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Not Sorry Yet: Revisited

Several weeks ago, I explained that I wasn’t sorry yet that I voted for Barack Obama as President of the United States.

I’d like to revisit the topic because I think some people assume that if one isn’t sorry/regretful about a choice, one must be thrilled/happy with that choice.

For me (or any Obama voter) to feel sorry about our vote, I think the following needs to be true:

1) We have come to the conclusion that our vote has resulted in a worsening of the situation in our country prior to November 2008, based on criteria of our own choosing.

2) We have become convinced that voting for McCain/Palin would have left the country in a better situation than the one created by voting for Obama/Biden, again based on criteria of our own choosing.

I won’t pretend to speak for every Obama voter. I can only share my own experience and criteria. In 2008, I spent 18 weeks posting on the reasons for why I was going to vote for Senator Obama. You may take these as my criteria.

Looking over these old postings, I see some broken promises in some areas and partial fulfillment in others. I have also criticized several of Obama‘s policies since becoming President. However, as I look over his record for the past year and a half, I think the country has made significant improvements over the last days of President George W Bush. I think the government is more transparent than it was in 2008, we are exploring more ways to become energy independent beyond “drill baby drill!”, we have better relationships with our allies and our government has stopped conflating domestic critics with al-Qaeda. All of these things are good developments for me. We haven’t come as far as I’d like, but I think we’re making progress.

That’s the “Is the country better off because of my vote piece.” Now I consider the  “Would things be better in my view if I had voted McCain/Palin” piece of possible regret.

What I sought during the 2008 campaign was the candidate that would do the best job of turning the country away from Bushism, which I’ll roughly define as demonization of one’s domestic enemies, slavish adherence to tax cuts no matter what the condition of economy or gov’t, firm belief in the unquestionable unitary executive, and deep secrecy.

Before primary season, I thought Senator McCain could be the man to turn us away from Bushism.  I liked what he had to say about torture. But as primary season wore on and especially after he picked Sarah Palin as his VP choice, two things happened that precluded me from voting for him:

1) His campaign, most especially Sarah Palin, began dividing the country into “REAL Americans”, the ones who agreed with the McCain/Palin platform and those who hated America — everyone else. They rhetorically revoked the citizenship of all us who were unsure that we could shoot and drill our way of our nation’s problems. I’m never voting for anyone who doesn’t at least pay lip service to the idea that all citizens of this country are real Americans and that 99.5% of us love our country and stand up with our national anthem is played.

2) Senator McCain tried to distance himself from President George W Bush, but never explained what he would do differently. When confronted with specific Bush policies (cut taxes more, drill more, stay in Iraq till undefined victory, consider military action against Iran, and so forth), McCain endorsed them. He said that he wanted to be different, but appeared to endorse similar policies. That indicated to me that a McCain presidency would continue most of the policies that I felt had gotten the country into trouble.

So at the time, and reexamining his campaign based on what is important to me, I don’t see how the country would be better off if I had voted for Senator McCain.

That’s why I’m not sorry yet. But that’s different from saying that I’m the same strong Obama supporter that I was in January 2009. Depending on what the Republicans have to offer (Ron Paul or Reihan Salam, anyone?), I could picture myself voting Republican. Especially if they follow Michael Steele’s admittedly politically motivated advice and want us out of Afghanistan faster while Democrats continue to insist on staying until undefined victory conditions are met.

But I have a suspicion that in 2012 Republicans will simply offer what they offered in 2008 — “We’re the REAL AMERICANS and you’re not! Drill Baby Drill and cut those taxes! We’re tough and WILL DO WHATEVER IT TAKES to those GODLESS HEATHEN.”

And if that turns out to be what’s on offer, then I see myself voting for Obama’s reelection.

Since the last time I considered this topic generated some hot and personal comments, I want to remind you that I will be ruthlessly enforcing my site’s comment policy on this thread.

