Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Three Reasons Why I Support Obama

1. I support Obama because I believe in the centrality of the common good. Nobody succeeds until we all succeed. We are all just people; no one is better than anyone else; we all want the same things. Democrats have that point of view. I don't think it is a Republican’s highest value. Therefore I support Obama because he represents the values of the Democratic party.

Believing in the common good leads to compassion, and that makes me adamant about equal justice under the law, economic fairness and cultural diversity. It also means I expect the government to have a major role in such things as universal health care, affordable education, industry regulation, environmental stewardship, and so on. A compassionate government smoothes the spikes and troughs of wild and woolly free market capitalism.

The Republican idea that we need to radically shrink government is out of step with reality. Every American depends on the federal government, including John McCain, whose campaign uses public financing, and whose salary, health care, pension and entire career have all come from the federal government.

2. The second reason I support Obama is for character and personality. He believes in rationality and has the ability to think on his feet. He is creative and strategic in problem-solving and shrewd in assessment of others. I admire those qualities. It is possible to over-think things, and that could be an Obama weakness. Sometimes you have to go with your gut. But intellectual overdrive is a way smaller risk than the shoot-from the hip mentality of Bush and McCain.

In the debate last night, I wished Obama had used the questioners' first name more often to signal that he was making the personal connection. He didn't (nor did McCain). Bill Clinton would have. Obama would have changed more minds if he had put the ideas aside long enough to at least smile at the person. It's his weakness, but less dangerous than the undisciplined emotional reactivity of the other side. Obama’s thoughtfulness is far more likely to lead to domestic and international solutions that work for most people.

3. Finally, I support Obama because of his global, international vision. I studied his "manifesto" (and McCain's too) in Foreign Affairs magazine. (You can see my reviews at and ).

Obama understands the value of international diplomacy while McCain is dangerously bellicose. McCain must talk tough to keep the support of his party, but the same pressures would be on him in the White House, and I think he would reach for the trigger too quickly. His military mind frightens me. I've had enough war.

Obama's Foreign Affairs article was long on strategic "vision" and short on specifics, but at least he understands that we have allies. Nobody succeeds unless we all succeed.

On the down side, the Democrats will probably control both houses of congress and if Obama is in the White House, it would be easy for Democrats to act without adequate pushback, leading to changes that might not be for the best. On the other hand, the government will be so totally broke because of the wars and the financial bailouts that there simply won't be any money to do anything significant for a very long time.