For those of you who read my blog this endorsement is about as surprising as the NRA coming out for McCain two weeks back (though I think Bob Barr would better serve their interests, but that's beside the point). I had been working on a long, detailed endorsement to roll out, but as I watched Meet the Press, Gen. Colin Powell conveyed most of my thoughts in a more concise and eloquent way than I could have hoped to have myself.
There are a few things I'd like to address first before I place a video of Gen. Powell's endorsement. It seems to me that at each major crisis in American history, America has been afforded a great transformative leader who is able to get America through that crisis. Sen. Barack Obama has the potential to be that kind of leader. One of the key aspects of the presidency that has been missing for the last few decades has been the ability to inspire and articulate a vision to the American people. Sen. Obama has and will continue to do that. In reality, the ability of a president to get his/her legislation passed or platform widely accepted, is quite limited and reliant on the congress as well as external issues such as war, calamity, or the economy. Therefore, it is perhaps even more important that a President: 1) Inspire and be a leader for the American people and 2) reflect American values to the world.
FDR, for all of the programs he created, perhaps best helped our nation by being the steady and comforting voice heard in his fireside chats. JFK's inaugural speech inspired thousands to join the Peace Corps and inspired and accelerated our scientific endeavors with the vision of placing a man on the moon within the decade, and we ac hived that goal. Words mattered then and they matter now.
The vision Obama has articulated is for a more united America. For the United States of America to not be a nation which is divided along lines and divisions which benefit only a privelaged few, but one nation with the goals of improving the world we live in, starting at home first. Sen. Obama's policies have been criticized as "socialist." But we forget that during the Great Depression that another democrat who was criticized (to the point of nearly the target of a coup) for being too "socialist" created ways for Americans to get jobs, build infostructure, and get our economy going again. Obama's proposals require, like Roosevelt's, sacrifice, of time, and service to our nation in some form or another.It is also time that our nation retreated from our dangerous flirtations with facism*.
Of the two candidates Senator Obama has shown the ability to be steady and pragmatic in the face of crisis. Sen. McCain may be called a Maverick by some, but perhaps the attributed ability to buck the party line, is more in his inability to make and stick with a decision. More than once he's voted against legislation he created, simply because he changed his mind. He is too erratic. Not that changing one's mind is a bad thing, the ability to adapt to the changing world is a prerequisite for a successful president. But what Sen. McCain has shown over the last 26 years is the ability to move from one position to the other with the same zeal and certainty with his new position as he did the one before that. Obama is a realist. He understands the difficulties AND complexities in the world. Senator McCain subscribes to a system of thinking which does not. Obama is still a scholar, a PHD in constitutional law mind you, and would be the first post-modern president, open to the debates and nuances inherent in creating the ideals he has been audacious enough to espouse. Yet, at his heart, above all, Obama has a desire to serve and to unite.
An extension of this desire is that he has shown an eagerness to re-connect America to those who were once our allies, but have cooled to us over the last 8 years. We cannot, in a global economy, and in a global struggle against enemies which know no borders, neglect the world community. Nor can we claim to be the great hope for democracy, while ignoring the struggles of nations who thirst for it, but do not have the convenience of being located near a strategic mass of oil. We are a great and diverse nation, yet over the past 8 years we've been projecting the caricature that President Bush, the privileged kid from Connecticut, adopted; that of the lone western hero, the maverick. Placing the ideals and nostalgia for a time and place which never existed except in right-wing fantasies at a premium over the actual strengths Americans posses and needs which must be addressed.
A President Obama cannot deliver everything he's promised. With the economy it looks like universal health care is still far off, and with what has happened in the Iraqi govt his hands are pretty much tied as far as the commitment there. But he is and will at least address those problems. The weakness in the modern conservative ideology is that it has, in economic policy especially, refused to address the most difficult problems, and defaulting these important discussions onto the next generation. Senator Obama knows that we can no longer ignore these difficult conversations. We must do something about global warming, about social security, about health care now, or it will be far too late.
In 2000, I wrote that President Bush, if elected would lead us into a war within his first term, based on who I saw he had on his staff and their ties to the military industrial complex. I wish I had been wrong. Looking at John McCain's potential cabinet, it, like President Bush's, is filled with prominent Neo-Conservatives, including two of the men who planned and lobbied for the invasion of Iraq. And I have already spent time on his financial mentor, one of the men who got us into this mess. The names may not be familiar but the ideology is the same.
For these, and the many more reasons (some stated by Gen. Powell) I could name but for the sake of brevity, I (and The Fortnightly, if that distinction exists) endorses Senator Barack Obama for President of the United States.
[*Sociologist Lawrence Brit examined Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Franco’s Spain, Salazar’s Portugal, Papadopoulos’s Greece, Pinochet’s Chile, and Suharto’s Indonesia, and found 14 attributes of facism:
Powerful and Continuing Nationalism
2.) Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights
3.) Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause
4.) Supremacy of the Military
5.) Rampant Sexism
6.) Controlled Mass Media
7.) Obsession with National Security: Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses
8.) Religion and Government are Intertwined
9.) Corporate Power is Protected
10.) Labor Power is Suppressed
11.) Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts
12.) Obsession with Crime and Punishment
13.) Rampant Cronyism and Corruption
14.) Fraudulent Elections