I'm going to suspend my "No National Politics Rule" for this post. I generally avoid getting into the deeply partisan world of Democrat vs Republican contests, partly because I don't want all that I have said and will say to be judged against my political views. I feel that what I want to say today is important enough to risk that.
I'm an Independent. I've stated many times before that I don't believe political parties in general are good for America. I won't get into that now. I am not and have never been a fan of George Bush, so I did not vote for him in 2000 or 2004. Many of you will say that he's not running today. To them, I put forth the parable of the house-sitting companies.
"The Parable of the house-sitting companies"
Lets say you're going away for a number of years. You want to hire a company to maintain your home and yard, and basically house-sit for you while you're away. When you return 8 years into your absence, you find that the crew sent out by the company did a terrible job, burning down part of your home, flooding another part, and somehow turning all of your neighbors against you. Unfortunately, you still need someone to take care of your place. The company you hired before (We'll call them "Grand Ol' Property Maintence") says, "Hey, don't think about the last 8 years; we'll send a different crew out for the next 4. They're totally different from the previous bunch, we swear." Do you give them another try, or do you maybe say "No, you've lost your chance at earning this job for a while. I think I'll try the other company in town." The end.
The Republican candidate needs to be defeated in this election to show the formerly-honorable GOP that they've strayed far from their roots. When Bush won 4 years ago, I was saddened by the results but also by what I saw coming in 2008. I have been a fan of John McCain, and I correctly assumed he would be the Republican nominee to succeed Bush. Unfortunately, I knew I would have to vote against someone who I respected because I believe that the current administration has done so much damage that the pendulum needs to swing back the other way. Unfortunately, John McCain has made it all too easy to vote against him this time around. He's not the man he was in 2000. Actually I believe that he is that man somewhere deep inside, but he's sacrificed his character to win the election.
I am an Independent, but the Republican Party keeps trying to make me a Democrat. When I opposed the Iraq war, they called me a traitor and said I didn't support the troops. Apparently they don't remember opposing nearly every military action taken by Clinton. When I was outraged by the United States of America using torture, I was told that I was sympathizing with terrorists. I hear Republicans accuse Barack Obama of being a terrorist, a Muslim, a socialist. Since when do others decide what religion we are? Now we have to prove what religions we aren't? I'd like to see John McCain prove he's not a Dark Lord of the Sith. As Colin Powell said, even if Obama was a Muslim, so what? Has religious freedom been eliminated as well? I hear Republicans shout "off with his head," "traitor," and "kill him," at rallies, yet there is no national outrage. During this election, several McCain folks have called Obama supporters "un-American", "unpatriotic", and said they're not part of the "real America." I am not some raving Democrat activist, but I am still deeply bothered by these things. I don't see Barack Obama questioning people's patriotism or love for this country.
To me, all of these things are deeper than politics. On a purely political level, I agree and disagree with some of both Obama and McCain's policies. I lean towards Obama's economic and diplomatic solutions, but I also value McCain's experience as a veteran, war hero, and long-time Senator. I would have loved to see a clean election about the real issues facing America. A real discussion about taxes, health care, diplomacy, etc. Instead we've had a race to the bottom of garbage campaigning, led by former Bush campaign strategists. Barack Obama could be a great President. The John McCain of 2000 could have been as well. However, since he seems to be once again Missing In Action, I'll be voting for Obama today.
Whoever you vote for, I'd urge you to remember that both sides are trying to do what they believe is best for this country. Neither side has a monopoly on patriotism or love of this country.