Monday the 20th marked the two-thousandth day since George W Bush declared "Mission Accomplished" in Iraq. Make no mistake, this is a dangerous world. We are threatened at home, and we are threatened abroad. But the word "WE" is also a dangerous term. What does this word mean? "We" encompasses the freedom-loving world, one that believes in democracy, and capitalism, freedom of religion and freedom of speech. We are the Indonesians who fell victim to the club attacks in Bali. We are the British who suffered attack in the tube and on busses in London. We are the Spanish of the Atocha train station attacks, and we are the countless others affected since 9/11 by terrorism in their lives.
I am not bringing up these incidents as a way of frightening people. I bring them up to make a basic point: I want you all to recognize that this election will not be decided by a cult of personality that so many of our friends on the right wish to make it into, but that it is built on two words: competence....and hope.
John McCain is a great man, an honorable man, a decent man. I respect his many terms in the U.S. Congress, and I am humbled by his time spent as a Navy flier and POW. What I do not respect, however, is his using "air quotes" to attack a woman’s right to have an abortion when her personal health is at issue. What I do not respect is his calling "the fundamentals of our economy" strong, when the working and middle classes are struggling with $3 gasoline and weak job prospects. What I do not respect is the aggressive posture he takes with Iran. What I do not respect are his ceaseless and pathetic attempt to attack Barack Obama over an unrepentant white terrorist who Obama has repudiated time and time again, just so the word "terrorist" and the name "Barack Obama" are mentioned within ten seconds of each other. We all know the world we live in, and surely when someone thinks of the word "terrorist" at this moment in time they think of radical, lunatic-fringe Muslim extremists...and not some "weatherman" from the 1960s radical left. Regretfully, the truth is that the McCain/Palin campaign is not built on positive future goals, but it is built on demeaning Barack Obama. I hate to break it to the fringe right that now controls the Republican Party, but the politics of fear died with President Bush’s approval ratings.
Competence. Competence is a word rarely used in politics today. We hear so much about Barack Obama’s "relative inexperience" and his "lack of foreign policy credentials", but we do not hear about his judgment, reason, intelligence and devotion to this great country. Tell those criticisms to former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Jim Jones, and former four-star general Colin Powell, Al Gore, Bill Clinton, Warren Buffett and others. What do you think Sarah Palin sees in Barack Obama that they don’t? Are you kidding? Barack Obama sits on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he traveled to Iraq, Israel, and Germany among others as a sign of his desire to change the view of America in the world. He was right about the Iraq war, he has flawlessly run the biggest campaign in history, and he has devoted his entire adult life to public service. Tell me that isn’t judgment that you can respect? He is young, but so were Jack Kennedy and Bill Clinton. He doesn’t have 20+ years in the US Congress, but neither did Abraham Lincoln. Competence and experience are not always mutually inclusive, just look at someone with arguably the best resume in America today, Donald Rumsfeld.
Hope. Think about that word and think about the world we could live in if this country rallied behind a common goal. The climate crisis, the rise in poverty, the budget deficit, the fiscal crisis, Medicare, social security, the divisive rhetoric, and the global militaristic outlook. In international relations, there is a theory called complex interdependence. It basically means that the world works better when we come to understand that we are all in this together. That we all work for our own goals, all while keeping in mind that someone else has those same goals as well for their own populace. Every country in our "coalition of the willing" and a total of 70 countries around the world were recently polled by Gallup and overwhelmingly supported Barack Obama over John McCain by nearly a 4-to-1 margin. In this modern world, he is seen as a consensus builder and that’s the way to get things done in the era of globalization. Barack Obama believes in talking to our enemies, regardless of posturing, largely because a U.S. President should as John Kennedy famously said "Never negotiate out of fear, but...never fear to negotiate." This dangerous world needs and deserves better from this shining city upon a hill.
We are in a different time and a different political climate than 2004. That year, I worked on the Kerry campaign in Ohio. I never thought we were going to win that time, but I worked hard anyway. I fought for my country’s future, I fought to tell people of John Kerry’s competence, and I fought for my own hope for a better tomorrow. I wrote an Op-Ed column in my collegiate newspaper the week before Election Day asking my fellow students at Case Western to "give competency a chance". Well, after all we have seen of the last eight years, and the stunts, aggressiveness, divisiveness, and empty posturing we have seen out of the McCain/Palin campaign I make that call again but I am compelled to say this- Not only do I implore you to give competency a chance, I beg you to hope for a better future and elect Barack Obama the 44th president of the United States of America. Thank you very much for your time and consideration.