Friday, August 29, 2008

My Choice for President

Last night's speech by Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention was not of any particular historical significance.

What will be historically significant is if he wins the election. The great triumph of Jackie Robinson is not measured by his "try out" for the Boston Red Sox in 1945 it isn't even measured by his full-year of play for the Montreal Royals in 1946. History isn't measured by "getting close" to doing something, you actually have to do it.

I am a great admirer of Barack Obama. I say that without reservation and I say it because if you read the first two paragraphs above, you might think I am not. Indeed, what I find so compelling about his candidacy is his eloquence, his ability to deliver his vision to ordinary people like me. This to me is such a welcomed change from George W. Bush, who can't even recite old clich├ęs, without bumbling over his words, and looking like a constipated man negotiating with his own bowels in the process.

I am not an admirer of the Democratic Party. I say without reservation and I say it because if you read that last sentence you might think I am one of those cheerleading Democrats who waves DNA pom-poms in the air at every turn.

The Democrats have been an embarrassment to this country several times, and I see no definitive evidence that the Democrats have provided better leadership than Republicans throughout history. LBJ did nothing to stop the Vietnam war, JFK took us closer to nuclear war than any president in history, Carter couldn't even rescue a handful of hostages from a third-world country, and Clinton lied about something so stupid it nearly cost him his presidency.

Clinton's presidency was particularly inept. His key fault was he took a non-issue and made it so mammoth in proportion he cost Al Gore a chance to be president. I happen to think Al Gore would have been a far greater president than W, and so I will never forgive Clinton for protecting his own ego, over his own country.

What frustrates me most is that three simple sentences from Bill Clinton was all it would have taken: I made a mistake. I am sorry. It won't happen again.

If he had the courage to look in the camera and make that simple confession, George W Bush's presidency never takes place, the Iraq War is never waged, and we do not suffer through Donald Rumsfeld, the most inept cabinet member in modern American history.

So no, Democrats, you are no better than Republicans, not by any measure what so ever. You've produced just as many lies, prolonged war, cheated the public of their own money and reneged on your promises. When you got into scandal, you bombed innocent people to distract us, when an act of honesty would have brought short-term pain for long-term gain you decided to lie and then gambled no evidence would surface to expose your lies.

I like John McCain. In fact, I find him a very refreshing Republican. This statement angers my liberal friends, but I truly do like McCain. He is not as strong a candidate as he was in 2000, because his own party destroyed him that year. To rebuild his candidacy he had to charm certain wings of the party, or risk being destroyed again. He became less independent and more of a party whip. Still, McCain is about a decent a public servant as you can expect. He works well with his opponents, he is generally honest and he isn't a complete pawn of Neo-Con doctrine.

Despite McCain's interesting candidacy (and his extremely interesting VP choice) I still like Barack Obama better. Having said that I must admit, I have been disappointed in Obama's campaign of late. His convention for one thing, came across as plastic, staged and entirely phony. For someone who preaches so effectively about changing the very fabric of American politics, his dog-and-pony convention seemed very state, very partisan and highly stylized with little to no substance.

I also find Obama's choice for VP rather boring. I like Biden as Secretary of State, or Secretary of Defense, but he lacks the temperament for executive office. He's also safe, established and knee-deep in Washington "politics as usual". His choice was also a slight to the 18 million people who voted for Hillary Clinton. Nobody, and I mean nobody, dislikes the Clinton-dynasty more than I do, but let's face it, she should have been the VP choice, because so many people were enamored with her. Does Barack Obama listen to the American people or not? His VP choice demonstrates that perhaps he doesn't listen.

Despite these reservations of late I am still going to vote for him. This is the first presidential election I get to vote in. I take pride that my first vote ever, will be to elect the first African-American president in this country's history. I didn't get to see Jackie Robinson play for Montreal. I didn't get to see MLK deliver his speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial. I wasn't alive for the zenith of the civil rights movement of the sixties. Despite that I have seen other proud moments: I have seen apartheid fall in South Africa, and I've seen a liberated Nelson Mandela give a speech at Queen's Park in Toronto, Ontario. Shortly after that speech, Mandela would go on to govern the very nation that imprisoned him.

Now, I want to see Barack Obama become president. I believe his election will be measured as a significant step forward for America. His presidency will make mistakes, because all presidencies do (Reagan and Grenada, JFK and the Bay of Pigs etc. etc.). He may not, in the end, be measured as one of the great presidents of my lifetime, but his election will be historic. His speech last night in Denver wasn't historic, but watching him taking the oath of office in 2009 will be.

I'd like to witness that history. I think it would be good for this country.

Having lived through 8 years of the worst president of my lifetime, Barack Obama doesn't seem "risky" at all, and he seems more than ready, and far more competent than what we have now. And please don't tell me, a poor black kid growing up with a single-parent, who lost his mother at a young age and had to borrow money to get his education, is somehow an elitist. That's a lie, and I'm sick of lies. Education is a good thing anyway, and it bothers me that propaganda sometimes attempts to suggest a solid academic career makes someone untrustworthy and unfit to lead us.

So I choose Barack Obama, a man of eloquence, a man who claims to lead us into changes, this country needs (energy, health and educational changes in particular).

Here's hoping Barack Obama redeems my choice, and makes my first vote ever for president, one I'll treasure and be proud of for years to come. Despite the charade of a convention, and the boring choice for VP, I have every confidence Barack Obama will not only make history, he'll also make progress for a country that for too long has been lead by cowards and thieves.