Saturday, September 13, 2008

A Mormon for Obama in New Hampshire

Last night, I attended an Obama speech in Concord, New Hampshire. Afterwards, I shook Barack Obama's hand (to be more precise, his right hand grasped my right hand). Here is a video that I took.
It was unreal to be so close to one of the most famous men in the world.

I think my favorite part of his speech was him going after McCain. He talked about how ridiculous it was that McCain all-of-the-sudden was an agent of change. Then he said, "They must think you're stupid." At that point a man in the back, with a gruff appearance responded, "We're not stupid!" Barack smoothly replied, "I know you're not stupid."

There were a lot of posters, some more unexpected than others. I saw one "Republicans for Obama" poster. I also saw older women holding posters "Hockey Moms for Obama." I thought about what kind of a poster I could have held up. Mormons for Obama?

Yes I am Mormon, LDS, a member of the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I support Barack Obama. I thought I'd enumerate why I like him.

1) He has family values. With a wonderful wife on his side, who adores him, and whom he adores, he also has 2 beautiful daughters. He loves them, it shows, and he is a good example to our country.

2) He is smart. First off, he attended a couple of the top universities in the country. After receiving his BA at Columbia University in political science with an emphasis in international relations, he proceeded to graduate from Harvard Law School Magna Cum Laude. This shows that he "gets" education - the value of it, the need for it. He understands that in a global economy, the United States needs to step up its education or it will fall behind. Many will say that the United States has done fine in the world without excelling in education. I don't believe this is sustainable. Education is something that I also have a passion for, and I believe that the hard work of a good education pays countless dividends.

3) He is smooth. I want someone to lead our country at home and abroad who articulates himself well, and who looks extremely comfortable doing it. That is Barack Obama. I don't know how he does it, but he is in his element when he is speaking to others. This makes someone look legitimate. When you have to rely on someone else writing a speech for you, and then looking awkward while delivering it, that does not lead to respectability. It makes you look like you're a puppet in the hands of someone else.

4) He is black. Sit back for a second and think about what this means for America. Look at how far we have come since the civil rights movement in the 1960s. Most likely, this will prove an important element with regards to foreign policy as we can approach and relate to countries that have inaccurately written us off as the country with the rich, white-male that oppresses everyone else.

5) He is not always decisive. The world has complicated problems and to tout that you can always act decisively and not blink is a weakness. One example is the recent Georgia/Russia fiasco. Did Georgia provoke Russia? Absolutely. It probably didn't deserve such strong military action, but to have someone immediately assume he knows the whole situation leads to bad foreign policy. Obama, with regards to the Iraq war, and Georgia most recently, has shown that he doesn't make hasty and potentially bad decisions. Will he make decisions? Yes, but they are much more careful and deliberated - something our country needs.

6) He inspires. When I listen to Barack speak, I honestly want to be a better person. Because of people like Barack, I want to be a better American. This is key. Without this element, you sometimes feel reluctant to do things your leaders tell you to do.

7) He has class. The McCain campaign has recently demonstrated that it is willing to say anything to get McCain elected. I can't believe some of the flat-out lies I have heard spread by Karl Rove/John McCain. Dishonesty makes me sick to my stomach and I have been impressed with Barack Obama for walking the high road. Lately he has been forced to use a little more exaggerating, but only because the American people have been believing the smear and slander. As these hilarious women were shouting next to me at the speech last night, "Shame on McCain!" If someone is going to be dishonest while campaigning (and if you don't believe me that McCain is being dishonest, go check out an independent source that tracks truth in the political arena), it is likely that he will continue to be dishonest while in office. No, the American people want something different than that.

8) He is real. Barack Obama is himself. He's not trying to be more conservative than he is, he's not trying to be more qualified than he is. He is running as Barack Obama. He's honest about it too. He'll be the first to admit he made mistakes growing up. But it's not like he's trying to hide from it, pretending that isn't a part of who he is.

