I'm not going to make any excuses-I am and always have been a left-leaning Democrat. I wasn't excited about John Kerry in 2004, but I voted for him anyway because he was better than the alternative. I am excited about Obama this year, not because I think he's a rock star, but because, for once, there is a candidate that actually matches most of my values and views. I don't believe he's perfect, I don't worship or love him. He's still a politician. But I feel pretty good about him as my option. There's nothing John McCain could say or do that would make me vote for him.
Critics of Obama say that he's full of empty rhetoric and political promises without a clear or plausible way of reaching any of his goals. I don't agree - most of the policies and ideas that I've read seem to be well-researched. Obama is nothing if not an academic - he does his research before speaking. However, I believe that no matter how well-intentioned a candidate is, very little of what they say prior to being elected matters. When it comes down to it, a President still has to work with the rest of the government to get anything done. That means compromise. That means committees and task forces.
I haven't seen any plans of McCain's that are any more plausible or clear than Obama's, some even less so. His "balanced budget" idea is not at all balanced and experts say that it will do nothing to reduce the deficit and is more likely to contribute to it. Obama's budget ideas aren't perfect either, but at focus more on tax credits for the middle class rather than tax cuts for the rich. When it comes to the budget, both candidates have a lot of work to do.
In any case, today's grump isn't based as much on policy as it is on character. I used to have quite a bit of respect for McCain, back when he was a "maverick" and stood up to the Republican party on important issues such as Bush's insane tax cuts and torture, even if I didn't agree with him on anything else. He's completely reversed positions on anything that I might have respected him for. And as I hear more about him, I dislike him even more. This is a man who left his wife to marry a rich heiress 17 years his junior. This really bothers me. NPR has done profiles of the potential first ladies - Cindy McCain, while having done philanthropic work, refuses to disclose financial and business information that has the potential to be an influence should her husband win the White House. I do respect McCain's military service, as well as serving in the Senate as long as he has. But I don't want him as President.
Michelle Obama is someone I could really respect. She's been open and honest. She has had an exemplary career. She's intelligent, an advocate for women, and down to earth. I think it says a lot about Barack's character to have a life partner like Michelle. I think she would be an asset to the White House, much like Hillary Clinton was. I think this is important.
There are a couple of other issues I'm grumpy about. I value education over military service. I don't believe that going to war is the answer to every international incident (despite the opinions of Arizona's 9/11 Memorial Committee). One of the primary things I admire about Obama is his education and intelligence. I've often said over the past 8 years that I think the leader of our country should be more intelligent that I am - I know I'm not smart enough or educated enough to be President. Yeah, I didn't go to Yale, but I didn't have rich parents, either.
Finally, I have to admit that I'm concerned about McCain's age. I know a lot of septuagenarians. I respect them for their experience, their wisdom, their knowledge. But I also know that they're slowing down. They're set in their ways, many of which have no place in today's society, such as racism, fear of technology, out-dated ideas about science. It concerns me that in our increasingly high-tech society we have a presidential candidate who barely knows how to check his email. This, to me, is frighteningly out-of-touch. The President of the United States is an exceedingly demanding job. I don't think a 72-year-old man has what it takes to handle it. Not for long. That position ages people more than the years.
This post isn't nearly as organized as the arguments I was composing in my head during my bike ride to work this morning, but I suppose it suits as a rant. There was a letter to the editor in today's paper that said that Democrats should fight dirty in order to win the election, but I disagree. Another thing about Obama that I admire is that he's kept a mostly clean campaign. I hope he keeps it that way.