Posted by James @ 6:36 pm on October 22nd 2008

I suggest that you sit down.

This has been one of the weirdest election cycles that I can remember. Perhaps that is simply a perception derived from having paid closer attention than I have in the past, or my failing memory. It has been a long road since this dog and pony show began, but I have discovered something about myself along the way: apparently I have a Libertarian streak in me. I found that Ron Paul, to a greater degree than other Libertarians, articulated that ideology in a way that reached me. While I still have a great many disagreements with Libertarianism in its purest form, Paul brought a level of “sanity” to the discussion that I believe the movement has lacked and still lacks to a large degree. I was very glad that he was around during the Republican primaries. Unfortunately, because of what I believe is his genuine adherence to his principles of liberty, he allowed himself to be aligned with the more “tin foil brigade” wing of the LP and lost some of his luster to me.

Rojas has recently endorsed Libertarian Bob Barr for president and I respect Rojas’ dedication to his own principles. However, while it is a principled vote, it is a vote taken off what is unfortunately the real playing field. To be honest, I was tempted to follow suit, not because I have principles, but because it would be a great way to dodge any guilt/blame for the outcome of this election. You know, “Don’t blame me, I voted for Barr.” But alas, I am needed in the game.

It is pretty well-known in these parts that after my protest support of Paul in the primaries my support rather inevitably shifted to McCain, me being a right leaning independent voter and all. McCain represented the aspect of the Republican Party that I still respect and still hope will return to power in Washington. Meanwhile, Barack Obama represented everything I dislike about today’s Democratic Party (i.e. bigger government, the nanny state, idealistic passivism, and an elitist view of America). The differences between the two candidates were stark and the choice had been easy for me. However, things change.

As the war in Iraq (which I did, do, and always will support) took a back seat in the station wagon of events and the disgrace that is the current economic crisis carjacked the race, my vision started to blur; and I don’t think I was alone. My utter disgust with both the executive and legislative branches of our government for presiding over a predictable economic meltdown that was a direct result of their own dereliction of duty left me reexamining all of my assumptions. Even as the crisis unfolded I observed both of the presidential candidates as they scrambled to address it within the context of their campaigns and to discuss it during the debates. While I watched Senator Obama deftly tap-dance around the issue as he eloquently articulated his well-known socialist-esque economic plan I also watched as Senator McCain went all Walker: Texas Ranger on the problem only to stammer his way closer to Obama’s relatively unchanged positions. Even as McCain still held to his tax cutting/spending reduction mantra, he also tried to out-propose his opponent with new forms of government rescue to homeowners that have at least some culpability in creating this fiscal disaster. What began to emerge, in my view at least, was a new guy with his same old liberal plan versus an old guy with an ever renewing and left leaning plan. Toss into this melee McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin to be McCain’s VP running mate and let’s just say that the definitions of stability were changing to me.

Now don’t get me wrong, I do not think that Sarah Palin is the flighty twit that the Democrats and their media like to paint her as. However, I also don’t think that she was the best choice McCain could have made from a governing standpoint and nor has she quite been the game changer that The Maverick probably expected her to be. While Palin certainly fired up “the base” (i.e. the Christian Right), her selection put a shoulder against the door that the moderate/independent voters might use to get over to McCain’s side and at this point has thrown the deadbolt I believe. Again, I have nothing against Sarah Palin (in fact, I would be remiss if I failed to point out that I’d hit it); certainly no more so than I have against that mouth with toes for teeth named Joe Biden; who I like by the way, even though he need only speak in order to be wrong. To me it is more about what her selection represented, which was yet another shift by McCain away from the character and reputation that made him a black sheep among “the base” even as it made him a hero among moderate Republicans, independents, and even moderate Democrats. John McCain let the race run him rather than the other way around. Perhaps it was because he knew this was his last shot and believed, probably rightly so, that he would not stand a chance without “the base” behind him, or maybe he is just getting too old for this shit. At any rate, his candidacy has gradually become a case of the RNC trying to resole and polish an old pair of shoes that they weren’t planning on wearing to church hoping the congregation won’t notice what they have on their feet. Palin made for a great cobbler, but the effect on McCain has been palpable to me. His speeches are contrived, his responses befuddled, and everything that made John McCain John McCain has been worn thin by the erosion of compromised principles. At the end of the day, Senator McCain has been hoist by his own petard and the maverick has been branded.

