Monday, November 3

The final push.

Contrary to the impression I'm sure I've given a lot of you, I am neither a knee-jerk liberal nor a straight-ticket Democratic voter; I've never voted a straight ticket in my life. And in fact, the first vote I ever cast in a primary election was for John McCain, when I was living in Virginia in 2000.

I voted for McCain not only because I thought he was a better and more thoughtful candidate than George W. Bush on the Republican side, I did so because I was giving serious thought to voting for him in the general election. Not that I didn't like Al Gore, but for a while it seemed like there was a little too much of the old running-because-he's-the-VP-and-that's-what's-expected-of-him motivation to his campaign, not because he had a passionate vision for the country. (Now, of course, I know better.) With his moderate stances on most issues and a reputation for working across the aisle, McCain seemed like the kind of person who could help heal the bitterly partisan wounds of the impeachment mess that was still so fresh in everyone's minds at that point.

Fast-forward eight years, of course, and McCain had dropped many of his moderate views and his status as a maverick willing to fly in the face of his party's leadership; as we've heard so many times throughout this campaign, he supported Bush on the Iraq war, flipped his stance to match Bush's on tax cuts, veered to his right on social issues, and a host of other things. Based on all that, I had a pretty good idea I wasn't going to be voting for him this time around. But when he got the nomination in the spring, I was still a little happy about that: For the first time in a while, we weren't going to have to pick from the lesser of two evils. Instead of a pair of mediocrities, we'd have two men of integrity, both with clearly contrasting visions of where they wanted to take this country. At a time when the country desperately needed a new set of ideas of where to go next, it looked like we'd actually get two good options.

Except Obama brought his, and McCain didn't.

Aside from staying in Iraq, lowering corporate taxes, and "Drill baby drill" -- incidentally, a carbon copy of what George W. Bush would be running on right now were he permitted by the Constitution to seek a third term -- I could not tell you a single idea McCain has bothered to propose, a single piece of his vision for how this country needs to move on from eight years of the Bush administration. There have only been attacks on Obama; there have been no ideas that didn't amount to glorified bumper-sticker slogans, no actual policy discussions that McCain didn't look like he was dragged into kicking and screaming. And even when McCain and his running mate did finally deign to discuss actual policy in the waning weeks of the campaign, it was simply to brand Obama as a "socialist" -- for wanting to do nothing more than make the highest tax bracket pay the rate they were paying eight years ago, back before Bush decided it was OK to burden my grandchildren with a crushing 14-figure national debt.

Where Obama offered a plan for disengaging from Iraq, McCain and his surrogates merely questioned Obama's loyalty, both to America and to Israel. Where Obama presented a way to get started on the road to universal health-care coverage, McCain and his surrogates whined about ACORN. Where Obama explained in great detail his plan to re-establish some sanity to our system of progressive taxation, McCain and his surrogates fed us a steady diet of Jeremiah Wright and Bill Ayers. Look, I'm not saying that I have any affinity whatsoever for either of those two individuals, nor that I think Barack Obama's prior associations with them hold anything positive for his campaign. But to believe that Obama internalized every last extremist belief of Wright or Ayers, you'd have to believe the man is completely incapable of thinking for himself. To believe that those two men held Sen. Obama in such thrall that he is now committed to making their respective worldviews the law of the land, you would have to believe that Obama hates me because I'm white; that his hatred for the white power structure in this country is so caustic that he sympathizes with those who would do harm to America; and, probably, that he thinks America is wicked enough to have deserved 9/11. You would have to be a profoundly paranoid and extreme individual to believe any of those things, much less all of them, and yet two people who openly proclaimed that last belief -- Revs. Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson -- are two men whose blessing John McCain, not Barack Obama, sought during the course of this campaign.

Moreover, you would have to believe that a great number of Obama's supporters are driven by that same kind of anti-American mistrust and resentment. Think I'm being melodramatic? Go back and observe the rhetoric that has become a staple of the McCain campaign over the past few weeks: Sarah Palin's professed affinity for "real America" and "the pro-America areas of this great nation," presumably to the exclusion of fake and anti-America areas she has yet to specify; Nancy Pfotenhauer's tossed-off delineation of "real Virginia" from, again, the presumably "fake" part of the state; and, of course, Michelle Bachmann shockingly expanding her mistrust of Obama to directly advocate McCarthyite investigations to determine if each member of Congress is "pro-America or anti-America." For a campaign that's spent so much time and energy pushing the idea that Barack Obama is an elitist who disdains large parts of this country, the McCain people have shown no qualms about disrespecting and casting suspicion upon large parts of it themselves.

And that is no way for a presidential hopeful to act; this country cannot afford a commander-in-chief who only wants to be president of certain parts of it. And for all the furor over Obama's "bitter" comments or his alleged contempt for "flyover country," he has proposed a tax cut that will benefit 95 percent of the households in this country, and he brought his message to places few Democrats have dared to tread -- Montana, Indiana, North Dakota, even Arizona -- so that those voters can gauge him as a politician and a man, look at his proposals on their own, and make up their minds independent of the stereotypes that are basically a political version of every bad late-night stand-up comic's shtick: "Blue states vote like this, red states vote like this."

