Yesterday at dinner, a coworker brought up the election and my support for Obama. The conversation started something like: "So I can't believe you're voting for Obama." It diverged into various topics from healthcare to gun control to experience to socialism. It was a great conversation and it felt good to be able to have such a civil converstation with a friend from a staunchly Republican state. America needs more dialogue like the one we had over dinner last night; America needs a sanity check against extremism towards either side of the spectrum and understand that divided we fail.
But today, as I was following the news, it struck me that I'm not the one that should be questioned about my support for Obama -- I'm a 20-something moderate liberal from New Jersey, after all . The statement should really be made to the various high profile conservatives who have now come out in support of Obama, including Colin Powell.
The latest round of conservatives supporting Obama comes by way of Charles Fried:
Reagan Appointee and (Recent) McCain Adviser Charles Fried Supports Obama
Charles Fried, a professor at Harvard Law School, has long been one of the most important conservative thinkers in the United States. Under President Reagan, he served, with great distinction, as Solicitor General of the United States. Since then, he has been prominently associated with several Republican leaders and candidates, most recently John McCain, for whom he expressed his enthusiastic support in January.
This week, Fried announced that he has voted for Obama-Biden by absentee ballot. In his letter to Trevor Potter, the General Counsel to the McCain-Palin campaign, he asked that his name be removed from the several campaign-related committees on which he serves. In that letter, he said that chief among the reasons for his decision "is the choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis."
Fried is exceptionally thoughtful and principled; his vote for Obama is especially noteworthy.
Foreign Policy: Colin Powell endorsed Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama this weekend on Meet the Press. How significant was that move for General Powell, and was it something you expected?
Larry Wilkerson: I was stunned. I was ecstatic. I was thrilled, but I was stunned. I thought that he would come forward and make statements about the need to tamp down the hatred and the vitriol that seemed to be surrounding Senator McCain and Governor Palin’s rallies. And I thought he would use the opportunity to make his strong point about Muslims. I thought he would take the opportunity to reinforce that we need to restore America’s reputation and solve this financial crisis. But I didn’t think that he would endorse a particular candidate.
FP: What do you see as the strengths and weaknesses of each of the candidates in foreign policy?
LW: Both have strengths. I’m not quite sure what I would describe as Obama’s weaknesses, not because I’m trying to say that he’s perfect but because he’s so unflappable and so far his pronouncements have been so solid.
With McCain, I’m alarmed by the lack of sophistication on issues such as Iran; the bomb Iran [idea] seemed to come out of [McCain’s] passion more than his judgment. I’m alarmed by the people around him; [many] are radicals. They are just like the Wolfowitzes and the Perles of the world. Calling them conservatives offends the title. I have grave difficulty with McCain taking advice from these people. I am concerned with his inability to accept that we have to leave Iraq. Victory is not coming home with trumpets blaring; it is leaving a relatively stable government in place that won’t fall in first five minutes and not resort to civil war. He still thinks that victory was possible in my war, Vietnam, which I know was not correct. Those kinds of things concern me.
and Bill Weld, the former governer of Massachuesetts who supported Romney in the primaries, also voiced his support for Obama:
Weld told the Associated Press that while he has never endorsed a Democrat for president before, his choice in recent weeks became "close to a no-brainer."
"It's not often you get a guy with his combination of qualities, chief among which I would say is the deep sense of calm he displays, and I think that's a product of his equally deep intelligence," he said.
Weld said his decision was not based on McCain's weaknesses.
Weld said, "Senator Obama is a once-in-a-lifetime candidate who will transform our politics and restore America's standing in the world. We need a president who will lead based on our common values and Senator Obama demonstrates an ability to unite and inspire. Throughout this campaign I've watched his steady leadership through trying times and I'm confident he is the best candidate to move our country forward."
It's interesting, to me at least, because I would think that a self professed moderate liberal would be the last person that would suprise anyone by voting for Obama when there are plenty of high profile conservatives who have already voiced support for Obama. And certainly, each of these folks have the right to support any individual they wish -- be it Paul, Barr, Romney, or anyone else for that matter -- but they have come out in overwhelming support for Obama.
So the question shouldn't be why guys like me are supporting Obama; the question should be why guys like Weld, Powell, Wilkerson, Fried, Wick Allison, Christopher Buckley, Susan Eisenhower, and CC Goldwater are not just rebuking McCain, but actively showing support for Obama when they can choose neither candidate and/or stay silent on the topic; heck, they could even write in their candidate of choice.
I hope more moderate conservatives around the country start to examine why many high profile Republicans and conservatives have come out in support of Barack Obama. It's hard to use the "hype", "brainwashing", or "no substance" argument when several conservatives (far more distinguised and more accomplished than myself -- not even the same plane) have chosen to support Obama when they are free to support any alternative they wish.
Is it really that the liberal masses are acting like sheep and overdosing on Hopium? Is it really the case that Obama is just empty rhetoric and merely an eloquent speaker? Or perhaps these seasonsed veterans of politics and veterans of a now perverted conservative movement have seen something in Barack Obama to lead them to believe that perhaps, just maybe, there is a slight chance this guy has the potential to be not just a good president, but a great president?
I don't know; I'll leave this as an exercise for the reader to consider these endorsements and votes from several high profile conservatives, Republicans, and traditionally conservative newspapers.
As a closing comment, I'd like to share a story by way of Ben Smith, a story of a guy named Mike who went to the polls with his Dale Earnhardt jacket fully prepared to cast a vote for McCain:
"Obama's going to win, and I didn't want to tell my grandchildren some day that I had an opportunity to vote for the first black president, but I missed my chance at history and voted for the other guy."
Food for thought.