Sunday, October 19, 2008

Why (moderate) Republicans Should Vote Obama.

I usually don't find the topic of newspaper endorsement particularly relevant - it is not necessarily very surprising that the Obama-Biden ticket should have a lead in the race for newspaper endorsements.
Besides, it is not because newspapers support so and so, that their readers cannot make up their own mind and vote different.

But this time something else is happening: a major CONSERVATIVE newspaper (The Chicago Tribune) decides to endorse a democratic candidate - this for the first time since its creation in 1847.

Of course, one might think this has partly to do with the fact that Senator Obama is from Illinois but as you read the editorial, you begin to understand there is much more to it.

In fact, they have laid some of the reasons why some moderate Republicans might (and certainly should vote for Obama) :

1) The disillusion of 8 years of Republican leadership.

The Republican Party, the party of limited government, has lost its way. The government ran a $237 billion surplus in 2000, the year before Bush took office—and recorded a $455 billion deficit in 2008. The Republicans lost control of the U.S. House and Senate in 2006 because, as we said at the time, they gave the nation rampant spending and Capitol Hill corruption. They abandoned their principles. They paid the price.

2) McCain's lack of coherence and his populism

We might have counted on John McCain to correct his party's course. We like McCain. We endorsed him in the Republican primary in Illinois. In part because of his persuasion and resolve, the U.S. stands to win an unconditional victory in Iraq.
It is, though, hard to figure John McCain these days. He argued that President Bush's tax cuts were fiscally irresponsible, but he now supports them. He promises a balanced budget by the end of his first term, but his tax cut plan would add an estimated $4.2 trillion in debt over 10 years. He has responded to the economic crisis with an angry, populist message and a misguided, $300 billion proposal to buy up bad mortgages.
3) McCain's choice as a running mate vs. Obama's - the so-called "Palin effect"
McCain failed in his most important executive decision. Give him credit for choosing a female running mate—but he passed up any number of supremely qualified Republican women who could have served. Having called Obama not ready to lead, McCain chose Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. His campaign has tried to stage-manage Palin's exposure to the public. But it's clear she is not prepared to step in at a moment's notice and serve as president. McCain put his campaign before his country.

Obama chose a more experienced and more thoughtful running mate—he put governing before politicking. Sen. Joe Biden doesn't bring many votes to Obama, but he would help him from Day One to lead the country.
4) Healing the nation.
Yet, their endorsement is not bitter and simply negative - they support Obama because of what he has said and done and not just out of disappointment with McCain. They see in Obama a "unifier" (and not just a "decider"), someone who can heal the country and work in the center - just what this country needs after 8 years of a growing divide.
We do, though, think Obama would govern as much more of a pragmatic centrist than many people expect.We know firsthand that Obama seeks out and listens carefully and respectfully to people who disagree with him. He builds consensus. He was most effective in the Illinois legislature when he worked with Republicans on welfare, ethics and criminal justice reform.

He worked to expand the number of charter schools in Illinois—not popular with some Democratic constituencies.
He took up ethics reform in the U.S. Senate—not popular with Washington politicians.
His economic policy team is peppered with advisers who support free trade. He has been called a "University of Chicago Democrat"—a reference to the famed free-market Chicago school of economics, which puts faith in markets.

Obama is deeply grounded in the best aspirations of this country, and we need to return to those aspirations. He has had the character and the will to achieve great things despite the obstacles that he faced as an unprivileged black man in the U.S.
He has risen with his honor, grace and civility intact. He has the intelligence to understand the grave economic and national security risks that face us, to listen to good advice and make careful decisions.
When Obama said at the 2004 Democratic Convention that we weren't a nation of red states and blue states, he spoke of union the way Abraham Lincoln did.
It may have seemed audacious for Obama to start his campaign in Springfield,invoking Lincoln. We think, given the opportunity to hold this nation's most powerful office, he will prove it wasn't so audacious after all.
We are proud to add Barack Obama's name to Lincoln's in the list of people the Tribune has endorsed for president of the United States.

And one more thing - the decision did not seem to have been so hard to take:

There was a 90-minute discussion of the editorial board.There were passionate, but respectful arguments on both sides. Everyone spoke. There was no shouting. What emerged was a clear consensus of the board in favor of Obama. (Chic Tribune)



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