OK, the last thing I wanted to do was break a weeks-long habit of not updating my blog with a political post, but it just occurred to me that, you know, tomorrow is kind of a big deal politically. So if you don’t want to read about politics, please don’t be ashamed to back slowly out of the room. I’ll have a huge brain-dump mega-update post very soon, I promise. Game-related, even!
So, I’m in Ohio, which means our primaries aren’t for another month. But Ohio has sort of an interesting primary system. From what I understand — and this will be my first time voting in Ohio since 1992, so I could easily be wrong — anyone can vote in the primaries of either party. It’s just that when you walk into the polling place, you have to pick which party’s primary you want to vote in. And that choice means that you become a registered member of that party until such time as you vote in the primary for a different party.
Now, I’m a registered Independent, because I’m really not much of a joiner. I’ll vote for who seems likely to do the most good, no matter which letter appears in parentheses after their names (e.g., previous posts on the matter).
But you can be damn sure that, come March 4, I’ll be considered a (shudder) registered Democrat. (At least until I can figure out how to unregister and return to my natural (I) state.) Why, you ask? The answer is simple:
I’m not going to go into too much detail about why, because the fact of the matter is, if you’re supporting him you already know why, and if you’re not there’s probably little that’s going to change your mind. But let me offer a few general thoughts on the matter.
There is a school of political thought that believes that politics is black and white, that Our Side is benevolent and merciful and Their Side eats decapitated puppy heads for dinner. This ideology is complete bullshit. Without people of differing perspectives working together, nothing gets done. That’s the whole point of our checks and balances system.
Hillary Clinton appears to subscribe to this us-versus-them philosophy with a terrifying zeal. When she stares into the camera with her dead eyes and Joker grin and talks about who or what is right or wrong, you can see that somewhere in her head there’s a tiny, wizened old man feverishly replacing the word “right” with “Democrat” and “wrong” with “Republican.” She strikes me as a fanatic in exactly the same way George Bush is a fanatic: blind to opposing viewpoints, absolutely convinced of her moral high ground, and willing to do whatever it takes to bring herself into power and keep herself there because she believes, deep down in her metallic heart, that Mother always knows best. (See her position on videogames for just one example.)
And then there’s Obama. Standing in sharp contrast to this uncomfortable zealot, he speaks of the power of working together to make things happen. And the damnedest thing is, the guy has such charisma and such intelligence that in spite of my profound political cynicism I actually believe the guy. I actually believe that he can be a leader that a majority of the U.S. population can get behind. I actually believe that he can deal with both enemies and allies (on both a personal and a national scale) fairly and sensibly, and at least make some progress toward making America less of a global laughingstock (or object of zealous hatred).
Lots of people I know have come to support Obama through lots of different paths. I liked the guy since the 2004 DNC (and wished he could have taken over for Kerry right then and there), but I didn’t really know all that much about him. So I started doing as much research as I could, deliberately trying to find things I didn’t like. And dammit, I just couldn’t find anything fundamental that I disagreed with him on.
So I started to get more and more excited about the idea of him actually getting the chance to run for president. But when I read his speech on the role of faith in politics it was a done deal.
Some of you may know that I was a Philosophy major in college. With 12 years of Catholic school behind me, I tended to focus on writings about the underpinnings of faith — Kierkegaard, Hume, Kant, those guys. My education wasn’t as good as it should have been, but it was enough to allow me to say the following with at least some degree of experience:
Obama knows what the hell he’s talking about. If that speech is any indication of how he really is (and I haven’t encountered any reason to believe that it’s not), he’s the real deal.
Now, I don’t expect Obama to be elected and suddenly the sun comes out and angels start singing and all is right with the world. Presidents aren’t miracle workers; I don’t even blame George Bush for the repeated transgressions against foreign nations, our own constitution, and ethical behavior. It’s the people the president surrounds himself with — and his ability to work with everyone else — that makes things happen.
I do think Obama can make things happen. And I think he’s an honorable, ethical man who will want to make good things happen. For such a person to have a fighting chance to become the president of the United States is so unusual it’s almost absurd. How often have you heard about elections being between choosing among the lesser of two evils? To have someone I can genuinely support is…well, I almost don’t know what to do with myself.
If you’re in a Super Tuesday state and you weren’t already planning on voting for Obama tomorrow, I urge you to take another look. His website has very detailed explanations of his stances on most significant issues facing our country (even if the font is almost unreadable in Firefox). Read some of his speeches, check out his positions. But don’t stop there. Check out sites like On the Issues to get an idea of the differences between him and Hillary Clinton.
Wouldn’t it be nice to have a president who cares more about the welfare of the country than about political gain, party lines, or a tiny club of the disproportionately wealthy?
I sure think so.