Official DFE Endorsement: Barack Obama

Barack ObamaExperience versus new ideas. This has been the frame in which the media has insisted on reporting the race for the Democratic nomination to the presidency. Little wonder. It is a frame in which old-guard concepts in both politics and journalism are treated with an ego-stroking tenderness, and in which every “new idea” is immediately set upon as a foible of an “inexperienced” candidate.

Suggesting that we negotiate with our enemies is a mistake; taking nuclear weapons off the table as a means to deal with terrorists is a mistake; intimating that lessons in tolerance and multiculturalism can be learned by a child is a mistake.

Yet in all these cases, public opinion has not followed, but rather steadily risen in a way suggesting that a bedrock of support is taking shape beneath the man who dared to make such foibles: Barack Obama. Poll numbers flex this way and that with every newly manufactured “scandal” of the campaign, but if you set aside the media’s momentary breathless flushes, you see a median number which always increases. This increase seems also to come out of the median of the “experience” candidates in the race.

While I’ve certainly shared my thoughts – positive and negative – on the presidential hopefuls, this blog has been more-or-less silent in terms of endorsement. To a large extent, that is because this site while certainly Liberal has always been non-partisan from the perspective of our two party system. This year, however, I felt the site should not be silent in pushing forward for what I hope is a better America.

And so, after careful consideration, I have decided that I will officially endorse Barack Obama.

I have been a big fan of Obama’s since the 2003 Democratic Convention where he spoke so eloquently. In fact, after hearing Obama speak, John Kerry was something of a let-down. Obama seemed then to have a way of speaking to the best of our nature, a transcendent voice of optimism and hope that lifted above the common political wrangling.

Since his candidacy announcement, that initial gush of fascination by the press has turned into the mean-spirited frame I’ve previously described. It’s the kind of turn in rhetoric that tends to wilt the average new kid on the Washington block. The kind of journalistic sadism which insists on asking inscrutably dogmatic questions, expecting preposterously simple answers, then grilling the respondent over his or her choice of impossibilities. If the answer was specific, it lacks nuance. If the answer was nuanced, it lacks specificity.

Barack Obama has managed to transcend these petty media attacks and speak directly to the good sense of the American people. He strikes me as the ideal candidate and the ideal president for a moment in history when we turn back, away from the isolationism and paranoia we’ve been subjected to and towards the more cooperative and engaged country we need to be to face the challenges of the 21st century.

And he seems to be the right person because his candidacy as it has progressed has shown he has a keen ability and willingness to listen. No, I don’t mean the touchy-feely “he listens to US,” kind of rhetoric. I mean that from the word go, he has surrounded himself with some of the best minds in foreign policy, economics and other issues, and as he’s taken those people on board, his message has become more tempered and more sensible as a result.

Contrast that to most everybody in the field, Democratic and Republican both. In a rush to appear strong and capable, they all stand on whatever principles have served them in the past, without budging. They all seem to insist that they have the ideas and they have the experience to serve as president, and every single one of them is wrong.

They are wrong, not because their ideas are wrong, though I certainly disagree strongly with many of them. They are wrong for the same reason that a person choosing to defend themselves in court – even if they’re a lawyer – is wrong: dispassionate people with skills that surpass your own should be the ones advising you in such pressing matters, not your own vanity. It is particularly distressing to see such untempered self-admiration from those who should know better.

Perhaps that kind of willingness to learn really is learned from kids in elementary school. If so, Barack Obama has seemed to have learned that lesson well, along with the idea that people don’t need to look like you, talk like you, act like you or go to the same church as you to be valuable members of a community, worthy of your respect.

I think that a lot of us – certainly not just us Liberals, but across the middle of America, where the real powers of our Democracy lie – have learned that lesson along the way, too. And I think that part of the reason that the dogma of the Republicans and the immoderate lack of nuance in the media has failed to spoil the luster of Obama is that we are ready as a country to put those lessons to work.

And so, DragonFlyEye.Net now officially endorses Barack Obama for President of the United States. His experience will serve him as well as anybody in the field, and his openness will serve him better.

In fact, the only issue of substance on which I have a definitive difference with him is health care. I do not personally think that anything less than mandatory national health care will work. He states that “the problem isn’t that people don’t want health care,” and that may indeed be true. But a voluntary system makes it possible for people – for whatever reason – slip through the cracks, which is precisely what nationalizing health care is supposed to avoid. And either way, if a person ends up in our hospitals, we will pay for their care one way or the other. That is precisely the problem we have now. So, national health care might as well be a default, therefore economically predictable.

But as serious an issue as health care is, it is one that will require enormous political effort from all responsible parties. That being the case, neither his nor any other candidate’s health plan will become reality unmolested. So once again, I rely on the fact that Barack Obama is educable, where so many other candidates seem to lack that quality.

By Tommy Belknap

Owner, developer, editor of DragonFlyEye.Net, Tom Belknap is also a freelance journalist for The 585 lifestyle magazine. He lives in the Rochester area with his wife and son.