22 January 2008

Why It's Obama, Not Hillary For Me

I have been involved in Democratic politics since I was 13 when I worked on a County Legislator's campaign on Long Island. I have remained active in Democratic politics and social justice causes like the United Farm Workers and ACT UP the AIDS activist group ever since. I recently co-managed Mike O'Hara's campaign for Mayor of Hudson and I currently sit on the Hudson City Democratic and Columbia County Democratic Committees in my home of Hudson NY. So why am I now an enthusiastic supporter of Senator Barack Obama instead of my own Senator from New York, Hillary Clinton? Here's why:

My Dream Team

I must admit that if I had my way, the ticket would be Edwards/Obama. The way I see it, they would be nearly impossible to beat in the General Election by anyone. But my initial hope for an Edwards/Obama ticket seems highly unlikely to materialize. So I now support Senator Barack Obama for President in 2008

Lack of experience need not be a detriment.

As far as I am concerned Edwards and Obama are really on the same page. Admittedly Edwards is much more specific on the issues of corporate greed and the need for a massive overhaul of the corrupt political and economic systems. Obama speaks brilliantly in lofty, idealistic tones of coming together, building bridges and yes, change. Being short on experience is not a detriment if you bring in brilliant people of differing views who have the experience you might personally lack.

Bush surrounded himself with yes men, henchmen and co-conspirators hellbent on stealing as much money and oil as possible for themselves and their friends at any cost. But I believe that any of the 3 leading Democrats will attempt to assemble a cabinet of broad opinions including a few Republicans. Lack of experience is never a problem as long as you don't lock those who have the experience out.

I believe that Obama is the most capable of ending the political warfare that has been the order of the day since the dawn of Reaganism and the emergence of the Christian right 25 years ago. Being a relatively new player on the Washington scene also means he is less entrenched in the corruption that permeates Washington. That's a good thing.

You don't win in November by getting 5% in January

I love Edwards (and Kucinich but that's another post for another time), but if he can't get out of single digits during the Democratic primary process when he is preaching to the choir, winning in November is questionable at best. In addition John Edwards is not on the ballot in most every Congressional District in New York having failed to obtain the required petition signatures to qualify in all but 3 downstate districts. Even if I wanted to, voting for John Edwards is not an option for most New Yorkers.

A Clinton nomination is a minefield.

I was thrilled to have Hillary represent me when she was elected and had hoped she would run for President with high hopes that she would finally redeem the disappointments of her husband's terms. A woman would finally show the men how it is done.

But her first term has been a complete disappointment. The list is huge. The war authorization, Patriot Act, more war authorizations, renewal of the Patriot Act, failure to acknowledge the error of the invasion even to this day. Now she is the champion of ending the war? It is way too little, way too late. Hundreds of thousands dead, trillions in debt with absolutely nothing to show for it except an invigorated al Qaeda and America and Americans being despised around the globe. Everybody sing.. "Where in the World is Osama bin Laden??"

On a more personal note, as a gay man, a gay constituent, I am appalled at her failure to grasp the inherent discrimination and inequality that gay couples face by being unable to attain the same rights, benefits, obligations and security that male/female couples are afforded by marriage. My personal opinion is that the state should have no role being in the "sacred" marriage business in the first place. I believe the state should only grant civil unions to all couples, gay or straight. This would eliminate the whole debate over the religious nature of marriage.

Some churches call it an abomination. Other churches marry gay couples and believe it to be a "sacred sacrament" blessed by God. But should the government decide what is and is not a sin and what is and is not sacred? Until the day that marriage is no longer offered as an option by the state, denying gay couples the same right is nothing but inequality and discrimination. She should be ashamed of herself for not supporting the full equality for every citizen. Admittedly the other candidates (except Dennis Kucinich) aren't any better on this issue. But she is perpetuating discrimination against me and she is my Senator.

While we are on gay issues. There have long been rumours of Hillary's own personal affiliation with the gay community. Many of the biographies on her have addressed the issue. But it has never been fully investigated or at least reported on by the mainstream media (Fox News doesn't count). I was even told by a very high ranking Democratic official that her "girlfriend" was featured prominently in her video biography which was shown prior to her speech at the 2004 convention as a nod to her and a wink to those "in the know".

You can be certain that during the extended lull in the election process due to the early primaries Hillary Clinton will be subjected to a scrutiny that even she has never experienced before. With the vehemence that the right wing despises her she will undoubtedly be subject to attacks from every direction. Whether the charges against her are true or not the entire process may blow up at some point. The general election campaign holds much more risk for Clinton than Obama.

Whether it was her own doing or a "vast right wing conspiracy", Hillary Clinton carries a lot of baggage. Any number of previously known issues or ones we have never heard about before are almost guaranteed to surface between now and November. Hillary Clinton has the highest risk of losing in the end what should be a slam dunk for the Democrats this year.

Obama for President

While I worry that lingering or unconscious racism might be a factor, on the issues and his ability to inspire and unite, I am supporting Barack Obama for President. I hope you will join me.

Victor Mendolia

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