Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Another Pitch for Obama

Here is a pitch from Philasurfer, who used to be a regular on the Subversive Garden. I don't agree with all of it, but I think he hits the nail on the head with why we should have an Obama Presidency.

The question of who to support in the democratic race begins, in my mind, with some basic assumptions. Each candidate is human, they all need money to run a viable campaign, they have all compromised in their careers as any politician must, every one of them has legitimately changed their mind (flip-flopped), and most of the democratic candidates have essentially the same policy proposals.

Moreover, and most important, they are all competent. Although this is not a pre-requisite for running as a Republican candidate, it is for Democrats. A Democratic candidate would not be under serious consideration if they were not competent and the Democrats in this race are accomplished, impressive people.

Therefore, to debate which candidate flip-flopped on an issue is a useless exercise. Did Obama change his mind on the Patriot Act after some changes were put in to satisfy his concerns? Yes. Did Hillary and Edwards vote to support a war to which they are now adamantly opposed? Yes. Is voting to fund the war the same as supporting the war? According to all candidates in the race, No. Voting to fund the war is a vote to accept reality and minimize the damage done by a disastrous war. Agree or disagree, those are the democratic candidates' positions and they are all justified in some respect.

The question is what type of leadership do we want. Who, of these candidates, has the ability to inspire the change that we need in the country? Every progressive in the country wants a more robust health care system, to restore our standing in the world, to redistribute some of the wealth at the top, and find an acceptable end to the war in Iraq. Who of these leaders can have the most profound affect on these issues? What does the new buzzword, change, really mean?

As a party, we are going to move forward no matter what. Hillary would, no doubt, fight for every inch on policies that we all want. Edwards would be a scrapper for the middle class, no doubt. I have no doubt they will both make great contributions to the progressive cause in the future. Best case scenario for these candidates is a great progressive presidency, no doubt. Worst case, is Hillary triangulating for four years or Edwards talking without being able to build a consensus to accomplish his goals. I'm not saying that will happen, its just the worst we can do.

But only one candidate will be able to fundamentally shift the debate. His competency and poise are displayed in his campaign style. His dedication to the progressive cause is evidenced by his history and commitment to civil rights and community organizing. Might he be a risk, given the vagueness of his message? Maybe. What type of risk?

What is the worst case scenario if he does not live up to the hype? Wouldn't he be a competent, able, progressive President anyway? Maybe he is a bit less progressive on health care than Hillary. Or not as vocal on economic issues as Edwards. BUT... what about the best case scenario?

Best case he inspires a generation to change the nature of this country from its core. Only one of these candidates can do that and we all know who it is. Progressivism means change and he is the candidate of change, not only in terms of his race, but his message. Remember the 2004 National Convention speech, "When a child on the south side of Chicago is hungry, that is all of our problem!"

THAT is what it means to be a democrat. In my mind, THAT is what it means to be an American. If you can convince the rest of the country of that, which I think he can, then the future looks very progressive. Can Hillary convince the country of that? Edwards?

Think of great presidents...Lincoln, Roosevelt, Washington. For what are their presidencies remembered? They were great leaders who inspired. They inspired the country to act collectively, instead of individually. They lifted people up.

When you have a chance to put someone in the White House who can do that, I, for one, have to take it.

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