City of Brass

City of Brass


Why I am supporting Barack Obama

posted by Aziz Poonawalla
  • I am a liberal. That is to say, I believe that in addition to the tyranny of governments, there also the tyrannies of economics, of prejudice, and of religion. I believe that Liberalism is the route by which the indovidual is empowered to fight back against these oppressive forces and more importantly, take ownership of them and channel them.
  • I am a pragmatic liberal interventionist. I believe that we have both a moral duty and a self-interest in using our national power – military and economic and social – to effect change around the world, to stop genocides and to encourage (but not impose) democracy’s flowering.
  • I am an American patriot, and I believe that what makes this nation great is the fact that unlike almost every other nation in the history of the world, literally anyone can come here, and succeed. Obama is living proof. This is an immigrant nation and that is why our identity perseveres above and beyond race and religion.
  • I believe that Obama’s solution to health care, while not perfect, goes in the right direction (PDF), with the most critical pieces being true universal coverage, and no denial for pre-existing conditions. McCain’s central promise of a $5,000 tax cut is useless given that health care premiums cost $12,000 and up.
  • I believe that the tactical conflict in Iraq is winding down, and as such it is time to reorient on the Afghanistan/Pakistan border, where we are losing the strategic war.The counter-insurgency methods that worked well in Iraq do not apply to Waziristan. Obama’s selection of Biden was absolutely superlative in this regard, since few Senators have as much knowledge of Afghanstan and Pakistan.
  • I believe that energy independence is the central challenge of our century ahead, with all other major issues – security, economy, environment – tied to it in a fundamental way.McCain talks a great game on supporting alternate energy sources but in 26 years in the Senate, he’s shown no leadership on the issue – and in fact been AWOL on it this year. And “drill baby drill” sloganeering betrays a fossil-fuel centric worldview that does not bode well for understanding how to proceed forward.
  • Obama has a genuine record of reform-minded legislation in the Illinois legislature and in the US Senate. I’ve looked at the record in detail and it belies the rhetoric of the right that he’s done little. Obama’s record is in fact superlative on reform.
  • I cannot countenance how McCain has changed from a true maverick candidate I’d have voted for over Gore in 2000 to the Republicanist loyalist in 2008 that he has become – with dozens of flip flops along the way. This isn’t the McCain I knew.
  • I believe that the Republican party orthodoxy is dangerously wrong with respect to science, with the prevalent orthodoxy completely wrong on climate change, evolution, and stem cells, to name the major issues. The GOP dogma on these issues seems to be motivated by political ideology rather than any commitment to scientific method.
  • I consider the general Republican disdain towards the judiciary, and the alarming increase in executive power at the expense of the other branches of government (including outright dismantling of the traditional checks and balances), poses a fundamental structural threat to our American government. Since 9/11, the GOP has embraced an ideological, authoritarian, and crony-capitalist approach to government that is at odds with the duty of governing well, as the response to Hurricane Katrina woefully illustrated.
  • I am tired of red-state-blue-state politics. It is time to go purple. Obama may be a liberal, but his policies for the middle class and the nation are deep-hued purple indeed.

These are the major issues for me, as best as I can recall. Some of these are ideological, others a critique of John McCain on the merits of his proposals, and others a dissatisfaction and anger at the evolution of the Republican Party as a whole. If you agree with me that Barack Obama is the change we need, then join me in making a small contribution to his campaign:

It’s time to step up.



  • Justasking

    After reading your entire blog, I am voting for McCain with no reservations about it.

  • Sherry

    Thanks for your balanced opinion on why you are voting for Obama.
    I agree, it is long past time for purple.

  • Aziz

    That’s good! I encourage everyone to vote. If my posting pro-Obama screeds motivates McCain supporters to go to the polls, then I think that’s obviously a positive outcome. Obama or McCain will win an election, but the more of us who engage in the process itself, the more we all win, regardless of which candidate gets elected. You reminded me of a post I did a while back in which I argued about why the 2000 election represented all that was best about America.

