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Why I’m Voting for Barack Obama

Tomorrow is Super Tuesday, and I’ve decided I’m voting for Barack. He and Hillary are nearly identical on matters of policy, but there’s an important distinction when it comes to tone and approach.

The poisonous behavior of the Bush administration has sparked an anger and anxiety in the national psyche that is perhaps unparalleled in American history. Hillary’s nomination (and thus presumed election) would do little to dispel this negativity — she has proven to be a divisive personality (intentionally or not), and when I imagine an America under her leadership, I foresee the same feelings of general hostility that sadly pervade this country. Barack, though, has demonstrated himself as a fomenter of shockingly positive feelings — while he may or may not unite, he doesn’t divide. A future with him a president strikes me as one where the tendency among Americans is to imagine the possibilities, the potentialities, to in turn imagine how to get to a better future for later generations.

The United States desperately needs cleansing of the noxious atmosphere it currently breathes. I fear that Hillary, all her good actions and intentions notwithstanding, wouldn’t clear the air. Barack would.

  1. I’m glad you cleared it up. Hillary is the cause and continuation of divisiveness in America, due, essentially, to her personality.

    Barack, on the other hand, is quite the charmer and is able to make Americans imagine a better life; kind of like Denzel does in his Help-Black-Youth-Dream-Of-Success-And-Riches film roles.

    Aside from comparing their personality traits, have you evaluated these candidates’ respective abilities? First, to mount a winning campaign against an aggressive Republican candidate, and then to actually possess the Executive strength and will (ala GWB) to push policy and legislation through the familiar resistances of Congress and the American Boobwasie?

    I regard Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks, Malcolm X, and other civil rights activists as highly as anyone, but, as Hillary pointed out, it eventually took a committed and politically connected president to push through the Civil Rights Act of 1964. This required years of arm-twisting and maneuvering and the knowledge that our southern states would be lost to the Democratic Party for generations to come.

    This took balls by our Democratic presidents at that time, with strong help from the Black and White (mostly Jewish) activists and marchers of the 50s nand 60s. That was nitty-gritty time with careers and lives on the line.

    I have no problem with Barack. I can imagine that he might make a good president–some day. When he has survived a little pain and injury and proven he is more than a charming spokesman for positive thinking.

    But today, I choose Hillary. And the American way to get things done: push, press, arm-twist and politic. Dreams die at dawn.

  2. I think your dad’s buying into the Hillary rhetoric too much. Just because the Clinton campaign wants to paint Barack as inexperienced politically doesn’t make it so. I’ve followed Obama since 1996, and believe me, he can negotiate, maneuver, and press with the best of them. You don’t get elected as president of the Harvard Law Review without knowing how to politic. You cannot be effective as a community organizer pressing for change on the streets of Chicago without knowing how to deal with strong arm tactics and dirty tricks. You don’t get legislation passed in the Illinois senate without knowing how to make deals and build coalitions.

    But Barack’s had to learn to do all of that the hard way. Not coming from a position of strength, imbued with the political leverage that comes along with a well-connected and incredibly powerful husband, but as an upstart swimming upstream, with nothing more than his wits and abilities to rely on in getting an awful lot done for real people of America over the last 12 years.

    That more entrepreneurial approach to politics, and the attending abilities to attack entrenched policies and players and outflank them by carving out new and strategically superior positions that rally support on both sides of a position, will serve America well right now. Playing the same old game better won’t pull us out of the downward trajectory we’ve locked into. We need to play a new game. And Barack’s the most skillful politician I’ve ever known at creating the real possibility for that.

  3. Don’t blame Peter for me. But jz, you still haven’t presented anything Obama has ever done except have a good educational background and get elected in Illinois. Please define what Barack learned the hard way without demeaning his current opponent for the terrible crime of being well-connected with an incredibly powerful husband, who, by the way, would have never been elected president of these United States without her strong presence during the incredible obstacles on that original campaign trail. What awful lot has he really done for real people in America these past twelve years?

    I don’t mind hearing different opinions from mine, but I am irritated by hearing balderdash presented as opinion. Essentially your comments are just so much hot and empty air. Not a bit of substance, which says more about you than Barack. There are good things to say about Obama, but you don’t seem to know what they are. If he wins the Democratic nomination, I’ll let you in on what they are. In the interim, curl up with your Teddy and go to bed; you are obviously staying up too late. Good night.

  4. First off, didn’t mean that to come off as polemic. I wasn’t trying to be critical of you. Instead of saying that you’re buying into the HRC rhetoric too much, perhaps I should have said I think you just haven’t gotten to know Obama enough. Because I think there are very real things that he has accomplished, and that show he’s acquired the skills and abilities to be effective in the kind of “push, pull, arm-twist and politic” situations that you suggest lead you to favor Hillary.

    Also, my comment that Hillary has benefited from the additional political leverage afforded to her through Bill should not be construed as a knock on her. She’s an enormously gifted person and politician and without question would have accomplished extraordinary things even had she never met Bill. Still, it’s the reality that Hillary has learned and honed her political craft in an environment that, compared to Obama, has brought along certain access and privileges not available to Obama. My point is just that because of that, it’s all the more impressive that Obama has, at such a young age, acquired the wherewithall and savviness to effectively challenge her in this very political process of seeking the nomination.

    The press sometimes makes it seem as if Obama is the Chris Rock character in Head of State, that he just gave a good speech one day and was plucked up by the DNC and rode a way of populism to this nomination. But that’s the fantasy that Bill Clinton was talking about. Obama is every bit a politician. The campaign he’s waged has bit every bit as calculated and “political” as Hillary. And with nowhere near the assets she’s had going into the race, he is quite effectively challenging her. If that’s not a testament to political skill and ability, I don’t know what is.

    As to his political accomplishments, there are many on record during his career as a political organizer pressing for change in Chicago, as well as in the state legislature in IL, which speak to his ability to persuade, politic, and cajole by winning support among hostile audiences. For example, as an organizer in Chicago he consistently challenged powerful interests by building grass roots coalitions that raised living standards for the poor on the South Side (required absestos testing and removal, community redevelopment projects, as well as major contributions to eleciton of progressive candidates to local government). In the IL legislature, he took on coercive police practices to end forced cofessions by requiring videotaping of interrogations. That bill had no support among the police or the governonr going in, but Obama effectively angled them into going along with it by appealing to their interests for other reforms, such that in the end it passed 35-0. Likewise, he played a major role in getting a moratorium on the death penalty in IL as well as in conceiving and passing an earned income tax credit that gave tax relieve to working and middle class families across the state. In the US Senate, he’s sponsored and passed legislation to require transparency in US Government spending and to champion ehtics reform.

    We can debate the impressiveness and impact of those accomplishments, but if we’re asking the question, “Does this guy know how to politic?”, to me his record unequivocally answers that in the affirmative. It’s a less traditional path to those skills, for sure. But here in Silicon Valley, we know that though most people may look to past employment at an IBM or Microsoft as proof that a potential hire can do the job, often it’s the entrepreneurs who’ve blazed their own unconvential paths through successful- or even failed – startup experience that best demonstrate world class talent, skills, and a uniquely useful point of view. I do recognize that’s an easy thing to dismiss as internet industry cuckoo-ness. Maybe that’s the way you feel. But I’ve hired people using both types of logic, and experience has taught me that having the strongest abilities matter far more than where and how they were acquired. And in hiring a nominee for president, and eventually a POTUS, there’s no quesiton in my mind based on my experience with both candidates that Obama’s political skills are not only objectively stronger, but better suited to the challenges we’re facing in the years to come. So, that’s why he got my vote.

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