Be kind, rewind…Posted: March 5, 2008
For those of us who are Obama supporters today is not the best of days. So I’d like to take the opportunity to really spell out why I support Barack Obama. To really do that we’ll have to rewind space & time to circa fall 2002…
[As a bit of an aside, I apologize to those of you who come here for the comics blogging. I know it’s all politics all the time recently but, like most of the country, I have been swept up in this campaign. I swore that I wasn’t going to get my hopes up again this early but like many things that didn’t work out.]
The day after the disastrous 2002 two election I was sitting in my high school web programing class reading the results of that historic election (seriously why do work?). The Republicans had swept the country, took control of the Senate… all by running on the soon to be launched Iraq war. The Democratic Party had pretty much ceded the war issue to the Republicans, in fact the entire national leadership of the party had supported the war, including Hillary Clinton.
I was against the war. You know I was one of those people who wasn’t in the Senate or the House (like Barack Obama) and thus didn’t have any real responsibility. We weren’t serious people. Hell, I was just in high school. What kind of judgement could I have?
(I know this undermines my point, but I really did have bad judgement in high school… but I was right about the war!!)
So, I was sitting in class and this Republican asshole I knew came up to me and started giving me shit about the election. He explained how the American people were for this war, the Republican Party was for this war, and the Democratic Party was for this war. He told me I was just some idiot; a unpatriotic, hippie mother fucker who just didn’t understand how the world worked. I wasn’t serious.
I’ll never forget that moment because it really rammed home for me how utterly wrong the Democratic Party leadership was circa 2002 and 2003. The national party leadership (minus a few voices in the wilderness) were completely wrong about the war. They ceded the issue completely to the Republicans and helped lead this country into the disastrous war in Iraq. And I will never forgive them for that.
And Hillary Clinton was part of that leadership.
In 2004 I was willing to put this aside and vote for anyone to beat Bush. I was initially for Dean but when he imploded and Kerry took the nomination, I became a enthusiastic supporter of Kerry/Edwards. Despite my bitterness and misgivings about their support of the war.
And where did Kerry’s candidacy get us? Another four fucking years of George W. Bush!
Yet again, because of Kerry’s vote and his “flip-flops” on the war, the Democrats failed to yet again to contrast themselves with the Republicans. Yet again the issue was ceded the Republicans. The Democratic Party failed yet again to build upon the anti-war feeling the country that has just been growing and growing.
2006 was better. The Democrats gave less ground on the war. They drew more contrasts (though not enough!) on the war with the Republicans. And the anti-war, bring the troops home, feeling the country has continued to grow.
That brings us to 2008. I believe it is now possible for Democrats to do what they should have done in 2002, 2004, and into 2006: draw a real, clear distinction between themselves and the Republicans on the war. The next president could have the oppertunity to rework American foreign policy in exciting new ways. They could correct the fucked up course that Bush has put this country down for the last 7 odd years.
With Hillary Clinton we won’t get that new contrast, that new direction.
I feel that way for a couple of reasons. One, of course, is her 2002 vote and enthusiastic support for the war well into 2003-2004. Back then she had a chance to use her much played up experience and leadership to lead the Democratic Party against the war. Instead, she didn’t. She supported the war enthusiastically.
Secondly, she still has yet to apologize (or reject, or denounce) for that vote, despite coming around to an anti-war position. Why hasn’t Clinton apologized for her war vote? Perhaps its because she feels that if she does, she’ll be branded “weak” by the press because she’s a woman (there may be a lot of truth to this). Or maybe she doesn’t believe it was a mistake on principal. Honestly, I’m not sure. It saddens me to think that a good candidate like Clinton would be forced to act “tough” just because she’s a woman.
Third, looking at the Clintons’ (both of them, now) record they have always been associated with the “hawkish” wing the Democratic Party. Many of the top Clinton foreign policy people were the ones out their helping Bush sell the war and advising Democrats to vote for it. And look at where they’ve lead us. If Clinton is elected President many of these people would be back in office. The chance to sweep the “hawkish”, serious, wing the Democrat Party into the dust bin of history.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, represents a much cleaner break with this past. Obama was against the war from the start. And yes, I know he was only in the Illinois legislature and not facing the same sort of pressure that Clinton or the Democratic leadership was under. But that excuse can only take them so far. If you had to be in the Congress or in a think tank to really be seriousabout the war circa 2002, what does that say about all of us rank and file Democrats who were against the war from day one? Those of us who were right.
Yes, Obama wasn’t in the Congress then. But he did show the judgement, which many of us did as well, that this war was a huge mistake. Even today, Clinton was willing to give Bush (!!!!) the benefit of the doubt on Iran. Obama was not.
That is the clearest contrast between the two candidates. Looking at Obama’s domestic positions and Clinton’s there is very little daylight between them. Yes, Clinton is for mandates, Obama is not. But they are both committed to expanding health care to many, many more Americans than have it now.
For me the only true contrast is on the war and their histories with it. And Obama comes off better for it.
So that’s why I am supporting him. It’s not because I’ve fallen for the sort of sexist, misogynistic bullshit you hear from Andrew Sullivan or Chris Matthews and their ilk. I like Clinton just fine. If she does win the nomination I’ll vote for her. And not just because John McCain is fucking crazy (bomb, bomb, bomb Iran!). But because she does really seem committed to expanding health care. In the primary, you should support someone you feel represents the best future for your party and your country.
For me that person is Barack Obama.