To crudely borrow the phraseology of Keith Olbermann, the one thing I agree with President Bush about is that we are certainly in the midst of a national emergency. Never in my lifetime – nor probably in the lifetime of this great nation – have we been as threatened as we are today.
The difference, of course, is that President Bush believes we’re threatened by external forces and I believe our enemies are wholly internal. The Constitution has been eviscerated, our checks and balances manipulated into a pathetic joke, thousands of Americans and Iraqis are dead or maimed because of Bush’s lies (and our own acquiescence), and we’re faced with an unprecedented and unsustainable national debt. I realize that in these pages I often sound cynical, elitist, and even shrill – sometimes seeming to proclaim that the nation is doomed and there’s nothing we can do about it.
But there is something we can do about it, and occasionally people come along who give me hope and remind me of the power we each have to change our nation’s course. This article is about two of them. One, Congressman Ron Paul, I’ve been familiar with since his run in 1988. The other, Barack Obama, is a relative newcomer. Obviously there are issues on which I disagree with each of them, but for now I’ll focus on the high-level reasons for my support.
I believe they each, in different ways, offer the best hope for an American recovery. They both seem willing to tell Americans what they need to hear rather than what they want to hear. Both of them offer serious, thoughtful proposals for a better America. Neither of them are afraid to say that many things simply aren’t simple – and demonstrating a cogent understanding of the complex world we live in often requires nuance and sometimes even a long, boring explanation. And, perhaps most important, they both strike me as solid human beings of excellent character who want the best for their country.
Congressman Ron Paul has impressed me with his honesty, his multi-decade willingness to defy the Republican status quo, his razor-sharp fiscal approach, and his core libertarian philosophy. He is serious about our fossil fuel crisis. He is all-too-willing to remind these suits what conservative is supposed to mean. He also is the only GOP candidate who has been consistent and right about one of the most important issues we’ve ever faced – Islamic extremism and the Middle East – and I applaud him for that most of all. He is eager to restore the civil liberties that have evaporated over the past seven years and to resuscitate our Constitution. His willingness to tell the truth – however unpopular – is breathing fresh, exhilarating air into the dusty closet of Republican politics. These are risks most politicians won’t take, and I love him for taking them. I support Congressman Paul in his quest for the Republican nomination.
Senator Barack Obama excites me a great deal. I have long found him to be the most promising of the Democratic candidates, and the recent scumbag politics of the Clinton camp inspired me to declare my support now. He could help this country build bridges across ethnic, social, political and religious divides. This country is fractured by political infighting, intolerance, and unfolding social tragedies that most of us would rather look away from. He seems sincere in his desire to bring us together and help solve these problems. He seems equally sincere about ending politics as a blood sport – and this could inspire a new generation of smart, dedicated public servants. More than any other candidate, he will help – symbolically and literally – restore our shattered credibility around the globe and put our ignorant cowboy image to rest. I am optimistic that a President Obama would change our country’s tone of voice both domestically and internationally. He has a grasp of modern science and technology that far surpasses his older competitors. He, too, takes our energy crisis seriously. Much of the time, he seems willing to say what he thinks, rather than what pollsters found palatable to a focus group. And finally – like Paul – he was right about Iraq. I support Senator Obama in his quest for the Democratic nomination.
No President can solve a nation’s problems – but new leadership can inspire us all to re-engage and work toward solving them as a community. Call me a dreamer, but it is possible.
With California’s “modified closed primary” system, it’s not yet clear to me what I (as an independent) can do about all this other than writing checks and articles. So, that’s exactly what I’m doing.
I encourage you all to learn more about Ron Paul and Barack Obama – and please, engage. Contribute; volunteer; speak out; vote in your primary. This is a critical time in our nation’s history and we need every one of you awake and agitating.