My initial reaction to Barack Obama when he stepped on stage to announce his bid for the Democratic nomination and my impression of him throughout his campaign was that he was a clever man and a good orator but I felt he lacked substance. I claimed at the end of the primary season that should Hillary Clinton be his number two I would back him in his quest for the Presidency, despite my initial reservations. After making this statement I realised that I did not truly understand what Barack Obama respresented or in what direction he wished to take America, I knew where Clinton stood, I knew where McCain stood but I didn’t know where he stood. I therefore decided to look more at the principles of his policy rather than the ploomage and clever rhetoric that had characterised his camapign. Now I can whole heartedly say my initial distrust of him was justified.
Now before any liberals throw their hammer and sickle out of the pram, I am more than willing to accept that America needs change. The Presidency of George Bush has been by and large a disaster and America desperately needs a change of direction, but this change of direction does not neccessarily require a change of party. British commentators often look on and conclude that change in America can only really come about if the President is from a different political party. This is wrong for a number of reasons. First of you cannot look at British and American politics in the same light, parties in America are ‘broad churches’ that encompass great swathes of ideologies and broad voter demographics in their membership. One Republican can differ greatly from another and the same is true of the Democrats. Parties in America exercise little discipline and make few demands in stark contrast to their British counterparts. Ultimately in American politics it is the person not the party that matters which is why campaigning is far more ‘Vote Obama or McCain’ rather than ‘Vote Republican or Democrat’.
Therefore by this logic we should be looking at the credentials of the individual candidate rather than the party tag. It confuses me as to why the press have given McCain and Clinton such a hard time in their camapigns, with the press tarring McCain with the mistakes of Goerge Bush. Simply put John McCain is not George Bush. It is common knowledge there has been a great many differences over the years between Bush and McCain both ideologically and politically and a McCain Presidency would not take the same line as that of Bush. The left wing presses of America have been far too soft on Obama and he has benefited greatly from it as it has created a wholly unjustified and unrealistic image of him.
Obama and McCain broadly speaking mark two branches of the political spectrum – left and right. Obama speaks of the need for Americans to move beyond partisanship (“We are not blue states or red states, but the United States” is a campaign meme), however when you cut through the verbiage and clever rhetoric there is nothing to suggest he believes anything that is seriously at odds with the far Left of his party therefore I am confused as to how this can bridge any political gap. If you think about it for a second, it’s not really an accident that he has been endorsed by the shady likes of Ted Kennedy and Jesse Jackson. Though he talks with great eloquence about the future, he sounds for all the world like one of the long line of Democrats from George McGovern to Walter Mondale to Michael Dukakis, who became history by espousing policies and striking a rhetorical pose that was well out of the mainstream of American politics.
In addition one only has to look at his victory speech in the Wisconsin primary to see what direction he wishes to take America in and it is one we here in Britain and around the world should regard as dangerous. His previous primary speeches, which were delivered when he was on far shakier ground in his fight for the nomination, hid behind the cautious rhetoric of change with little if any substance. When on firmer ground after victories in primaries such as Wisconsin, his speeches marked a new approach. He began to put meat on the bones. His speech in Wisconsin has no shortage of proposals all of which I found deeply concerning. He plans large increases in government spending on health and education which in theory I have no opposition to, however one has to question how he is going to afford it given the shape of the American economy, it is here where he resorts to the typical left wing tactic: tax the rich. Obama’s policy of tax, tax, tax represents that same tax happy policy persued by the Carter administration, which resulted in queues at gasoline stations, surging inflation and economic stagnation.
To add to my chagrin it is well documented that he is against companies using the opportunities of free markets to restructure their operations in the US and he is vehemently protectionist in his proposals. However perhaps my greatest issue with Obama lies in his plans for Iraq. He has repeatedly claimed, in the typically spineless left wing way, that he would pull troops out of Iraq post-haste. Thats not a leader thats a follower, a man of convenience not conviction. Even Gordon Brown has managed to stay the course in Iraq and despite much pressure he has refused to bow to calls for a rushed timetable for withdrawl as he recognises the job isn’t done. It is John McCain not Obama that recognises that America has a duty not just to its own people but to the people of Iraq, the region and the wider world by ensuring Iraq returns to stability and prosperity.
Just because Iraq was not the decision of his administration does not mean that it is not his responsibility if he became the new President. He has a political duty and a moral obligation to finish what the previous administration, with the over whelming backing of the American people, started. The American people supported that war and they confrimed it when they returned Bush to the White House with a bigger portion of the vote in 2004. Thus he as their newly elected leader would have a duty to make right the wrongs his country, not just one President, have made. Quiet diplomacy will not do and an appeaser such as Obama is one who feeds a crocodile in the hope it will eat him last.
America is certainly moving left in the post-George Bush era. The long period of conservative ascendancy is clearly over, buried by a Bush presidency that has preached intolerance and practised incompetence. That a new era in American politics is beginning is not in doubt and the fact that there is a need for a change in America is not in question, but why does America need to make such a radical leap from right to left when they can turn to the center right McCain. McCain is a man of substance, of principle, of experience and of courage and it is him not Obama who will give America that change and leadership that it sorely needs. The left never has and never will be the answer to the political problems of the world, they will only contribute to make them worse.