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My rambling thoughts on Obama

Some of the comments on eyelid's post about how she thinks Hillary Clinton couldn't beat John McCain have got me thinking about Barack Obama. so I'm going to ramble about him a bit.

At this point, I think he's the candidate I need to support. But there are some bothersome things about him. He doesn't seem to have clear plans for anything. Most of what he says is pretty damn vague.

Some people have said they think that's smart. The idea is, if you get elected to office with a lot of specific plans, and then stick to your guns on them, they don't get passed, because sometimes you need to compromise and negotiate, and you've failed. If you DO compromise and negotiate, the plans end up looking a lot different than they did when you started, and people say you've failed and given in and all sorts of stuff, even if what you've achieved is better than nothing. You can avoid this by having more general plans.

There's something to be said for that, but I think that makes it hard to give people a reason to support you/your plans. You need to explain to people, on their own terms, why your plans are good ones. If you really know your stuff, you can explain, for example, why single-payer health insurance could be just as good a thing for big business as it is for poor people*. People with different beliefs need to talk about what's good for our country and why, not just say "I want this for my supporters" "Well, I want THIS for MY supporters" and then make a shitty compromise. I want real talk about how to solve this country's problems. If people can't understand it, well, you just need to learn how to talk to those people. Babbling about "hope" is not a substitute.

He may be good at getting positive things actually passed, by being flexible and not starting out from a set plan. But I think that might be playing it too safe and giving in too much from the start, when having a plan in the first place and convincing people of why it's good for America has the potential to accomplish so much more. Even if you have to negotiate down from the original plan, it still has the potential to end up better than starting out without one.

* The way health insurance is getting these days, the current setup is bad for EVERYONE except the companies that run it. Most politicians' health care plans look like they'll be a mere band-aid on the problem, or try to shift the burden around and fail. But they're doing this partly because they think a more ambitious plan can't succeed. Maybe they're right, but it still sucks. But I digress.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jan. 31st, 2008 09:46 pm (UTC)
My .02 :)
I think he has fairly well documented plans, though the media likes to spin it as though he doesn't... for me, I think it's his willingness to sit down with everyone involved and hash out a plan that works that's been his greatest strength, as the Senator in my home state of Illinois he's done a lot of great things, he does detail his policy ideas in his most recent book, as well as at his website, but honestly, they're almost identical to Clinton, with a few exceptions, I just happen to like his exceptions. :)

The thing I really like about him, if I knew nothing else, is his ability to get people to act... JFK really had mastered the "Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" attitude, and I think Barack has that as well, A president is mostly a figurehead, and he can get more people involved in the process than Hillary in my mind.

Add to that the fact that he doesn't have a my way or the highway attitude and has a proven track record in Illinois of getting things done across all walks, without sacrificing the important points...

Don't get me wrong, he's not perfect, but he's inspirational, and frankly, I think the biggest battle to change will come when we get more people INVOLVED in the process, and I think he's the one to do it.

Change won't come from our leaders, but from the masses, and he has the presentational style to rally the masses. I don't think he's on the level of JFK OR MLK yet, but after that South Carolina Acceptance speech I'd say he's close... And honestly, he's the only politician in years that can make me emotional, and feel hope about the future. The rest is what advisors and the house and senate is for. ;)

“One of my opponents said stop giving people false hopes about what we can accomplish,” Obama said. “False hopes? There’s no such thing. This country was built on hope. Was JFK looking up at the moon and saying, ‘Ah, false hope, too far’?”

Single payer is the health care plan we're going to end up with, if we're at all sane, and I'm hoping that we'll be there soon, but of course the media blocks out anyone who really supports it, so we're waiting... :)
Jan. 31st, 2008 09:52 pm (UTC)
Re: My .02 :)
http://www.selectsmart.com/president/2008/comparethem.html is a good site to compare policies and voting history :)
Jan. 31st, 2008 09:53 pm (UTC)
Re: My .02 :)
Oh, I truly do like the guy, and hope he is our next president, I just felt like rambling about the things that do bother me about him.

I love that false hope quote!
Jan. 31st, 2008 10:03 pm (UTC)
Re: My .02 :)
Me too :) I appreciate rambling without attacking the other side :)
(Deleted comment)
Feb. 1st, 2008 02:41 am (UTC)
I'm with you on the Kucinich, as are a lot of people I know, but he didn't stand much chance and has dropped out of the race now.
Feb. 1st, 2008 02:45 am (UTC)

No offense, but have you actually looked at his platform on his website, where he explains his policies and plans in great detail? I find that almost all of the people criticizing him for "not having a plan" haven't really done an ounce of homework on him, typically. I mean his economic plan alone is more detailed than any of the other candidates', especially McCain's.

Feb. 1st, 2008 04:12 pm (UTC)
No, I hadn't looked at his platform on his website, which is surprisingly detailed.

Some of my criticism still stands, though. If he does have all these detailed plans, why is he not talking about them in any detail? Why is he letting the people who listen to him the impression that he is vague? The sad truth is, most voters are not going to go and look at his website. They will rely on the odds and ends they get from conventional media, and "unbiased" comparisons of candidates mostly based on information from the media.

A politician is probably held much less accountable to a plan on a website than they are to things they actually discuss with the media and the voters. And if you don't put those plans out there to be attacked, you can't defend them. They are simply dismissed.

I think to get things done, politicians should talk about their plans, why the country needs them and why they will work, and defend them against challenges. I understand this strategy doesn't work all the time, when you have plans that will be unpopular to a segment of the population however well you explain them.

Don't take my tendency to overanalyze things as being hyper-critical, though. I am an Obama supporter. I'm going to go to his rally on Saturday, and I'll probably write something better-informed after that.
Feb. 1st, 2008 06:13 am (UTC)
I really like Obama. On the other hand, I also really like Hillary. Either way, I'll be happy with our choice. (Not as happy as I would be in a perfect world, but certainly far happier than I was with John Kerry.)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )


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