I have voted in every election since I turned 18. Each presidential election season seems to get increasingly desperate, the stakes higher, the emotions stronger. At 18, I was told my politics would mellow, become more conservative. Once I bought property, once I started my own business, I would see and understand what conservatives were talking about. That has not happened.
My family–staunch pre-Vatican II Catholic immigrants–have always been democratic in their leanings. Their values aligned with the traditional values of the Democratic party: caring for the poor and less able, stewardship of the land, rights of workers, equality and social justice.
There are Republican ideals that I believe in, too–personal responsibility being the primary one. However, I often feel that value is pushed to the extreme and has become more of an “every man for himself” sort of attitude, which I think erodes the strength of community and nation.
I do fundamentally believe in allowing people to live their lives without much government interference. However, I find that this ideal has also been distorted. Corporations are being allowed to run rough shod over people in the interest of making money ( let’s hear three cheers for deregulation–it worked so well in the energy and the airline industry). I find this “let’s get government out of our way!” incongruent with the intrusion of government in our most personal and intimate decisions–medical decisions between women and their physicians, the decision to marry whomever one chooses.
I also am perplexed by the scorn given to those who suggest how each person can contribute to alleviating our nation’s problems–whether it be inflating your tires, driving a smaller car or putting on a sweater. It seems to me that Americans simply can’t be bothered to sacrifice any amount of convenience and comfort. War is now a “business as usual” state that requires nothing of us. While people complain about government waste, a typical American family tosses away 14 percent of their groceries. People in dry climates insist on green lawns–and sprinklers remain on at the height of the noon sun. At the heart of our current economic crisis is the outright gluttony of Americans living on credit, way beyond their means.
But I digress.
Neither candidate is perfect, of course. And I’m generally not fond of either party.
But it is no secret that I am voting for Barack Obama and Joe Biden. The reasons are too long to list here. But these are highlights–and unlike some people I will avoid the divisive attacks to which this election season has devolved and focus on the strengths I see in this ticket. There is plenty to dislike about the McCain-Palin ticket but I have to get some sleep tonight.
So here is why I am voting for Barack Obama.
1. I want a smart president. Someone with intellectual curiosity and acumen. I don’t want someone I relate to. He’s not my drinking buddy; he’s the leader of the free world.
2. I want the United States to re-join the global community. The re-trenching of the last eight years and the obvious scorn of the right toward other countries has done incredible damage to our country’s standing in the world. Our country could use a dose of humility and realize we are part of a bigger world.
3. I want a president with a respect and commitment to science and technology. From creationism to stem cell research to squelching national scientists, science has taken a serious beating in the last eight years. Science and technology have been responsible for half of the growth of the American economy since WWII. But several recent reports question America’s continued leadership in these vital areas. I think a president who is not so beholden to the evangelical extremists may be able to address this issue in a more honest, reality-based way. Wrapped up here, for me, are issues of the economy & growth, international competition, national security and the environment.
In the end, I think that so-called “executive experience” is overrated. I think there is nothing to really prepare you for the scariest job around. You have to rely on your entire life’s work and experiences to carry you through the tough times. And I think a cool head & a steady hand, a person with respect for differing opinions and a person of serious thought is better suited for this role.