I have never been so excited to vote in a primary before – it’s the beginning of the end. Of an error. Of George W. Bush. The nails are being hammered into the coffin of his tenure with each vote we cast and I remind myself of this fact each time I feel the Democratic Primary Fatigue beginning to cloud by excitement.
And, despite the inevitable improvement to government any presidential victor will bring, I feel compelled as a Texan female to discuss the reasoning behind my vote.
NOT VOTING REPUBLICAN. REPUBLICANS AREN’T REPUBLICAN ANYMORE.
Obviously, I’m voting Democratic in the primary. Let’s get that out of the way first. A vote for a Republican in the presidential primary is no longer a vote for limited government. Perhaps on a more local level, Republicans have held stronger to the original tenets of the party, but not nationally. The political parties are in flux, however small that flux is, and national Republicans are far more involved in the creation and maintenance of the Corporatocracy of America than Democrats. Furthermore, the Republican party has dangerously tacked toward the religious wrong over the past 3 decades and limited government is not a concern of Republicans when it comes to the privacy of those who might act in discord with the bible. Abortion, gay marriage, sex education, government-funded programs that don’t simply advocate abstinence. In some states, it is still against the law to do someone in the number 2 hole and if that doesn’t violate our constitutional right to privacy, I don’t know what does! I can no longer advocate a religious political party, which the Republican party has grown into in many ways.
Basically, the politics of Republicans differs at a core level from the politics of Democrats that reflects the way my personal values have changed over the years. The basic motivator of a Republican voter is “what is best for me” as opposed to the basic motivator of a Democratic voter, which is “what is best for the community.” Having lived outside the U.S. and growing to understand that material wealth does not buy happiness, a community is only as great as it’s poorest member and humans will not simply make the right decisions to further their personal progress, I’ve found Democratic tenets to be more like my own.
Lastly, I would not vote for McCain over Obama or Hillary. I would have voted for McCain over all the other Republican candidates, however. In fact – as I’ve said before – if Huckabee or Romney became president, Brendan and I might have hightailed it to Australia or somewhere else for a good while. McCain, however, has flip-flopped in a severe way since losing to Bush in 2000. He’s courted the Religious Right. He’s working ever-more closely with lobbyists, protected those who cooperated with Abramoff, he changed his mind on immigration, abortion, even Donald Rumsfeld!! He’s all over the place these days and will act in any way that will get him closer to 1600 Pennsylvania. I used to like him a hell of a lot more, but he’s changed his ways over the last 8 years and I could never endorse him. He will also continue the CLEARLY failed policies of Bush, including appointing dangerously conservative Supreme Court justices. It is a tragedy that John Roberts and Samuel Alito sit on this highest court in the land and I would vote to end Supreme Court terms for life in a New York minute!
For this primary election, this leaves Obama and Hillary. And it’s going to be Obama for me, baby.
OBAMA AND HILLARY – IT’S ABOUT THE MEANS, NOT THE ENDS
Here’s what we have. Two candidates with basically the same policies. The same ends. And I’m not kidding myself for a second that they’d manage to get their health care plans through Congress – mandate or no. There has to be a much larger uproar in the public before that can happen. We’d have to gather in the streets and throw molotov cocktails somewhere for even whispers of successful health care reform to occur. They will both depend heavily on military members, as they should, in deciding how best to approach troop deployment or withdrawal in Afghanistan and Iraq. I trust both their abilities to pick cabinet members, judges, government agency heads more than I would McCain. They would likely apply the same trade reforms, if its even possible to renegotiate our trade agreements. They’ll likely drag their feet on immigration reform at the same rate and they’ll both roll back the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy and want the same resolutions for our economic woes. Not a substantial difference between the two philosophically.
This has required my decisions to focus on their characters and they way they work. They have the same ends. But, they have very different means. They have different past experiences and work with people differently. They will learn how best to approach the presidency to push for progress in very different ways. They’ll commune with Congress and lobbyists and the rest of the world differently. The amount of partisanship and political blood lust and adversity with the media will differ with each candidate. The eight years ahead of us will have drastically different flavors depending on who is elected, despite the similarities in policies. And it is those differences that determine my vote.
HILLARY’S CHARACTER FLAWS
Fundamentally, Hillary is a political being, inside and out. The very threads of her existence are political calculations, arranged and woven to, above all else, ensure forward-motion. She recently found her voice in New Hampshire, despite having played a legitimate role in on the national political stage since 1992. While I agree that she is better than her campaign, her efforts over the last few months have been schizophrenic, to say the least. She’s tried role after role, character after character, to best bring her message to the American people instead of simply being herself. I do not believe we have ever seen her as she truly is in private, with those closest to her. I do not trust her ability not to hold grudges, not to play games with important policy.
Mrs. Clinton has continually reached for the victim card – at least since her time as first lady – in her relations with the media and others. When things do not go her way, she searches for others to blame and does not look inside herself for the errors, and this inability of legitimate and effective self-reflection erodes, over time, basic levels of respect the public applies to its leaders. She has a problem admitting mistakes and believes her own ephemeral dreams of saving the children means she deserves it more than anybody else. Well, she doesn’t. Not in my view. And, frankly, I don’t think I can take eight years of First Gentleman Bill. When he switched from statesman to political operative earlier this year, I thought, holy jesus, now I remember what the 90’s were like and hell if I want those years back!
OBAMA – NOT PERFECT, BUT BETTER THAN HILLARY
Obama’s motivations are political as well and he’s still learning to play the game. But his lack of experience, in this election, will likely translate into positive results. Americans are tired of the with-us-or-against-us, all-or-nothing, polarized partisanship that has dominated our national government for the last couple of decades. Obama, for better or for worse, has proven his proclivity for cooperation across party lines. He seeks advice and understands his own faults and shortcomings. Certainty is not a word sweepingly applied to his work methods, nor is political supremacy his main objective. I appreciate his ties to Kenya and Indonesia, his youth experience outside the mainland U.S. and believe, as someone who has lived outside the U.S., that this exposure will allow Obama to be not just a good president for the U.S., but the world. Also, Obama is not so mired in long-standing political relationships requiring payback and favors.
No one can predict what problems the next president will face. It will be quite difficult for them – especially that first year – as they work to repair the damage done by the current administration. No one will be perfect or answer our demands in a way that pleases the majority. Many decisions they will have to make will have no correct answer. But I don’t think if Obama is elected, we will see many bumper stickers that say, “Don’t blame me, I voted for the other guy (or gal).”
From my vantage point (a couch in the nose-bleed section of my living room), with all that I know about each candidate – which is hopefully significant, in my judgment (and that is all that I have to go on), Obama has the better character. If you haven’t read enough character assessments of Hillary, try this Financial Times article or this commentary by Dick Morris, who is admittedly biased. You probably know the gist of them already.
It has been a long, hard slog and I’ve read page after page trying to gage these political candidates. It’s over tomorrow for me and I’m going to celebrate with some Pinot Noir and maybe cook some Italian. I won’t freak out if my candidate doesn’t win. I don’t necessary feel Obama is my candidate and I still believe Hillary to be a capable candidate. But Obama will get my vote because I think he is the better political person and has the better potential. Now, he may not get my vote in the general – that’s yet to be determined. I’d prefer to see his name, however, than Hillary’s opposing McCain, Nader, their VPs and any other crazies who might join the fray.