BY BOARD DEMOCRATS
This election is about more than simply the proposed policies of Barack Obama ’91 and John McCain. Though the Harvard Law School Democrats believe Barack Obama’s policies are superior to those of his opponent, we also believe that the most important matters to be decided in this election have little to do with the candidates’ stances on issues. We believe what is most crucial for voters is not picking the better tax plan, but ensuring, first, that we elect the candidate who is best fit and able to lead our nation through these complicated and dangerous times, and, second, that we elect the candidate who is most likely to break with the culture of Washington that we have experienced the past eight years. Barack Obama is far and away the better candidate to accomplish both these imperatives.
To elect the President best fit to serve, we must elect a President who has the abilities, not simply the knowledge, to lead and guide our country. Knowledge can be learned, but capacities such as intelligence, judgment, poise, and leadership cannot. And the importance of these characteristics in a President, especially at such a volatile time for our nation, cannot be overstated. Indeed, a great deal of the President’s job is reactive. So much happens during a Presidency that is unforeseen, presenting new issues and problems that can carry tremendous consequences. When such problems arise, the merits of the President’s stance on issues like free trade will be far less important than his intellectual gifts and intangible abilities to face and solve new and complex problems. Therefore, we must elect a President who has the best capacity to address and handle the unpredictable, a President who can adapt and lead, maintaining poise and composure in the face of adversity, a President with sound judgment, a President who surrounds himself with the brightest and most experienced people he can. This is why we must elect Barack Obama.
Obama has these necessary abilities to lead. No one can in good faith dispute the man’s immense intellectual gifts and abilities. Furthermore, Obama has demonstrated poise in his handling of the economic crisis, whereas John McCain has demonstrated anything other than the ability to remain cool under pressure.
Moreover, Obama has exemplified good judgment in his selection of a running mate, Joe Biden, who is experienced where Obama, admittedly, is not, and who is undoubtedly ready to lead should he be forced into the role of President. In contrast, John McCain’s has on the same issue demonstrated a frightening lack of judgment by selecting for purely cheap political points a running mate who lacks not just knowledge of domestic policy and foreign policy experience, but who cannot even be trusted to hold a press conference.
Yes, a running mate has a partly political purpose, but McCain’s selection is so dangerous as to be beyond reckless.Beyond these men as individuals, this election is as much about a President as it is about the culture and conduct of business in Washington. The past eight years have brought this country more than failed economic, domestic, and foreign policies. Over the past eight years Americans have been subjected to an Executive Branch that has thumbed its nose at the Constitution and Bill of Rights, ignored international treaties and law, fostered corruption and cronyism, made Draconian secrecy its M.O., and repeatedly lied to the American people, no matter how obvious the truth. This election is about changing the tone and culture of our government, about demanding accountability and respect from our Commander-in-Chief.
Only through such change will Americans ever be able to trust their government again, and only through such change will we have a chance at beginning to turn back the toxic, wholly uncooperative atmosphere of Washington. This is what is truly at stake in this election.
In two key ways, the election of Barack Obama will bring about this needed transformation. First, while one might disagree with specific policies of the Democratic Party, it is a party which respects the Constitution, is upfront with the American people, and has spent the last eight years as frustrated with the culture of Republican Washington as the rest of America. The Democrats will bring a new tone and a new and forthright way of doing business to the table.
On the flip side, John McCain has shown no sign that he has either the will or ability to change the tone and culture of the Republican Party. Even now the deceptive and divisive tactics of the Republicans continue, from recently completely falsifying and promoting a story of racially-charged political violence to sway voters in Pennsylvania, to implying that a vote for Obama is somehow similar to a vote for the Nazi Party of World War II Germany.
To believe that if re-elected the Republican Party will suddenly reevaluate how it operates and alter its core approach to politics and governance is to be foolish in the extreme. Even if one agreed with McCain’s substantive policies, the weight and consequence of the baggage he brings in the form of the Republican Party simply cannot be ignored.
Second, Barack Obama will change our political culture through his own, and now well-demonstrated, rejection of the corrupt, divisive, and harmful politics of the current norm. One key example is the fact that in this campaign Barack Obama has taken no money from PACs or 538s, nor has he put himself in the pocket of special interests or large corporations, something the McCain campaign certainly cannot claim.
In stark contrast to John McCain, Obama has run a campaign that truly has focused on issues and solutions, that hasn’t resorted to ad hominem attacks and slander, and has remained positive despite immense stakes and enduring endless personal attacks. Such a campaign is not the politics-as-usual we have seen for the past eight years, and it is a demonstration of the true change we will see in Washington under President Obama, a political culture where respect and disagreement can coexist, where the American people come first.
So much depends on the outcome of this election.While issues such as the economy are indeed very important, so is a President that responds to and respects the American people, that looks out for working and middle class citizens above corporations, that protects the rights of all citizens, that is honest with the American people, and possesses the best faculties possible to face whatever new issues and problems present themselves.
Barack Obama is the only candidate who will bring these characteristics to the White House, the only candidate who can lead this country out of the economic crisis and restore our standing and respect in the world’s eyes. For these reasons, the Harvard Law School Democrats endorse Barack Obama for President.