January 27, 2008

Why I’m Voting for Obama

Filed under: Politics — Bob Gifford @ 10:24 pm

On February 5th, I will find myself in a rather novel situation — voting in a primary where my vote actually matters. Until now, California has always had a rather late primary, so my vote was merely symbolic. It was kind of nice, actually, since I could be an uninvolved observer in the primary process, knowing that I would have no meaningful role to play in the decision-making. I could watch from afar without risking any emotional stake in the success or failure of any of the candidates.

This year, however, California has moved up its primary, so I’m forced to decide on a candidate while the outcome is still unknown. I’m registered as an independent, and the Republicans have closed their primary to us non-aligned, but the Democratic primary is open. Which is good, because that is the only party with any candidates I would want to cast a vote for.

For a long time, I’ve felt that Hillary Clinton was the safe, low risk choice. I thought that Obama showed a lot of potential, but I was afraid he was not-ready-for-prime-time and was not quite up to the challenge. Having experienced seven years of a President that seemed to have a lot of charisma but then proved to be horribly incompetent, I was concerned about another untested candidate, no matter how much charisma he had. Sure, Obama could turn out to be great, but he could also prove to be a big disappointment. At least with Clinton, we knew what we were getting, and I would be very content, not thrilled, but content, with her as President.

I also have been turned off by the visceral dislike of so many towards Clinton. A man might be described as being a strong leader, but a woman with the same traits is cold, shrill or strident. I was unwilling to buy into the meme that Clinton was ruthlessly seeking power because it seemed to be based on her gender more than her actions.

But that was until a week ago. And according to Jonathan Chait, I’m not the only one:

Something strange happened the other day. All these different people — friends, co-workers, relatives, people on a liberal e-mail list I read — kept saying the same thing: They’ve suddenly developed a disdain for Bill and Hillary Clinton. Maybe this is just a coincidence, but I think we’ve reached an irrevocable turning point in liberal opinion of the Clintons.

The sentiment seems to be concentrated among Barack Obama supporters. Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but the fact that tens of millions of Americans are seized with irrational loathing for her suggested that she might not be a good Democratic nominee. But now that loathing seems a lot less irrational.

Bill Clinton was a good President (even if not such a great husband), but his race-baiting lately has been disgraceful. Kevin Drum is feeling the same way:

I don’t like dog whistle racial appeals when Republicans do it, and I don’t like it when Bill Clinton does it.[…] Yes, Obama has to be able to handle this kind of sewage, and yes, this will almost certainly be forgiven and forgotten among Democrats by November. But it’s not November yet, is it? My primary is a week from Tuesday, and I’m not feeling very disposed to reward this kind of behavior. At this point, it’s looking a lot more likely that I’m going to vote for Obama.

But it’s not just that I’m less inclined to vote for Hillary Clinton. I’ve also been moved by Obama’s vision, as has Caroline Kennedy:

I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. But for the first time, I believe I have found the man who could be that president — not just for me, but for a new generation of Americans.

Think it’s a stretch to compare Obama to JFK? Take a look:

Obama has overcome my reluctance, my fear, to hope for something more than just competence and the right stand on the policies. He has inspired me to hope for a transcendent vision of what American can be.

Yes we can.

3 Comments

  1. […] Bob Gifford wrote an interesting post today on Why Iâ??m Voting for ObamaHere’s a quick excerptBut it’s not just that I’m less inclined to vote for Hillary Clinton. I’ve also been moved by Obama’s vision, as has Caroline Kennedy:. I have never had a president who inspired me the way people tell me that my father inspired them. … […]

    Pingback by Hillary Clinton » Why I’m Voting for Obama — January 27, 2008 @ 11:45 pm

  2. […] Taking Hayek Seriously wrote an interesting post today on Why Iâ??m Voting for ObamaHere’s a quick excerptThe sentiment seems to be concentrated among Barack Obama supporters. Going into the campaign, most of us liked Hillary Clinton just fine, but… […]

    Pingback by Barack Obama » Why I’m Voting for Obama — January 28, 2008 @ 12:02 am

  3. Bob,

    I’m registered as an independent in Massachusetts, but I think I will probably vote the same way for the same reasons. Also, Obama’s economic plan seems to be the most reasonable and feasible. I think that his policy advisors are far superior to his opposition’s policy advisors. That assessment includes the Republicans, who seem to be far more liberal with taxpayer’s money than the Democrats.

    Sal

    Comment by Sal — January 29, 2008 @ 3:32 pm

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