Whereas once I had a great amount of respect for John McCain's independence and integrity, I now believe that his election would amount to a continuation of some of the worst trends that have come to define our society over the past eight years. It would mean four more years of Bush policies, of course; it would also mean four more years of ignorance and incuriosity -- of the kind symbolized by McCain's snide, reactionary panderer of a running mate -- being held up as some kind of a sacred blue-collar virtue (an idea that should be as big an insult to the intelligence of blue-collar Americans as it is to everyone else). But most importantly, and most damagingly, a McCain victory would mean at least four more years of an infuriating, arbitrary red/blue divide that is as big an obstacle to America's continued strength and prosperity as anything that some overseas terrorist cell could cook up. Ladies and gentlemen, we face two full-scale military operations overseas, a financial crisis at home of that rare severity that affects both "Joe Six-Pack" and Wall Street CEOs, and a looming energy crisis that hasn't gone away no matter how excited we are to be paying less than $3 a gallon for gas -- and if you think this country is capable of overcoming all those problems while we're all being categorized as "red" or "blue" and then pitted against one another like King Lear's daughters being asked to prove who loves their father the most, you have a profound misunderstanding of what this country is all about.

I don't believe John McCain is a bad person, but at a time when he should be coming up with ways to bring this country together, his campaign seems to be looking for new ways to divide us, and I can't vote for that. I'm not one of those straw-man Pollyanna cultists who supposedly believe that Barack Obama is going to wave his magic wand and make everything better on January 20; no matter how much he preaches unity in his stump speeches, there will still be people in this country who will take his message and people who will leave it. But at least Senator Obama has given us that choice. Rather than deciding for us who will be part of his vision and who won't get the privilege, he's put his message out there in a way that opens it up to everyone, and let us decide for ourselves whether we want to buy in.

Well, I'm buying in. And I hope you'll do the same.

Whoever you're planning on voting for, whether you've bought into Obama's vision or you haven't, I hope you're going to go out and vote tomorrow. If division is bad, apathy is almost as damaging, because it's what allows division and resentment to fester. Go to the polls tomorrow, stand in line as long as you have to, and perform a very simple act as your way of proclaiming that this country and how it's run are things that still matter.

ADDED: Two far more eloquent endorsements here and here.


Anonymous said...

Obama has given me nothing to motivate me to support him or his policies. His constant pandering. His class warfare. His socialist policies. All very divisive. When you throw in his inability to understand the downside of cutting and running, he's very dangerous. The cherry is his inability to tell the truth. The last dem prez was a liar, why do we need another one?

ugababetrish said...

McCain got my vote.

I really don't like any of the two choices we have. But I have to go with McCain.

I just can't seem to vote for Obama.

Reed said...

I love this new definition of socialism that includes John McCain and Ronald Regan.

But seriously, Doug, well said. And thanks for the Esquire link. That was a really unique take on the situation.

For what it's worth, my two cents on how I'm feeling tonight is here.

ugabaetrish said...

That is I just couldn't seem to vote for Obama. I felt like I would be betraying all the heros who died in combat fighting for this country. I just can not live with casting a vote for Obama

DavidDallastx said...

oh puhlease, Trish

Spare me the hero shit. I do have respect and love what McCain has done. But can we look at the big picture?

I will vote for McCain tomorrow morning not because of his hero shot down POW thing. It's because I think he is the better person to lead this country for the next 4 years.

miles said...

Bend over...

I got your final push.

you need some Madonna

Anonymous said...

miles, enough with your madonna love

Anonymous said...

You're right, I don't think it's socialism. It's really Marxist doctrine.

If elected his "spread the wealth" plan, the Obama Doctrine, will never develop as the economy tanks and federal revenues fall to levels unable to support expenditures, there will be spending cuts and everyone will have to pay their share to pay for what's left and stem the deficit.

The Obama administration will mirror the Carter tenure. A disaster caused by international naivete, economic turmoil and legistlative paralysis. His best hope for a legacy is to replace some old liberal justices with new liberal justices.

ugababetrish said...

I like the madonna video.

leave miles alone

noodles said...

I didn't buy into Obama's vision.

That's why I wil be getting up early here in Athens, GA and going to vote for McCain.

Ben said...

I cast my vote for Obama last week.

I stood in line for like 5 hours last thursday and there were some people from WGCL CBS 46 the local TV station that handed out McDonalds free coffee

amyhiltonheadsc said...


I voted for Obama

tybeeislanddawg said...

hey Amy... I'm in Tybee Island near Fort Screven

We're pretty close :)

However, I voted for McCain though. We could still get togather and talk politics. Let me know if you want to talk. Hell Hilton Head is not far ;)

noodles said...

Is this going to be sex on the beach???

If so, can I pull up a towel and watch?

NCT said...

Well said, Doug. I did my part last week. McCain has disappointed me deeply in many, many ways.

