03 February 2008

My Vote this Tuesday

The Democratic primary is day-after-tomorrow here in the barren political wilderness of Western NY. My own political predilections would 've lead me to support Kucinich or Edwards. Both men (yes male, yes white ~ in the first instance I assess candidates on what I can reasonably expect them to do should they get elected not on their variety) spoke out on domestic issues in generally progressive ways and both acknowledged that the Iraq fiasco is just that. Neither man is a candidate any longer.

That leaves a quandary. Neither of the remaining contenders - Clinton or Obama - have articulated a progressive domestic aganda. Both are center-right democrats on that dimension. I don't find either particularly trustworthy - Clinton because she isn't and Obama because he speaks in maddeningly vague generalities, seems dangerously naive about Republicans and too solicitously 'bi-partisan.' So that brings me to foreign policy. Clinton voted for the war, has been unwilling to acknowledge that error for what it is (a big, big mistake), and I am not in the least persuaded she will do much, if anything, to end the war and bring the troops home. Obama spoke out against the war - even if, because he was in no position to do anything, his pronouncements have a cheap-talk quality. And, although his set of foreign policy advisors dominate Clinton's, I worry that on this crucial matter too he will dash to the middle and find excuses for not ending the war. But there you have it, the slenderest difference. Obama gets my vote.*
* I found these essys by Gary Younge, Robert Sheer, Christopher Hayes, Ari Berman [1] [2] and Earl Ofari-Hutchinson useful in thinking about all of this.

P.S.: Within minutes of posting this, my friend Susan Orr roundly berated me for my decision. It is not that she has any great liking for Clinton. Susan is a very disappointed Edwards supporter. (As a gesture of friendship I offer this link to Paul Krugman's recent encomium to Edwards.) But Susan thinks Obama is a windbag. I am more polite above, but our actual differences on this are minimal. We also agree that on domestic policy things are pretty much a wash between Clinton and Obama. And we agree too that our troops likely will be in Iraq for a long, long time (can you say Korea?). So Susan counsels staying home or going to the polls and casting my vote for Dennis as I'd planned. Although he has withdraawn from the race, we both suspect his name will still be on the ballot. I am tempted. I think, though, that that would amount to a vote for Clinton. So I still intend to hold my nose and pull the Obama lever.



Blogger Stan B. said...

I too wanted Kucinich in an ideal world, Edwards in an upset... and now Obama in the vague hope that his vague declarations have some vague chance of materializing, in some vague way.

Bottom line, both Obama or Clinton will have to prove that they can make decisions just as foolish and irresponsible as any power crazed white man, and Hillary's already got the head start on that one...

03 February, 2008 22:38  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I really dug Edwards but now that he dropped out, I'll be sending in my absentee ballot for Obama, too.

I dislike Clinton for two reasons: first, as we all know, she is really a Republican, at heart. Second, she can be easily defeated in a national election because her candidacy inspires the extreme loonies of the right to mobilize. Obama, however, stands a realistic chance of defeating McCain because he can inspire independent voters and even a few moderate, metro-conservatives.

04 February, 2008 15:57  
Blogger John said...

Mr. Johnson - You made a comment that I would not like to attack or in any way put you in a position to defend. My query has to do with the nature of the comment. You wrote, "Obama spoke out against the war - even if, because he was in no position to do anything, his pronouncements have a cheap-talk quality." I understand your sentiment, but would like you to explain. Are you saying that because Mr. Obama was not an elected official in 2003 his stance against the war is not valid? Am I misunderstanding your idea? If this is the idea, then what seperates you or me from avid Iraq war defenders? Are you saying that anyone that was not in the position to vote for or against the war in Iraq in 2003 does not have validity to their opinions about the war. Let me clarify that my stance as an American citizen is both against the nature of the war in Iraq and in support of Mr. Obama as the next president of our country. I am for Obama but I am not trying to defend him. I am trying to understand your thinking (which, by the way, I greatly respect - if not always agree with - and regularly read this blog to explore). Why I find this interesting is that countless times the candidates we are choosing were not in a position to have power to influence the decisions made by the incumbents, yet those candidates make stances and entire platforms out of denying or supporting the claims and policies of the incumbents. Please respond, if so inclined, here or at johnjhuber@gmail.com.

07 February, 2008 02:04  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...


I am saying only that aa an Illinois State Senator Obama was in no position to have any directc effect on the COngressional decision. So, while it is possible to criticize Clinton (and others like Edwards) for their votes, it is difficult to say what Obama might've done with real political pressure on him. (That said, while Edwards acknowledged an error, Clinton has not and will not.) But, in the interim, Obama has also supported all the funding authorizations bills. That provides some indicaiton about how he might've acted/voted if he'd been in the US Senate at the start of the war. So what does his opposition to the war amount to? I am not sure.

Having said all that, as a citizen, I appreciate his speaking out at the beginning. His voice, though, is simply more visible than that of others like me who did so as well.

07 February, 2008 08:57  
Blogger Jim Johnson said...

PS: Thanks for the question!

07 February, 2008 08:58  

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