Thoughts about the election
My wife and I have just voted for Barack Obama, and for the first time since 1996 we think we have voted for a winner in a Presidential election. We voted on an absentee ballot in New Jersey, our legal residence, because we plan to be in Florida on Election Day.
Just a few months ago, I was not very optimistic that Obama would be the victor. I feared that John McCain would win because he was much better known and experienced. I was worried that Obama was handicapped by both his limited record of political achievement and his race.
But Obama has clearly demonstrated that he possesses the credentials to be President. He has campaigned with dignity and has shown himself to be a man of superior intelligence and integrity. He appears to be far more suitable than McCain to cope with the current economic crisis and with the national security and foreign policy issues facing the nation. He is far more impressive as a force for the political change that both candidates claim is needed.
McCain is still ideologically linked to the disastrous policies of George W. Bush. Moreover, McCain has displayed extraordinarily poor judgment. The most obvious example was his selection of Alaska's Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
McCain has failed to explain how he would meaningfully bring change to government. For instance,he talks about economic reforms, but sticks obsessively to the idea that the free market, unfettered by government intervention, will solve basic economic problems. In his many years in Congress, he has been a consistent champion of deregulation of business and the financial markets, a philosophy that helped produce our current economic plight.
McCain has behaved so erratically that I am concerned that his temperament makes him ill-equipped to handle the very serious and complex problems that the next President must handle. In particular, I worry that his macho-aggressive approach to foreign affairs could revive the cold war with Russia.
In contrast to Obama's well-mannered style, McCain and Palin have conducted a disgraceful election campaign, employing gutter tactics with slanderous personal attacks on their opponent. This is the kind of campaigning that twice brought Bush to the White House.
Obama still faces a serious obstacle. As they see Obama gaining in the polls, the McCain-Palin team seems to be turning even more aggressively to hate-filled personal attacks on Obama. Example: Palin's absurd argument about Obama "palling around with terrorists."
The big question is whether white voters' fears about the financial crisis will overcome any unwarranted concern that some of them may still have about Obama's race and patriotism.