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Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Politicking: The Process of Choosing a Candidate

I don't often write about politics here. (I usually save my politicking to bore friends to death on my personal blog.) But I was recently asked (via email) about my views, and reasons for my choice of candidate (Barack Obama), so here we go.

I should also make the disclaimer that I'm not going to put a great deal of time and effort into this. I'll state my views, and make citations when possible, but I'm much too lazy to track down links to stuff I've read that form the basis of my opinions. Sometimes my opinion is just my opinion, and it doesn't get a citation anyway. If I state any facts wrong, feel free to correct me. But this is a blog, not a graduate thesis, so it's mostly just free-flowing thoughts anyway. So...

First, I am very liberal on social issues. Even still, I don't vote for candidates based solely on social issues. While issues such as gay rights and reproductive rights are important to me, I don't believe that voting for a Republican will necessarily undermine those efforts, nor will voting for a Democrat necessarily further those efforts. However, I do consider those issues as part of a larger picture when choosing a candidate. In my state, even the Democrats are fairly conservative on social issues, so those issues cannot be absolute even within my own party.

Another issue I weigh (concerning the presidential election) is what kind of justice(s) would the candidate appoint to the Supreme Court. Not because of Roe v. Wade, although again, that is simply one issue in the big picture, but rather because I am really anti-Federalist. Although I'm not a member of ACS, I agree that Federalists do nothing but cry about "judicial activism," while cloaking themselves in "strict construction," however such claims of neutrality are nothing more than intellectual dishonesty. (And frankly, Scalia can suck it.) I believe the Constitution should be interpreted as a living document, examined in the context of its time, not viewed as simply the exact words written long before any of us came into existence, interpreted in the context of the present, thereby ignoring the evolution of language and cultural values in our society. For example, I believe there is a right to privacy inherent in the spirit of the Constitution, even though it does not explicitly say so. But I don't want to turn this into a debate on constitutional interpretation. I'm just stating the basis of my beliefs for not wanting a president packing the court full of Scalia clones.

However, while those issues are important to me, they still aren't the issues I find most important and form the real basis of my voting decisions. Those issues are currently health care reform, the economy, and repairing our foreign policy (starting with the mess we caused in Iraq). And the candidate I believe is the best choice to deal with these problems is Barack Obama.

I used to have a great deal of respect for McCain. He didn't just throw in with the neoconservative movement at the height of its popularity, he wasn't kissing the asses of the craziest members of the religious right, and he worked with Democrats to find common solutions to problems. I of course disagree with him on a variety of social issues, but he seemed to be willing to compromise and work with the other side, something I truly value in a leader. However, the more he has talked during this election, the more incredibly disappointed in him I have become.

Meanwhile, the biggest complaints about Obama are that he is too inexperienced and that he hasn't said anything substantial, just keeps saying "change." And perhaps he hasn't said enough. However, by reading what he has written, and by reviewing his positions as stated on his website, his ideas are much more substantial.

Anyway, so on to the issues, McCain v Obama. Since these discussions of the issues are going to be so incredibly long, I've decided to break them up into parts, the first of which, will be the Iraq War. Stay tuned for some discussion on that topic.

I guess in the meantime, what issues do you find most important when choosing a candidate?


Beanie said...

Beyond the standard issues for me, something that holds a great deal of weight for me is that they have a certain gravitas. By that, I mean that not only can they give a speech without smirking, they actually sound sincere in the way they present themselves. Here too, Obama comes out squarely ahead of McCain in my book.

PT-LawMom said...

Healthcare is a HUGE issue for me. I will admit here that the healthcare issue made it very, very difficult for me to choose between Clinton and Obama. I would never vote Republican, but I might vote Independent. For me, it's all about rights -- whether it's the right to choose who you want to marry, the right to decide what to do with your own body, or the right to be informed about what large corporations and drug companies are up to, I'm typically a Democrat all the way.

LawSchoolMom said...

Environmental policy is my big issue, followed closely by immigration. I'm a Republican so Obama is not even on my radar.