David Bleidistel, Editor
I know I haven't spent a lot of time learning the ways of Washington. But I've been there long enough to know that the ways of Washington must change.
- Senator Barack Obama,
Announcing his run for President in Springfield, Illinois
February 10, 2007
We are NOT a collection of red states and blue states. We are the UNITED States of America.
- Senator Barack Obama,
Victory Speech following the Iowa Caucuses
January 3, 2008
Discourse and Diatribe Officially Endorses
for President in 2008
by David Bleidistel, Editor
January 28, 2008
While I have frequently urged readers to vote Democratic, as the Editor of Discourse and Diatribe I have never endorsed a specific candidate for any office – and certainly not a candidate running against other Democrats.
Our nation is more divided going into this Presidential election than it has been at any point since the Viet Nam War, and I believe this is the ultimate issue that should concern us as Americans. There will be no significant progress on any other issue – be it immigration, health care, the war, the economy, or whatever – until we can unite behind a leader who enunciates a unifying vision for the future of our country. It is with an eye toward ending the divisiveness, then, that I have observed and listened to each of the candidates – on both sides of the aisle. On the Republican side, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York City, Senator John McCain of Arizona, former Governor Mitt Romney of Massachusetts, and former Senator Fred Thompson of Tennessee have all tried to use fear and division to advance their campaigns; the only candidate who has not attempted to continue practicing the politics of division is Governor Mike Huckabee of Arkansas, and his positions on several issues are simply unacceptable to me.
Looking at the Democrats, I gave serious consideration to former Senator John Edwards of North Carolina, but ultimately came away uninspired. That leaves Senator Hillary Clinton of New York and Senator Barack Obama of Illinois.
Right now, the Democratic Party is seriously energized. Polls indicate that Democratic voters are generally happy with their selection of candidates. Turnout at Democratic primaries and caucuses has been significantly higher than it was just four years ago. Democrats are clearly excited about the prospects for a Democratic victory in November. The Republicans, on the other hand, are a party in disarray. The Republican voters are severely demoralized, polls indicate that the base is generally unhappy with their selection of candidates, and turnout at the Republican primaries and caucuses have been significantly lower than in 2004. Clearly, the Republican voters are not energized – yet.
This general disarray and demoralization among Republican voters would all change in a heartbeat, however, if Hillary Clinton were to become the Democratic nominee. “Defeating Hillary” would be a cause that would unite and energize the Republican base like nothing else could – no matter who the Republican nominee turns out to be. The Republican Party has built their entire 2008 election strategy around the cause of “Defeating Hillary”. They have developed talking points, the Republican Presidential candidates have invoked her name in their debates and campaign events, and they have used the specter of a “President Hillary Clinton” as a major fundraising tool. The Republicans have invested time, money and energy into demonizing her and in preparing for a campaign to “Defeat Hillary”. There is an entrenched loathing among the Republican base against Hillary Clinton, and this loathing will only intensify if she becomes the Democratic nominee. In this sense, despite her obvious talent and intellect, and regardless of how she has conducted her campaign, Senator Clinton is arguably the most divisive candidate running in either party. The Republican base will continue to despise her no matter what she does, and defeating her would become a powerful and energizing motivation for them.
I believe that the Republicans would face a far more difficult challenge in mounting a campaign against Senator Barack Obama of Illinois. This is more than a process of elimination, however – I of course would have the option of not endorsing any candidate. In order to win my endorsement, a candidate would need to inspire me – to actively convince me that he or she would rise above the politics of division and unite this country. Senator Obama has done just that. He has demonstrated the desire – and the ability – to bring our nation together like no other candidate since Robert Kennedy in 1968. It is impossible to listen to Senator Obama speak and not be inspired to follow him. This is an important point: the primary reason former President Ronald Reagan has become such an icon of the Republican Party is that, as President, he recognized that his job was not necessarily to work out the details of various policy proposals, his job was to lead the country. While I may not have agreed with many of his policies, I would argue that he led this country in spectacular fashion. It was this success that allowed him to pursue his other policies. I believe Senator Obama has the ability to be that kind of President – one who would lead this country. He would be an inspiring, unifying force with the ability to bring our country together again, and this is what we need more than anything else.
I have listened to Senator Obama’s speeches (links to transcripts of several key speeches can be found at the end of this article), watched the debates and other campaign events, and read both of his books (Dreams from My Father and The Audacity of Hope). I strongly urge every American to read The Audacity of Hope. In this book Senator Obama discusses the major issues facing our nation and how he would address each of them. The common thread that runs through his discussion of all of the issues is that he would start with those aspects of the issues on which we can all agree. He seeks out common ground, and then builds from there, taking into account all arguments on all sides of the issue. In this approach he emphasizes what unifies us, rather than what divides us. He has also shown the willingness and the ability to “practice what he preaches” in the Senate – he has reached across the aisle on several pieces of legislation. This is the kind of leader America needs now.
There is another key factor that has caused me to endorse Senator Obama. I admit to being absolutely and unapologetically passionate about adhering to and preserving the United States Constitution. I believe the Constitution’s emphasis (along with establishing the form of our government) is to limit the power of government and protect the rights of the people (not the other way around). I firmly believe that our Constitution created three co-equal branches of government, and that each branch plays a crucial role in the functioning of our nation, in peace and in war, in domestic policy and in foreign policy. The principal of separation of powers and the system of checks and balances are, I believe, the genius of our system of government, and must be preserved. We MUST leave our Constitution intact as a legacy for our children. For the last seven years, however, the most fundamental tenets of our Constitution have been under continuous attack by the Bush Administration. The separation of powers has been ignored, checks and balances have been avoided, and civil rights have been violated. It has gotten so bad that even Republican Presidential candidates have openly acknowledged the need to “restore the Constitution”. We need a President who will live up to the Presidential oath of office – someone who will “preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.” There is no candidate – in either party – more qualified to do so than Senator Barack Obama. Senator Obama is a former Constitutional Law professor who taught the Constitution for over a decade at the University of Chicago Law School. He has studied the Constitution in depth. He has promised to obey the Constitution as President. It shouldn’t even have to be said, but President Bush has made it necessary: the notion that the President is bound by the Constitution is something we as a people should insist upon, and I believe Barack Obama will honor his commitment to obey the United States Constitution.
Unless and until we end the divisiveness that has infected this nation, we will not be able to successfully address any of the major issues we face. So many of these issues require our immediate attention – from immigration reform to health care, from the war to taxes, from combating terrorism to preserving civil rights – that it is essential that we elect a President who will bring us together.
I believe Barack Obama can be that President, and I enthusiastically endorse his candidacy.
Join the campaign at BarackObama.com
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ă 2008 by David Bleidistel. All rights reserved.