I will start by saying that I am a registered Democrat, but strongly Independent in spirit. In 2000, I would have strongly considered voting for McCain had he gotten the Republican nomination. My one strong concern at that point was his platform on abortion. I also really liked a lot of the things Ron Paul had to say during the Republican primary. I have a great deal of respect for numerous politicians on both sides of the partisan divide and those who fall outside of it.
I am voting for Obama. I have known I would vote for Obama since last summer, when I attended his rally here in New York, in Washington Square Park. At the time, I preferred Hillary Clinton as a candidate, but I had heard Obama's speech in 2004 and had paid attention to his defeated bill on the war in 2006-2007, which would have started bringing troops home a few months ago, and I liked those things about him. I was concerned about his age and experience, but I am one of those people who really tries to educate myself before voting, so I was willing to at least give him a chance to answer my questions about his viability as a candidate.
In the first ten minutes of his speech, he talked about just those concerns-- he admitted outright that he didn't have nearly as much experience in Washington as other candidates, but he put forward his experience in Illinois, and cited other presidents who didn't have a ton of experience. He talked about ways in which he felt he could educate himself or how he could fill his cabinet in order to make up for his own weaknesses. He admitted outright what his weaknesses were, and put out point by point plans for how he would address them.
That's not something I've ever seen a candidate for president do. That was when I decided that I would support him.
Now, I'll get one thing straight: I am not happy about his FISA vote. I really wish he had listened to Keith Olbermann's advice on this one.
On the other hand, I understand the FISA vote in terms of something Senator Obama has spoken about since the beginning of his campaign: the need for compromise to get things done. This was a compromise, and a risky one, one that a lot of his core supporters, including me, don't agree with, although I understand the argument in favor of it. But he has spoken strongly of the need for compromise since the beginning of his campaign.
I have seen a number of people become angry over things Obama has done or said since he became the presumptive nominee of the Democratic Party:
His choice not to accept public funds after pledging to accept them (which to me seems like promising to let someone buy you dessert and then saying you're not hungry, especially since the choice was made after McCain pledged to accept public funds and then decided not to, which, oddly enough, got very little news coverage compared to Obama's decision, which was a direct result of McCain's.
The FISA issue, which I mentioned above.
His statement, after review, that limited offshore drilling might be acceptable, which was definitely played up as a flip-flop.
A lot of detractors are seeing these things and saying that he is, underneath it all, just another politician, he's lying to his supporters, etc. But I don't see that at all. I see a man who is doing exactly what he promised to do from the beginning-- be light on his feet, adapt, compromise, and not pick one position and stick to in even in the light of evidence to the contrary, which is what our current President has been doing for eight years. You would think by now that people would get that changing your mind once educated on a subject is a good thing for a President to do.
This is still not politics as usual.
On the subject of offshore drilling: I find it despicable that McCain continued to push this the same week that there was a devastating oil spill in New Orleans. I also find it despicable that a devastating oil spill in Alaska nearly twenty years ago got more attention than a devastating oil spill in a populous city, based on the fact that the one in Alaska involved pristine wildlife and cute duckies, and the one in the Mississippi involved poor black people. But hey, we already left the poor black people to die during Katrina, right?
I think I know why Obama "reversed" his position, which was not so much a reverse as an assurance that he would never make a broad, sweeping ultimatum like other politicians who have come before him. Offshore drilling in the Gulf and in Alaska would so inconsequentially affect the oil supply in this country that if we allow it, it proves even moreso that we are in a crisis as pertains to fuel. As long as we don't drill, those in favor of drilling will be able to accuse those not in favor of drilling of deliberately keeping the gas prices high through stubborn refusal to open up natural resources. In reality, you can read estimates from our own governmental agency that show that offshore drilling isn't really a viable solution to reducing gas prices. But then again, it's online, and McCain doesn't know how to use the internet.
Anyway, there is a larger reason for this post. Being the very open-to-opinions Independent voter that I am, I am on the mailing lists for both campaigns. I also read a lot of news. A lot of news. And I read all the policy information on the candidates' websites.
I am really angry at the emails that the McCain campaign sends out. And it is not because I disagree with their core values-- there are still some things I like about McCain's platform, although he has swung far to the right since he first burst onto the scene with the Straight Talk Express in 2000.
It is not because I disagree. It is because they outright lie. I have received one email saying that Obama's increase of the capital gains tax is a flat double across the board. Obama's proposed capital gains increase is only for people who individually make over $250k a year, or couples filing jointly who make $500k a year. I'm sorry, but my parents are wealthy enough to own the most amazing house I have ever seen, I live in expensive New York City apartments, and I know for a fact that no one in my family would qualify, and we are some of the wealthiest people I know. No one except the insanely, insanely wealthy would ever see this tax, and yet the McCain emails are trying to scare-tactic people into believing Obama is planning to double their taxes. He's also running televised ads that maintain the same.
The email from McCain's campaign that I received today is dredging up stuff from Obama's Berlin appearance (hello, old news!) and stated that Obama's support of the bill to reallocate more funds from our country to help extremely impoverished nations around the world was harmful to Americans. This is at the same time that news about how the Patriot Act has been harming private non-profits aid initiatives in the most impoverished and devastated countries in the world-- and the new bill would make sure that that money could go through the UN since our government has seized the assets of numerous Muslim aid organizations.
I know that things are difficult in our country right now. I know that there are hungry people, people without jobs, people who are getting their homes foreclosed on because of the abuses of a corrupt mortgage practice. But I'm sorry, when, as rainy_day points out, people in Cambodia make 59 cents a day, the problem in this country is not poverty. Most of us at least have access to drinking water. We have systems in place that protect us from a great deal of the extremes of poverty, even if they are still sorely lacking. We would have access to food and homes and a lot of other things if we weren't at the mercy of large corporations acting sans regulation. As opposed to other countries where people are literally dropping dead every day, dying of sicknesses that our pharmaceuticals companies refuse to provide free medication for, but gee, we'd better talk about how re-allocating money that wasn't even being spent on fighting poverty in this country is going to hurt Americans.
I understand negative campaigning. If you really believe that something another candidate is saying is bad, then please, criticize the hell out of it. As much mud was slung during the Democratic primaries, I do believe both Senators Clinton and Obama at least kept it honest and talked about real concerns they had based on the personal histories, platforms and records the opposing candidate had. Lying? Not cool. McCain's pretty much lost all the enormous respect I had for him in 2000.
And to end on one very small note of proselytization, you can get a Free Obama Button here.