Editorial, Opinion

STAFF EDIT: Obama for president

Though it’s said every four years, this year’s election is the most important thus far in our nation’s history. With multiple crises facing the United States in both the immediate and long-term futures, a continuation of the prior administration’s failed policies and leadership would spell disaster for the nation. In a time of uncertainty, Sen. Obama has proved himself to be the right man to lead the United States as its 44th president.

Republican challenger John McCain hasn’t risen to earn his own self-proclaimed ‘maverick’ title. The Arizona senator has spent enormous effort attacking Obama’s campaign while depending on party divisions and the obsolete tactics that divide voters. His astoundingly short-minded choice in choosing Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin as his running mate calls McCain’s judgment into question even more than hers.

The John McCain who ran for office in 2000 would make a far better president than the McCain the public has come to know. Eight years ago, McCain’s record as a war hero who later used his public office to fight corruption and excessive spending stood relatively unblemished. He deserved the maverick moniker he now touts because he pursued exactly the kind of entrenched flaws in the political system that makes enemies.

McCain abandoned that ethos during President Bush’s second term when he embraced some of Bush’s most indefensible policies, including the president’s stubborn opposition to decreasing troop levels in Iraq. He cynically adopted the same senseless smear tactics Bush so effectively used against him in the 2000 Republican presidential primaries in his 2008 campaign against Obama.

Perhaps the most obvious and difficult problem facing the United States today is the failure of its financial institutions. Instead of distancing himself from the past and proposing new ideas for fixing the economy, McCain’s consistent answer has been to cut needless government spending and still decrease taxes. Obama’s plan to bring more equality to the national tax structure represents a real change to a system that, for years, has benefited the rich. As middle class Americans become saddled with the burden of a $700 billion bailout that directly benefits the wealthy banks and corporations that caused this crisis, it will be vital that the next president ensure that the rich foot some of the bill.

The issue of the natural environment has taken a back seat to more immediate problems in this election, but it remains a worldwide plight that promises to have severe and irreparable consequences on the human race. The United States uses more energy than any other country in the world, and how we answer these demands has a very real effect on both local and worldwide ecosystems. What is clear in this time of increasing environmental stress is that the nation needs less consumption, not more production. Both issues are growing direr, but fortunately, both can be addressed by a solid and progressive energy plan.

Both candidates have expressed interest in developing alternative fuels, but only Obama has set goals and a realistic time frame for these changes. His plans look to address energy independence by developing domestic technologies, environmental degradation by making those technologies renewable and clean and economic woes by creating green jobs.

McCain has expressed interest in investing in nuclear technologies, which is a currently misunderstood and regrettably ignored domestic solution for the United States to answer both diplomatic and environmental concerns. He fell short, however, in providing any real substance to calls for alternative fuels and development. Meanwhile, his short-minded push for offshore drilling is environmentally irresponsible and would produce far too little energy to bring any significant relief to U.S. gas prices.

It’s no secret that the reputation of the United States has suffered internationally. Traditional allies are challenging U.S. authority on many issues, and efforts to settle disputes with nations like Cuba and Iran diplomatically are non-existent. The nation needs a leader who will work to restore America’s reputation as a world leader and peacemaker in a world that has become extremely globalized and intricate.

At this point, McCain offers nothing but the same stonewalling tactics we’ve seen for the past eight years. Obama, on the other hand, has such international support that his appearances abroad often draw crowds as big as those for his domestic rallies. His skill at rising to become a presidential nominee shows his ability to draw support from friends and potential foes. It’s clear that Obama is America’s international leader.

Valid questions have been raised as to whether a politician as inexperienced as Obama has the muscle and the skill to accomplish any of his goals. It is true that some voters’ astronomical expectations for the Democrat will have to fall to Earth should he be elected. But Obama, if he becomes president, has the ability to effect far more good riding a wave of high expectations than McCain would coming into office with far lower hopes for him.

Obama is a rare candidate. His combination of youth and untested ambition have caused some to liken him to a modern John F. Kennedy. Clearly, Obama has come a long way to earn the Democratic presidential nomination. He has demonstrated spot-on judgment on issues ranging from economic equality to human rights for citizens and non-citizens alike. With his exceptional abilities as a networker, he should be able to accomplish many of these lofty goals. He would serve the country and the world well as the next president of the United States.

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