My old compatriots at Slate did their incredibly lopsided list last week of which staffer is voting for whom. Since I used to work there, I figured I might as well pile on.
Because it’s late, I’m tired from the immense amount of work being dumped on my head — never listen to someone who says business school is a joke — and I think we’re all nervous and exhausted to see how this crazy thing will turn out, I’ll get this out there:
- I still like some things about John McCain. His socialist / terrorist name-calling campaign makes me really pissed (and legitimately scared for Obama’s life), but sadly you can chalk a lot of that up to the cynical desire to win at all costs that lives at both ends of the political spectrum. (And Obama has it a lot easier: he just has to say “George Bush and John McCain are both Republicans” and that’s all the negative advertising any candidate could ever need.) I like his military experience; I think that’s undervalued in public office these days. I like how he used to buck his party and criticize its worst elements — again, I think most of the not-bucking these days is based on cynical political stuff. Most of the time leading up to late summer, I even thought McCain would make a good president.
But McCain took the win-at-all-costs thing one step too far when he placed a divisive, creationist, happily ignorant hypocrite as his second for the keys to destroy human civilization. Presidents die, it’s happened plenty of times, and choosing your potential successor is not a decision to make based wholly on cynical political considerations. Her handlers let her face the press just a few times, but fortunately that seems to have been enough to scare most voters back to reality. I think there are still good things somewhere under McCain’s ugly 2008 political shell; I think he’ll somehow try to come out of it if elected, though that will be more difficult than ever after yet another year of scorched-earth, “real America” (there’s fake America?), hate-inducing campaigning. But because of Palin, and McCain’s total lack of “country first” principles in choosing her, I can never support their election.
- To get to the other side, I’d like to say off the bat that the cult of personality around Barack Obama weirds me out. After seeing the sausage being made, I don’t get the fawning over a politician. And particularly after 2004, putting your faith in politics is a bad proposition.
But before I get too cynical, one thing I really believe is government as arbiter — non-state actors like business make this nation go more than government ever can, but for that to happen we need fairness, information and protection for when we can’t get it ourselves. This is where we need government: to build our roads, defend our citizens, protect our environment, bring expert knowledge to bear and keep things square all around, at least as best it can. It’s entirely true that government should get out of the way when smart people are out to get positive things done. But the past president actively took government in the wrong direction and treated it as a tool for the powerful and the cynical, not as a protector for America’s best interests. America is a lot more than fattening the top 1% and making false gestures at morality, and the military, the budget, the environment and the consumer have all suffered because the worst administration in American history didn’t bother to look at the whole picture. And when I compare the two candidates, I gotta back the. one who I think is better at seeing and thinking about that whole picture: Obama.