Friday, February 01, 2008

Why I Don't Know Who To Vote For On February 5th

I need your help; I don't know who to vote for on February 5th. Okay, I'm not talking about should I vote for a Republican or vote for a Democrat, I'm talking about should I vote for Hillary or should I vote for Obama?

My feeling is that the next president should be a strong administrator. We need someone who can undo, as best possible, the damage done to our system of government. Yes, of course I'm concerned about the war in Iraq, and yes, of course I'm concerned about the economy, Afghanistan, global warming, healthcare, education, poverty, national defense and personal freedom, as well as an array of other issues. However, to me, as incredibly important as all those issues are, they are not as important as preserving what's left of our system of government and restoring our democracy. To me, if we don't get back our democracy, anything else is a temporary victory, winning the battle but losing the war.

Logically then, I should choose the person I think will be the best administrator. Of the two remaining choices available, I think Hillary would be a better administrator than Obama. She has a better organization, she has a better chance of forming a good cabinet of experienced, known and acceptable people, and it's a pretty safe bet that the majority of her cabinet would have a personal interest in restoring their prior legacy. And considering she knows better than anyone all about the vast, right-wing conspiracy I would trust Hillary to do her best to root out all the non-political appointee career position "sleepers" who are now salted through government departments.

Well, that's simple then; I'll vote for Hillary. Except.....except that it doesn't matter how good an administrator she might be if she can't win the White House. So, okay, then I'll vote for Obama.

Obama has a more positive image and he won't elicit the same frothing at the mouth that happens at the mere mention of the name "Clinton." Except....except to me, Obama's a blank screen and I keep getting the feeling that his supporters are projecting onto him what they want to see rather than looking at what's really there, which as far as I can tell isn't all that much.

In my job (my day job, which pays the rent) I interview a lot of people. After the interview I fill out a form to rate the candidate. The form has rating columns ranging from "Very strongly displays skill or attribute is present" to "Very strongly displays skill or attribute is not present." Over on the side of the form is a separate column; this column is "Insufficient evidence to determine." The more I "interview" Obama, the more I keep running into "Insufficient evidence to determine."

Okay, well that's easy - do not vote for Obama. That leaves Hillary, so I'll vote for her. Except...... except will Obama be more appealing to those people who would also consider voting for someone like McCain? Would Obama pull in the undecided or on the fence votes? Would Obama even pull in disaffected Republican votes, something Hillary definitely will not be able to do?

But, suppose Obama does pull in those votes, but then he doesn't clean up the mess as effectively as Hillary could have? Then I'm left with the fleeting victory and the long-term defeat. If I vote for Obama am I voting for him because a lot of other people think "hope" is something more than "wishful thinking" in a fancy wrapper? If I vote for Obama am I voting for a speech and a smile? If I vote for Obama am I creating a self-fulfilling prophesy, thinking that I had better vote for Obama because other people won't vote for Hillary, without knowing if my voting for Obama feeds into that very perception? If I do not vote for Hillary even though I think she'd be better in what I consider the job's core competency, is it simply because I'm trying to second-guess what other people think about Obama? Except......except......

I'm open to reasoned argument. My vote is up for grabs so, please, let me hear from you. I really don't know who to vote for on February 5th.

Written for Assimilated Press by roving reporter pinko


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Everyone keeps asking me why I'm voting for Clinton. "It must be because you are a woman," is the most common (and irritating) response. The second response is, "You aren't voting for Obama? But he's more in touch with the issues and he's inspiring!" So here is why, I, a 25 year old progressive law student is voting for Clinton:

I am tired of looking to men to answer the important questions for women (me). I am tired of having to convince a man why abortion should be legal, why it is important to have insurance plans cover birth control, why there should be more programming in school that prevent dating violence and eating disorders, why employers should have free childcare, why we need to end pay inequity and I am TIRED of seeing male politicians, over and over again, use women as voting blocks to get elected and then ignore us until the next election.

No more.

