While some of my blog entries are meant to share personal or family experiences with others close to me, other entries are more personal – attempts to capture things for later reflection. So it is with this entry. I hold no illusions that this will convince (or even matter to) anyone else. But, I wanted to write down why I’m voting for Barack Obama as a way of explaining to my future self just what I was thinking.
It has taken awhile to get to this point. I used to be a huge fan of John McCain. And I’m a guy who has voted Republican about 80% or more of the time. My foundational principles are a bit all over the place to the point that I would be un-electable (e.g. I favor legalizing civil gay marriage but am pro-life), but historically, it has been the Republicans that have come closest to representing my view of things. But, to borrow a theme from Clayton Christensen’s brilliant “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, it is my view that the Republican party has “overshot the market”. Instead of being the party that represented realism to the Democratic Party’s idealism, I now find the Republican party too often represents extremism.
The most recent Gallup survey says that a staggering 91% of the country believes we are headed in the wrong direction. I wonder who the other 9% are. There are many things wrong with our country, but among them I would include:
- An exaggerated sense of American exceptionalism
- Devaluing accomplishment and intellect in favor of electing leaders who “are like me”
- Lack of accountability and personal responsibility
- The sacrifice of some of principles most precious to this country in the name of security
- A failure to properly balance our long term interests with our short term ones (at both a national and personal level)
- A serious lack of fiscal discipline
I don’t pretend to know the right answers to all of these things, but I’m voting for Barack Obama for two primary reasons.
First, I think he has the superior intellect and temperament to attack the problems affecting us. I certainly don’t agree with all of his policies (e.g. he can be a bit of a demogauge about the rich and corporations), but from what I’ve seen, he has demonstrated a maturity and judgment that makes me trust him more than McCain. If nothing else, I find him far more credible in the one area where I think we can make the most progress in the next decade – remaking our infrastructure to one that supports and encourages renewable sources of energy.
Second, as I said above, I think the Republican party needs to move back towards the principles that used to be at its core – individual liberty, fiscal discipline, and cautious realism in matters both foreign and domestic. It is my feeling that the difficult work of rebuilding the party can’t and won’t happen if they don’t taste defeat. In the Republicans were toddlers, you’d say they needed a “time out” to think about what they’ve done wrong and see if they can behave better in the future.
So, after watching closely for several months, I’m no longer in the camp of the undecided voters. My mind is set. Vote Barack Obama.