Monday, July 23, 2007

I Agree with Barack Obama

To be sure, me and Barack Obama disagree on a lot of things. But I was surprised how many times I found myself agreeing with him as I read his new book, The Audacity of Hope. You might be surprised what his political beliefs are. I was.

Almost shockingly to me (after recently accusing Barack Obama of dogpiling on whites at a debate a Howard University; I now suspect the statement I made about him was wrong) there are a plethora of things that I put an "A*" in the margin of my copy of The Audacity of Hope (meaning that I agree substantially with the associated statement in the book). I list here several of those issues that I'll admit I thought were the exclusive domain of conservatism.

I agree with him on sexuality and abortion:

I think faith can fortify a young woman's sense of self, a young man's sense of responsibility, and the sense of reverence all young people should have for the act of sexual intimacy. (pg 215)
He has something good to say about the importance of religion:

...the call to sacrifice on behalf of the next generation, the need to think in terms of "thou" and not just "I", resonates in religious congregations across the country. We need to take faith seriously not simply to block the religious right but to engage all persons of faith in the larger project of American renewal.

Secularists are wrong when they ask believers to leave their religion at the door before entering the public square; ...the majority of great reformers in American history [] not only were motivated by faith but repeatedly used religious language to argue their causes. To say that men and women should not inject their "personal morality" into public-policy debates is a practical absurdity (pp 216, 218)

Admittedly, Senator Obama supports a minimum wage, which I do not. But we do agree on the importance of a more targeted solution, the Earned Income Tax Credit:

Strategies like an expanded [EITC] that help all low-wage workers can make an enormous difference in the lives of these [people]. (pg 256)

He goes on to imply that such issues as better policing, community-based health centers, and radical transformation of the schools would make the EITC less necessary for many people.

Here is one about family that I am warmly impressed with:

Many single moms...do a heroic job on behalf of their kids. Still, children living with single mothers are five times more likely to be poor than children in two-parent households. Children in single-parent homes are more likely to drop out of school and become teen parents... In light of those facts, policies that strengthen marriage for those who choose it and that discourage unintended births outside marriage are sensible goals to pursue.

Community-based programs that have a proven track record in preventing unwanted pregnancies--both by encouraging abstinence and by promoting the proper use of contraception--deserve broad support. (pp 333-334)

Here is an issue that has been mostly championed by liberals, but with which I as a conservative unabashedly agree:

...when we seek to impose democracy with the barrel of a gun, funnel money to parties whose economic policies are deemed friendlier to Washington, or fall under the sway of exlies like Chalabi whose ambitions aren't matched by any discernable local support, we aren't just setting ourselves up for failure. We are helping oppressive regimes paint democratic activists as tools of foreign powers and retarding the possibility that genuine, home-grown democracy will never emerge.


And along those same lines:

The United States won the Cold War no simply because it outgunned the Soviet Union, but because American values held sway in the court of international public opinion. (pg 307)


Unfortunately, because of the political capital George W. Bush had just after 9/11, he felt that international public opinion no longer mattered with regard to American values. In the process, American values have been dragged through the dirt. It will be hard (but we can do it) to make them clean again.

9 comments:

  1. I really hope that Obama will be the Democrat candidate.

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  2. Darn it; now you're going to make me read his book.

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  3. I truly think that Barack Obama might be the only candidate who can heal both sides of this nation, by removing the divide between them, and who will also repair our image and standing on the world scene. I read both of his books before deciding to back him, and I was very happy to have found someone who could meet so many of my own standards, especially my moral ones.

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  4. I'm concerned about his relative (in)experience. But then, we keep electing governors, most of whom have squat experience in running a country, so maybe good instincts and values are the more important factors.

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  5. Obama has 11 years of experience in government (8 state, 3 federal). Before joining the U.S. Senate (where he happens to be on the Foreign Relations Committee), Barack worked as a community organizer and a civil rights lawyer in private practice, and he taught Constitutional Law at the University of Chicago Law School. His first year as U.S. Senator, Obama held 39 town hall meetings throughout Illinois, and in senate, sponsored 152 bills and resolutions, and cosponsored 427 more.

    I think he's going to be an amazing president! :)

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  6. That, actually, is an excellent point. His supposed lack of experience bothered me, until I read the book! I had no idea that he had legislative experience prior to his service in Congress. I wonder if some right-wing pundits would rather not have us know that...

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  7. Ya. It's starting to really freak me out how much I like some of Obama's points.

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  8. I'm starting to think that experience means squat. Look at Orrin Hatch, he's so out of touch that I can't tell if the things he is saying are jokes or if they are serious....oh and also look at the president. Someone with lack of experience probably couldn't do much worse.

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  9. Experience is a double-edged sword. We want someone that we think can handle the job without being entrenched in the status quo. I don't think most folks can maintain outside perspective after a certain point, so I'm starting to be more inclined to pick fresh faces than the "tried and true".

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