It’s fine to disagree with me. I welcome your explanation of how the country would be better off with McCain/Palin. But I’m not sitting back and letting you attack the patriotism or basic integrity of me or the other people commenting on this blog.  If my commentary is “sick and disgusting” to you, write me up on your own blog or complain on the page of your favorite social media network.

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3 Responses

  1. I agree with you, although I really liked Obama early on. I think if John McCain had been the same candidate that he was in 2008 as he was in 2000, the discourse in the country would have been better.

    I strongly dislike hearing statements that one group of people are not “real Americans” whether it is someone who happens to be a practicing Muslim or the children of illegal immigrants who were born in the US.

    I think that real leadership comes from making decisions that aren’t very popular, but are necessary. In that sense, if the Republicans start talking about getting out of Afghanistan, I would take a much more serious look at them. However, I doubt that would happen.

    I read Paul Krugman’s column today in the NYT, which was interesting–I hate to see if he’s right on that. I also like Gail Collin’s statement from a recent NYT column “He’s passed more major legislation than anybody since Franklin Roosevelt and he’s got popularity ratings that look more like Martin Van Buren’s.”

    Overall, I think Obama has done a good job and I would vote for him again. Although I have certainly been disappointed in him, I suspect it would be difficult to find any politician that wouldn’t disappoint on some level.

  2. My husband and I watched a special on pbs, that not many people must have seen. If you did you would know that Obama is fighting for us, but the powers that be stop or water down a lot of his agendas. If Obama could be Obama I think we progressives would be thrilled. No one knows what a president is up against once they are in office. The right have always been nasty, but mostly in secrete. Now they are even worse and not afraid to come out and appeal to the worst of the worst. I think $ Paylin has made it alright to be openly hostile and racist. Now people who turn a blind eye to her send death threats to everyone that says anything they disagree with. If McCain had done any research at all on Paylin they would have know what a horrible person she is. Her excuse for being corrupt she’s not as corrupt as the previous governor.
    We need to keep Republicans out of office for years it’s going to take awhile to get this country back for the working class. Where we can be healthy (health care), wealthy (good paying jobs), and wise (education). The greedy Republicans want only rich white people to survive in this country. That’s why right now they are trying to make everyone of color to be feared. Immigrants bad, black people bad, they just want to take your hard earned dollars so they can sit on their you know what. I hope the majority of people see the bad behavior of the right, they will do anything for power and money.
    P.S. look into Ron Paul’s past he is even more racist than his son.

  3. Carolyn, your points on Obama’s legislative accomplishments are well taken. He did what Clinton couldn’t accomplish — pass major health care legislation that does curb some of the worst industry abuses.

    Jo – Without a doubt, some of President Obama’s agenda has been watered down — by Democrats as well as Republicans. There are a few key areas, like allowing the prosecution of torturers and ending massive surveillance programs, that he didn’t need Congress for and seemingly hasn’t even tried. This disappoints in a major way. Also, it isn’t Congress that is putting up his administration to the continued defense of the “state secrets” doctrine that as claimed by Presidents of both parties, would allow any case to be removed from the court system on a simple assertion of national security secrets. Finally, Congress did not put up President Obama to continuing President Bush’s practice of signing statements that purport to ignore certain portions of laws passed by Congress. All of these things are wrong and disappointing. It’s not nearly enough to make me yearn for a Palin Presidency, but it has dampened my enthusiasm.

    I also know a number of Republicans of good will. Many Republicans at the state and local levels are reasonable people and some of them have good ideas. You shouldn’t write them all off as greedheads as Rush & Co. write off all Democrats as America haters.

    Finally, about Ron Paul. I’m aware of his record, but I think on balance he would be better as President than as a say a governor of the state. He seems to actually respect the Constitution as written and would not impose racist policies on the States because that would be against the Constitution. He is a well known anti-war figure who would greatly ratchet down America’s vast overseas deployment. From his writings I feel that he would press to have the US obey the same rules it sets for others. I think we could do worse.

    If you have some specific, documented items about racist policies he would impose on this country if elected, feel free to post the citations.

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