Letters to the Editor

LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Fear won’t influence my vote

To the editor:

Upon reading the letter from Stan Walker of Freeland, a missive in which he explains his reason for the vote he will cast in November for Sen. John McCain, I found that two historical quotations came to mind almost immediately.

The first: “We have nothing to fear but fear itself.” The second: “Terror is a powerful means of policy and one would have to be a hypocrite not to understand this.”

The first is so well known to us that it needs no attribution. The second, however, is less known. These are the words of Leon Davidovich Trotsky. To me, both declarations sadly limn the times in which we live. Mr. Walker’s letter reinforced that for me, and I would like to respond to it.

In my response, I would like to explain to Mr. Walker why I will cast my vote in November for Sen. Barack Obama.

I take offense at the image Mr. Walker painted of Obama supporters as being akin to channel surfers. While I cannot speak for any Obama supporter other than myself, I can say that the Obama supporters I know appear to be a group of individuals who seem to represent a wide spectrum of Americans. These people are reasoned and they share a common goal, which is to bring about a change in the course the United States has been following for the last eight years.

While this change obviously deals with the present administration’s actions in Iraq — which have resulted in the death, permanent maiming, or injuring of 650,000 Iraqis and the displacement of 14 million of them, not to mention the deaths of more than 4,000 Americans — this change also deals with an alteration in economic policies, a heightened commitment to the poor of America, an acknowledgement and maintenance of women’s rights, a willingness to pursue energy alternatives, a transformation of the healthcare industry.

In listening to Sen. John McCain, what I have heard is a further commitment to war and destruction, a lack of knowledge of economic theory, absolutely no awareness of anyone beyond his social group, lack of support for women in every area, a plan to drill for a supply of oil that will not be available for 10 to 17 years and a promise for more of the same in the area of healthcare. With these as my alternatives and faced with the continuing pitiable attacks on his opponent, I can tell you that the thought of having Sen. John McCain as president fills me with despair.

The question is: Do I vote for Obama out of that despair, blindly throwing my lot in with this allegedly untried and putatively inexperienced upstart? And the answer to this is that my vote has nothing to do with despair at all. Nor, actually, does it have to do with what Mr. Walker would undoubtedly see as blind, foolish and ignorant hope.

I will vote for Sen. Obama first because I want an incredibly intelligent person to be my president, and Sen. Obama’s personal, educational and political backgrounds tell me he has that quality.

I do not seek a president who’s “just one of the boys.” I’m not looking for a president with whom I can sit down, hoist a beer, and have a few chuckles.

Rather, I’m looking for a president with a razor-sharp mind because it’s been my experience that intelligent people tend to attract other intelligent people to them and I believe that’s what we need right now; someone who is bright enough, educated enough, and aware enough to gather to him a team of people who can put together a plan to begin to restore and rebuild America.

I will vote for Sen. Obama because he has demonstrated a quality we have not seen in a president in years: the ability to inspire people. We do not live in a time when one man can alone solve the problems that we are facing as a nation. I believe that the sort of leader we need now is the kind of leader who sets the course and whose real power comes from the ability to inspire people to follow that course, despite its difficulty. I see that too long we have sought band-aid presidents: someone who is supposed to solve our nation’s problems by himself while we just sit at home and wait for that to happen, TV remotes in our hands or iPods on our heads. In the thousands upon thousands of people who have turned out to hear Obama speak, who have contributed to his campaign, who have made phone calls, walked precincts, attended caucuses, and given donations, I see fire and inspiration. I see a belief in possibility. Most of all, I see a lack of fear.

I would point out to Mr. Walker that where we are today is the result of nearly eight years of Republican leadership, and those who like where we are today should absolutely cast their vote for Sen. McCain.

He has, after all, proposed a gas-tax holiday that was discounted and derided by every major economic voice in the United States this past year. He is, after all, the man who voted to support insurance companies who cover Viagra prescriptions but not birth control.

He did, after all, vote to invade a country based on spurious evidence regarding the possession of weapons of mass destruction. He will, after all, drill for oil along our coasts and, doubtless, in the arctic as well.

For my part, I will vote for Sen. Barack Obama. Aside from native intelligence and an amazing capacity for leadership, a little research showed me that he actually has more experience than Abraham Lincoln had when he took office.

Does that mean anything?

I don’t know. No one knows. But who Obama is, what he is, how he acts, how he thinks, his personal background, his level of education, his academic success and above all the manner in which he inspires people to be more instead of merely to want more or to have more — these things make him more than enough for me.

Thus in November, I will vote for Sen. Obama with enthusiasm, with pride and indeed with hope. But most of all, I will vote for Sen. Obama without an ounce of fear.

Elizabeth George


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