Nov. 5th, 2008: What if...?
We all have things that keep us up at night or wake us in those hours before dawn...at breakfast this morning my wife Joanne shared hers. What if John McCain gets elected this year?
I've had a hard time keeping that question out of my head since.
I'm coming late to the Elect Obama party, I know, but it's not because I haven't supported him all along. I have, but have probably been too optimistic. I've been comforted by the poll numbers on perspctv.com that show a widening Obama lead.
And despite the fact that they've proven me wrong in previous elections I can't believe that the American people could vote to continue the Republican party's dismantling of our constitution, economy and good standing in the world.
But what if?
Since the start of the presidential campaign I've had a soft spot in my heart for McCain. He's never been my favorite candidate (see above), but as Republicans go, I used to think he wasn't so bad. I even thought "Well, it wouldn't be the end of the world if he were elected president."
He's changed my mind on that.
In the debates McCain looked anything but presidential. He avoided looking at Obama most of the time—when he wasn't rolling his eyes or grimacing. He spent most of his time and energy attacking Obama's associates or questioning his experience rather than tackling their policy differences on taxes, energy and the war in Iraq. Despite his many years of service in the Senate, he didn't act like a leader.
It's rather bizarre that McCain comes across as more human on the David Letterman show (it's also strange that Letterman asked harder questions than any of the debate hosts).
And then there's Sarah Palin. I think I get it: she's attractive, energetic, and probably pretty bright, although it's hard to tell. I can see how she fired up the Republican "base," meaning the most conservative and anti-Obama true believers.
But the thought of her as president? She can barely give coherent replies to reasonable questions in an unrehearsed interview, like this one with Katie Couric. Palin is perky, doggone it, but she's not presidential material.
Joe Biden, on the other hand, is intelligent, experienced, and well-versed on both domestic and international issues. He's proven he can get things done in regards to education, climate change, and crime, including the important Violence Against Women Act. You hope that the Vice-President never has to take over, but it came to that, to be blunt Palin scares the crap out of me while Biden inspires confidence because of what he's already shown he can do.
McCain/Palin are committed to more of the same. Chanting "Drill, baby, drill!" isn't a plan for energy independence. Repeating the statement that the U.S. Navy has about 80 small reactors on ships sailing the world's oceans doesn't prove building 100 large nuclear reactors in the United States is a good idea.
While both McCain and Obama talk about developing renewable energy sources, Obama sets a specific goal of 10 percent of our electricity from renewable sources by 2012, and 25 percent by 2025. McCain talks about clean, alternative sources of energy—meaning "clean coal technologies", "100 new nuclear power plants", and oh yes, "wind, hydro and solar power".
His plan to develop the latter (from the McCain website): "rationalize the current patchwork of temporary tax credits that provide commercial feasibility. John McCain believes in an even-handed system of tax credits that will remain in place until the market transforms sufficiently to the point where renewable energy no longer merits the taxpayers' dollars." That's it. Just rationalize those tax credits and we'll have more wind, hydro and solar power.
Obama has a detailed energy policy that will build our economy, especially in the area of renewable energy while reducing our dependence on oil, especially foreign oil. McCain plans to do more drilling and build a whole bunch of nuclear power plants while rejiggering the tax laws, in hopes that this will somehow lead to a new era of clean energy.
I don't think I need to say much about this. Less regulation and more "free market" got us into the mess we're in. The fantasy that the free market operates for the benefit of all (that's you & me) rather than those with the most money has imploded along with the stock market. McCain still believes that lowering taxes for the wealthy is a good idea. Despite the disastrous results of the past, he wants to continue the Bush/Republican experiment of asking less and less in taxes from the wealthy, promising that somehow this will trickle down to the rest of us.
I don't know about you, but I'm ready for a little "re-distribution of wealth." All those CEOs making millions and millions of dollars while their companies move offshore, lay off workers, and eventually go bankrupt? I'd be happy to see their incomes taxed up the wazoo to pay for education, infrastructure improvements, and health care for all Americans.
Haven't we suffered enough from policies of "let the market decide"? We really, truly can't afford to continue Republican policies as McCain will do.
War in Iraq
Are we winning? Are we losing? How will we know when enough is enough? I don't think anyone can answer these questions adequately except maybe the Iraqis, and they're not telling. What's clear to me is that we need to get out as quickly as we responsibly can. We've already lost so much—lives, wealth, moral standing in the world—that it's too late to hope for "victory."
But John McCain guarantees we'll fight until we "succeed" in Iraq, no matter how long it takes.
What kind of country do you want?
There are still more issues where stark differences exist between McCain and Obama, but I'm going to end by talking about the biggest issue of all: what do you want for America?
I hated how in the last two elections the Democrats never clearly stated a vision of what our country could become under new leadership. They criticized the Republicans (with good cause) but didn't say what the alternative was. That has changed.
I was going to try to summarize what I find so appealing about Obama's vision for America, but I'll let his words in Canton, Ohio today do that instead:
In one week, you can turn the page on policies that have put the greed and irresponsibility of Wall Street before the hard work and sacrifice of folks on Main Street.
In one week, you can choose policies that invest in our middle-class, create new jobs, and grow this economy from the bottom-up so that everyone has a chance to succeed; from the CEO to the secretary and the janitor; from the factory owner to the men and women who work on its floor.
In one week, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope.
In one week, at this defining moment in history, you can give this country the change we need.
...The question in this election is not “Are you better off than you were four years ago?” We know the answer to that. The real question is, “Will this country be better off four years from now?”
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