Considering Obama For President, Not Partisan Leader

It appears that one of the reasons that Barack Obama is one of the candidates I’m considering happens to be the same reason why Big Tent Democrat feels his statements are “inexcusable for someone who wants to be the standardbearer for a political party.” He is directly referring to a speech today, but I don’t think I’d be distorting his argument to say that this applies to Obama’s entire campaign theme. A longer portion of Obama’s speech is quoted in his post, but this contains the gist of what he objects to:

What you learn when you spend your time in these neighborhoods trying to solve these problems is that there are no easy solutions and no perfect arguments. And you come to understand that for the last four decades, both ends of the political spectrum have been talking past one another.

It’s true that there were many effective programs that emerged from Lyndon Johnson’s War on Poverty. But there were also some ineffective programs that were defended anyway, as well as an inability of some on the left to acknowledge that the problems of absent fathers or persistent crime were indeed problems that needed to be addressed.

The right has often seized on these failings as proof that the government can’t and shouldn’t do a thing about poverty – that it is a result of individual moral failings and cultural pathologies and so we should just sit back and let these cities fend for themselves. And so Ronald Reagan launched his assault on welfare queens, and George Bush spent the last six years slashing programs to combat poverty, and job training, and substance abuse, and child abuse.

Big Tent Democrat objects to the nonpartisan tone:

Can’t we all just get along? There is an essential dishonesty in Obama’s approach. HE acts as if there is only the need to find common ground because Republicans really DO care about poverty and the common man and the Common Good. There is little difference between Democrats and Republicans on such issues says Obama. We’re just “talking past each other.”

This is a common, but unrealistic, attitude among many bloggers. Bloggers spend so much time on line, or perhaps even with political activists in the real world, that they think that everyone is polarized as the political world. The average person pays far less attention to politics than bloggers, and doesn’t accept the full platform of either party. Many people do vote Republican and are also decent human beings who care about poverty and other issues. As Obama argues, Democrats do not necessarily have all the answers.

The question is whether we want a President or a partisan political leader. While I’d prefer someone with a little more experience, and more of a track record on national issues to analyze, Obama does show more promise than most of the other candidates in being able to look for solutions without pandering to traditional Democratic special interest groups. This does not mean he betrays the underlying principles of most Democrats.

By trying to move beyond partisanship. Obama may actually do more to achieve the goals of partisan Democrats. If he can maintain his current momentum, Obama has a better chance of getting elected than Democrats like Clinton and Edwards, and we cannot take for granted that the Republicans will be unelectable in 2008. Obama also has the potential to do more to help other Democrats get elected, and achieve liberal goals once elected.

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1 Comment

  1. 1
    Anonymous says:

    We should all thank Big Tent Democrat for providing such a clear example of what’s wrong with the current political process. He doesn’t think that party dogma should ever be questioned, and seems to believe that anyone that disagrees with him is evil. His complaints about Obama are precisely the reasons that I would vote for Obama.

    Rather small “big tent” you have there, fella.

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