Fifteen days from tonight I will be up most of the night watching the election results. It’s going to be a long few weeks.
I received my sample ballot in the mail last week. You can see I have 37 candidates for President listed. Of those picks, only 6 are listed in my ballot (5 actually because I did not list Alan Keyes who is running on the American Independent Party ticket). My ballot lists only Alan Keyes, Ralph Nader, Barack Obama, Bob Barr, John McCain, and Cynthia McKinney.
I’ve made no secret that I support Senator Obama and I hope he wins. Yesterday on Meet The Press General Colin Powell endorsed Senator Obama. The interview is worth a watch and the transcript is here. General Powell was as gracious as ever and respectful of both candidates but in the final word he articulated good reasons to vote for Senator Obama. Allow me to highlight some of these reasons:
- The economy. Senator McCain doesn’t seem to have a grasp of the economic troubles we have been facing, famously saying that the fundamentals of the economy are strong. In fairness he is caught between what clearly needs to be done (use government resources to stimulate the economy) and what the Republican Party is demanding (do nothing: look how successful it was for Herbert Hoover).
- The choice of Sarah Palin. Senator McCain announces again and again that he is a maverick and owes his vote to no one. Yet when he clearly wanted to choose Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate, he buckled under and chose someone he had only met a few times and is clearly unqualified (meaning no disrespect to the Alaska PTA but that does not qualify someone for national office). The fact that she passes the Republican litmus test on abortion and gay marriage only shows that Senator McCain is not his own man.
- The negative tone. Everyone knows that politics is hardball and it’s not bad to see how someone responds to being roughed up. But John McCain (whose 2000 campaign was destroyed by Karl Rove’s tactics; there is an excellent explanation in this Boston Globe article) has allowed this to get out of hand. He is an honorable man but he has allowed his campaign to smear Senator Obama with issues that are just plain wrong (he will raise everyone’s taxes) to issues that are simply offensive (he is secretly a Muslim and has an agenda he is hiding from the American people).
My only complaint with General Powell is that he didn’t do this in 2004. He was instrumental in selling the Iraq War in 2003 and it is now clear that he was using intelligence that the Bush administration knew to be wrong. He was the one person who could have blown the whistle and turned the voters against President Bush. I’m sorry he didn’t
Of all the issues, I’m most troubled by the ongoing negative campaigning. I had hoped that Senator McCain would repudiate these tactics but he clearly hasn’t. I’m proud to support Senator Obama who criticizes Senator McCain’s positions but never questions his patriotism or loyalty. The Republican Party, however, continues to hint darkly that Senator Obama is “not one of us” and Senator McCain is unwilling or unable to stop it. If you google “Obama” and “Muslim” it shows 12,100,000 hits, and the sponsored link above the results is McCain for President. The offensiveness here is deep and amazing. It hints that 1) Senator Obama isn’t running to President to serve the country but to destroy it, and 2) The mere fact (sic) that he is Muslim is proof because “they” can’t possibly love the United States.
I call this the Nat Turner strategy. Nat Turner was a slave on a plantation in Virginia; in 1831 he led an insurrection of slaves who rose up and murdered 55 people, beginning with the family that owned him. This led to harsh laws meant to prevent slaves from ever being able to do this again. The name Nat Turner now stands for anyone who appears to be loyal but is really looking for an opportunity to destroy you. In the context of the Presidential campaign the racial undertones are unmistakeable. Only a Obama win will quiet these voices.