I don't want this country's leaders to spout off about religion, but I do want them to promote policies that are consistent with my Christian values. There is absolutely no question that Obama is the much better candidate to do that, and your post pointed out one of the reasons why: we need less hate (along with less callousness toward the sick, poor, and vulnerable -- both here and around the world).

It wasn't a close decision at all.

miles said...

ugababetrish, we have a problem.

You voted McCain.

I voted Obama.

ugababetrish said...

miles you have a delusional disorder believing in Obama

TexasLawDawg said...

So your psychiatric diagnosis meaning is that Miles has a psychotic mental illness?

redCrake said...

I do believe that Obama will try to cut taxes...right now.

The real question is what will he do in 2-3 years when all his little programs have been introduced and need funding during a major drop in the economy.

Will he do the right thing and cut the programs? My bet is he'll do the Democratic thing and ask us all to tighten our belts to pay for them.

Of course, if McCain wins tomorrow, there will be rioting and pillaging so pick the lesser of your two evils.

tybeeislanddawg said...

haha psychotic mental illness on offensive and defensive coaching for the Georgia Bulldogs Football teamwereu

davisdallastx said...

Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World. Anybody see that movie... With Russell Crowe?

Remember when Capt. Jack Aubrey said one must always choose the lesser of two weevils

daviddallastx said...

If you've not seen this movie you have missed a gem.

You've got to see Master and Commander The Far Side of the World.

noodles said...

I've got the DVD. Good movie. I thought they were going to do a second movie on this one. Guess not. But this is a DVD everyone should have. I've watched it probably 5 times.

SpartanDan said...

A-fucking-men, Doug. I've cast my vote already. I must shamefully admit that Bachmann is my district representative; fortunately, I have taken the opportunity to remedy that.

I respected McCain in 2000, and had I been old enough I'd have probably voted for him if he won the nomination. After he picked Palin for VP, and after seeing the hate that is spewed at his rallies (which he does absolutely nothing to discourage), I'm not convinced he'd be an improvement over Bush in any way. And failing to improve on Bush is damn near impossible.

Anonymous said...

Good stuff, Douglas. As always, we love you.

btw, noodles, you probably should've mentioned that the Master and Commander movie is really good with subtitles. I've got the DVD and watched it several times. But with subtitles it's really good.

Chris said...

Nice post.

I have to think that in the next six months or so we are going to see a few books or articles about disunity within the McCain camp as it really seems like he was being told "this is the way to win" and went along with it at times and at others kinda stepped back and thought it was wrong but was ultimately trapped into this strategy by earlier decisions, most notably the pick of Palin.

I made my decision back at the end of sept and stated why here, mostly since Peace Corps was sending our ballots back via fedex in early Oct. But really nothing in the campaign since then has really changed my mind in this regard.

Rathna said...

There is absolutely no question that Obama is the much better candidate then why do we need another one? My vote got polled to Obama this morning.

CoastToCoast said...

perfectly said, doug. i also supported mccain back in 2000 (but more in a "moral support" sense, being that i was too young) and am deeply disappointed by what he has become. re: people spewing this "class warfare" nonsense - do you really believe this or are you just flinging talking points to see what sticks?

Bryan Carver Dawg 97 said...

Though McCain is a bit too hot tempered and hawkish, I wouldn't have had a problem voting for the "maverick" who was for environmental issues. This "disunity"? He is the candidate and the buck stops with him (you know it does because Rev Wright has NOT been brought up as McCain said it wouldn't). He wanted Lieberman and caved in. Picking Palin was purely political and as noted hypocritical of McCain. He sold out plain and simple. Bottomline, I don't mind if the government uses my money to fix roads or give people healthcare - its called Medicare right now anyways. I'd be happy to trade making $250,000 and be taxed at 39% (a "WHOLE" 3% more than now) for the 95K my family makes now. Please. I'm pretty sure I could tighten the belt and live within those means.

Will said...

I voted for Johnny Mac back in 2000 too...but I have a different reading now.
I think the whole "maverick" persona was a sham back then, and the real McCain is a somewhat gifted bullshitter with a serious Napoleon complex (made only worse by not being able to live up to Daddy or Granddad's standards and make Admiral.)
He's Dubya with a worse temperament, slightly better public speaking ability, and worse track record as a pilot.
He'd be a disaster.
Federal spending has been higher under a GOP President over the past 40 years, so at the very least Obama wouldn't make the 10 trillion dollar elephant in the room bigger.

Sparrow said...

I am confident that this will do no good, but here are a couple charts that turn the republicans' tax arguments on their heads.

I am not suggesting that under Obama the economy will immediately soar, but the facts as they are definately make it difficult to argue that continuation of a trickle down tax policy is what this country needs. There are a whole host of reasons why Obama is better for the job than McCain, but for those most concerned about their wallets, this should be the tipping point.

Anonymous said...

The McCailin's won me over when they proved their ability to make such strong appearances on SNL for TWO consecutive weeks. That is strong.

However, I have been very disappointed that McCain has been unable to make a second Hollywood appearance as "Wedding Crashers" has yet to make the sequel.