So, here I am once again facing a choice between what are two pretty bad choices. On one hand a dynamic, relatively youthful man who could break a race barrier that badly needs to be shattered forever even as he could possibly spell the beginning of the end of free market capitalism and a usher in a new socialist America; and on the other hand, a respectable old statesman who has basically sold his soul to the side of the Republican Party I least want making the calls, even as he has drifted closer to his younger rival’s big government philosophy in terms of entitlements. Suffice to say that I have been verklempt as I have watched all of this unfold.

The messianic nature of Obama’s candidacy frankly gives the contrarian in me the willies. It is my very nature, when seeing a lot of people marching in one direction, to run, not walk in the opposite direction. However, I also think of myself as a big picture guy and that aspect of me tends to trump all else. It is that big picture view that has led me to the conclusion Barack Obama needs to be the next President of the United States. Not because he is right, not because I believe in his policies, not because he is black, but instead because the American people and the world need him to be. You will note that I said “need” and not “want”. I frankly don’t think that most Americans know what they want and I frankly could not care less what the rest of the world wants when it comes to US elections. I purposely say his presidency is needed because the best way to show people what they might or might not want is to give it to them. If Barack Obama is not elected, we will face another four years of the same. And no, not “the same failed Bush policies” meme, four more years of incessant whining from every leftist the world over and from every “disenfranchised” voter and their surrogates who pontificate about stolen elections. If Barack Obama is not elected, the supercilious global canard about Americans being stupid will be perpetuated for another four years. And finally, if Barack Obama is not our next president, we will not know whether he is, in fact, a pragmatic leader who can bring about positive change his followers expect or just a dusted off and polished version of the failed liberal socialist appeasers (hello Jimmy Carter) of the past that took problems, threw taxpayer money at them, and made bad situations exponentially worse. If the former proves to be the case, then all is good and there are no losers. If the latter proves to be case, then we can call it an object lesson in being careful what you ask for, and while we all lose in the short term, we win in the long term. It will also remind Americans of what they don’t want and remind the GOP of what it is supposed to be.

If global polls are to be taken at face value, Barack Obama is the clear winner around the world. If US polls are to be trusted, then Barack Obama is on his way to what may be an epic victory. The world seems to need a catharsis and I see Obama as being at least that. America and the world seem to want Barack Obama, I think that they need him. I say we should give them what they want (and need) and see what they think once they have it. At the same time, I, myself, am willing to test my own assumptions and paradigms on the unlikely chance that I will someday be proven wrong. I am, therefore, offering up my endorsement of Senator Barack Obama for the next President of the United States, albeit tempered with doubt and supported with damning prose.

Someone get Brad some smelling salts.

28 Comments »

  1. I’ll be the first to admit I didn’t see that coming, though I’m sure I’ll have plenty of company.

    I mentioned in a comment the other day that I’d like to have a real opposition party again. Here’s to hoping the Republicans are up to it. The last thing I want is a repeat of the last eight years with party names the only change. I want Obama’s feet held to the fire by both sides of the aisle. The presidency isn’t an easy job nor should it be.

    Comment by tessellated — 10/22/2008 @ 6:47 pm

  2. /falls over

    /dies

    Comment by Brad — 10/22/2008 @ 6:51 pm

  3. There is an upside to everything.

    Comment by James — 10/22/2008 @ 6:52 pm

  4. And when Barack Obama becomes President, fails to enact his agenda, and his supporters blame the resistance of them evil Republicans and the conservative media?

    Will Obama’s supporters and “the world” then “need” four additional years with an enhanced majority?

    Might want to decide what you want next time.

    Comment by Rojas — 10/22/2008 @ 7:07 pm

  5. You don’t want to know what I want, Rojas, trust me. As for failing to enact his agenda? I suspect that the congressional dynamics will obviate the “evil Republican” meme. If the Dems get the ball, they had better run with it. If not, what goes around, comes around. Americans may be dumb, but they aren’t stupid.

