Tuesday, February 05, 2008

And the winner is: Barack Obama

By Diane Silver

As anyone who has been reading this blog, my column and my other work knows, I have waffled like a maniac when it comes to picking a Democratic candidate. I worried about Hillary Clinton and gnashed my teeth over Barack Obama.

But the time for questions is over. It's Super Tuesday and in six hours I head to the first caucus I've ever attended in my life.

First to state the obvious: I will vote for whichever Democratic candidate gets the nomination. This country can no longer afford the incompetence, the policies and the narrow minded politics of the Republican Party.

I've thought long and hard about supporting Hillary Clinton. I WANT to be able to vote for the first woman president. I am furious at the sexism Clinton has faced in this campaign. I also think Clinton is brilliant, capable and able to serve as president on day one, as she is fond of saying. As important, I agree with New York Times columnist Paul Krugman that Clinton has the best health care plan, and that Obama's plan and approach has serious difficulties.

But I don't want any more family dynasties. I don't want a nominee whose willingness to fight for me is questionable.

Clinton can fight. That's not an issue, but as Frank Rich wrote this weekend, she tends to hang back when the battles involve important policy issues.

On the Iraq War, in particular, Clinton supported George W. Bush in the crucial first vote. I simply do not buy Clinton's explanation that she didn't have the right information at that time. All of the failures of the Iraq War were detailed and predicted before that vote. I heard about them. How could she have missed them?

As Rich wrote:
That both Clintons are capable of fistfighting is beyond doubt, at least on their own behalf in a campaign. But Mrs. Clinton isn’t always a fistfighter when governing.

As a nation, we can't survive with a leader who won't make the tough stands. As a lesbian and a woman, I know my family can't survive under a president who refuses to stand up for me when it counts.

In the last few weeks, two events have finally tipped me into the Obama camp.

In January, Obama appeared at Dr. Martin Luther King's old church, Ebenezer Baptist in Atlanta, and confronted the congregation about its own failings. What moved me was the fact that he was willing to stand up for lesbians and gays, Jews and immigrants and tell his own community that it was wrong. Obama said:

And yet, if we are honest with ourselves, we must admit that none of our hands are entirely clean. If we're honest with ourselves, we'll acknowledge that our own community has not always been true to King's vision of a beloved community.

We have scorned our gay brothers and sisters instead of embracing them. The scourge of anti-Semitism has, at times, revealed itself in our community. For too long, some of us have seen immigrants as competitors for jobs instead of companions in the fight for opportunity.

The final weight on the scale came in the form of an endorsement -- of all things. I've never been swayed by an endorsement before in my life.

The first that caught my attention was Caroline Kennedy's. That one literally gave me whiplash because I had never heard of her becoming involved in a campaign before.

However, it was Ted Kennedy's endorsement that swayed me.

I have worried that Obama's approach might, as Rich wrote, make him "so obsessed with transcending partisanship that he can be easily rolled." I worried that Obama's commitment to progressive ideals might not be real.

Although I am sometimes dismayed with Ted Kennedy's personal failings, no one can deny his decades of commitment to compassion and reality-based politics. When it comes to policy and politicians, I trust his word. The fact that he has worked with both Clinton and Obama makes Ted Kennedy's endorsement doubly important.

Very soon I will join other Democrats in Lawrence and make my voice heard.

Tonight I will stand up for Obama in the belief that he will stand up for me.

VIDEO: Obama's speech at the Ebenezer Baptist Church.


KJ said...

Thank you for posting the speech! Here's to a great caucus....


Marge said...

A short time ago, I thought there was no way for Democrats to lose in November. A combination of Bush fatigue and disenchantment, a lacklustre bunch of GOP candidates, and the possibility that the religious conservatives would sit this one out, all pointed to a Democratic win. Now I fear that a re-energized McCain might pick Huckabee as running mate, bringing the social conservatives back in, and mounting a very nasty campaign against Obama who is perceived as a Muslim in liberal church clothing. Scary! They could be just as nasty againt Clinton, too.

Diane Silver said...

Marge, I suspect that one thing we know for certain is that the Republicans will attack whoever becomes the Democratic nominee. They only win, however, if good folks like you lose hope and don't get involved. Whether or not Obama or Clint is the nominee, I do believe that as he says We Can.

Yes. We. Can. make a difference.

We can win. We can turn this country around, and if perchance we lose in November, we can still move forward in creating a stronger movement for change.

Don't give up.