By Chuck Bloomquist
Barack Obama is the wisest and, indeed, the only reasonable choice for President.
I have a long and enduring admiration for real mavericks such as Eugene Debs, Norman Thomas, Henry Wallace, Peter Camejo, and Ralph Nader, and I’ve even honked for Ron Paul.
But none of the third-party candidates listed can win and even if they did they couldn’t govern. The existing political establishment would make mock of them and defy them at every turn. In spite of the fact that the administration has become ever more powerful it still runs on partisan politics and the ability to seize the levers of power. So, love the oddballs, but don’t expect a vote for any of them to be anything but symbolic.
John McCain would be George W. Bush on steroids. His belligerence on Iran and recently towards Russia is particularly unsettling. His continuance of Reaganesque platitudes promising no new taxes and market solutions to all problems makes me feel like weeping. One of his loudest talking points is his promise to do away with earmarks. This resonates with the public although if looked at analytically, it is hard to fathom why. (It may be associated with wrapping one’s head around large numbers: for example, the daily cost of the war in Iraq is more than the total cost of the bridge to nowhere).
The total amount of money spent on all earmarks is trivial relative to expenditures in Iraq and as far as I know, no one has ever been killed through implementing earmarks; indeed, many good works have been accomplished at a local level.
On the basis of his record and his speeches Barack Obama provides hope for substantial and far-reaching change in the abysmal record of the federal government over the past several decades. He has seized the levers of power in the Democratic Party, invigorated the electorate, and raised record-breaking amounts of money for his campaign. All of which suggests that he can indeed govern and perhaps keep the wheels from totally coming off of the federal wagon.
Nominations to the Supreme Court should show a definite improvement over recent appointments and are imperative for the satisfactory resolution of issues important to women, workers and the general public. One can be sure that he will also appoint better qualified people to important positions in the administration to replace the political hacks we have been subjected to in the last eight years.
It is reasonable to hope that he will act on the environment, energy, and health care in a progressive and responsible manner. Global warming should finally get the attention its seriousness warrants. On foreign policy his heart seems to be in the right place and he will have advisors who have been around the track a few times and will, at least, provide debatable alternatives.
In addition to these policy initiatives, he has many other positive attributes that beg for an affirmative vote. His election will ratchet up the civil rights movement another notch. While not achieving the promised land of which Dr. King spoke, it will be another irreversible step in that direction. His election will clearly raise the esteem in which the United States is held throughout the world. This would provide a friendlier environment for negotiations with foreign countries. His election should signal the end of our bellicose approach to foreign affairs.
The change required in our federal government is way beyond the capability of any of those running for the office, including Barack Obama. None of them, or any others, would be able to bring even half the change the country really needs in the time allotted between election cycles. That change can only come from constant pressure by the citizenry on the government, abetted by wise electoral decisions.