    Comment by James — 10/22/2008 @ 7:13 pm

  6. Also, Rojas, sometimes you have to give the opponents enough slack to hang themselves. If you are worried about it going all commie on us, well, that is what the 2nd amendment was for, no?

    At the end of the day, you have to ask yourself just how sure you are that you are right. I am willing to ask that question and await the answer.

    In other words:

    “There are known knowns. These are things we know that we know. There are known unknowns. That is to say, there are things that we know we don’t know. But there are also unknown unknowns. There are things we don’t know we don’t know.” — some guy

    Comment by James — 10/22/2008 @ 7:18 pm

  7. I’m less surprised by this than I would have been several weeks ago. I’ve seen enough of these shocking turn-arounds in these last weeks that I’m numb. This is the weirdest campaign I’ve experienced.

    That said, James, a lot of my thinking runs parallel to yours on reasons why it has to happen this way, but that’s not why I’m saying that was a good read, well thought out and I’m giving you a gold star.

    Comment by Mortexai — 10/22/2008 @ 7:49 pm

  8. Did not at all see that one coming.

    I really enjoyed your reasoning, very well thought out and original.

    Comment by Liz — 10/22/2008 @ 8:11 pm

  9. It is kind original reasoning, and I can’t say I disagree with it in substance. There is a very strong argument to make that Republicans should be perfectly happy to lose this one and regroup. They’d be inheriting a pretty shitty situation, punting on any catharsis the 80% of Bush-haters out there may get, a probable near-riot from blacks and Dems if McCain manages to close in the last week and win, and the subsequent near-impossiblity of governing that would follow that (and the sheer shrillness of political discourse that would result). And, as you say, perhaps the best bet conservatives have at this point, given the way the winds are blowing, is to duck down and regroup and come back with some actual ideology and narrative and hope for (i.e. wait for) the Democratic overreach to stage a return to some kind of form. I’m a little uncomfortable letting that kind of reasoning dictate my own vote, but it’s not wrong, exactly, either.

    I think I also mostly agree with your response to Rojas. Naturally, Dems will blame Republicans for everything, as Republicans will blame Dems for everything. But precisely the reason nobody is buying the arguments that the problems of the last 12 years have been Democratic-created, it’ll be a hard case to have much sway with when there’s a Democratic president and Congress and court.

    Comment by Brad — 10/22/2008 @ 9:18 pm

  10. I guess I’m a bit taken aback that the political considerations involved trump the author’s beliefs about what would be good for the country.

    Comment by Rojas — 10/22/2008 @ 9:25 pm

  11. I am a big picture guy, Brad. I really am.

    Comment by James — 10/22/2008 @ 9:26 pm

  12. Although I will say this: it’s going to be fun using James as a wedge against Obama supporters.
    “Even Obama’s OWN SUPPORTERS admit that…”

    Comment by Rojas — 10/22/2008 @ 9:31 pm

  13. Haha.

    Comment by Brad — 10/22/2008 @ 9:47 pm

  14. Rojas, what constitutes good for the country to you? A principled Butch Cassidy And Sundance Kid stand or letting the individuals that Libertarians trust so much judge the outcome of their desires?

    In Tai Chi there are a couple of important forces: wai jin (external power, minimal chi) and na jing (controlling power). There is a time for wai jin in order to achieve na jing.

    What is good for this country are those that can change it within the context of the way it is. Until you can change the way it is, and you and the Libertarian movement cannot for the foreseeable future, then you are a man to be respected, but you are not one to pass judgment on what is or is not good for the country. It is not that simple and you know it.

    Comment by James — 10/22/2008 @ 9:55 pm

  15. PS> The last person that tried to use me had bones coming through their skin. I’m just sayin’.

    Comment by James — 10/22/2008 @ 10:01 pm

  16. That’s weird, James.

    Your assertion seems to be that unless I adopt membership in a community that can form an electoral majority, I have no business even suggesting a direction for national policy. Apparently my membership in the Republican party is insufficient to constitute such membership; I have to actually climb aboard a working bandwagon. Or do I have that wrong?

