Tuesday, September 2, 2008
Lifted from a writer I admire. Very convincing.
From my buddy, Mike, as he approaches a milestone....haven't made up my own mind yet, but we can certainly agree that the end of Bushie is an obvious relief.
I've chosen to write about what I believe is the most important election in my lifetime. At the age of 61, I have been active in politics for 44 years. I've voted in every Presidential election since 1968 when I was eligible for the first time. I have also been a candidate for county office three times with a none too impressive 33% winning average. But, in my heart of hearts, I have cringed when I hear people say things like, " All politicians are crooks," or "My vote just doesn't make a difference". As with many platitudes, these statements are not only wrong but ultimately dangerous.
As I sit here tonight, I'm getting ready to listen to former President Bill Clinton give a speech at the Democratic Convention in Denver. I voted for Mr. Clinton both times he ran for president and believe that he was an excellent leader. I voted for and otherwise supported Hillary Clinton up until the day that she endorsed Senator Barack Obama. At that moment, I switched my allegiance to Mr. Obama. It wasn't difficult because I had read his books and had been extremely impressed by the way he conducted his primary campaign.
I used to be an admirer of Senator John McCain. In the 2000 primary campaign against George Bush, and previously, Mr. McCain had earned a reputation for being a maverick in his party. He voted against the absurd tax cuts for the rich that Bush/Cheney pushed through. He had a decent record on the environment (at least compared to the majority of his party which refused to recognize Global Warming) and he even attacked some overly zealous rightwing religious leaders who blamed 911 and Katrina on "homosexuals" and other perceived "sins of the 21st Century".
However, as others have pointed out, the John McCain of 2000 would not recognize nor would he vote for the John McCain of 2008. He has backed off his opposition to tax cuts for billionaires and millionaires. He has accepted and even courted the most rightwing religious fanatics. He no longer votes as though he cares about the environment. Most importantly, he has no understanding about the two most important issues facing not only the United States but the entire world: the economy and the various wars currently being waged.
I'm going to discuss those two issues in reverse order. Just as Senator Obama opposed the war in Iraq before its inception, so did I in an Epinion editorial in January of 2003, months before our first attack. Senator McCain, on the other hand, not only endorsed the war but had called for it for years. Within a few months, McCain declared a premature victory much as Bush did with his infamous "mission accomplished" nonsense on a carrier deck.
As that war wore on for years, costing thousands of lives and casualties and billions of dollars, McCain's only criticism was that we were not sending enough young men and women into harm's way. He, along with Bush, totally ignored the harsh reality that our young soldiers were in the middle of a civil war that had been raging for centuries. Even more shamefully, Bush and McCain sent our soldiers into the wrong war for the wrong reasons with inadequate protections for their lives and well-being. "Support the Troops" was a meaningless mantra for McBush and company who seemed to care more about corporate profit and greed than the welfare of those brave young people.
For the last several months, McCain and his cohorts have screamed and yelled that Senator Obama does not have the experience to protect this nation. However, when Obama called for increasing our presence in the real war on terror in Afghanistan, McCain quickly picked up the same idea. When Obama called for a responsible timetable for the removal of American troops from Iraq, which the Iraq leaders themselves wanted, first McCain and finally Bush said a timetable was a good idea (after blasting Obama for months about the proposal).
President Clinton tonight stated that we need a leader for two specific reasons: 1. To rebuild the American dream and, 2. To restore our image in the world. I mention this now because one of the major reasons for the loss of respect of the USA in the world has been the war in Iraq coupled with the unprecedented, Bush-approved use of torture throughout the world and the erosion of our once sacred Constitutional rights by Bush/Cheney in the name of "national security."
I have visited with Europeans and people from Australia and New Zealand who cannot believe that we re-elected George Bush. They have told me that they believe Bush is crazy and they are afraid of him. Can you imagine how the world will feel if we elect a man who has voted 95% of the time with Bush? How will they feel when that same man says he won't care if the U.S. is in Iraq for another 100 years as McCain has boasted?
What I identified as my second major criticism of McCain is his complete lack of understanding of our economic problems. President Clinton stated this more universally by saying that we need to re-build the American dream. However we define it, this country is worse off than it was eight years ago at the end of Clinton's time in office.
From the greatest surplus in history, Bush has led us to the biggest deficit in history. And John McCain says, "the economy is fundamentally strong."
During the Clinton administration, 22 million jobs were created. Five million have been created during the Bush years. And John McCain says, "I don't know much about economics but I approve of the job that President Bush has done."
John McCain voted against the increase in minimum wage 19 times. John McCain voted against the Veteran's bill which increased funds for veterans to go to school. John McCain's health care plan is more of the same failed policy that has led to 48 million uninsured American citizens and 50 million underinsured Americans.
While Senator Obama proposes a tax cut for the huge majority of middle-class folks, John McCain approves of the Bush cuts for the richest !% of our citizens and increased tax benefits for oil companies and other corporations.
I could go on for pages and pages with the failures of the Bush administration which John McCain has blindly followed and promises to keep following.
As an attorney who practices criminal law, I have been most appalled at the Bush/Cheney attack on our Constitutional rights. Not only has that administration approved torture, but Bush/Cheney have actively sought to destroy our rights of privacy which were guaranteed in the Bill of Rights. John McCain approves of those attacks on our rights.
I have gone on long enough but I simply want to reiterate that this is the most important election in my lifetime. We have a clear choice. We can continue to let the American dream be destroyed and allow our rights to vanish by electing John McCain. Or, we can vote for the man who will bring a much needed change to the entire direction of politics and life in this country. Barack Obama is the hope for our future. He will restore dignity in the White House. He will restore respect for America throughout the world. And, he will rekindle the American dream that has been put on life support over the last eight years.
Finally, I want to point out each and every vote does make a difference. Please do not sit on the side lines and ignore the realities of what is happening in this country. We need a leader with vision. We need a leader who can inspire us. And, to paraphrase President Clinton, we need a leader who will take seriously the oath to "Protect, Preserve and Defend the Constitution." That man is Senator Barack Obama.
If you have waded through this, I thank you. I am a life-long Democrat but I believe what I've written with all my heart. I don't expect everyone to agree with me but I ask each person to examine the issues and the candidates and please vote in November.
P.S. I had to add a few words after listening to the best acceptance speech that I've ever heard. Senator Barack Obama delivered a speech that not only was full of hope but specifically listed exactly what he will do to bring about the change this country so desperately needs. There are far too many highlights for me to mention but Mr. Obama proved tonight that he has a plan for change and that he understands that all Americans must accept responsibility for that change. As Barack so forcefully stated, "Eight years is ENOUGH". ~Mike Holmes