There is a difference for me in the candidates the Democrats have put forward for us in this election. There is a man who is inspiring and hopeful, with big ideas and spirit. Being too young to have witnessed Kennedy in action, I can only try to analogize the spirit Obama has with the vigor Kennedy had, inspiring youth to participate in their democracy. It truly is amazing. But there is also Clinton. Unlike Obama, she is older, hardened a bit by politics and more practical in her ideas. But she is also a woman, a woman who has always stood for women's issues.

She knows what is like to be a woman in our country. While I do not know her personally, I am guessing that she, like many other girls, spent her adolescence agonizing over how she looked, eating cottage cheese and carrots for lunches on end to lose a few inches; she has probably worn an uncomfortable pair of high heels because it made her legs look better; she was probably told by her teachers to not be too aggressive and be nicer when she spoke up for herself in class; she was probably excited about her first bra and then uncomfortable when an old man looked at her breasts; she was probably afraid to walk alone at night and if she did, she was probably blamed for anything bad happening to her; she was probably used to hearing that a woman needs to find a man who can protect her; she was probably told that the best thing in life is motherhood and to feel any other other excitement makes her a bad mother-- the list goes on and on.

Unlike a male candidate who has be told stories of these experiences, she lived (and still is) through them. She is a mother-- she was pregnant-- and she knows how mothers are treated when giving birth in hospitals. She understands what it is like to be a working mother, as she continued her career as an attorney and public figure throughout Chelsea's childhood. She knows what is like to feel bored with a child and to feel bad about being bored. She knows what it is like to be a wife in a marriage where your husband cheats on you (like most other American women) and she knows what it is like to have everyone talk about it afterwards (like most other American women). She understands the basic battle that most women feel everyday-- if I say I want this, then I'm a bitch-- if I say I don't want that, then I need someone else to say it for me and I lose a sense of dignity.

It is not enough that she has experienced these things-- it is that she is also aware of these inequalities that make me feel connected to her. I doubt that Elizabeth Dole would ever even use the word "bitch," let alone admit to feeling like one, but Clinton is different.

I don't need to convince her on my issues. I don't need to educate, plead or give additional information to her about what it feels like to have that heart-stopping moment when your period is late. I don't have to explain why there should be childcare or why women should be paid equally to men. She knows.

This is in stark contrast to Obama, who has even failed to mention women on his website. You can look through his website through and through and there is no mention of choice, motherhood, pay equality or any other issue that women face on a daily basis. It doesn't make him a bad guy, it just makes him a regular guy, who just doesn't get it.

I have experience working in politics as a community organizer. Each time I try to talk to a male legislator about anything connected to a women's issue, I feel like I am a child again. I feel like I am a teenager, telling my father about a horrible day at school and him responding by telling me that it can't be as bad as it seems and to just ignore it and it will go away.

Well, I've got news for you, Obama, it will not just go away. My body is mine-- the very same body that gets me to the polls to vote. It is my body that spends time canvassing during an election. It is my body that determines how much I get paid compared to my male colleague, that will get pregnant, and will bear a child. My body is mine-- and I'm tired of having to fight for ownership of my body.

We've finally got a candidate who openly and proudly talks about the right to choice. She does not back down from the political question or give a mealy mouthed answer like our friend, Obama, who has only gone far enough to say that we should work on preventing pregnancy. Big whoop-- everyone says that. I want Clinton; the candidate who has told our nation, time and time again, in a thoughtful and intelligent way, that a woman's right to choose is vital to our freedom. I want Clinton who demands pay equity. I want Clinton who will put birth control, maternal health and prenatal care into a health care system.

I am tired of being used like a voting block. For once, I, a 25 year old woman, am being acknowledged as a full citizen of this country. And as that citizen, who has had the privilege of women before me fighting for my rights, am going to continue that fight-- my vote is for Clinton.

12:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

That tells me why you are voting for Hillary Clinton but it doesn't tell me anything about why I should voted for Hillary Clinton. I'm a 47 year old man. Nothing you said makes me want to vote for her anymore than I did before. Your tired of "being used like a voting block", whatever that means, but I'm sick and tired of single issues voters like you. Your no different than the antiabortion, your just on the other side.

