February 22, 2008

Politics and Decisions

I'm going to start this by saying that yes, I do like Sen. Obama. And should he win the nomination by virtue of the fact that his positions are closer to my own than Sen. McCain's I would vote for him. However, I don't think Sen. Obama is the best candidate. I think Hilary Clinton is.

Right now, Sen. Obama just seems to me to be a lot of empty words. He has great charisma and great rhetoric but I've yet to see him move beyond that and tell me how he is going to actually implement his ideas. And this is one area where I feel his lack of experience is a huge weakness. He served for seven years in the Illinois state Senator. He's served for approximately three years now in the United States Senate. He no executive experience and not even a full term in the Senate to at least bolster his resume. He hasn't had the chance to build relationships with people in Washington in order to get things done. Change is great and we desperately need it, but the President doesn't get to mandate it. He or she needs to work within the system in order to change it. And sometimes the President is going to need to fight. This is also something Sen. Obama doesn't seem overly willing to do. He couldn't even vote yea or nay on some controversial issues in the Illinois Senate. Heck, he couldn't even be counted on to actually vote correctly sometimes, as he has admitted he basically pushed the wrong button at times.

I think that Sen. Obama does have some good ideas. But he also has some that are not so good. Such as more tax cuts. Tax cuts are not the answer to every economic problem. In fact, right now tax cuts (even ones aimed at lower and middle income families) are probably going to do more harm that good. Why? Because our government is spending more money that it is taking in. By decreasing taxes you further decrease revenues without decreasing costs. And that leads to more national debt which is a very, very scary idea for me. Aside from the fact that I'm going to end up paying for it (and right now it's about $200,000 per person), there is also the fact of who is buying our debt. And China is a big player. Not only is it scary to have a country that we aren't on great terms to own a lot of our debt they use buying that debt as a mechanism to artificially make their exports cheaper. Which means we are going to be buying more Chinese goods. It is very hard to raise taxes after cutting them and so if they harm the economy there is no way to really fix it.

I also question him idea that in a perfect world we should have a single payer health care system. That doesn't seem to be working so well in Canada. My church's pastor lived in Canada and his wife had to check into a hospital early for a surgery because a bed opened up and they weren't sure they would have another one open by the time she was scheduled for surgery. And that is just one example of why single payer systems have major issues.

I'm supporting Hilary Clinton. She is far more experienced than Sen. Obama. She's seen how the White House works. Yes, she wasn't sitting behind the desk of the Oval Office but she was living and working in the same building. She's also served over a full term in the United States Senate and as First Lady she was involved as an ambassador for the United States and in policy. She's seen how her husband erased the deficit, reformed welfare, had a booming economy as well as having the United States be respected around the world. And given the chance I think she could do as well, if not better. After all, she's also seen the mistakes that get made and can try to avoid them.

Sen. Clinton has been very clear about her plans and how she wants to change this country. She has worked with those across the aisle (including Senators that were involved with the impeachment hearings of her husband) to get things done, but she also not afraid to fight for what she believes in.

The biggest criticisms that I have heard against Sen. Clinton are that she's cold and distant, people don't want to return to the partisan bickering of the Clinton administration, and that she can't give a straight answer. What I don't get is why being cold and distant matters. Who cares if someone is warm and fuzzy and is a complete idiot? And yes I am thinking of our current President. George W. Bush is folksy and relatively warm and friendly. And he has been a crappy President. All I care about is if the President is smart, capable and has a clear vision that I can support. Sen. Clinton has all of that. Sen. Obama is smart and most likely capable, but he's yet to provide a vision of how he's going to institute change.

Similarly, why should either of the Clintons be punished for the actions of the Republican party? Yes, Bill Clinton had an affair. Yes, he lied about it. Had it not been for the Republican party being so desperate to find dirt on the charismatic and popular Democratic President we would never had to deal with it. I have to give the Clintons props for making their marriage work. That can't be easy and yet they've made it work. And I don't think that they should be punished because the other side decided to be stupid. Especially since there is no guarantee that the same thing wouldn't happen with Sen. Obama.

As to the claim that Sen. Clinton can't give a straight answer, she's a policy wonk. Of course she won't give you a straight answer because policy wonks realize that no issue is simple. It's like asking me if globalization is a good thing. I think that the pros outweigh the cons, but people will still be hurt by globalization. I believe it was Harry Truman who said he wanted to meet a one armed economist so that they couldn't say "But on the other hand", and those sentiments also apply to policy wonks. They always realize there is another side. And I think good leaders should do that. There are very few issues where there is a clear right and a clear wrong, and those typically involve body counts. I'm proud to support someone who realizes that.

It bothers me that there seems to be a double standard for Sen. Clinton. Heaven forbid she attack Sen. Obama on anything, whether his lack of experience, his positions, or really anything. But it was fine for the entire democratic field (including Sen. Obama) to attack her every which way in the beginning of the campaign. It was deplorable that Sen. Clinton mention her gender or say anything that remotely resembled a racial remark. Yet it is fine for Sen. Obama to have adds targeting Hispanic voters talking about how he knows what it is like to be oppressed.

I think as a country we need to stop electing officials based on likability or having the right buzz words. Or voting for someone because we dislike their opponent. After all, that basically happened in the 2000 election and we see where that has gotten us. People voted for Bush because he was more open and friendly than Al Gore, wasn't associated with the Clinton administration, and was going to a uniter and not a divider. Who you vote for should be based on their qualifications and their ideas (including how they plan on implementing it).

I'm realistic and I understand that Sen. Obama will most likely be the nominee. Because while even South American and Middle Eastern countries can elect a female President or Prime Minister, our country will most likely need to have a black male before we will have a female of any kind. After all they got the vote before we did. And if not for a crotchety old Senator trying to derail the Civil Rights legislation by adding gender to it, they would have had guaranteed civil rights before women too. But that's how it is I guess. I just wish that people would look beyond the flash and see that Sen. Hilary Clinton is someone who has spent a very long time working for people and is someone who actually has a plan for what she wants to accomplish and hasn't hesitated to express it. She's been the first one with policy outlines in this campaign. And that's I'm looking for. Someone who will lead with plans rather than rhetoric.