Joining a Facebook group isn’t exactly the type of decision you spend hours agonizing about, unless you’re crazy and/or me. In my defense, though, it’s not the idea of joining the Facebook group that’s causing me mental anguish. Rather, it’s my own internal argument about whether or not I support Barack Obama in the 2008 Democratic Primary.
You see, there’s a burgeoning Facebook group on the Harding network entitled “Bisons for Obama,” and I have been invited by none other than ME. As a left-leaning individual (technically a moderate with liberal and libertarian leanings, as I’ve discussed before), I tend to favor the Democrats on more issues than not, though I’m not a registered Democrat. However, Georgia has an open primary system, so I’ll probably vote in the Democratic one, and until now, I hadn’t really chosen the candidate I prefer.
Honestly, I’ve been back and forth between most of the major Democratic candidates, with the notable exception of current poll leader Hillary Clinton. I see her as more of a divisive figure, and I don’t agree with her on as many issues as the other Democrats (her refusal to denounce her own Iraq War vote and some of her positions on other issues make her a less-appealing candidate to me), so I’m hoping she doesn’t win the primary. There are things about Chris Dodd, Bill Richardson, and Dennis Kucinich that I like, but not everything, and I don’t think any of them doing well enough right now to get the nomination. That pretty much leaves Obama and John Edwards on the Democratic side, and it has taken a little more research for me to decide on Obama of the two, but I think I’m ready to make that decision.
A final note before I really dive into Obama’s stances: I won’t dismiss the Republicans altogether, because I think Ron Paul wouldn’t be a bad choice, but I would certainly vote for virtually any Democrat against McCain, Giuliani, or Romney, who seem to be the leaders in their polls right now. So, after a look down the Democratic field, Obama would currently be my choice. Here are some of his pros and cons, in my view:
- He has the right stance on perhaps the most important immediate issue facing our country by fully denouncing the U.S. involvement in Iraq’s civil war and striving to bring the troops home. While this doesn’t separate him from all Democrats (or even Ron Paul), he seems to have been against this war from the beginning and doesn’t have to apologize for a mistake on this one like John Edwards.
- His non-profit work in Chicago receives my utmost respect, and it makes his intellectualism that much more appealing, because he doesn’t have that I’m-better-than-everyone-else air that some intellectuals unfortunately have.
- He supports aggressive measures to combat global warming and address our nation’s dependence on foreign oil, another stance that doesn’t make him stand out among Democrats but is still important.
- He supports a universal health care system, which is long overdue in this country. There are disadvantages to such a program, but I find those to be greatly outweighed by the benefits. Lots of people have strong feelings against doing this, but I’m behind it.
- While he’s pro-choice on abortion and I’m really not, he takes a somewhat weak stance on the issue, and he has supported ways to reduce teen pregnancy, which I think gets more toward the root of this ongoing problem.
- Obama has become a unifying figure in many ways, gaining tremendous support from moderates, and the positive nature of his campaign thus far is refreshing. His message directly reflects that, and he has personally campaigned for less negativity.
- He opposes gay marriage but supports civil unions and equality for homosexuals, which I think is perhaps the best stance on this difficult issue.
- He opposes the death penalty.
- Bottom line: Obama’s priorities seem to be the most in line with what I want to see in the next President. I think he could do great things for our country. He just seems to get it, even on seemingly minor issues.
- The botched Myspace ordeal doesn’t speak well for his campaign, which has otherwise been positive. He may need to get better control of the people working for him.
- His lack of political experience means that there’s precious little evidence that he gets things done, at least in comparison to other candidates. I’m not sure if this is really a negative point, but I’m throwing it out there as a possibility.
Addressing some other Obama issues
- I have yet to read The Audacity of Hope, but I hear it’s really good, and it’s convinced more than a few people to put their full support behind him.
- His battle to quit smoking has a way of humanizing him, but I think it’s important that he stop.
- Much has been made of his membership at Trinity United Church of Christ and their afro-centric views. Obama has admitted that he is uncomfortable with afro-centrism, but I don’ t think anything their church says is actually racist. It would be nice if their positive version of afro-centrism were the standard among people with such views.
- On a note that speaks very poorly of many of his opponents, Obama has been attacked for, of all things, his middle name (Hussein). Hussein means “beautiful,” it’s a very common name, and it certainly doesn’t mean he’s connected to the former Iraqi leader. End of story.
So, what about this Facebook group? I have decided to join Bisons for Obama and put myself out there as a supporter. Obviously things can change in a year and a half, but right now I think he’d be the best choice from the current crop of candidates. I encourage you to look for yourself and see where he stands, and perhaps take the Presidential Candidate Selector Quiz to see whose values you agree with the most among the current candidates. You have plenty of time to decide, but I think there’s value to getting behind someone early if that someone is out there.
If you decide that Obama is for you, I encourage you to get started with your support. There are over 200 of us now in the Facebook group, and you can check out his campaign website for other good ideas. Now is the time to get involved.