My post yesterday started up quite a conversation in the comments on whether or not Obama is a socialist.
First off, I'd like to thank FreedomFirst and Mama Smurf for speaking their views on the issues, and not on the personal (and mostly unfounded) attacks on Obama. I'm pleased that you knew you could be open and honest here, all the while knowing I'm an Obama supporter.
You both agreed that you think Obama's a socialist. I have a few things to say in response to that.
First off, this is exactly the kind of debate I love having about politics because I believe that the balance theory applies. We need people on both sides of the fence to continue fighting for what they believe in order to (hopefully) find a balance between capitalism and socialism. A lifelong Republican near and dear to my heart and I used to have these sort of debates a lot - about what should or shouldn't be the government's responsibility. That's interesting. That's debatable, even. And that debate, I believe, should go on throughout America's existence because, depending on our times, our greatest challenges, our strength, the balance will shift. Because of those dynamics, it will never be a constant answer. We will never find one harmonious balance, but the goal should be to get as close to it as possible, be wary of the changes that throws things out of balance, and adjust accordingly.
Having loud voices on both sides of this debate makes that possible.
Most of us are probably more centrist than those that disagree with us would probably believe.
I surprise conservatives - and they surprise me - pleasantly when we find those issues where we completely agree. And our humanity should allow us to explore the whole person, and not just one part.
Having said that, however, I've placed my feet firmly in the left camp because, more often than not, their views align closer (particularly on those issues most important to me) than the right. So I play my part accordingly.
Some people (not all - and certainly not any Obama detractor that is taking the time to read this) don't give me credit for that. They think that I just take everything I hear and see from any left-leaning liberal rag and espouse it as fact. That's just not true. Democrats do things that annoy me all the time. I'm just not as public about it - it's sort of like a family feud. I prefer to whisper to those closest to me, rather than shout it to the world.
I appreciate any time any "conservative," "Republican" - whatever label you want to slap on someone opposite of me - takes the time to explain to me their views. And doesn't resort to name-calling. I've had some really fantastic discussions that way. Sure, I spout off about those that scream Obama's an "Arab" or claims they don't know who Barack Obama is (hello?!? Where have you been the last year?), but when it comes to one-on-one, I try to take into account the whole person - not just one label.
Somewhere in my drafts there's a post about labeling. I may have to finish that one someday.
Sorry - digressed there for a moment.
I do, however, feel the need to explain more about Obama's "socialist" programs and views. Or, at least, how I understand them and why I support them.
Bush - as even you conservatives know - is not a fiscal conservative. Bush is lucky the Republican party still exists for all the ways he's skewered it. Even most Republicans I know, even those that supported Iraq, think he's done a shoddy job, and none of them would call him a fiscal conservative. He spent money like - well, like he could afford a 56 trillion dollar deficit.
So I can certainly respect and appreciate anyone's fear that Obama's proposed spending won't help matters. But even most economics agree that McCain's won't help either. We're going to have to spend some money. It's unavoidable.
What the question should be about is how we're going to spend it, and what we will spend it on.
McCain has given me no reassurance that he will spend it any wiser than Bush has. His health care plan scares the crap out of me. And people way smarter than me have confirmed I have reason to be scared.
The way that I understand it, he'll tax our health insurance, but give us a $5,000 tax credit. Well, when health insurance costs average $12,000, that means the remaining $7,000 will be taxed. It reminds me of the useless vouchers in the NCLB program: if my neighborhood school fails, then they'll give me a $4,000 voucher for a private school - where the average annual tuition is $12,000. Doesn't help. Given that education and medical costs are two of the top three reasons for bankruptcy (with divorce being the third), these create very big problems for the average American family (where the median income is now less than $50,000).
And as much as McCain likes to say that Obama will somehow federalize health care, it's just not true. Did McCain see any of the debates between Obama and Clinton? This was their main difference, and they exhausted it over 18 debates! Clinton wanted universal health care (as did Edwards). Obama did not. Clinton called him out time and time again for not supporting universal health care. All Obama wants to do is simply offer the federal health care option to all Americans. No one will be forced or mandated to take it.