    So your alternative is…what, exactly? You want the majority to have their way? Well, by definition any election results in your desired outcome. If I’m guilty of dropping out of the process, you’re at least equally guilty.

    Right up until you put up this post, you took stances on what sorts of policies would and would not improve the nation. You were pretty consistent in your views where Obama’s agenda is concerned. Now you’re willing to yeild to the negative consequences you used to project in the hope that the opinions of those who hold these views will be re-shaped in the process.

    When has that ever happened in American politics?

    And what about the people who aren’t part of the progressive movement who, your prior stances would suggest, are going to get royally shafted by the consequences of its empowerment? Are you really willing to throw those people under the bus just in order to tell the progressives “see, I told you so?”

    Comment by Rojas — 10/22/2008 @ 10:26 pm

  17. That’s weird, James.

    That’s me in a nutshell, pardon the pun.

    Your assertion seems to be that unless I adopt membership in a community that can form an electoral majority, I have no business even suggesting a direction for national policy. Apparently my membership in the Republican party is insufficient to constitute such membership; I have to actually climb aboard a working bandwagon. Or do I have that wrong?

    You have that wrong. You are more than welcome, you are needed in that party. What you have to understand is that you are the understudy for the understudy for Rower No. 28 in the GOP galley in the Ben Hur movie that is politics today. But you keep practicing.

    So your alternative is…what, exactly? You want the majority to have their way? Well, by definition any election results in your desired outcome. If I’m guilty of dropping out of the process, you’re at least equally guilty.

    The majority? The majority of what? A Congress with an approval rating in the single digits? Is that what you mean? Please. These are uncommon times. They perform or they are the majority of their own pink slips come election time, at best.

    Right up until you put up this post, you took stances on what sorts of policies would and would not improve the nation. You were pretty consistent in your views where Obama’s agenda is concerned. Now you’re willing to yeild to the negative consequences you used to project in the hope that the opinions of those who hold these views will be re-shaped in the process.

    Re-shaping opinions is above my pay grade. I shape my own and that is hard enough. I trust in the American people and their individuality. Do you?

    When has that ever happened in American politics?

    Daily. Hello?

    And what about the people who aren’t part of the progressive movement who, your prior stances would suggest, are going to get royally shafted by the consequences of its empowerment? Are you really willing to throw those people under the bus just in order to tell the progressives “see, I told you so?”

    Short answer? Yes. Big picture, Rojas. Big picture.

    Comment by James — 10/22/2008 @ 11:11 pm

  18. Rojas: Additionally, I’d point out that his choice of Obama is likely to have as much effect on the general status of the libertarian party as a whole, as you suggested your vote for Barr would affect Obama’s odds of getting the electoral votes from Kansas.

    Comment by Mortexai — 10/22/2008 @ 11:42 pm

  19. Coming from the ‘global’ side (apparently the global community and the USA are not closely related) I support James’ reasoning as well. You get to make the global population really happy and maybe even make them eat their own words too! Win-win.
    The current republican party needs to be punished by people who believe in a republican party. And considering the options for punishment, Obama fits that bill alright.
    It’s a completely pragmatic choice, but I am also prepared for the worst, and as Rojas suggests, there is still enough ugliness in the republican party to make it a mess and excuse Obama from failure. The sooner they start playing nice, the better.

    Comment by fred — 10/23/2008 @ 8:25 am

  20. The global enthusiasm for Obama may not last very long. In the end, he’s still being elected to pursue America’s interests and he almost certainly won’t want to change the general way that it’s done (which meant that America was resented by a lot of non-Americans before Bush became President). Obama can put a gloss on it but I am not sure that that can last indefinitely (and it seems that he’ll be keeping troops in Iraq and getting more into it in Afghanistan).

    Comment by Adam — 10/23/2008 @ 8:38 am

  21. Did James say he was going to vote for Obama or did he just endorse him?

    Comment by Jerrod — 10/23/2008 @ 8:44 am

  22. Why would I endorse him if I wasn’t going to vote for him, Jerrod? Hello?

    Comment by James — 10/23/2008 @ 10:39 am

  23. Has anyone checked to see if James’s account was hacked? Perhaps he is bound and gagged in some basement somewhere helplessly looking on as his tormentor posts in his name.