5:36 AM  
Anonymous Homeland Security said...

I would up wasting my vote completely because I voted by mail ballot and I voted for Biden and now he's out.

9:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


10:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't give a shit which one gets it, they both have'nt done one fucking thing since the 2006 elections. If they are such great leaders how come they've spent the last year being paid by their corporate masters instead of impeaching BushCo and stopping the war? Flip a coin, they are both the same and you can't tell them fromRepugs when you look closer. It's pathetic.

11:51 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

I keep going back and forth myself so I can't help you out. I will probably make up my mind in the voting booth. I am a woman but I have a problem with what the first Anonymous said because that means that women vote for women and black peole vote for black people and white men vote for white men and that's part of what's wrong. I don't think my president has to look like me to be a good president. I am also leaning towrds Hillary Clinton but I'm really angry that she voted for Kyle-Lieberman. I can accept that she voted for the war in the first place and I think it is important that people don't lose sight of that it was Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Powell and Rice who lied through their teeth and led us into this war. She gets a lot of people blaming her or saying she should admit her mistake and I don't think that's really justified. But there arent any excuses for voting for Kyle-Lieberman. Barack Obama wasnt any better because he had to go to the bathroom or something for a few hours and so he didn't vote at all which is just cowardly. The important thing to remember is that whichever one comes out the winner THAT is the person to support. We all have to be able to pull together instantly no matter what because the Republicans will use every dirty trick they know. This is a fight for the survival of America! It sounds like some kind of movie to say it that way, but it really is. We HAVE to pull together and work together or it's really bad news.

I dont agree with the Anonymous right above this that they are both the same and they can't be told apart from the Republicans> The Republicans will build permanent bases and stay in Iraq forever. The Repblicans will spy on us and say it is security, with the next step being walls and sealed borders, then the next step after that is you can;t get OUT of the country without their permission. They want national IDs that will track you everywhere. They will put more Alitos on the Supreme Coourt and that will be the end of women's right and minority rights and consumer rights too. There is staill a BIG difference between the Democrats and the Republicans on lots of things. We ALL have to keep this in mind no matter who wins Super Tuesday!


12:27 PM  
Anonymous Jen said...

When I wrote that Barack Obama was in the bathroom I was trying to be funny. I just wanted to clarify that.

1:12 PM  
Anonymous pinko said...

Wow, I really want to thank everyone for their comments! It's obvious that a lot of time and effort and thought was put into them all.

For me, Jen hit the nail on the head when she mentioned Kyle/Lieberman. That may be the main reason I'm soured on Hillary. I also totally agree that Obama has a track record of avoiding tough calls.

I started out backing both Richardson and Edwards hoping one of them would go the distance.(I think Richardson would also make a good Veep.)

Maybe, as suggested, I will just flip a coin.

Also, I have to say it: there are 275 days until the 2008 election and I already have election fatigue. This campaign season started around September 2006, then officially took off November 2006. That's an awfully long time. Don't know about all of you, but at this point I sort of just want the whole thing to be over.

Steve, thanks so much for the kind words, and do you want to call heads or tails? :-D

5:05 PM  
Blogger America Jones said...

If you're going to flip a coin you might as well vote for Kucinich or Paul.

While I won't vote for a major party candidate in the general election, I will vote for Obama in the primaries.

The prospect of Bush-Clinton-Bush-Clinton in the first place leaves a bad taste in my mouth. Didn't we fight a war to cast off a royal family's rule?

Obama's "inexperience" may be of great benefit to Americans if he refuses to act unless officials give him a convincing answer to the question: "what do you mean?"

I also find Mrs. Clinton's argument that she is more "experienced" somewhat dubious. She has as much experience as Mr. Obama as an elected official and she did not hold a security clearance as first lady. There are probably presidential schollars out there who know at least as much about what sorts of problems presidents face. What do you suppose Mrs. Clinton knows about the Mena airport?

9:03 PM  
Blogger Lilith said...

Obama. Believe it or not a girlfriend of mine calls me a misogynist because I prefer Obama to the DLC Harlot, Hillary. She says Hillary is tough and female, I argue so is Ann Coulter (well tough anyway), and I'm not going to vote for her, either.

