Obama for President

I’ve been think­ing about writ­ing this post for a long time. The pow­er is out at work to­day, so I’m un­ex­pect­ed­ly home with some time on my hands.

My fam­i­ly, for the most part, and most vo­cal­ly my un­cles, are staunch Catholic Republicans, and have been for as long as I can re­mem­ber. I was dig­ging through my but­ton col­lec­tion the oth­er day and I came across a cou­ple of Bush I but­tons from back in the 80s [and an “I sup­port Desert Storm” one, too]. Despite all of this, I grew up rel­a­tive­ly obliv­i­ous to par­ti­san pol­i­tics. Sure, I ab­sorbed, and still be­lieve in much of what old-school small-c con­ser­v­a­tive folks be­lieve in, but I’ve nev­er iden­ti­fied with ei­ther par­ty ma­chine. I usu­al­ly tell peo­ple, if pressed, that I’m a fis­cal con­ser­v­a­tive and a so­cial lib­er­al.

Once I hit 18 and got my fran­chise, I start­ed pay­ing at­ten­tion. The first thing I no­ticed was that when­ev­er pol­i­tics came up at fam­i­ly gath­er­ings, the lib­er­al side was al­ways the one un­der at­tack. This con­fused me, be­cause as far as I could tell, lib­er­al pol­i­tics are the most in line with the teach­ings of Jesus. I couldn’t un­der­stand how my won­der­ful, Catholic fam­i­ly could de­ride pol­i­tics that seem to mesh to eas­i­ly with most of Catholicisms teach­ings.

I’ve nev­er been one to blind­ly fol­low a crowd; I spent 4 years at one of the most ra­bid­ly con­formist and tra­di­tion-lov­ing uni­ver­si­ties in the na­tion. I’d ini­tial­ly bought in to the Notre Dame dream, but the re­al­i­ty I found there was at odds with their mar­ket­ing. That’s the same thing I no­ticed with my fam­i­ly, they seemed to have bought what Republicans are mar­ket­ing, with­out pay­ing at­ten­tion to the prod­uct they ac­tu­al­ly got.

In the 2000 elec­tion, my grand­moth­er said she couldn’t vote for Gore/​Lieberman, be­cause she couldn’t bring her­self to vote for a Jew. I’m sure if she were still alive that she’d say that she couldn’t vote for Obama be­cause of a sim­i­lar rea­son. She would al­ways ve­he­ment­ly de­ny this racism when called on it, and I’m sure she wasn’t con­scious­ly racist, just a prod­uct of her time.

As the 2004 elec­tion rolled around, one of my un­cles said that he no longer bought Grey Goose vod­ka, be­cause France didn’t sup­port us in the war in Iraq, and that he didn’t buy Coors beer be­cause they sup­port­ed gay mar­riage. This sound­ed very ir­ra­tional to me.

Now that the 2008 elec­tion is here, I have one un­cle whose re­li­gious be­liefs keep him from vot­ing, yet who nev­er­the­less has noth­ing good to say about Democratic pol­i­cy, most specif­i­cal­ly health­care, and an­oth­er who thinks Sarah Palin is a great VP pick be­cause she’s con­ser­v­a­tive, young and a woman. The on­ly cri­te­ri­on that he said was miss­ing was that she be black. When pressed about why the VP pick need­ed to have those qual­i­fi­ca­tions he said so that the GOP could beat the Democrats. Moments lat­er he de­rid­ed ca­reer politi­cians for their will­ing­ness to do any­thing to get elect­ed.

This con­tin­u­ing pat­tern of cog­ni­tive dis­so­nance amazes me. I would kill for my fam­i­ly, they are the great­est peo­ple in my life, but when­ev­er pol­i­tics comes up, it is like I en­ter bizarro-world. I hold out hope for my mom. She said, with a note of “Is it okay to feel this way?” in her voice, that watch­ing the Democratic con­ven­tion in­spired her. Still, in­stead of bas­ing her choice on the is­sues, she turns off the sound and votes for whomever’s body lan­guage seems the most gen­uine.

I re­al­ly don’t care who any­body votes for. What I care about is the man­ner in which peo­ple make their choice. Blindly fol­low­ing a par­ty-line or mak­ing a choice based on some in­tan­gi­ble is quite fright­en­ing to me be­cause it shows a fun­da­men­tal dis­re­spect for the priv­i­lege of hav­ing a vote. Slightly bet­ter, but still fair­ly ir­re­spon­si­ble is bas­ing a vote on what a can­di­date will promise, but not ex­am­in­ing their abil­i­ty to ac­com­plish those promis­es, or, af­ter elect­ed if they ever ac­tu­al­ly de­liv­er on them.

