abortions performed. The particular quote was “@AmbrosiaVoyeur : Memo to McCain: there’s no such thing as pro-abortion, but there is such a thing as amateur abortion.” It’s a medical procedure with risks and impacts, and I’d like to see fewer of them. Thus if your conscience is giving you pricks over that point, you might consider which set of policies and ideologies is going to lead to fewer abortions performed.

    On Obama in general, both JFK and Reagan give me the willies, and I think Obama falls into the same mold as those two. However, after the muck it’s been dragged through, I think the country needs some inspiration. It needs the “Morning in America” feel.

    As one friend of mine, who’s solidly in the “will pay more taxes under Obama’s plan” terrain, said: “McCain may want to give me a tax cut, but I’d have a lot less opportunity to make money with his economic policies.”

    And, finally, McCain’s stance on the First Amendment gives me the willies, and has for a long time.

    Even though I swore I’d vote for a third party candidate because I was sure that Obama would take California and my vote would be supporting policies that I ultimately cringe at, I’m voting for Obama because this election a message needs to be sent. Worrying about the details of policy can wait a few years, elevating the national mood can’t.

    1. On the abortion issue: it isn’t a major political issue for me since, as you point out, people will still have them whether or not it is illegal.

      As a Christian, I want people to value and protect *all* human life. The number of abortions shows how little we value life. The number of abortions, in other words, is a symptom of a larger problem, and pushing it underground isn’t going to solve the problem.

      I had a really great discussion on suffering this morning with my Thursday morning study group. The group includes a hospice doctor who had some great insights about the other end of life and the steps we take to prolong life, no matter what. Greater availability of medical technology changes the way we look at and think about life, and, not coincidentally, our attitude toward suffering.

      Finally, on abortion, it isn’t really about numbers. More or fewer isn’t really an issue for me. Sure, ideally people wouldn’t have them. But before we can get to that point, people have to understand the value of every person. Our easy ability to jump into war shows that we aren’t anywhere close to that yet.

      (And, yes, blind followership that some people end up in around JFK, Reagan, and, now, Obama, isn’t good. But I think that stems from our desire for someone to save us from the mess we’re currently in. It is an understandable sentiment, but, yes, it can be very dangerous. I suppose I should be thankful that GWB didn’t have JFK’s charisma.)

      1. I’d love to hear (read?) more about the insights on end of life and prolonging life. One of my concerns is that as we get better and better at “keeping people alive”, the limit of how old we live to will be a function of how much money we’re willing to spend on health care.

        Interesting insight about “abortion … isn’t really about numbers”, that helps me understand where you’re coming from. My personal philosophies have evolved to be pretty pragmatic, actually disturbingly pragmatic when viewed from the perspective of my younger idealistic self, so sometimes I forget about weighing the ends versus the means.

        1. The hospice doctor I mentioned is a devout Christian who has worked in other cultures (Egypt and other parts of Africa) as well as here in the states. He talked about how one Egyptian family wanted to keep their mother’s body alive even after she had suffered a completely debilitating stroke. How that (hospitalized life support) seemed so much more miserable than just letting life take its course.

          He talked about doctors who would offer dialysis to 85 year old patients. Sure, the treatment gives them a couple more years of life, but tends to make the person completely miserable. Many, after they see how miserable they feel, opt to end dialysis.

          And, we talked about other aspects of this. As Orthodox Christians, we’re believe that Euthanasia is not the right way to handle the gift of life, but as medical technology makes us more adept at keeping bodies alive, we have to look at these issues in a different way. There are so many ways that you can keep the body alive and most doctors are trained to make every effort to do that.

          The problem comes when you have a terminally ill patient. Or even someone who is very unlikly to recover, but, hey, you never know, something could happen ’cause people have recovered from this before!

          Even if you have a living will, it comes down to interpretation and the wishes of your family. A doctor who has been trained to make every effort to preserve a beating heart will look at an otherwise terminally ill patient and see a way to possibly get them to recover with a battery of treatments.

          In my other conversations, he has said, fairly bluntly, that most people don’t handle life after 80 very well. So, while I understand your concern, I suspect it lies more in the realm of speculative fiction.

          Still, a good supply of money can help you prolong the amount of time a body lives. Even if you are miserable and going to dialysis 2-3 times a week in your 80s, maybe that is something you’ll choose to do.

          Psalm 90, written thousands of years ago says:

          The length of our days is seventy years—
          or eighty, if we have the strength;
          yet their span is but trouble and sorrow,
          for they quickly pass, and we fly away.

          In those thousands of years, medical techology has progressed so much that our lifespan is now … 70 years, eighty if you’re lucky.

          I’m aware as anyone that it is possible medical technology could do amazing things in the next few years, but past performance doesn’t show that.

          Finally, re: abortion. I want to be an idealist, but idealism is idolatry. Idealism leads to clinic bombings and ugly demonstrations. In a perfect world, pragmatism and idealism would be compatible. But we don’t live in that world, if it ever existed.