Now, some people will think of health care and education as entitlement programs. Whether you think of that term as a bad or a good thing, I believe that our government does have a responsibility to keep American citizens healthy and offer the best education possible. As many healthy, educated Americans we can have, the greater our country can be. Educated children grow up to be smart, creative, productive members of society that can create jobs and new industries for our future. That's a good thing. Less people able to work due to health problems is not a good thing, either. While I don't think they're necessarily drains on our system or anything like that, I believe that healthier Americans are more productive, which in turn leads to a stronger America.
I think Obama has better plans to help us with that. Plain and simple.
The war: I don't believe that because McCain was a prisoner of war means he can lead one. If you recall, he brought up two failures as a leader in the last debate. He couldn't get anyone to listen to him when it came to Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae, and he certainly didn't help matters when it came to the bailout program. I don't see him as an effective leader in these very serious times. (Not to mention, I found it quite condescending that he said most of us probably hadn't heard of Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae until two weeks ago. He's assuming we don't pay attention.)
I also believe Obama can practice diplomacy better than McCain. McCain, again, just doesn't seem to be very effective in his communication. Beyond the condescension, he also seems to get irritated very easily. I've seen Obama debate numerous times now, and his ability to keep his calm - yet still able to communicate - is incredibly impressive to me. While I'm sick of hearing them go back and forth (as I heard Clinton and Obama go back and forth) on whether or not Obama should be willing to talk to foreign leaders without pre-conditions, I do agree that Obama should leave that option on the table.
I do believe that these are scary times. I do believe that we are vulnerable to attacks from a large number of groups and countries even. I do not think we have the resources right now to fight more wars than we're already fighting.
I also believe that Obama, if he cannot absolutely stop the fighting in Iraq, will at least get rid of the Blackwaters of Iraq and devote more of our resources to our actual troops! I also believe that we should be heading out very very soon. While he may have gotten the figures wrong, according to FactCheck, Obama was right that the Iraqi government has a surplus. And we have a 56 trillion dollar deficit. I find something fundamentally wrong with that. McCain has not convinced me that he will be as vigilant, or as effective.
Simply put, I don't find McCain to be an effective leader at all. He lost on the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae bill, his campaign finance reform is a joke (as evidenced by all the PACs out there), he already lost a chance at the presidency 8 years ago...there's nothing in his 30-year political career that tells me he's a leader, let alone the leader of the free world.
I respect his service, of course. But I don't respect the major turn-around he's done from the man he was four years ago. Heck, I even quoted him four years ago! And then he started getting ready to run, and his positions on Iraq, on terror, on Bush, on social conservatism (as evidenced by his VP pick), heck even on lobbyists (anyone remember that story on that lobbyist?), they all switched. And while I respect his service, I don't believe in him.
I don't believe that he can make all the changes he says he's going to make, regardless of the bailout, as he stated in the last debate. Totally unrealistic.
I appreciated that Obama at least prioritized, but the fact is, no one can say for sure what will change because no one quite knows what the situation will be four months from now. I hope that Obama says that on Wed.
Do I know absolutely in my heart that Obama will be the president I want him to be? Of course not. But he's given me enough evidence in this past year that says he's worth that leap of faith.
No, neither of them are perfect. Neither of them are completely truthful (and that does get on my nerves - but again, I only speak about it "in the family"), but let's face it: what kind of person would want this job? Particularly in these times.
I know, I completely strayed off my point about 'socialism.' I guess what I'm trying to say is, if that makes me a socialist, then so be it.
*edited to add* I deleted an anonymous comment earlier not just because they decided to post anonymously, but also because they made assumptions about how I've come to my conclusions which are just not accurate. I was accused of buying into the "change" mantra. That's not the case. And to make it clear to everyone, my own personal bias towards Obama has to do with the fact that he was raised by a single mother, and gets single motherhood. So my personal bias towards him versus McCain (and I do recognize the fact that my personal bias influences my political beliefs) is something very very personal to me. I've been lucky to find a community here of single mothers who help me through it, but I really really love the concept of having a president who understands me as a person. I've stated my other reasons here, and I just hope that people will think twice before assuming why anyone supports one candidate over another. I appreciate learning about why people choose one candidate and what personal experiences influence and affect that decision, but I think we all need to stay away from assuming we know until we've been so informed.