Last week, OFB endorsed Sen. John McCain for President of the United States. In the closing hours of the race, contributing editor Jason Kettinger offers a voice of dissent in support for Sen. Barack Obama. Read on to find out why he supports the Democratic nominee.
John McCain has put forth as his signature legislative achievements of this period a brazen violation of the 1st Amendment (campaign finance) and an unwarranted, unethical intervention into the judicial nominations process (the 'Gang of 14'). It was well within Majority Leader Frist's rights to change the Senate rules to permit an up or down vote on the president's nominees. By striking a deal, McCain robbed the American people of a meaningful discussion on judicial philosophy. Let Senate Democrats explain their own litmus tests.
The president also ought to be able to narrate our history as it's being written, in a certain sense. When politics are not in season, he's got to speak for and to all of us. I think especially of tragedies, and those few remaining moments of national cohesion, centered around our democratic processes. Despite his many faults, George W. Bush was a master at this, his persistent verbal inacuity notwithstanding. I think he'll rightly be remembered as the 'Comforter-in-Chief.'
The senator from Illinois possesses those same abilities, with rhetorical ability to match. Barack Obama may have buckets full of unhealthy ideological predilections, mostly economic in nature. But he does civilize liberalism in an important way. Whereas it had been in recent years characterized chiefly by a rudeness of manner more than a coherent ideology, Obama makes it once again aspirational. Where it was marked by a cynicism toward our processes and institutions, Obama is anything but cynical. That civility lays the groundwork for a constructive national conversation, and, ironically, for the triumph of true conservatism.
In foreign policy, the language of patriotism has been used to serve a narrow swath of policy objectives. We have been left with an unacceptable dichotomy between war on the one hand and a corrupt multilateralism on the other. Bilateral meetings without preconditions (rightly understood) avoid both problems. To argue that it's somehow dangerous to do so ignores the greater danger of isolated states using non-state actors as proxies. There is a risk of smaller enemies being emboldened and dignified by negotiation; however, the common interests of free nations would be a strong check on them. Our allies would find it easier to stand with us when our default response to crises is not military force.
There is also virtue in Obama's likability, in an unexpected place. The GOP idea machine has gone dry, the party itself lulled into laziness by too many easy elections against inferior and personally off-putting foes. With such an opponent as Obama, the old charges that used to stick will be waved away with a wink and a smile. This will force the GOP to build an actual anthropology behind its principles.
If Obama moves or stays left, reality will mug him, and a newer, younger GOP with a disciplined and focused message will emerge. And they will graciously thank him for restoring their hope and ours.
We must rediscover our economic and diplomatic strength as the key to our national security. We must not allow our national interests to remain ill defined, ripe to be hijacked by those who profit from the ill-considered use of the machinery of war. For these reasons, I support Barack Obama for President of the United States of America.
Jason Kettinger is a contributing editor to Open for Business.
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