Sunday, February 24, 2008

My Vote On March 4

Friday evening, I argued politics with a psychiatrist I know. He's a Democrat; I'm a Republican. However, we're united in our determination to see a Democrat in the White House this fall. Whomever the Democrats select as their candidate for the presidency will get our whole-hearted support.

But there our agreement ends. He is supporting Obama; I am supporting Clinton.

This morning, I checked the Internet and found the following, courtesy of The American Experience on PBS:

"The OPEC oil producers' cartel . . . recently announced another in a series of oil price increases that sent gasoline prices skyrocketing and led to severe shortages."

Patrick Caddell, pollster and deep thinker: "'What was really disturbing to me,' he remembered, 'was for the first time, we actually got numbers where people no longer believed that the future of America was going to be as good as it was now. And that really shook me, because it was so at odds with the American character.' Caddell argued that . . . Americans were suffering from a general crisis of confidence. Address this fundamental problem,
. . . inspire the country to overcome it, and you will turn [the] presidency around."

"I argued that there were real problems in America that were not mysterious, that were not rooted in some kind of national psychosis or breakdown, that there were real [energy problems], there was real inflation, that people were worried in their real lives about keeping their jobs, . . . We could engage the nation by addressing those problems and asking for a new level of public support... I also argued that if, having gotten elected on the grounds that we needed a government as good as the people, we now were heard to argue that we needed a people as good as the government, that we would be destroyed."

"If you are president and you're going to diagnose a problem, you better have a solution to it," [Hendrik] Hertzberg notes. "While he turned out to be a true prophet, he turned out not to be a savior."

The above quotes refer to the presidency of Jimmy Carter from 1977 to 1981.

While I absolutely concede that Obama would have an easier time defeating McCain than Clinton would, it's what happens after the election that worries me.

Our situation today is almost eerily similar to our situation thirty years ago. We have a worsening energy crisis and slow economic growth. Although it was Iran, not Iraq, that had most of our attention at the time, we were struggling with a Mideast crisis.

Carter was (and is) a man of great integrity who cares deeply for his fellow man. In that, I believe he and Barack Obama are similar.

Carter was stonewalled by his own party in Congress, that old guard pork barrel Democratic boys' club. Ignoring Carter's desire to effect change, they turned his presidency--which began with such hope--into a synonym for ineffectiveness.

I fear the same thing will happen to Obama. That won't stop me from voting for him if he gets the nomination, but it worries me. I hope I'm wrong.

So . . . I'll vote for Hillary on March 4 here in Texas. And, come November, I'll vote for whichever one survives the primary process.

1 comment:

Peter L. Winkler said...

I'm not infatuated with Obama, but I'm no fan of Clinton either. However, Obama has been tested in this contest. He's gone up against both Clintons and their entrenched political machine and resources. Obama has shown tremendous organizational skills in assembling his national campaign organization and fund raising skills in a very short period of time. That is an excellent demonstration of his competency and leadership skills.

He was also outspoken against the war in Iraq when it mattered (and before you point it out, yes, I know he voted to fund the ongoing war once he was in the senate), while Clinton never bothered to read the NIE and made a calculatedly political vote that displays a lack of courage. If she voted to give Bush his war for political expediency, how will she withstand the constant political pressures buffeting the president and hold her ground on any issue?

I'm crossing my fingers and hoping that a Democratic president will end the war in Iraq, but I'm not hopeful. Other than that, they won't make any major structural changes to the status quo and the way things run in Washington. Clinton and Obama are already all mobbed up with corporate money. HMOs are the biggest and second biggest contributors to their campaigns, respectively, so you can forget about a genuine progressive health care insurance reform. Forcing people to buy HMO plans is no real solution.