9) He has vision. Obama knows where America needs to be and much of that involves long-term strategies. From health care (which will inevitably cost America less as we focus more on preventive, rather than emergency room scenarios) to energy independence, Obama's policies in the long run is where America needs to be. We don't need the "Drill, baby drill" philosophy because in 10 years after we have drilled, we will still be dependent on a non-renewable source of energy. We need to invest in alternatives that include renewable energy and nuclear.

10) He understands the constitution. He taught constitution law at the University of Chicago for over 10 years. This means that he understands a document that was inspired and has served our country well for over 200 years. When I heard Republicans mock this sacred text at the Republican National convention, I realized that there are many people out there that don't understand something that sets our country apart from others: much of the beauty of our country is based on our government following the constitution. This means when it isn't convenient to do so [cough, Cheney], we still must abide by it.

11) He has done a lot of things. Barack Obama in Illinois was responsible for a bill that many thought was impossible. He got both parties involved and it was passed. I think that he will be able to get a lot of his ideas passed because he has shown that he can work well with people. He showed that early on when he was elected president of the Harvard Law Review. He also was a community organizer. I know he has been ridiculed for having this seemingly unimportant title on his resume, but let us remember that Jesus was also a community organizer. Pontius Pilate? He was a governor.

12) He likes people. Barack goes out of his way to talk to people and to make friends. He has a genuine interest in people. After graduating from law school at the top of his class and serving as president of the law review at Harvard, I am confident he could have worked anywhere he wanted. But he chose to work with disadvantaged people in Chicago. This not only shows that he will treat others that he deals with in other countries with the respect they deserve, he will also do everything in his power to help people in our own country.

13) He understands where he came from. Barack Obama was not given success on a silver platter. He has worked for it. He understands the principle of hard work and wants to give others the same opportunities.

14) He is open-minded. Obama is very open-minded to others' beliefs. He understands that we have differences, but we share so much more in common than we probably realize. I highly doubt that Obama is "the most liberal senator in the United States" as alleged by some National Journal study. It was flawed for a lot of reasons (including not voting for a third of the bills that year). How can you possibly go from being 16th most liberal to 1st in 2 years? No, Barack looks at both sides of the parties and recognizes similarities in all of us.

15) He is prepared to lead. He has been leading his whole life. At home growing up, at law school, in Chicago, even on the Senate floor he has shown remarkable poise to lead. No, he has not served in the military, but why does someone have to serve in the military to be prepared to lead? He has already generated more excitement in politics than anyone else in a long time.

16) He is a champion for the middle class. I heard straight from his lips yesterday, (and I have no reason to doubt this is included in his detailed plans as president) that contrary to what McCain purports, Obama will not raise taxes on 95% of taxpayers. When we hear of Democrats taxing the rich to give to the poor, I think it's a very common conservative argument to hold that isn't fair. The rich deserve their money because they worked hard for it. However, the richest people don't get taxed an equal percentage as others. Warren Buffet, the richest man in the world, has expressed that he would be willing to pay more in taxes. I think another train of conservative thought is that we don't want the government taking money from us. But I think a lot of my conservative friends don't realize that they aren't rich! They are middle class. My advice is to not worry about the government coming in and sticking it to you. Barack Obama is here to help.

In conclusion, there is a lot to like about Barack Obama, enough that I am fine putting my support behind the man. Our country will be better off with Obama at the helm.

Wednesday, September 03, 2008

A critique of the RNC

I am pretty confident that the strongest argument against Barack Obama is that he hasn't done anything. It's a strong argument because it's hard to defend. All of the important, but seemingly small things he brings up in defense of this argument is easily discredited as unsubstantial. And if he tries too hard to talk up his credentials, he appears boastful and arrogant. If you do something really huge, though, like serve in the army then someone is treated automatically as though he has performed heroic acts. Mrs. Palin - I love you to death for being from Alaska, but you need to remember that we all have different roles to perform as Americans. It's not guaranteed just because you serve in the military that you are doing more for your country than someone doing other things. Where does this stem from that being in the military is the best thing you can do with your time? I guess that's what I'm so worried about with the Republican National Convention is the overemphasis on military. Yes I am very glad that people serve our country, sacrifice for our country, and even die for our country. But let us remember that military dominion is not the penultimate. The pen is always mightier than the sword.