Sunday, November 02, 2008

Sometimes Just One Side is Right

Our mainstream media often like to tout their impartiality by equally reporting 'both sides' of the story. Sometimes they even search out the single person in favor of something (who more likely than not stands to profit from his position) to have a 'balanced' story. We're told that there are always two sides to a story. Often there are three or four or more. When I was a grievance coordinator, it was always important to keep this in mind when a union member was telling me his tale of woe. I always had to think about what facts were being unintentionally left out, or what the person being grieved against would say.

But sometimes there is a right side and a wrong side. One person was the aggressor and did something wrong and the other person is totally in the right. Or one solution is clearly much better than the other. ("You need to take a cab home, you are way too drunk." "No, no, I can drive home.")

So as we get ready to vote on Tuesday (for those of you who haven't voted early), try as I might, weighing everything from ideology to personality, I can't help but conclude that the Obama-Biden team is so clearly the right choice compared to the McCain-Palin team.

Let's look at this from a couple of sides.

1. Ideology - The McCain-Palin ticket picks up from where the Bush-Cheney administration left off. The war. The faith in unregulated capitalism. The anti-government sentiment. The mixing of religion and politics. The McCain people I hear on the radio saying, "Obama scares me" leave me shaking my head. How could Obama scare you more than a continuation of George W. Bush? (I know you can argue McCain's not Bush, but his policies are pretty damn close.)

It just seems to me that Obama's world view is closer to how things actually are, so that he's just more likely to take a cab home when he needs to, and to drive home when he can. McCain was wrong about getting into Iraq. He admits (generally a good sign, except when you're running for president) he doesn't know that much about economics.

Obama has a well educated grasp on the economy and basically on a way of thinking about problems and coming up with solutions. He also has a white and black parent. He is truly bi-racial and can see the world from both the perspectives of a black man and a white man. This makes him much better connected to the current and growing diversity of the United States population. He's not into denial about racism in America, but through his white mother and grandparents, he understands their perspective too. He went to school for a while in Indonesia! That means he probably knows where it and other Southeast Asian countries are on the map, not to mention he probably has some understanding that the people there are just as real and just as human as the people of the United States. Meanwhile Sarah Palin even makes distinctions between real and unreal Americans.

We can debate how we get out of Iraq, how we negotiate with Iran, about how to ensure the most people possible get decent health coverage and educations. But I can't help but feel that Obama's much less blinded by ideology and much more connected to reasoned and practical action. And that he can adapt as conditions change.

And we're seeing a number of high level Conservatives and Republicans, like Colin Powell, who despite their ideological alliance with the Republican Party, who are endorsing Obama. Reasoning Republicans are starting to realize how bad the McCain-Palin ticket could be.

2. Personality

Obama is a black man who grew up in the United States. As I've said before, to get where he is today, he had to learn how to control his anger. Angry black men don't survive, and certainly do not thrive in the white world. We saw, time and time again, how Obama answered attacks and challenges coolly, rationally, in measured tones. In contrast we've seen McCain lurch impulsively through this campaign. His choice of Palin was, we have found out, not preceded by the kind of thorough vetting most presidential candidates use. It was a gut decision based on superficial view of her strengths, but no awareness of the weaknesses. His decision to postpone the first debate so he could solve the financial crisis and then his change of mind all show his unsteadiness. We see him and much more his running mate foment unfounded fear about Obama's loyalty, race, and religion. This is not the way I want to see America go.

As I listen to people opposed to Obama, I hear platitudes - "he's inexperienced" followed by numerical proof that Palin's years as governor and mayor make her more qualified than Obama. Yes, that makes logical sense out of context of all the other factors. It ignores the embarrassing point that George W. had even more executive experience than Palin. Logically, perhaps that means that Obama is better qualified. We heard the ridiculous attempts to justify Palin's foreign policy experience by citing the fact that Alaska is near Russia. These are arguments are so absurd that I can't take seriously the reasoning or rationality of the people making them. These are the kinds of silliness people get into when they are trying to defend the undefendable. There aren't two sides here.

And then there are the people who won't vote for Obama because his middle name is Hussein or because they believe, or want to believe, he's a Muslim, or because he's 'not a Christian,' and because he's, well, you know, um, black. And I forgot a socialist and communist. I was always waiting for someone to ask Palin exactly what socialist means and how that fits in with the "owner state" concept and the government giving out checks to its citizens.

If the only thing you care about is overturning Roe v. Wade, then, well, probably you should vote for McCain. His next Supreme Court choice will probably swing the court. Unless he chooses the way he chose Palin.

If you have more money than you could ever spend in your lifetime and you take pleasure in knowing that most people are comparatively poorer and will never be as rich as you, then McCain might be your better choice. But remember, the current financial crisis has cost most investors way, way more than any capital gains tax ever envisioned would have.

If Obama is elected, the US will finally walk back onto the world stage as a respected world power. There is a chance that we can take on the challenges of the 21st Century, with models of the world that match the new conditions of the world. That doesn't mean an Obama administration will glide through those challenges. In some cases there will be choices that force us to compromise one value to advance another, and we'll fight over which one gets advanced and which doesn't. Obama's team will make mistakes. Some will be corrupted by power. But, overall, the Obama ticket seems so much more ready to take on this task than does the McCain ticket.

Sometimes there is only one right side. This, in my (some would say not so) humble opinion, is one of them.


  1. Well said. I will be voting like you on Tuesday. Dianne

  2. the practice you're talking about drives me crazy! it's totally irresponsible.
    i quit NPR and PBS cold turkey in 2004 after they sacked bob edwards and their m.o. became one of just letting a conservative and a liberal discuss an issue for five minutes basically unmoderated. it didn't seem to matter to them that the subject was, say, global warming and they were giving equal time to a guy parroting oil company shills with hoo-hah that was previously debunked by 100 percent of scientists.
    that kind of crap has to stop!

  3. Well, I won't vote due to obvious reasons. :P Your reasoning is quite one sided indeed but I tell you that there were numerous Roman Emperors who had never planned to be emperors so they weren't learning politics and they had no important offices before and they could get used to it and did pretty good job. So we can learn that from history (answering your question on a previous post) that we always learn something.

    Claudius- he was disabled, quite old (51 I think) when he became emperor and he was a historian and priest. He was consul with Caligula once but he did practically nothing).

    Marcus Aurelius- he was a philosopher (although it wasn't a surprise he became emperor)

    Julian- philosopher, and he gained some experience only a few years before he became emperor.

    I think I can say that I know as much about state governing as Claudius but I wouldn't be able to be president even if I learn quickly. Plus I am not a native born American.

    Oh that remind me something. I heard that there is a plan to change the US constitution in a way that US citizens who were not born in the USA could be president and vice-president. It was mentioned in CNN when Arnold Schwarzenegger had a speech on McCain's campaign party. Is it true or did I just misunderstood something?

    ps: Sorry for rambling too much and wasting your time

  4. You're talking about stuff few of the readers here know about - the old Roman emperors.

    People have talked about a constitutional amendment for Arnold, but so far nothing serious has happened. I suspect it won't go anywhere until people know that Ropi might someday be available. :)


Comments will be reviewed, not for content (except ads), but for style. Comments with personal insults, rambling tirades, and significant repetition will be deleted. Ads disguised as comments, unless closely related to the post and of value to readers (my call) will be deleted. Click here to learn to put links in your comment.