Reasons To Vote Barack Obama For President

Every four years I ask myself two questions when deciding whom I can support for President.  First, who best reflects my philosophy of how to use government to affect positive change in the nation, and second, who has constructive ideas about the issues that need repair.  Though I did not start out with Barack Obama in January of 2008, I was soon supporting his efforts at becoming not just a historical choice for the White House, but more importantly a transformative leader for the nation.  I strongly endorse Barack Obama for President, and offer here my main reasons for asking you to also cast your vote in the same way.

When recently asked by a pollster what two areas most impact my decision to support Barack Obama over John McCain in the November election, I stated that international affairs, and the selection of federal judges and Supreme Court nominees were most important to me.  While energy concerns and the economic slowdown are important, they do not rise to the level of importance in restoring credibility to our foreign policy on the world stage, or cementing the foundation of the federal judiciary that has eroded for partisan political gain under President Bush and the Republicans.   Neither of the issues I deem most important is sexy, or possible to discuss in the time frame that most Americans can be expected to be mentally engaged.  Still these two issues will impact every American whether they like it or not, or realize it or not.

The idea that our nation must promote leadership that is based on mutual respect and American ideals, even with those we differ with, is a vital need for the next person who will sit in the Oval Office.  This year as I have watched and read interviews with Americans one theme seems to unite them all.  That is the fact America is losing ground in the international arena.  Though voters do not mention America as the “city upon a hill”, it is still obvious that John Winthrop’s message from the early 1600’s is one that has been inculcated into our national psyche.  We know our nation should model itself for the world that is watching.  But everyday the news proves that our current leaders are not stopping the international slippage, but only assisting it. 

When the United States government is dismissive of the Geneva Conventions, and believes that the prison at Guantanamo is justified, it proves to the watching world that moral leadership is lacking from the nation that once was viewed around the globe as the ‘good guys’.  While the neoconservatives have constructed a foreign policy of fear for political gains at home, the rest of the world is moving in a new direction.  The economic engines of China have been turned on high, and South American alliances have formed that run counter to our interests. 

The sad use of unilateralism as a foreign policy will be one of history’s harshest condemnations of President Bush.  It will be very important that Barack Obama as President build credibility with our allies, and open lines of discussion with those who oppose us, as a way to again show that we are not an arrogant country, but mindful that we are a part of the global family.  Iran is but one nation that we need to open up lines of communications with.  Obama understands that Syria must also be brought into the larger Middle East discussions.  It is only through a complete new beginning of international understanding and bridge building that the slippage our nation has experienced on the world stage can be stopped, and then reversed.

The number one domestic issue facing the nation is the decline in the standard of how judges are selected for the federal courts, and seats on the Supreme Court.  Conservatives like to consider  ‘original intent” as an intellectual notion, and insist those appointed to the bench follow ‘strict constructionist’ thinking.  The problem is that this thinking is a disservice to the country, not to mention a slap at the framers of the Constitution.  Though President Bush and Republicans believe that reigning in the courts from ‘liberalism’ gives them license to use ‘original intent’ as a weapon, it only undermines the moral authority of the courts. 

To state, as the ‘originalists’ do, that the words of the Constitution do not evolve with time is a seriously flawed idea.  To pretend that the living America of ideas and events does not necessitate a Constitution that bends and adapts within the framework of guiding principles is one of the most bizarre and dangerous concepts that has ever been suggested.  Those who promote such ideas are the American equivalent of the Taliban, who use the Koran in highly misguided ways.  Pragmatic and logical voters understand that past decisions made by the courts, public needs and expectations, along with the larger values that were implied in the Constitution, are needed to be used by judges when making rulings.

The horrendous Dred Scott decision can be viewed as ‘strict constructionist’ thinking at work, but most Americans would find Chief Justice Earl Warren’s tenure on the bench more the model of what a working judiciary should resemble with the decision of his Court to outlaw segregation in public schools.  Conservatives like to pretend they do not have an agenda with the placement of their judges, but they hope by increasing their numbers to undermine past rulings, and restore what they perceive as judicial over-steps. 

One of the issues that conservatives rail against is the idea that ‘privacy’ is protected in the Constitution.  While it is true that the Constitution does not mention the right of privacy, over time there has been recognition that privacy is an unenumerated right.  The Griswold Case is one that every high school kid learns about; as it was the first time that the Constitution protects a right to privacy.  In that case it was about the right to contraceptives.  In 1973 Roe v. Wade the issue of privacy was a central argument and focus, this time for the right of women to opt for an abortion.  In the famed Lawrence v. Texas, privacy was used to strike down a law against gay sex.

With many major cases hanging this past term of the Court by a 5-4 vote, and the goal of conservatives to push the tide back on what most American accept as reasonable rulings, it is clear why Barack Obama needs to be elected. Our rights were too long fought for, and too hard to gain, to allow those who wish to push a conservative tide to win in 2008.

The problems we face as a nation are many, but these two mentioned above are the ones that rise to the top of the ‘neediest list.”  To pretend that we can correct them by using the same old worn out answers of the past is misguided thinking.  This is the time for new energy and new ideas to be applied in order to make America better and stronger both at home and around the world.

That can begin with your vote for Barack Obama for President.



Gregory Humphrey

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