Frankly, when it comes down to it, I'll vote for anyone who has the (D) after their name, but I hope it's not Hillary. I can't believe she fell for Bush's war lies... so, does that make her a liar for saying she believed him?

10:32 PM  
Anonymous pinko said...

I was discussing this further last night with someone who brought up an excellent point: he said, "Remember 2000? The election doesn't depend on who wins the popular vote, it's who wins the electoral vote."

Just as Lillith said, I'm assuming that people will vote for the (D), regardless of candidate. But can anyone online here shed any insight on the electoral college angle? Looking back at the primaries held so far, it looks like Hillary won the larger states.

America Jones, I'm curious about something you said: "While I won't vote for a major party candidate in the general election, I will vote for Obama in the primaries." I'm assuming that means that in November you either 1. won't vote at all, or 2. vote third party.

Your vote is your right, (and your secret ballot), so I'm not asking who you think you'll vote for, but I am wondering about your rationale for not voting for the Dem. nominee?


P.S. And again, my thanks to everyone. I feel AP has very astute, thoughtful and well-informed readers so I really do value your contributions and insights on this.

10:37 AM  
Blogger America Jones said...

I'll definitely be voting in the general elections.

If there's a third party candidate I like I'll vote for him or her - 5% of the vote means federal matching funds for that party next season. In the absence of a substantative 3rd party candidacy, I will be voting for America Jones, who will run as a candidate under the Mickey Maus Party. The Mickey Maus Party is predicated on the democratization of the Mickey Mouse candidacy: the Mickey Maus Party will nominate anybody who seeks the nomination. After all, Mickey Mouse has received more votes for president than any president in US history.

Think of it as a "no confidence" vote in the two-party system, which seems to function more and more like a Soviet one-party system.

If 5% of the vote = federal matching funds, 5% of the vote going to America Jones = strong political statement for quantitative thinkers.

10:19 AM  
Anonymous dave said...

Hillary, hands down.

Has anyone actually looked at Obama's policies or plans? What the hell is the man even supporting?

"We need to change our health care system!" "We need to change our education system!" Sorry-- but saying that we need to change something isn't actually changing it, now is it?

I'm very disturbed by the notion that "another Clinton" can't be President. No one ever said that about the Kennedys. Politics run in families-- I certainly grew up in a politically-charged household and it seems unfair that if I should ever win a seat that one of my sisters could not because of my accomplishments.

Hillary has better policies all around. Yes, she voted on some bills I didn't like. A lot of senators and representatives I have voted for have not always been in line with my thinking.

But, I still think that's better than Obama who just mysteriously disappeared during crucial votes. I don't want a President who ducks out of important issues. People have criticized Hillary for being political, but I don't think anything is more political than abstaining from a vote so it does not tarnish your record.

I praise Obama for his spirit and his public speaking skills-- but when it comes to picking a candidate, I'm going to pick someone who has experience, good policies and someone who doesn't duck issues.

I'd also like to make a note on electability, since I seem to hear everyone talk about Hillary just won't (or can't) be elected. People and pollsters said the same thing when she was running for Senate in NY. Twice. She got elected and she's still there.

8:16 PM  
Blogger Complex Event Processing said...

Voting for who's most "electable" is statistical ochlocracy, not democracy. It's also petitio principii.

8:03 PM  
Anonymous Lilith said...

It's weird, but on Huffpo and Politico, people are saying that if Hillary doesn't make it into the GE, then they'll vote for McCain.

Say what?

Is there so much rancor between our two camps that some of us willup and split?

Looking back over my last comment, I see I added to the fire by calling Clinton a DLC HArlot, which is a huge exaggeration about how I really feel. Now that I see just how much mudslinging is going on between Obama and Clinton, and how even Rush and Ann Coulter are saying they'll campaign and raise money for Hillary, I just wonder if we are all really going to hell in a handbasket right now?

Here is my most fervent wish - that the acrimony will die out, and we will all unite with each other again once this damn nomination takes place.

11:35 PM  

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