Opinion: Where I Stand (A Liberal Apology)

With the PresidentWhere I Stand: A Liberal Apology
by George Cassutto on Thursday, October 9, 2008 at 9:41am

Dear Readers,

I have found your recent exchange enlightening to say the least. I suppose the discussion has reached a critical mass to the point where my opinion on the issue of the US presidential race has been solicited. I choose to participate now not with the intention of changing hearts and minds, but rather, to enlighten each of you as to my reasoning for supporting Barack Obama. Hopefully, after reading this, my views will be less of a mystery, and I hope my own personal ideological approach will make sense to you, although you are free to disagree with it.

First let me identify my party affiliation. I am a registered Democrat because I believe that the government has a responsibility to "promote the general welfare," to invoke the Preamble to the Constitution. Since we are all taxpayers, the government has a responsibility to use those tax dollars to seek the best policy for the common good. Since men are not angels, as Madison said, government must sometimes intervene in the markets and in the affairs of human activity, including economic policy. As we saw during the Great Depression, the US government had to take bold regulatory steps to stimulate the economy, regulate it, and raise the standard of living for all. The capitalist system was left intact, but the size of government expanded as did the breadth of its services. We emerged a nation closer to socialism, but millions were raised out of poverty. Our freedom was left whole, but programs such as social security and FDIC were also developed to act as a social safety net. The Great Society programs of LBJ expanded the New Deal into a near welfare state, but again, these programs were needed to reach into the pockets of urban poverty in our cities and in our rural communities. So, call me a liberal. I wear the term as proudly, in that I support gradual social change, including government intervention, for the betterment of society. I denounce social intervention in the areas of reproductive rights and gay rights because I believe freedom should extend to ones sexual mores and that gays should be treated with equity under the 14th Amendment. Whether their activities are "sinful" should not interfere with their right to be treated fairly.

Before the audacity of ObamaSo here we are. Under Clinton, his immorality with Monica notwithstanding, America emerged from the 1990s with three consecutive years of government surplus, the lowest crime rate in decades, reduction of welfare recipients, and a nation essentially at peace militarily. When Gore lost in the electoral college (receiving a majority of the popular vote in 2000), eight years of disaster befell the nation. 9/11, Afghanistan, Iraq, the slow response to Katrina, the Stock Market Crash of 2008, and the credit crunch brought about by deregulation of the banking and mortgage industries have been the result of eight years of what is ostensibly the worst presidency in American history, equaling the depth of Nixon. These events have led to an erosion of our civil rights under the constitution, torture of alleged terrorists, and a degradation of American power and prestige globally, not to mention a federal deficit growing exponentially by the second.

I was originally a supporter of Hillary Clinton, but she and Obama are almost identical ideologically. The difference may have been in style or experience, but that's water under the bridge. He is the standard bearer of the party with which I agree ideologically. Moreover, I do not believe one word of the smear campaign regarding his religion or ethnic background. I have studied and read about his spiritual journey, and he confesses to be a Christian, and I take him at his word. And even if he were a Muslim, that would not enter into my decision to support him because doing so would amount to bigotry and prejudice that my parents fought very hard to teach us not to engage. If we say we believe in freedom of religion then it must extend to our political candidates too, and unless he wanted to wage jihad against America, he can be a Muslim if he wants. It just so happens that he is a member of the denomination called the United Church of Christ (UCC). So he passes the religious litmus test in my mind.

I am a school teacher now in my 25th year. I have seen the Reagan budget cuts of the 1980s gut school budgets, retard teacher salaries, and keep states from increasing their per pupil expenditures. With our contracting economy, draconian cuts are looming for state budgets nationwide. Obama counts education as one of his top three priorities, and this will lead to investment in education that will stimulate American productivity and competitiveness. Government support of education helps me twice -- in my job and in my income. Obama also plans to cut taxes for the middle class because he knows we are struggling. He was one of us up to 2004! He taught Constitutional Law -- a profession that puts him squarely in the middle class -- not an oil baron like Bush and Cheney. Obama talks sensibly about the "kitchen table" issues I face every day, and he outlines in concrete steps how he will improve my quality of living. That is more than I can say for the Republican power base, which has led America into the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, and whose solution is tax cuts for the wealthy. This just does not make common sense to me.

Well, there you have it. I will press the button for Obama, and hopefully, with a Democratic Congress, the politicians in Washington will act on behalf of "We The People" with the common person in mind rather than the business class or the upper crust of society on the belief that it is the wealthy that make up the engine of our economy. You can see where that engine has taken us, and the global economy, as a result. Time for a change.

Best wishes,

George Cassutto
Teacher, Author, Webmaster

Resource: The Christian Century, http://www.christiancentury.org/article.lasso?id=3392

What Barack Believes, http://www.newsweek.com/id/151233

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