Thursday, October 28, 2004

Why I voted for Obama

I'm sure I've told this story before, but a few days before the election, it seems appropriate to repeat it. It took me years to leave the Republican party. Although skeptical of the religious right for almost 10 years now, my libertarian roots made me think that I should vote Republican. Then, as I've described before, the war changed my mind. I could never trust a Republican again. And combine that with the destruction of any "small government" values that I might have had--that is, both the poor fiscal policies and the Patriot Act. There was no reason for me to vote for a Republican again. So, since we have a two-party system, I turned to the other party. And I wanted to care about a candidate. The presidential race wasn't exciting me, so I turned to the IL Senate race. An open seat, a bunch of millionaires--this was going to be fun. But who to pick? A friend suggested that I come listen to her former law school professor speak. So, I paid $35 and went to a backyard fundraiser for Obama. He had me at "hello." O.K. Not really. He gave a nice speech, apologized for asking for money and then took questions. In his speech, he gave the first good defense of government that I had ever heard. Now maybe I hadn't been listening before. Maybe I had to open my mind, but the way that Obama explained when government intervention is needed to fix problems that individuals and private enterprise can't fix alone just made sense. Then, he took questions. As a religious person, I was still skeptical of Democrats. But Obama spoke of his religious faith and he complimented those of other faiths and beliefs. He even stated his respect for members of the pro-life community (a respect that I hope Alan Keyes didn't cause him to lose). So, in sum. My reasons for liking Obama: 1. His ability to foresee problems in Iraq when so many others were sucked in to the Bush rationalization. 2. His articulation of the need for government--where it works and where it doesn't; where it is needed and where it isn't. 3. His respect for those who disagree with him. 4. His humility (I hope it hasn't disappeared post-DNC, but he certainly seemed to have it the first time I ever met him). 5. His looks and charisma. 6. His defense of personal liberties. 7. His ability to make me care about people in poverty, children who need education and senior citizens with high prescription costs. He made me care about politics again. He made me care about social issues again. He made me optimistic about the world I live in. And that's why I voted for Obama (absentee ballot--I'll be in Wisconsin).