Thursday, March 06, 2008

an Obama plug (and why).

alright. it's now the day after the day after (you can quit blaming me for Ohio). my Facebook + Google status are back to normal. who knew that (1) not updating it [as] frequently, and (2) changing it to something ambiguous + depressing would draw such a crowd response. now if only you losers (not you Mom, i love you) would actually READ my blog , that would be GREAT. i know who you are. Google Analytics is mad scary.

ANYHOW. the other day my longtime-ago roommate John, emailed me, asking me to check out his recently resurrected blog + share my thoughts on a very recent post (I voted for Ron Paul. Now what?).

the gist: he was a Ron Paul supporter. Ron Paul's now out of the race. he's torn between Obama + McCain. McCain speaks more to his politics (which i'm assuming are fiscally conservative republican), but Obama has him inspired. what to do?

i was initially going to just write a few quick snarky (smarmy?) points and get out, but it turned out to be more just me getting out what i've been thinking politically these past few weeks (why i really want Obama to win the nomination, and ultimately, the general election). i thought it was a pretty good rant, so i'm sharing it below for everyone in the raman-verse (to be clear, there is little to NO mention of Hillary in this post...we'll save that one for later). i would love to use this to incite a conversation, so please respond (via comments or directly to me) this post:

the way our democracy was constructed (pluralistic) is a “winner take all system,” which effectively means it can only support 2 parties. while Ron Paul ran for president as a Republican, he honestly felt more like a Libertarian (individual liberties are maximized by small government, which, in turn, means minimal taxes). all that being said, the only value of an outlier candidate (such as Ron Paul or Ralph Nader, the latter of whom i voted for in 2000, sorry!) is to force issues to be discussed by the front runners. so what are the issues you cared about Ron Paul bringing to the table, and who best embodies them? honestly, that takes you to John McCain. but i’m now going to spend the rest of my column talking to why Obama is a better candidate than McCain :)

without bashing on the current president too much, it is clear that the executive branch has more overstepped its bounds in recent years. whoever takes over the mantle of the presidency needs to restore balance to our system. a president’s ability is to lead and influence, but not to take direct actions, or interpret the law to his/her whim/convenience. most of this influence is put forth on the legislative branch, but one should not forget the international community (”speak softly and carry a big stick”), as well as the citizenry (which has become increasingly apathetic about politics over the years).

so you need someone who, in a worst case scenario, can convince an opposition party legislature to enact policy in line with his/her ideals. but also build global consensus (in a very hostile anti-American imperialism world), and inspire an ambivalent populace.

as far as legislative influence is concerned, both McCain + Obama are both well suited to do this, given their ability to "reach across the aisle.” to me, the biggest differences between the two are (1) age (some would cite this as “experience”), and (2) and inspirational quality.

this is an easy to explain one. McCain has LOTS of great experience. but he is OLD. this office ages people (look at bush). my grandfather (80) is cool, but as the years have gone on, his views have become more erratic (and sometimes stubborn). and he forgets things. it happens. it’s part of life. i see the same thing happening to my father, who is one of the sharpest, most disciplined men i know. he is 64. again, it happens. it's part of life (in small ways i see it even happening to me when i compare myself to Raman of 5 years ago). McCain would be the oldest president elected (70+). bundle on the strain of being [one of] the most powerful person[s] in the world, and well, i’m not sure how i feel about that.

lots of people will cite Barack’s lack of experience, but if you look at all of the presidents of the US, some of our greatest presidents (Lincoln, Roosevelt, Kennedy) had minimal experience compared to the people who came before and after them. i’d focus on character. someone who could have taken ANY corporate job he wanted coming out of Harvard Law, and rather chose to work in civil rights? that speaks to character. someone who spoke out against a war when it was NOT the popular thing to do? that speaks to character. there is such a thing as “bad experience.” i prefer to bet on character that will drive “good experience” (to be clear, i’m NOT saying McCain’s experience is bad or invalidated, BUT he has been known to be quite the hawk, especially on the Middle East, which frankly, scares me)

McCain also is NOT an inspirational character. i’m sure he can influence the Congress, but what about the people and the international community? i’m not so sure. this is where Obama leads in my mind. the movement he’s created (based on many of the same common democratic policies of most candidates, eg. Edwards and Clinton) is not something we’ve seen since the 60s. granted, it took the past eight years to put us in a position where we were NEEDING to be inspired, but you can’t argue with the importance of the inspiration factor on the US citizenry to get us off our couches and involved (and i'm usually a cynic/pessimist here).

finally, as someone who’s spent the past 6 months living abroad, with a pretty diverse range of WORLD citizens (from Asia, Europe, and Latin America, and YES, even Australia) - most of the rest of the world wants someone like a President Obama. and not just because he’s a non-Bush Republican, or because he's a very inspirational figure, but because he PORTRAYS a better understanding of the rest of the world. he went to school in a MUSLIM country (Indonesia). his grandfather STILL lives in Africa. now McCain has a lot of foreign experience as well (and i will not doubt his bravery/courage in war time), but he was in the VIETNAM WAR, another war that never should have been waged (i’ve been to Vietnam, where they call it “the War of American Agression," do your homework and read up more on it. the parallels are eerily familiar). regardless of how YOU feel about Vietnam, the rest of the world has a clear opinion on it (and yes, that applies to John Kerry as well).

so in the end, if any of my rambling makes sense, you should vote for Obama. but not because he’s the small government candidate (because he’s not). but because he’s the right candidate.

but if Hillary wins the nomination, i might just have to vote for McCain (in just of course, but in all honesty, i would find myself in somewhat a conundrum).

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