Sunday, December 23, 2007

I'm Voting for Barack Obama in the Democratic Primary

I'm voting for Barack Obama in the Democratic primaries. Since I live in New York, that won't happen until February 5, 2008. But with the Iowa caucuses and other primaries coming right after New Year's, I figured I might as well come to a decision and announce it now.

It wasn't easy.

First, as I wrote back in March, I think Americans should work for the best candidates in both parties, so as to have the best possible choice on general election day. In the Republican party, there has been and is only one candidate I could ever support - Ron Paul. His respect for the Constitution and the First Amendment, his opposition to the war, make him far and away the best Republican, and in many ways the best candidate, period, running for President in this election.

In contrast, I would be happy with any of the Democrats. In comparison to any of the Republicans other than Ron Paul, any of the Democrats would make a far better President.

So the choice of whom to support among the Democrats is much more difficult. Beyond the positions of the candidates, which are different only in nuances, there is the question of what the election of a candidate would symbolize and accomplish in a larger political sense.

Three of the Democrats are members of groups which have been treated unfairly by American political culture - and American society in general - in the past. Bill Richardson is Latino. His election would do the country and the world good for that reason alone. But his standings in the polls are very low, he has no Internet support to speak of (unlike Ron Paul), and therefore I would say his chances of getting the Democratic nomination are nil.

Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, on the other hand, are leading in the polls. Both candidates have enormous wellsprings of support.

Hillary Clinton's election would have the wonderfully beneficial effect of putting a woman in the White House - as President. Barack Obama's election would have the equivalent effect of making an African-American our President.

Which statement to the world, which redress of American wrongs, is more important?

To some extent, comparing the mistreatment of women and blacks in our culture is comparing apples and oranges. But, all in all, I think African-Americans have received the worse treatment. They were brought here as slaves. We fought a Civil War to free them, but they were hanged in the South, anyway, for decades after the war. Their leaders - Martin Luther King and Medgar Evers - were assassinated. Nothing like that has ever happened to women as a socio-cultural-political group.

I therefore think that the election of Barack Obama as President of this nation would make the most powerful possible statement - to the world, to the future, to the past, to ourselves.

Beyond that, I like Obama's style - his quick wit reminds me of JFK. And there are a few of Hillary Clinton's positions and actions that I'm not very happy with. She should not have voted in favor of labeling Iran a terrorist nation, as President Bush requested. She should not have even considered legislation cracking down on violence in video games. This last might seem like a small issue, but when Bill Clinton was President he signed the Communications Decency Act into law - an act so afoul of the First Amendment, that even the Supreme Court struck it down.

I like just about all of the positions of John Edwards, now in third place in most of the polls. I'm impressed that he says I. F. Stone's The Trial of Socrates is one of his favorite books, because it bespeaks a philosophic depth and appreciation of history. I like most of the positions of all of the Democrats, as I said above. But none of them as President would bring the kind of rectifying electrifying revolutionary change as the election of Barack Obama.

I'm a registered Democrat in New York, and on February 5 I'll be voting for Obama.
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