Tuesday, May 13, 2008
Spoiler alert: this entry will be quite boring if you don’t like playing the politics game; if you do like playing the politics game, this entry will probably also be quite boring. I would like to address this entry to people like my mother—people who are still unsure their choice of candidate come November. This is not directed toward those who have already made up their mind and are antagonistic toward one candidate or the other (I guess by definition, this post is not for me). In other words, Gabrielle, Matt, and Paul I am not trying to convince you to vote for my candidate; rather, I’m trying to sway those swing voters (Madre, Jonny, Libby (?), Melinda, etc.) into joining my ranks. I guess for those who have already made up their mind, this will serve as my justification and rationalization for my vote come November.
As I see it, America has one big problem: a damaged brand name, both at home and abroad. Many, if not most of our problems stem from this badly wounded image. I hold that if we are able to repair our brand at home, our economy will right itself, Americans will find a restored faith in their country and this will help us find answers to tough problems. I of course don’t envision this happening over night; however, I do see it reversing a trend of disappointment in our own country’s actions. When we are able to again restore our faith in our leaders, then many of our problems will be surmountable.
Abroad, the current administrations’ actions have badly imaged our international brand. Immediately following 9/11 we had the support of the world. However, following a badly botched invasion, secret prisons, Abu Ghraib, cowboy diplomacy, and general disregard for the international communities’ opinions, many abroad see America as a broken country. The value of the dollar is in free-fall. Foreign countries will soon come to collect their debt. We are seen as a dangerous occupying force throughout much of the Middle East. The Bush administration has greatly reduced our stature and standing on the international playing field.
How then do we repair our damaged brand? How do we restore faith in America, both at home and abroad? In my mind, this is the overlying issue come November. Everything else is almost moot; at the same time, everything else also helps build our brand as a compassionate, fair, intelligent, complex, democratic, free and tolerant country.
Barack Obama will fix our brand. He will repair our image domestically and internationally. He will do this in three ways.
First, as a person of a mixed-race background, he gives hope to all of us who, for one reason or the other, have felt the oppression of odds stacked against them. 50 years ago, about the time when Barack was born, it was unimaginable that a black man (Barack is really biracial, and it seems strange that he is automatically labeled by so many as black, when he is as much white as he is black, but that’s another issue) would be a viable candidate for president. By overcoming such odds, Barack will repair the image of America to millions of Americans who have been, are currently, or ever will be oppressed because of their identity, be it religious, racial, sexual, or otherwise. Of course, I realize his mixed racial background, in and of itself, is not sufficient enough reason to vote him into office. It is, however, a contributing factor.
Second, Barack represents a person who is, in my mind, not a conventional politician. I know Paul will disagree with this and argue that he is playing the game just as much as any other candidate. I do agree that Barack has run a savvy campaign. I disagree, however, that he is a conventional candidate. His way of looking at issues, dissecting the components, debating the policies, and arriving at a position is impressive. He sees change as something that will happen over time. He thrives on policy debates. It is true that I do not agree with him on all the issues; however, I respect the way in which he arrives at his positions. This kind of deliberate and open evaluation is refreshing. He approaches issues not based on political expediency (obviously there will be exceptions to this, and I’m sure through this campaign he has occasionally done things out of expediency), but on principle. To illustrate, I look at two things that both Hillary and the right-wing attack machine have continually harped on: the flag lapel pin and Reverend Wright. I respect that Barack decided a long time ago to not flaunt his patriotism on his sleeve. The silly antics of Washington that dictate a flag pin somehow equals patriotism are insulting to the intelligence of Americans. As for Reverend Wright, I think this has been a very personal thing for Barack, and he has shown great compassion and sympathy as he has dealt with the an issue that would have sunk any lesser candidate.
From the very beginning, I have expressed my own dismay that I personally so ardently support a politician. While in Utah, Paul also expressed dismay that I am following the ‘trend’ as usually I am one to react to the ‘in’ thing. He’s right. I usually do. You would think that the second I saw that silly will.i.am Yes we Can video, I would have run for cover. For some reason, however, I find the hype surrounding Barack believable. As cliché as it sounds, he speaks to me as someone who is real, as someone who truly believes what he says, and as someone who wants to do good things and make a difference for those who are hurting. Does that mean I agree with every thing he says? No. Does that mean I think he’s never wrong? No. But it does mean I like the way he says what he says. It does mean I like the way he arrives at his positions. It does mean I like his thought process. For all of the above reasons, Barack is not a conventional politician.
Third, Barack will repair our brand in international circles. He represents to the rest of the world someone who is both cosmopolitan and distinctly American. He represents the true strength of America: its diversity. Aside from his identity, his policies are a complete reversal from the failures of cowboy diplomacy. He will wield a large microphone instead of a big stick. Under his guidance, we will begin to remove troops as quickly and as safely as possible, giving responsibility back to the Iraqis (where it belongs) and freeing our troops to focus on Afghanistan. His decisions are not rash; rather, he is deliberate in determining foreign policy.
A restored faith in America will help the dollar. It will help our allies. It will help the economy. His leadership will be a large contributing factor to repairing out standing in the international community. Does that mean I think all his foreign policies are perfect? No. But I do know that upon his election, the value of America in the eyes of the rest of the world will dramatically rise.
In this manifesto of support for Barack, I did not defend him against specific attacks. I did not defend his every policy position. This election is less about specific policies, although these are extremely important, and more about the general direction in which America is heading and how Barack’s presidency will make this much better. My support for him has nothing to do with Republican or Democrat. It has nothing to do with liberal/conservative. My support is based on the need to repair our brand both at home and abroad. Barack is the candidate to do this. His election will signal a turn in America politics and will give millions of American and non-American people (I know it’s cheesy to say it, but I can’t resist…) hope.
(oh, and this is peter being money--much like barack will be money come next january)
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