Barack Obama for President


In 1976, with Ford battling Carter for the presidency, a staff editorial in The Mac Weekly urged students not to vote because “to place, with your vote, presidential power at the disposal of ‘evil people,’ even if they are ‘less evil,’ is irresponsible.” There was a similar sentiment on campus in 2000, as Macalester students wavered between Gore and Nader. We sympathize. Two-party politics narrows complex issues and is an inherently frustrated and extremely limited means of achieving meaningful social change. However, the bellicosity and disregard for law that have characterized the last eight years under the Bush administration have proved that even a constricted choice can be worth making. We think there is no doubt that Barack Obama has demonstrated a more tolerant worldview, intellectual curiosity and a grasp of nuance that would make him a substantively better president than John McCain.

As a mainstream politician, Obama has certainly compromised some ideals and taken distasteful positions with an eye toward electability. He has said that the United States can win a war on terror militarily, and has triangulated on government spying, off-shore drilling and (the oxymoronic) clean coal.

But Obama’s policy proposals and approach to government would do more to materially improve the lives of the working and middle classes than would those of his opponent, who has taken to the phrase “spread the wealth” as an imprecation, and who has sought to define the average American as a plumber making more than $250,000 a year. According to the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, Obama’s health care plan would reduce the number of uninsured citizens by 34 million by 2018, while McCain’s plan would reduce the number by 5 million. The same analysis showed that citizens making less than $100,000 per year would receive a larger tax cut under Obama’s tax plan.

Temperament is another key difference. McCain has developed a habit of betraying his purportedly independent principles: adopting a xenophobic immigration stance, condoning torture, selecting a Christianist running mate who is both more ideological and less informed than Bush circa 2000 and running a campaign based increasingly on scare tactics and racial overtones. Obama has proven his character, refraining from personal attacks, reaching out to political opponents and avoiding a strict ideology.

An Oct. 18 Survey USA poll showed Obama winning Minnesota by only 6 percentage points. Many students live in states in which the race is even closer. There is a significant difference in priorities between the two candidates, and one of them will be inaugurated president this January. We urge students to go to the polls on Nov. 4 and cast a vote for Barack Obama.

The opinions expressed above are those of The Mac Weekly, as determined by the staff. The perspectives are not representative of Macalester College.