Personally, I don't give a lot of credence to the theory of uniters and dividers. Heck, one of GWB's first acts was to reach across the aisle to Teddy Kennedy to put together the "No Child Left Behind" act. Uniter, right? And vilified by the opposite side of the aisle too for that self-same bill. (NCLB is no doubt far from perfect. I anxiously await an alternative that doesn't have the stated problem of "teaching to the test" -- which strikes me as only being very wrong if we're administering the wrong test -- while still providing some mechanism for getting rid of bad teachers and failing administrators.)
In the current political environment, attempts at compromise get you nothing. The Medicare drug bill is a target for both left and right. It's probably better than what we started with (nada), but it seems that every politician hates it. Perfect? Of course not. But I have to admit that -- as someone who is taking four different medications daily -- I'm sort of fond of the evil Big Pharmaceuticals companies that are making it possible for me to lead a normal life. And I'd like them to find the next drug that I'm going to need in the future. It may well be true that the companies spend too much on marketing, but I'd be willing to bet that measures to restrict drug company profits are more likely to impact R&D than marketing.
Of course, that's all just a sign of self-indulgence on my part, I suppose. If I weren't such a fat, lazy slob, I could lose the weight that makes me drug-dependent. There are just two kinds of individuals in this country: decent, hard-working folks and fatties.
Darn! There are those nasty dividers again. And for those of you who aren't on the fat side of the great divide, let me tell you that it's a bit harder to lose this weight than you might imagine. On my list of things to do, to be sure, and I'm back on the exercycle again and trying to watch what I eat, but it's not going to be a trivial exercise.
So maybe I take it a bit badly when Obama says we can't "eat as much as we want". Or maybe drive a car that's large enough for me to fit in comfortably.
Easy for him to say.
But that's not the big thing. (No pun intended.)
No, what gets me is the subtle insinuation that if you don't vote for Obama, then you're a racist.
"Nobody thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face. So what they are going to try to do is make you scared of me," Obama warned a crowd in Springfield this morning. "You know, he's not patriotic enough. He's got a funny name. You know, he doesn't look like all of those other presidents on the dollar bills."
Yeah, right. Maybe not all that subtle.
Now I'm absolutely positive that there are some folks in the U.S. who are going to vote against Obama because he's black. And there are folks who are going to vote for him because he's black. This isn't exactly a great revelation.
But I'm not scared of Obama because he's black.
I'm scared of Obama because he's a product of the Chicago Democratic Machine. I'm scared of Obama because he's had enough different positions in this admittedly very long campaign that I'm simply not quite sure of what he believes, although my inclination is to think that his run to the center is the cynical set of statements. (See, for example, NAFTA, FISA, talking to Iran without preconditions, his recent statement about not raising taxes during a recession, etc.) I'm scared of Obama because of the sheer amount of absolute crap that a heavily Democratic Congress is likely to put on his desk for a signature.
I'm scared of Obama because when he was already safely in the U.S. Senate, he had the choice to endorse the reform Democratic candidate for Cook County Board President or the incumbent candidate of the Chicago Democratic Machine. And he picked the latter. And he stuck by that endorsement after the incumbent had an ultimately fatal stroke which eventually led to the installation of the incumbent's son on the ticket after the primary was over.
And he wants me to believe in a platform of "change". After all, what should I believe: his rhetoric or my own lying eyes?
And, by the way, if I don't vote for him, I'm a racist.
Hell of a way to be a "uniter", if you ask me.
Voting for McCain doesn't make you a racist. And voting for Obama doesn't make you ageist or sexist, for that matter. It simply means that you like the other candidate better for whatever set of reasons.
But you know, it simply isn't enough to have reasons to vote against a candidate. It'd be nice to have some reason to vote for a candidate. And I've certainly had my differences with John McCain. I consider McCain/Feingold to be a foolish infringement on free speech rights, for example. I believe that we should try actual enforcement of our laws against illegal immigration for a while before triggering another amnesty. (Might not work, but it'd certainly be educational to try it.)
So tell me, John, whatcha gonna do if we put you in there? And he decided to give me an answer and it was an answer that I liked:
He's going to run against Congress. He's going to run against excessive spending and earmarks. He's going to run against corruption. He's going to actually use his veto power.
Now, you have to consider that I don't much like our current Democratic Congress, but I didn't much like the Republican Congress that preceded it either. The Republican Congress forgot about the reform agenda that brought them into power in 1994; the Democratic Congress that succeeded them has managed to forget about reform even faster. I have very little use for Congress lately and apparently neither does the mass of voters, given that Congressional approval ratings make GWB's approval rating look good. So maybe that's just a cynical move on McCain's part too.
But McCain's never had any great need to be loved that I've noticed, certainly not by the members of his own party. And he went out and picked a VP candidate who may have faults, but has the best set of reform credentials that he could find. So maybe he's not just kidding me.
I fully expect that McCain is going to do some things that I won't like. But if I'm lucky, he's going to raise taxes (some) and cut spending (a lot). That's different than what I expect from Obama, which is raise taxes (a lot) and raise spending (a whole lot).
(Yes, I'm aware that Obama is only going to raise taxes on "the rich". The thing is that there aren't enough of "the rich" to finance what Obama seems to have in mind, so I expect that he's going to start sliding taxes leftward on the income bell curve fairly quickly. Remember, the AMT was only supposed to affect "the rich". See how that worked out?)
And since he's going to be working with a likely Democratic majority in Congress, he's going to have to reach across the aisle to try to get anything useful passed. It turns out that's something that he's already got some experience with. And in terms of getting results that are pleasing to the majority of the citizens, well, I'm thinking that a center/right President working with a left-leaning Congress has a lot better chance of producing reasonable compromises than a left-leaning President working with a left-leaning Congress.
He might, in short, be a "uniter".
I can work with that.