  • DJ

    I agree with justasking. I disagree with each of your points, but respect you for really do the work and explaining your vote.
    I will argue one point. The Republican party does not have disdain toward the judiciary. They are trying to keep that branch from gaining “alarming increase in power at the expense of the other branches”. They are to interpret laws,not make them.
    See ya at the polls!
    DJ

  • PhoenixOrion

    I have to say, I am in total agreement with you about how the Republican Party orthodoxy on science issues like evolution and stem cell research is dreadfully mistaken (there are some Republicans who break with such orthodoxy, but they are a minority in the party). It is especially encouraging to see a Muslim take such a position. Do you believe that being a Muslim is compatible with believing in evolution and supporting embryonic stem cell research? There are a number of Muslim apologists (such as Harun Yahya) who argue vigorously against evolution and many Muslims also seem to oppose abortion, and by extension many of them would probably also oppose embryonic stem cell research. Two conservative Christian bloggers here at beliefnet, Rod Dreher and Michele McGinty, are both staunch opponents of abortion AND embryonic stem cell research. This position makes no sense, as embryonic stem cell research could proceed at full speed even if all abortion stopped today. What does Islam generally believe about embryonic stem cell research, and do Muslims generally equate ESCR with abortion (as many, but not all, Christians erroneously do)?

  • Aziz Poonawalla

    I don’t think I am qualified to issue a theologic position on evolution, ESCR, etc. However, I personally consider myself both a believer in the theory of evolution, as well as in intelligent design (though I leave the capitalization off, to distinguish between my belief and the Intelligent Design industry whose embrace of pseudoscience is repugnant). I am also not impressed with Harun Yahya. We discuss evolution, Yahya, and other science topics quite often at Talk Islam, actually.

  • PhoenixOrion

    I understand what you mean when you say that you believe in both the theory of evolution and intelligent design. Basically, you seem to be saying that you believe that evolution happened, but God/Allah/Deity guided it and made it happen. There are actually a lot of Jews, Christians, and Muslims who believe in both God and the theory of evolution. I don’t understand why this concept is so difficult to grasp for creationists such as Harun Yahya, Ken Ham, etc. One evangelical Christian who is both an evolutionist and a believer is Francis Collins.

  • marcus

    I personally don’t see how evolution and intelligent design can be anything but mutually exclusive. Dawkins says evolution is….
    “…..the blind, unconscious, automatic process which Darwin discovered, and which we now know is the explanation for the existence and apparently purposeful form of all life, has no purpose in mind … . It has no mind … . It does not plan for the future … it is the blind watchmaker”.
    Evolution requires no God to direct it since it is ‘without purpose’ or direction. I think that one of the problems that Christians have with evolution is that it would mean that God used death and suffering to create life, which would seem to contradict God in Genesis when he finished creation and said it was very good. But of course that also depends on the idea that you believe the Genesis account to be accurate.

  • Ergo Ratio

    The “…blind, unconscious, automatic process…” is reconciled by moderate believers in that the initial conditions of that process are considered to be intelligently chosen.
    Active intervention is, of course, mutually exclusive, but believers in both creation and evolution do not–in my experience–claim that a god continually tampers with its creation (in this way).

  • marcus

    Ergo Ratio…So you’re saying that there are moderate Christians that believe that an intelligent designer sort of pulled the ingredients for life together and set it to baking and then stepped back? And now everything we see is a result of evolution from that point forward?
    Where do they find evidence for that view, because it’s not a Biblical view. I’m curious, is that an attempt to marry science and religion?

  • Ergo Ratio

    That is the standard moderate Christian explanation in my experience, yes. Normal, intelligent adults who have a need to reconcile reality with the Biblical doctrine they were raised with. Naturally this also requires dismissing half the Bible as metaphor or allegory.
    It’s not about Biblical evidence, it’s about having an unfalisifiable belief. Most Christians have never read their own holy book; they memorize a few verses and get the abridged synopsis from the podium every week (if that). They don’t know nor care whether their book contradicts reality, because they have their faith.

  • Ergo Ratio

    I want to emphasize the faith defense. Modern moderate Christians ultimately rely on (again, in my experience) three philosophical arguments to back up their claim for the existence of God:
    Cosmological (first cause)
    Ontological (bare assertion)
    Teleological (design)
    None of these arguments convince me, personally. Let’s say they did, however. How would I conclude that this God is Yahweh? I have never heard a moderate answer this question with anything other than “faith”. Never. (Though sometimes it is followed by Pascal’s Wager, which is odd considering that argument implies a lack of faith).
    But anyway, the “faith” answer allows a moderate Christian to embrace science AND keep all the “good stuff” from the Bible, allowing them to live life as if they’d never even heard of their religion. Aside from the guilt of “sinning” and the smugness of “being right”, that is.

