I voted for Barack Obama in 2008. And I'm doing so again.
In 2008, however, it was more a vote for a movement, a set of ideals and beliefs. It was a vote against the mishandled wars, lies, and corporate greed that had plagued the previous 8 years. It was a vote against cynicism. Against torture. Against fear.
2008 was an election about history, about big ideas. It was a "where were you when it happened" kind of night.
2008 was a year for election parties and impromptu celebrations.
2008 was a vote bigger than any one person, ticket, or party.
Four years later, it's a vote for a man. A man, who while flawed, has shown the instincts, ideals, leadership, and wisdom deserving of the presidency. And while those traits have shone through on a host of issues and circumstances, there are three on which they are most strong.
1. Health Care
The Affordable Care Act has been Obama's signature achievement -- and also his most controversial. There are many economic arguments on both sides: why it will work, why it will be a disaster. But I don't see health coverage as an economic issue. I see it is a moral one.
It is unconscionable to me that in this country at this time, there are people who don't have access to good doctors and good medicine when they're sick. It is startling to me that there are people who think that healthcare is a good like any other and has only been "earned" by those who can afford to pay for it on their own. Access to doctors, medicine, and proper treatment for those who need it is a moral imperative. That's my starting point.
And incidentally, that's also how I see the ACA: a starting point. I'm sure it's not perfect and that there will be aspects of it that will have to be tweaked, removed, or complemented once it goes into effect and we see how it works. But what we have right now is a health care system that demonstrably does not work. The ACA is a step in the right direction towards implementing a system that could work. And it's also the right thing to do.
2. Gay Marriage
If every generation has a major test by which it will be judged by future generations, gay marriage is ours. It's our women's suffrage. Our segregation.
And to be perfectly frank, President Obama has not done enough on this issue. But between the actions his administration has taken on "don't ask, don't tell" and DOMA, as well as his public articulation of his personal beliefs, we know where he stands. And so does every gay child or teenager out there.
Marriage equality is the biggest social issue of our time. And I'm proud to vote for a president who is on the right side of that issue and the right side of history.
3. War on Terror
What was seen as his biggest weakness upon entering the White House may have turned into his greatest strength. Over the last four year, Obama has presided over an approach to the war on terror that -- particularly when contrasted to the approach of his predecessor -- has been calculated, intelligent, and highly effective.
This isn't just about Bin Laden. By refocusing the attention on al Qaeda and expanding our drone program, Obama has decimated our greatest enemy, and in so doing, has actually made us safer instead of just making us feel safer.
Has the military campaign in Libya been perfect? Of course not. And the deaths of the four Americans in Benghazi was utterly devastating. (As an aside, remember when any attempts to ask questions or "politicize" the deaths of 3,000 Americans on 9/11 or 4,000 Americans in Iraq was unpatriotic and "aiding the enemy?") But when contrasted with the disaster that was the war in Iraq, it has provided us with a model for regime change that could work without unilateralism, without alienating our allies, and without exposing our troops to massive casualties.
Also, bin Laden.
Those are my big three. You may have noticed I omitted the economy, which will be the primary issue for the majority of the electorate. Simply put, I think the president's role when it comes to impacting the economy is wildly overrated. Sure, he can implement policies that can make a difference along the margins. But when it comes to the fundamentals that determine whether the economy grows, there are forces at work -- global forces, systemic forces -- that are far beyond any president's control. That being said, I think Obama has done about as good a job as could be expected under the circumstances and that whoever wins Tuesday will govern over (and take credit for) a burgeoning economy over the next four years.
Obama hasn't been right about everything and there have certainly been mistakes and missteps along the way. But on the things that matter most, he has shown leadership, courage, and wisdom. And that's why I'll cast a ballot to re-elect President Barack Obama.
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