Saturday, February 23, 2008

The conservative case for Barack Obama.

I posted a year ago that a McCain-Obama matchup would be a dream come true. It is exactly what this country needs right now - minimally divisive, with bipartisan appeal in both candidates. So who would I support? I consider myself a libertarian; socially liberal but economically conservative. As such, I disagree with just about all of Obama's economic policies. Conversely, I have parallel views with McCain on many issues. Yet, there is no question as to whom I am supporting in November: Barack Obama. Even if I was an arch-conservative, I would still be pulling for Barack Obama in November. Here are eight reasons why.

Reason Number 1: The conservative movement has abandoned its core principles. Anybody with half a brain will recognize that George Bush's administration has not been conservative. The conservative movement needs a timeout. They need to reduce the power of evangelicals and militarists. They need to once again espouse true conservative economic principles, and a more modest foreign agenda. Republicans should be downright embarrassed that Bill Clinton's economic record puts Bush's to shame.

Reason Number 2: Immigration is irrelevant. Regardless of one's opinion on immigration, they might as well forget about it this election cycle. McCain and Obama have very similar opinions on immigration.

Reason Number 3: John McCain is not going to usher in a new conservative economic revolution. McCain's biggest weakness is on economic issues. What a conservative should be looking for is the next Reagan - the next leader who can articulate a new conservative economic agenda. John McCain is not that man. Electing McCain for the next four years would simply delay the time when the next conservative economic revolution takes place.

Reason Number 4: Iraq is not strategically worth it. Despite initially opposing the war, I supported the war after the invasion because I believed we owed it to the Iraqis to try to piece their nation back together. After almost 4000 dead American soldiers, 4 years of battle, and trillions of dollars, we have fulfilled our moral obligation to the Iraqi people. The surge has been an amazing success, and I credit McCain for that (and wish he had been in charge sooner). However, surge or no, the Iraqi politicians are not making political progress. The state of Iraq is going to fragment. It will happen if we withdraw immediately, or if we do so in a decade, but it will happen nonetheless.

Many people believe we need to stay in Iraq to ensure a steady oil supply. This is not just the strong strategy - its the wrong frigging game. The oil is running out! We can deal with this reality now, or we can draw it out for another few decades when the wells run dry. Either way it will happen; the goal is to eventually no longer be reliant on oil.

Meanwhile, the occupation of Iraq does remain a rallying-cry for Islamic extremists. A withdrawal from Iraq, certain to happen under Obama but definitely not under McCain, will rob extremists of that rallying cry. After a US withdrawal from Iraq, no longer will Muslims read in the paper that US soldiers accidentally killed X civilians today in X Iraqi city. Instead, they will be horrified by the intense intra-Muslim violence that will inevitably follow our withdrawal. It will be a tragedy, but one that will quite clearly reveal the evil and hypocrisy of religious extremism for all to see.

Reason Number 5: Barack Obama would stand by far the best chance of any recent US President to solve the Israeli-Palestinian dispute. This is in part because Obama is less biased towards the Israeli side of the dispute, and thus will be seen as more of a fair mediator. Additionally, Obama will have more credibility as someone who opposed the War in Iraq. Finally, having a Muslim father will give Obama a special credibility among Palestinians; a credibility that a militaristic white Christian in McCain could never have.

Reason Number 6: Barack Hussein Obama can fundamentally change the perception of America in the Muslim world and beyond. Obama is a multilateralist, and would help to mend our relations with Europe. As the child of an African man, he is positioned to forge ties to various nations of that continent for mutual benefit, and help curb China's malevolent influence there. Finally, as an opponent of the Iraq war, the child of a poor Muslim father, and having the middle name of Hussein, Barack Obama is going to send a strong message to the billion+ Muslims of the world - Americans do not hate Muslims, they just hate murderers and terrorists. I will quote Andrew Sullivan here, as his passage on this subject is the best I've read:

"Consider this hypothetical. It’s November 2008. A young Pakistani Muslim is watching television and sees that this man—Barack Hussein Obama—is the new face of America. In one simple image, America’s soft power has been ratcheted up not a notch, but a logarithm. A brown-skinned man whose father was an African, who grew up in Indonesia and Hawaii, who attended a majority-Muslim school as a boy, is now the alleged enemy. If you wanted the crudest but most effective weapon against the demonization of America that fuels Islamist ideology, Obama’s face gets close. It proves them wrong about what America is in ways no words can." -Andrew Sullivan, "Why Obama Matters"

Reason Number 7: Obama can do a lot for race relations in this country. Men like Jessie Jackson and Al Sharpton are political opportunists who exploit racial divisions for their own gain. The election of President Obama is going to shut them up for good. An Obama victory proves that their representations of the racist nature of America have been inaccurate. It proves that they are wrong to not give people the benefit of the doubt, and to assume the worst about their inclinations. Electing Obama will take the mantle of African-American leadership from those who exploit division for their own gain, and hand it to a man who preaches unity, reconciliation, and working together for the future.

Reason Number 8: Obama can restore this nation's balance. The Presidency of George Bush has been an absolute failure in every sense of the word. He has squandered our reputation abroad, and exhausted the vast reserves of American soft power (ie, our moral authority). His economic policies have been disastrous. He has exploited the religious, ethnic, and social differences of Americans for political gain. The result is a nation that is as divided as ever. The nation needs to be reoriented. All conservatives should know that the political scene needs to shift back to the left if it ever is to effectively move right again.

We can shock the world, and indeed even ourselves, by casting our votes for Obama in the fall. We can move beyond the old divisions and start with a clean slate after 16 nasty years of sub-par presidents. Every conservative should recognize that economic issues can wait. There are too many pros to pass up an Obama presidency.

Yes we can!


Anonymous said...

hey theres a typo reas 4 par 2 / This is isn't just the strong strategy - its the wrong fr

Kirstie S. said...

My, my, my.

I'm too left to have ever been registered Democrat these past 20 years, until it came time to elect Barack.

Your analysis is compelling; I see neither left nor right in there, merely logic.

The boundaries between don't seem as relevant as they used to. Perhaps they'll soon be gerrymandered.

atw said...

Well thought-out, well written. Very, very interesting.

eyesopen said...

Nicely argued. I have been wanting to understand how someone who disagreed with many of Obama's policies still supported him. I've "dugg" your post:

fyi, here is my endorsement of Obama. You do a much better job, but mine, being before Iowa, is now positively ancient.