I voted for Barack Obama today. In truth I’m further to the left of Obama. Anyone who considers themselves a progressive, or who understands American labor history rolls their eyes when Obama is called a “radical leftist” or “socialist”. He’s anything but these things. If he were running in Canada or Western Europe he’d be a centrist, maybe even a conservative candidate.
But I voted for him anyway, and very happily so.
I’m under no illusions that a President Obama would pursue the progressive policies that are important to me. I don’t want any off-shore drilling, or even “some” nuclear power. I’m disturbed by the militarization of our culture. I think advertising to kids needs to be much less pervasive. The corporate influence over social policies is frightening. Meantime media concentration continues unabated, and our economic policies are so tilted to favor the top 1% that it’s become a joke.
Obama has been silent on these – and other – progressive causes. Truth is, no candidate promoting progressive ideas would win national office today. That’s because America is – by and large – a conservative country. I don’t mean “conservative” in the Milton Freedman, William F. Buckley, right-wing sense. I mean that – with a few historical exceptions aside – you just don’t see major changes in American culture take place over a short period of time. American social change is slow – sometimes painfully slow.
Even knowing this, I voted for Barack Obama anyway, because he’s a thoughtful, reflective, smart, refreshingly sincere candidate, in a way that I’ve never seen in my lifetime. He’s also run a flawless campaign, he clearly knows how to manage a large, national organization (the Democrats are running their best campaign in many years), and he strikes me as a man who will listen, contemplate and make carefully considered decisions. Considering the government we’ve had for the last eight years, these traits aren’t just refreshing, they may be vital.
And there’s one more thing. You can’t be aware of American history – which must be acknowledged as a history built on racism – without recognizing the remarkable reality that a majority of Americans appear willing to vote for a man based not on the color of his skin but rather – dare I say it – on the content of his character. There’s no reason to belittle this. It bodes well for us all.
November 4, 2008 | Filed Under Political |