May 13, 2008

Who can bring us "Change?"

Having addressed the reasons I specifically chose to support Obama over Clinton, it's time to take a wider view of all the candidates. Or at least, The Big Three.

In my own "coming out" piece, I cite Obama's lack of experience in Washington as an inhibiting factor in supporting him. A lot of people cite it when talking about why they aren't supporting him, or haven't decided which Democratic candidate they'll be supporting. Let's examine that in more detail.

"Well, Abraham Lincoln served two years in the U.S. House, and seemed to do all right"
(Newt Gingrich, Meet The Press 12/17/07)

"Lack of experience" isn't accurate when describing Obama; he is currently serving as a Senator, after all; That immediately gives him more experience than the current office-holder, George W. Bush; Bush's only experience was in state politics, as governor of Texas. Probably not a good example, seeing how badly he's screwed the country - and the world - during his tenure. But if you think Bush was worth supporting, or even somehow have come to the conclusion that he's not a completely incompetent fuck-up a good leader, then you can't use lack of experience as a metric.

Woodrow Wilson is another President who had no background in national politics before being elected to the most national office of all. Wilson gave us the Federal Reserve, the Federal Trade Commission, and the eight-hour work day.

And as Newt Gingrich points out, Abraham Lincoln only served two years in the less prestigious House of Representatives.

So there's no valid argument against supporting Senator Obama based on his length of public service.

Before serving as a US Senator, Barack Obama served in the Illinois legislature for most of a decade. And what kind of laws did he pass? The state's first major ethics law in 25 years, for starters. He also helped to pass laws protecting citizens' rights during police investigations - laws that protect the suspect AND the police officer. He also helped to create an earned-income tax credit.* So much for claiming he's a "tax and spend" candidate.

So Senator Obama has a track record for working with others and building consensus to accomplish goals.

Senator Clinton's record is actually much slimmer in terms of actual terms in office, but she was in private practice as a lawyer for years. And as Bill Clinton's First Lady to his Arkansas Governership as well as his Presidency, she is certainly aware of the problems facing the occupant of the Oval Office. But even so, she has less experience in public office than Obama, and that is simply a fact.

And let's face facts: there is a sizable conservative faction that loathe both Clintons. This excessively vocal minority continually poisoned public opinion during the Clinton Presidency, and has continued to spew invective over anyone associated with the Clintons. While they really don't represent any rational view and don't hold any real political power, these rabid radicals have grit enough to affect the workings of our government. Haven't we had enough of them yet? Let's starve them of the focus on the Clintons. If nothing else, it will force them to create a new tissue of lies to foist on our leadership, and that will slow them down a little.

So why not McCain? He's a decorated war hero, he has also fought corruption in public office and pushed for ethics law reforms. And let's face it, if you ask liberals which Republican they'd be most likely to support, it's McCain. He's certainly far more Centrist than the current administration. And no one can argue that he lacks experience in national - and international - politics.

John McCain has been in Washington DC since 1982. He has spent 26 years creating the country as we now experience it. I'm not saying that this is the country he intended to create, I'm not saying he doesn't want to make things better, but the fact is that he is part of the machine that brought us here. He was elected to the US Senate based on an agenda to reduce federal spending and lower taxes. I ask you this; in the last 26 years, have you seen any evidence that we've reduced federal spending? Are your taxes lower?

How about lobbyists? McCain was re-elected in 2004 because he was going to close the loopholes that give lobbyists so much access to Congress. Have you seen any evidence that Lobbyists have less influence?

And as for Hillary Clinton; if we're going to say that her lesser experience in public office is mitigated by her long-term connection to her husband's extensive career in public service, then she, too, helped to lead us to where we stand right now. If she's claiming that her attachment to the Old Guard and its successes lends her credibility, then she must also take responsibility for its failings.

Neither McCain nor Clinton can deliver "Change." They are part of the thing we need to change from. Their experience dictates that they can not be instruments of change in our national political fabric because they ARE our political fabric.

If you really want a change, there's really only one choice.

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