Recently I received an email from a friend who supports Obama asking why I am not also an Obama supporter, and how I can be for Hillary. I’ve been asked this numerous times during the past several months, and since I don’t have time to respond to everyone of you, I thought I’d post my recent response to my friend. Yes, we are still friends despite this rift, it can be done…
I’m for Hillary and against Obama for a variety of reasons, but mainly because Hillary champions my interests and values:
She has a clearly articulated and comprehensive stance on women’s reproductive rights (pro-of course!), and notes that scientifically based and age appropriate sex-ed should be guaranteed to students. She has already made strides, including working to get plan B available over the counter. With the supreme court being divided on this issue, and members actively trying to overturn roe v wade and mandate abstinence only sex-ed programs for students, it is going to be a real issue during the next presidency (and McCain of course is vehemently anti-choice).
It took me a while, but I did finally find a written record of Obama’s stance on his website. It was in the second half of his 60 page downloadable blueprint and was 3 bullet points in size 5 font. It said that he would not allow roe v wade to be overturned and that he thought women have a right to choose.
I’m relieved, but feel that his voting record in Chicago (voting present on pro-choice legislation and counting it as a victory for pro-choice platform) and his evident pandering to evangelicals, warrant a stronger and more visible stance. I believe women’s reproductive rights are civil rights, and would like to see him consider them as such as well.
His relationship with Evangelicals is really troubling. It permeates his views on combating AIDS in Africa (he congratulated Rick Warren and TD Jakes for their outstanding work, and on his website, uses them as a model for how institutions outside the government can create positive change) and I guess can be credited for his unwillingness to mention “global warming” on his website. He instead calls it “climate change” which is more palatable to Evangelical voters. In my opinion, it makes his stand on reproductive rights questionable too…
His plan for Iraq which proposes an “immediate withdrawal” to slowly take place over 16 months doesn’t seem that different from Hillary’s withdrawal after 60 days (which will allow for a coordinated and planned inter-departmental collaborative effort), but it does seem Hillary envisions a stronger, more visible and more permanent role for the UN, asking for them to appoint a high level official to over-see (a la Kosovo with all those hot Albanians) formation of new govt, a more comprehensive plan for fostering communication between sectarian elements, and about the same as Obama on addressing the needs of refugees and bordering nations (including Iran and Syria) she doesn’t mention plans to put 7,000 more troops in Afghanistan hinging on their withdrawal from Iraq (that I know of, which Obama does), and her veterans health care package (and her stance on health care in general) is more comprehensive.
Hillary’s health care: Having a mandate is imperative for either health care plan to work, and I need health care, which is not offered by my employer (a non-profit arts groups).
As for GLBT issues, it’s true that neither is as strong an advocate as I’d like, but I do know that Hillary discusses AIDS effecting a disproportionate amount of gays, latinos, blacks and women, and that our national strategy needs to be adjusted to address that, including needle exchange, early detection and sex-ed.
She also states that civil unions must have the same legal advantages and rights as marriage (property, inheritance, etc…), which is not as good as saying gays should have the right to marry, but is a step in that direction. She has also publicly spoken positively about states choosing to allow full marriage rights, and has marched in a number of gay pride parades, actually being the first First Lady to do so. While they may just be symbolic gestures, Obama’s symbolic gestures, such as refusing to be photographed with San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom due to his support of gay marriage, and his inclusion of homophobic ministers in his forty days of faith tour, are at a minimum dismissive, and at worst, hostile towards gay rights. Of all the democratic candidates participating in this primary, Obama clearly has the least concern about equal rights for our GLBT friends.
Some may point out that in speeches Obama mentions gay and lesbian issues a lot, I would argue that he mentions them at politically opportune moments, such as in an effort to stem the backlash against him by the GLBT community. Obama often says the right thing, and does the opposite. Obama’s website doesn’t address gay issues as frequently as Clinton’s does…and of course there’s the whole evangelical thing…not that they don’t love gays.
Obama’s stance on the environment makes me nervous. Both candidates talk about capping carbon emissions, however, Obama says we must invest in clean coal technology to do it. Outside of his campaign, the real advocates of clean coal are mainly found in the energy industry. The Union of Concerned Scientists published an article noting that Clean Coal can be 80% worse than regular emissions. Hillary advocates for alternative technologies: wind, solar etc… and addressed tax incentives for those who buy green homes and green builders (both Obama and Clinton talk about re-training the construction industry to be green and using this to boost unemployment).
There are a number of other reasons I can’t support Obama for the nomination, but this covers those most important to me. I invite you to do your own research beyond what the mainstream media has fed us, you just might see a different candidate…