Today, for the first time since i pulled the lever for Fernando Ferrer, I felt genuinely excited and proud about the candidate for whom I voted, Barack Obama. When I voted for Nader a while back, I felt happy for voting with my gut, but sad that he had less than a chance in hell. When I voted for Kerry, I felt not so much pride or true hope as desperation. I felt a little bit of pride when voting for Hillary’s second term as NY state senator, primarily because she’s a woman, but have mostly felt let down by her. But this time, I felt both proud and really hopeful that Obama has a damn good shot.
Yeah, of course, his politics are nowhere near stellar. Neither were those of Edwards, who was my second runner up. However, I’ve come to terms with the fact that, as long as we have this sort of two-party system, no viable presidential candidate is going to make me very happy politically. Every time I vote with my gut for a national candidate whose politics match mine, I know I’m voting for someone who’s simply not going to win. Every time I vote for someone who’s likely to win, I’m know voting for someone with whom I disagree far more often than I’m going to agree with them. I truly hope that changes sooner rather than later, but that’s going to take some massive systemic changes in the way we vote and I’m not holding my breath on that.
I disagree with Obama on a whole slew of issues. Lots of them are sorts of issues on which candidates are pretty much required to parrot the same old bullshit in order to have a real shot at winning (marriage equality and other queer issues, relatively pro-Israel leanings, health care proposals that shy away from single-payer system, etc.)
However, there’s also a lot that I like about Obama’s politics. I think that, though he’s certainly not nearly as left-leaning as I’d want a president to be, he’s certainly to the left of Clinton. That candidate selector thing told me so, at least, hehe. This article and this one lay out a lot more reasons for why Obama is a better choice politically than Clinton (coming from my political perspective, at least.)
I absolutely prefer Obama to Clinton on foreign policy, especially the war in Iraq. He didn’t vote for it, he doesn’t support it, and I really believe that he’ll work harder to end the war quicker than Clinton will. (Success is, of course, another story. But you can’t have success unless you try, and I think he’d try sooner and he’ll try harder.)
And I gotta say, the whole dynasty business is really off-putting for me. Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton is not only creepy, but it also strikes me as downright wrong. It makes me shudder that just two rich white families have been at the head of this country for the past twenty years and, were Hillary elected, would run it for at least four years more. Shouldn’t there be some sort of rule against that?
And finally, I just like him. I really do like him. I like his speaking style, I like his energy, I like his message. I like that he excites people and inspires people. I have this possibly deluded hope that he’ll actually move farther left after he’s elected, because he’ll have the leeway to do it once he’s actually in office. (Imagine a more leftist Black candidate making it this far? Yeah, that’s a stretch.) I love the idea of a Black president. I saw a picture of him and Michelle Obama and their kids and thought, WOW – Black children will be running around the White House and won’t get in trouble because they’re just there on a class trip or something. Something about that thought was profoundly moving for me.
Come November, I’ll probably vote for the Democratic candidate, whoever that may be. (Though who knows, Cynthia McKinney is apparently trying to get the Green Party nomination…) If Clinton is the Democratic nominee, I’ll most certainly prefer her to the Republican. And I won’t lie, I will get some joy and pride out of finally having a president who’s a woman.
But today I voted for Obama, and I did it with a whole lot of pride and hope. And I absolutely hope I get to do that again in November.