Monday, November 03, 2008

U.S. Election Prediction: Hope of Obamanation

"Red: Hope? Let me tell you something, my friend. Hope is a dangerous thing. Hope can drive a man insane. It's got no use on the inside. You'd better get used to that idea." -- from The Shawshank Redemption.
Back in February '08, the night of the "Potomac Primaries", whilst working in Alexandria, Virginia, as some of you know, I "crashed" a John McCain rally at a small hotel only 5 minutes from my hotel in Old Town. It was this night that he basically clinched the Republican nomination.

Here's a picture I took of how close I got to the man.
I remember his speech and how it spoke to my libertarian-conservative principles and I remembered back in '99 when I was rooting for John McCain over George Bush. I still believe John McCain is a libertarian-conservative at heart. That is until he tapped Sarah Palin to secure the conservative base and began to use the Karl Rove tactic to paint his opponent as too left wing for the nation. It reminded me of what the Liberals try to do in Canada--and that is paint Harper and the Conservatives as too right wing.

Now let's look at ideology, shall we?
You see the thing is, as a long-time Stephen Harper supporter, and him telling me directly that his core ideology is "classic liberal" (which is similar to libertarian-conservative), that despite being painted as a far-left liberal, Barack Obama is still to the right of Stephen Harper on most major issues. Here are a few to note:
Harper wants most Canadian troops out of Afghanistan by 2011. Obama wants to end the war in Iraq but send more troops to Afghanistan (and covertly, possibly into Pakistan).

The Canadian Conservative gov't supports a publicly-funded health care system where everyone is covered. Obama wants to ensure that almost every American can get health care, but it's not quite the same as a national health care system.

On taxes, Harper has lowered taxes on the GST from 7 to 5% (which the Americans do not have), and given tax targetted tax credits mostly to families (child care credit, trade tools, diesel fuel tax which helps farmers,
On trade, while Canada is smartly looking at a free-trade deal with the European Union, Obama hinted during the Ohio primaries that he would take another look at NAFTA. I think it was talk to secure the union vote and he hasn't mentioned it during the main race at all. What he has mentioned is that he'd give tax cuts to businesses that hire Americans and that do not "ship jobs overseas". I'd say that's classic conservative protectionism, not anti-free trade per sae.

On gay marriage, Obama hasn't really talked much about these wedge issues but I'd assume he's in favour of it--although there are several American states that are having direct votes on whether to "Ban Gay Marriage?" You'll recall in Canada a couple of years ago when the issue was up in the House of Commons. Harper let his caucus vote freely on the issue and now gay marriages are legal in Canada.

On the recent economic crisis, Senator Obama voted in favour of the $700 billion injection into big investment corporations. In Canada, the Harper gov't recently injected $25 billion over 5 years to buy up the few defaulted mortgages (less than 1%) from the CMHC Crown corporation.

There's no doubt that Barack Obama has taken the nation by storm and inspired a new generation of young voters. His campaign has been the most advanced, most disciplined, and most engaging one in election history... at least in North America, if not ever in the entire world. His speeches and confidence have intrigued everyone, including this conservative. After 9/11, America hasn't healed itself and has been living in a state of fear ever since. A fear much of what has been driven by ignorance, by ideology, and perhaps by religion from a presidential administration that without intentionally knowing it, took away hope. Oh sure, they pat down old grandmothers at airports to make them feel safe (?) from the terrorists. That's not hope. That's fear, playing on innocent people's trust in their leaders.
The War in Iraq has crippled the U.S. in casualties, broken families, a massive debt and trade deficit, and in its reputation around the world.
The United States of America needs Barack Obama to lead it out of the 20th century, get passed the racial lines, heal itself from the war, stop living in fear, and learn to hope and dream again.
John McCain, as noble a man I believe he is, knowing what he went through as a P.O.W. in Vietnam, simply does not inspire like he used to. As much as he tried to distance himself from Republican Bush policies, a lot of it stuck. Americans appear to want a fresh start, rather than be mired in the past.

I love Americans. I have many friends and family there and enjoy working there immensely. I want to see it become the nation that Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, and King dreamed of it being... that shining beacon of freedom and democracy.

Economic ideology aside, this election is not "about the economy, stupid"--it's always been about hope for a better future. That covers not just who's got the best economic plan, but who can truly lead and inspire hope in everyone.

While Senator Obama has asked Americans to hope again, let us all, everyone, truly hope that during his time as president, he'll help fulfill the dreams and ambitions of those who've been left behind and open up that last remnant of hope inside of them.
"Andy: I had Mr. Mozart to keep me company...[He points and taps his head] It was in here. [And he gestures over his heart] And in here. That's the beauty of music. They can't get that from you. Haven't you ever felt that way about music?...Here's where it makes the most sense. You need it so we don't forget...that there are places in the world that aren't made out of stone, that there's, there's somethin' inside that they can't get to, that they can't touch. It's yours."

"Andy: Remember, Red. Hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies. I will be hoping that this letter finds you, and finds you well. Your friend, Andy. "
And I think this final quote from the movie, sums up what a lot of Americans are feeling right on the verge of an Obama win:

"Red: I find I'm so excited, I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it is the excitement only a free man can feel, a free man at the start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend, and shake his hand. I hope the Pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope. "
"Fear can hold you prisoner. Hope can set you free."
And Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s "dream" is perhaps coming to fruition...
"Free at last! Free at last! Thank GOD Almighty, we are free at last!"

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