So now we get to why I’m choos­ing to vote for whom. As a fis­cal con­ser­v­a­tive, I want the gov­ern­ment to be good stew­ards of my tax dol­lars. I want to trust them to spend this mon­ey in a rea­son­able and re­spon­si­ble way. I ex­pect them to not spend more mon­ey than they have and to use tax dol­lars to im­prove the qual­i­ty of life for Americans by fund­ing ed­u­ca­tion, health and hu­man ser­vices, job train­ing, etc. The Republicans have been con­sis­tent­ly fail­ing at this for as long as I’ve been alive. Reagan, Bush I and Bush II all cre­at­ed huge debts pour­ing mon­ey in­to the Department of Defense and stu­pid wars in the Middle East. That is not good stew­ard­ship of my tax dol­lars, de­spite the fact that the GOP claims to be fis­cal­ly con­ser­v­a­tive.

As a so­cial lib­er­al, I be­lieve that the gov­ern­ment should keep its nose out of my pri­vate life. More lib­er­tar­i­an than lib­er­al, pos­si­bly. I be­lieve the gov­ern­ment has no place ban­ning same-sex mar­riage or re­strict­ing ac­cess to health care op­tions [abor­tion, con­tra­cep­tives, sex ed­u­ca­tion, stem-cell re­search, etc.]. I am per­son­al­ly op­posed to abor­tions of con­ve­nience be­cause I feel that if you’re out there hav­ing sex, you should take re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for play­ing that lot­tery and know­ing what the out­comes could be, but I al­so know that my opin­ion on the mat­ter is ir­rel­e­vant, since I can’t have an abor­tion. That’s a choice the preg­nant woman has to make; a choice that I will sup­port even if I dis­agree with it. The GOP has its nose in all of those things.

So that’s why I’m not vot­ing for the GOP. Why am I vot­ing for Barack Obama? I am vot­ing for Barack Obama be­cause he ad­vo­cates for and en­cour­ages cit­i­zens take re­spon­si­bil­i­ty for their gov­er­nance. His stances on var­i­ous is­sues are mea­sured, nu­anced po­si­tions that in­di­cate a sin­cere ex­am­i­na­tion of what he thinks will be best for the coun­try. He re­fus­es to play the mar­ket­ing three-card monte game, and in­stead is play­ing pol­i­tics the way it should al­ways be played, with re­spect, can­dor and sin­cer­i­ty to all par­ties in­volved. This in turn shows that he re­spects the sta­tus of the Office for which he is run­ning. I’ve yet to see any of that from John McCain.

Now if on­ly I could get a yard sign.

9 thoughts on “Obama for President

  1. You know if you feel like nei­ther side aligns with what you want to vote for (you said you feel more like a lib­er­tar­i­an than any­thing), you should con­sid­er vot­ing lib­er­tar­i­an.  I know why “throw your vote away” for a party/​candidate that won’t win?  Well I think there are a lot of folks out there who feel the same way:  The gov­ern­ment should be re­spon­si­ble with our $$ and should stay the heck out of my busi­ness.  If every­one who felt that way ac­tu­al­ly vot­ed that way then maybe, just maybe a le­git­i­mate 3rd par­ty could make it’s way on to the scene.

  2. I couldn’t have said any of that bet­ter my­self.  Wonderful, won­der­ful, in­sight­ful com­men­tary on the elec­tion and coun­try at large.

  3. Adam, I re­al­ly ap­pre­ci­at­ed this post for sev­er­al rea­sons. First of all, read­ing it was like hav­ing a con­ver­sa­tion with you, which al­ways is thought-pro­vok­ing and in­ter­est­ing; sec­ond, it was in­sight­ful; third, I feel your pain. Half of my fam­i­ly are lib­er­al south­ern Democrats, the rest are ul­tra-con­ser­v­a­tive, war-mon­ger­ing, re­li­gious-right Republicans. Family din­ners and re­unions just aren’t what they used to be. But I have to ad­mit, my “Obama08” t-shirt with a peace sign for the 0 was a re­al con­ver­sa­tion starter at the last fam­i­ly par­ty for many rea­sons!! 😉

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