    I jest.

    Actually, I’m somewhat intrigued by your logic. In essence, you’re saying give the masses what they yearn for and hope they’re horribly disappointing. There are a few risks of such a strategy. You’re giving them just enough rope to hang themselves. You must also recognize that they could use that rope to strangle you and usher in another era of Democratic dominance in this country. I also agree with the idea that the Republican Party needs a swift kick in the ass as further punishment for their dismal eight years in power. A big part of this centers on the Republicans getting the message and returning to their respectable ideological roots. What if they don’t? The GOP could decide that they can’t win on fiscal and economic issues and dive headlong into the culture wars. As I think I said recently, a Huckabee type GOP is a big fear of mine. It must be understood that forcing a reorganization of the GOP carries the risk that it will organize into something unpalatable. Remember that. And hope that they turn in the correct direction once they’ve been pummeled this November.

    Comment by Cameron — 10/23/2008 @ 11:57 am

  24. I’m unclear how a vote for McCain staves off the Huckabee type GOP given that Palin is also on the ticket. I could see an argument being made that she is more fiscally conservative than Huckabbe — not sure I buy that — but she’s enough of a blank slate that it’s arguable. However, on the point of culture wars, she seems to relish that kind of fight much more or at least more directly than Huckabee.

    Comment by tessellated — 10/23/2008 @ 12:12 pm

  25. I’m unclear on that as well. If anything, you’re empowering the neocons and Rovian machinists for fear of the social cons and Huckabee-style populist evangelicals. But social cons and Huckabee-styles populists have always been overstated in their mass appeal—they make strong GOP primary challengers and occasional Senators, and a powerful inter-Republican lobby, but they certainly don’t architect policy or bleed through the corridors of power. Even at their zenith, that crowd has always had less power than both their supporters and detractors recognized, and I see no reason to assume that that’ll be less the case if they start making a lot of noise this time around. I’m saving my final line of attack on this point for my own endorsements, but the bottom line is social conservatives will undoubtedly still have power, and will make a nice thrust in the next couple of years for more, but I see no reason to assume they’d be successful, quite a lot of reasons to assume they wouldn’t. Already, the smart Republican insiders are saying “it’s the economy stupid” and preemptively taking that lesson as to why McCain is dropping fast. And frankly, if I get an election of acceptable vs. unacceptable, I’m not going to vote for unacceptable because it might become more unacceptable next time around.

    Comment by Brad — 10/23/2008 @ 1:07 pm

  26. What is scary about the Huckabee wing is not so much the social conservatism but rather the economic populism. The fear is that the GOP continues throwing economic conservatism out of the window in search of the social conservative vote. I recognize that my fear mirrors the Bush years, but it sure is a scary thought to have both parties actively lunge for the populist center, leaving us fiscal conservative types without any sort of home.

    The Republican party is screwed up right now. It deserves a thrashing. However I worry about he results of the eventual rebuild. Hopes have been expressed that it trends in the libertarian direction, but when I look at the GOP there aren’t many sparks of that type.

    Comment by Cameron — 10/23/2008 @ 1:20 pm

  27. Question: where do you think Huckabee’s economic populism would have led him on the bailout thing, were he either the President or the nominee?

    I have my own hunch (which you can probably guess from the leading question).

    Comment by Brad — 10/23/2008 @ 1:30 pm

  28. Cameron 23: There are risks to everything. The way I see it is that either Obama is the smart pragmatic leader his is touted to be and defies the full-blown socialist agenda of the far left in favor of a moderate and measured approach, or he goes all Karl Marx on our asses and people get a taste of that bitter cup.

    If the former happens, hey, no problem. If the latter happens, it will be a problem, but one that can be remedied by an electorate that decides that double digit unemployment and interest rates aren’t what they voted for. Or things could all go completely to shit, but I doubt that is in anyone’s interest or plans. Frankly, save the Marxist part, I am no longer convinced that a McCain administration would offer any reduced risk of further carnage.

    In short, I see my position as one of acceptable risk and that is why I have taken it.

    Comment by James — 10/23/2008 @ 2:37 pm

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