Friday, August 29, 2008

Why I Will (Probably) Vote for Obama

A friend telephoned last night, just before Obama spoke at the convention. I mentioned that I thought it was interesting that people would assume that those who would take race into account in their decision-making would therefore vote against Obama. I am taking race into account, and that means that I am more likely to vote for him than I would for a white candidate who took the same positions. (It should be noted, of course, that I come from the left and that I'd be more likely to vote for McKinney or Nader if I don't vote for Obama. McCain is not an option.)

In 1992 I voted for Bill Clinton. It was the first and only time I voted for him. I knew that he'd most likely renege on the important positions, and he did. Within weeks of taking office he was already returning the Haitian refugees to certain death. And from there it just got worse.

And unlike Bill Clinton, who graciously waited until after the election, Obama is already backsliding. He said that he would get us out of Iraq. Now he will--someday. He has already crawled into bed with the Wall Street boys who, in case he hasn't noticed, did silly, stupid things that have made a complete hash of the economy. Instead of being brave enough to explain that offshore oil-drilling will have a negligible effect on oil prices, and that we could save more oil than we could ever produce if we just increased the fuel-efficiency of the cars on our roads, he now thinks that drilling might be a good idea. (C'mon folks, my car gets almost 40mpg on the highway, and it's 10 years old!) A lot of his policies look like warmed-over Clinton, but without the bubbles and the high-value dollar to pull it off.

But he is the first African-American candidate selected by a major party. And that means something beyond the weakness of his positions and his willingness to keep the corporate interests happy. That the United States might elect an African-American president means that, in some small way, we are confronting the racism that is central to the construction of our national identity. But I don't expect that I'll be chattering on about how much I like his policies. Demonstrating against them is a lot more likely.

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