A journey toward Barack Obama
It has long been my philosophy that a fully realized human being must be able to look in the mirror every day and honestly say "I may be completely wrong about everything I believe in." I don't just look to change others' minds, I strive to be open to having my perspective changed as well.
This brings me to Barack Obama, my vote to be the next President of the United States.
It isn't so much that my views on the issues have changed, though a few have. What happened instead was that I had an abrupt realization of just how important many social issues were to me: gay marriage, funding for education and the arts, pay equity, healthcare, environmental preservation, alternative fuels and power sources, human rights. I realized that I had been voting a small handful of issues, all traditionally conservative, and that my votes had most assuredly not been resulting in candidates on any level who were terribly good at handling them.
I had known for months that I could not in good conscience vote for John McCain. When I looked at the newly-shuffled deck of what I believed and compared it against Senator Obama's platform, I realized that I could vote for Barack Obama with a clear eye and head held high.
I have many reservations. I'm not choking on this vote the way I did for Bush in '00 and '04, but I have doubts. Obama's inexperience is a factor, and you have to be delusional to deny that. I'm very nervous about the kind of revisionist Justices he could appoint to the Supreme Court. I worry about his healthcare program, primarily about the fact that there doesn't seem to be any kind of plan in place to fund it. I'm worried about how much more of a mess the current incompetents in charge of the House and Senate could make with a Democrat in the White House (I swear Pelosi and Reid make Bush look like a freaking Rhodes scholar). And there are socialist overtones to his economic plans that trouble me quite a bit. (This last bit I'm less worried about, because no one knows what the hell to do about the economic crisis, and I don't think anyone's current plans resemble what's actually going to happen. January 20 is a long way down the road.)
I still believe that Islamic war is the defining issue of our time. I believed this years prior to September 11, I gnashed my teeth as President Clinton disemboweled our international intelligence and military capabilities, and I still don't believe we as a nation know or care enough about the threat we face, particularly from Mahmoud Ahmedinejad. I fear it's going to take a radiological or chemical attack to make us realize, and such plans are in the works in at least two dozen locations as I type this.
What I'm most worried about is Obama's total inability to meet or even approach the expectations his supporters have. The first time he fails in some major way, will we have a national hangover, a depression?
I'm convinced. I'm convinced that Obama is actually the man we see, not a media-manufactured messiah. I'm convinced that he has the ability to be the kind of transcendent figure that Ronald Reagan was. I'm convinced that he can bring some unity and understanding in the face of an increasingly fragmented social discussion. And I'm convinced that he has the kind of swift and subtle mind a President needs to deal with changing circumstances.
I'm convinced that Barack Obama can be a great President.
I pray God I'm not wrong.