  • Wes

    I enjoyed the punditry! I always love reading someone that knows how to use the English language…however, I wish you would engage in a bit more critical thinking.
    Isn’t it intellectually dishonest to misstate the Republican position with regard to climate change, evolution and stem cells? To sum them up for those that are truely inquisitive it is this: there are other possible issues at work with regard to all three. Why close the book and entrench selective theories as dogma? Science, unlike religion isn’t beholden to the will of the ullama or the Papacy.
    In fact, we can see the slow name change with regard to climate. It used to be global warming, (and before that it was the coming ice age), but now it is “climate change”. Meteorologists disagree with many other scientists as to what drives climate change and whether it is still indeed a warming climate! In fact, todays weather pattern are similar to the 1940′s.
    Critical thinkers should be curious. Unfortunately, you rationalize preconceived ideologies for personal comfort rather than intellectual honesty.

  • j kactuz

    Good post but no good enough. There are only two types of people: those who respect freedom and work, and those who don’t. Obama does not respect either. He embraces the socialistic idea that government can solve all problems if it only spends more money (more taxes) and makes a few more laws. His friends are ex-radicals and so-called Community organizers that see America as evil. The media, the rich and famous, and the educational establishment are willing to do anything to get him elected, even ignore any his experience (or lack thereof), his dubious supporters and his lack of substance. Last but not least, he has the suport of the Islamic community – people that believe and follow an ideology that teaches that Islam should govern our lives and declares all non-Muslims second class citizens, by definition. I will vote for McCain
    You are wrong on the republican stance on the judiciary and science. If you want see people trash both, I suggest that you look at the liberal wing of the democratic party, who see these as mere instruments for social change (as determined by themselves).
    Kactuz

  • N. Veal

    I have read your opinions and respect your right to your opinions. I have a son in Afganistan along with many of our fine men and women who are fighting to preserve our rights to a free world.
    When I look and listen to obama I see a very self centered man who is not ready to assume the highest most influential place in My America..I DO NOT WANT him as my son’s Commander-in-chief.
    He has continued to play the RACE card himself and it has served him well to generate sympathy and votes….
    God forbid that he becomes the President and God Help us as a people….

  • Mr. Man

    All career politicians are self-centered to some degree. None more self-centered than the current President of the United States who along with his closest aides helped get this country in the mess it is in. When are we, Americans, going to get past voting Democratic vs. Republican and start voting American? What does that mean? It means that as long as we all share this land piece known as the North America specifically, the United States, we will agree to disagree on some issues without performing character assassination.
    Both candidates love America but have different views on how to best steer the country. Neither one has a perfect solution but these are the two left standing after the primaries. We can bring up key phrases such as experience, years of service, “what I’ve done”, “what he’s not doing or hasn’t done” but yet, at the end of the day, neither one has experience being President of the United States. Senator Obama’s making a “correct call” on Iraq doesn’t qualify him to be President in itself just as Senator McCain’s being a former POW doesn’t qualify him to be Commander-in-Chief either. Both candidates have had dealings with shady characters in the past (not to many Americans can say they haven’t). Senator Obama had a small dealing with Tony Rezko and Senator McCain had dealings with Charles Keating of the infamous Savings & Loan crisis of the 80s. Gov. Palin’s husband was a card carrying member of the Alaskan Secessionist Party and Senator Biden was put on blast about plagiarism. Who doesn’t have dirt in our system of politics?
    What is important is that we, Americans, elect reasonably sane men and women for that high office of President of the United States. We can not afford anymore commander-in-chiefs who made Cs through elementary, middle, and high school and continued through college. We can not afford potential commander-in-chiefs who outright tell an audience during a nationally televised debate that they are not going to answer the questions put forward but will respond to what they feel like. We can not afford commander-in-chiefs who forget the platform they ran on 8 years ago, 4 years ago then fast forward to the present and they are a completely different person.
    I was inclined to the Republican Party because I do share a lot of views with them but the handling of selecting a VP, suspension of a presidential campaign in order to take credit for a bailout (which according to Senator McCain he would continue to keep his campaign suspended until a bill passed), along with the hate mongering, telling the people outright they are not going to focus on the issues but instead will concentrate on running a negative campaign is so preposterous that it goes beyond words.
    Are we that shallow of a country where we can’t see pure ignorance when we see it?

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