          So, yes, I think abortion is terrible. I don’t it is right. I don’t think it should be legal. But, our society is no where close to embracing what I consider the right way to view life. Criminalizing abortion wouldn’t solve the problem; Social programs don’t solve the problem; the problem is not “woman have abortions” the problem is “we live in an imperfect world without enough Love.”

          I realized that the problem was not “those women” who chose to have abortions but, instead the Church’s failure to love the world, legalized abortions (or as I wrote in my response to my mother, the use of torture) is not the problem: it’s a symptom of the problem.

          Treating the symptoms might be helpful in the short term, but if you don’t solve the underlying problem, you’ll just see more symptoms of the problem cropping up all over the place. And, really, who wants to play whack-a-mole forever?

          1. Thanks, I think those are roughly the same issues I’m seeing, with the addition that:

            Still, a good supply of money can help you prolong the amount of time a body lives. Even if you are miserable and going to dialysis 2-3 times a week in your 80s, maybe that is something you’ll choose to do.

            When that money’s coming from taxpayer supported dollars (as it is in the vast majority of senior citizens), the lines around who gets to make that decision become very very blurry. So, yeah, not only is this a question of someone forcing me to exist long beyond what I view as my comfortable viability, it’s also a question of someone forcing me to support them far beyond what I think is reasonable.

            And following that chain leads me back to the very hard questions about viability earlier in life, made no easier by the fact that Charlene’s in Fresno this morning to have whatever the adult version of the “IEP” meeting is for her developmentally disabled brother, who’s in a home at taxpayer expense. Statistics are far easier to make pronouncements about than individuals.

            And I totally agree with you that abortions tend to be symptoms of underlying problems rather than the problem themselves. I suspect we’ve got different views of what the problems are, and how to approach solving them, but I guess that’s kind of what I meant by looking at which policies lead to lower abortion rates.

  4. and the difference is?

    One of my retired friends just shakes her head at both candidates and prays.

    Obama is impressive. Palin caught the public’s eye and we quit saying “McCain who?”

    But what is the difference between the torture inflicted on the accused terrorists and the torture suffered by the unborn, aborted child.

    Both suffer painfully.

    We can talk about and detail the horrors inflicted on the adults being tortured but it is impolite and not politically acceptable to detail the horrors inflicted on the babies –– including the ones aborted late term who survive and are treated far differently than a wanted child born prematurely after the same number of weeks post-gestation.

    I am not impressed with either candidate or their running mates, I expect the Democrats to win because of the economic situation a strong vote for a change – even though most of the mess is our tendency to build bigger barns and store up more grains so we can eat, drink and be merry while others go hungry.

    Two years after whoever is elected we will be back to our perpetual yammering about the of guy in the White House because that’s where the buck stops.

    1. Re: and the difference is?

      Two years after whoever is elected we will be back to our perpetual yammering about the of guy in the White House because that’s where the buck stops.

      You expect it to stop for two years?

      Seriously, I do have more hope that Obama will restore the Civil Liberties that Bush has taken away, but I’m worried that he seems to be flip flopping on Warrantless Wiretaps.

      And abortion vs torture: both are clearly wrong and ideally we would have none. The same people who have no problem detailing the pain inflicted on a person during an abortion procedure seem disinterested in the pain inflicted during torture.

      And meanwhile, people who have spent a lot of time detailing the pain of torture don’t seem interested in the pain of an abortion procedure.

      In my mind, this shows that the concern (for most people) isn’t really a concern for the value of human life. Instead, it’s yet another cover for “us, good; them, bad”.

      So, in this election, when it comes to the Republicans and Democrats, the candidates positions on torture and abortion aren’t that different. Yes, McCain claims to be pro-life now, but what does he really mean when he has been a strong proponent of abortion rights before?

      Is the value of Life an important issue? Absolutely. But presidential politics is not the right forum to try and address how people live their lives. Most Americans have trouble recognizing that Iraqi lives have any value — almost 100,000 Iraqis have died (iraqbodycount.org) in our little police action there, but that is a number you never hear about.

      If people can’t be bothered to care about the body count in a war we’re currently prosecuting, what makes you think that they’re going to care about the number of abortions?

      Given that, given that the candidates have focus on issues that the majority of citizens are concerned with, you can’t expect to vote on an electable candidate who represents your views completely.

      Should we try to get people to recognise the value of life? Absolutely. But that is a bottom-up change, not a top-down one.

      Look at the way the candidates present themselves. McCain is obsessed with war. I want us out of wars, not ready to fight more with the least provocation. The candidates are clearly different on this issue with Obama suggesting diplomacy and timelines for Iraq while McCain mocks.

      1. Re: and the difference is?

        Yes, McCain claims to be pro-life now, but what does he really mean when he has been a strong proponent of abortion rights before?

        Do you have a good internet source for this? (Not a challenge; just curious.)

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