Monday, July 7, 2008

Not Running Towards Obama

I'm one of those Hillary Clinton supporters that the media keeps reporting is threatening to vote for McCain. Now, there's not a chance that I'm going to vote for McCain because I'm intelligent enough to see that Obama supports more of my beliefs than McCain does (and in fact, I think most Hillary supporters are smart enough to do that calculation). So I think that the real question becomes if we Hillary supporters are going to do everything we can to get Obama elected, or whether we're going to just apathetically show up on election day and vote for him.

Once upon a time a long long time ago, when this election season started, I was very excited about Obama. I was more excited about Hillary, so after some consideration I decided to back her. But for me, it was a win/win and either way I expected to fully support the nominee - money, door knocking, phone banking, etc. Since then, I've moved into the Hillary camp... hoping that I could come back out easily, happily continuing to help if the vote went against my hopes. Well, he's making it hard.

Now, I don't usually like to get into discussions about abortion because I think it's one of those things that people are unlikely to change their minds about and are likely to care deeply about. But I'm staunchly pro-choice. And while Obama's pro-choice... he's been making statements which begin to chip away at that position by defining situations in which it's ok for the government to decide for women if they're allowed to get an abortion or not.

My first worry was based on comments he made which support parental consent and/or notification laws. Or rather, he says “I would oppose any legislation that does not include a bypass provision for minors who have been victims of, or have reason to fear, physical or sexual abuse." Well yes, I would oppose that too. But this implies that he would support the laws as long as these provisions were in place. Just a guess, but I imagine that if a minor is in that situation, it's likely that they won't have the adult resources to know how to go about getting a bypass to a judge. (Politico article)

Now he's moved on to limiting which women are allowed to get third trimester abortions. He says he opposes late-term abortion in cases of "mental distress." This is another common way to slowly whittle away women's rights (and my interest and advocacy for his candidacy). (AP article, original article in Relevant magazine, Obama "clarification")

It's true that all politicians make compromises. And maybe I'm holding him to a higher standard since he preaches a different kind of politics. But then, isn't it only fair to judge him by his own standards? In which case he either falls short or he actually believes in limiting abortion. Either way, while he'll have my vote, he might not have my help.

6 comments:

GASARCH said...

How much does the Prez
affect pro-choice/pro-life
policy? Supreme court
justices certainly, but
anything else? I honestly
don't know and am asking.

bill g.

Anonymous said...

Supreme Court is huge. But it isn't everything, since laws can still whittle away our rights.

I'd like to quibble with,
"Or rather, he says “I would oppose any legislation that does not include a bypass provision for minors who have been victims of, or have reason to fear, physical or sexual abuse." Well yes, I would oppose that too. But this implies that he would support the laws as long as these provisions were in place."

For a president, there is a big gulf between opposing and supporting, so I don't think you can make this kind of logic. By supporting something, the president can set the national agenda. Not supporting it just means it doesn't come up.

I don't think it makes sense to hold Obama to higher standards than you would hold Clinton, as you say in your last paragraph.

sorelle said...

I think the president affects abortion policy about the same amount as he affects other policy - while he doesn't introduce bills, etc., he still affects the party's policies, decides what to veto, and generally serves as the head of the party. If the party has a majority, that can mean a lot of power. Plus, he has a major voice in the media, so his opinions are more discussed, recognized, and validated than those of anyone (?) else.

That said, I don't think that him not supporting something will mean that it won't come up. There are, after all, other important people with agendas. And the parental consent agenda is a common one, especially with the anti-choice lobby as it's a good way to start chipping away at rights. I think it's likely (read: guaranteed) to come up. So if he doesn't stand in the way, he allows it to become law. Effectively, this is equivalent to supporting it.

I think it's only fair to hold Obama to the standards that he sets. Or, I also see it this way: Clinton lies... but is pretty upfront that she'll do whatever it takes to win (i.e. lie). But Obama lies and lies about that he's going to lie. (Plus, I've never heard anything like this out of Clinton's mouth, even though she'd be even more able to throw her female support under a bus and still get us to vote for her.)

Anonymous said...

"I think it's only fair to hold Obama to the standards that he sets."

He is a politician. Every politician preaches a different kind of politics. Obama is different only that for him the idea stuck. That's fine, but I wouldn't either believe it or hold him to it.

"That said, I don't think that him not supporting something will mean that it won't come up. There are, after all, other important people with agendas. And the parental consent agenda is a common one, especially with the anti-choice lobby as it's a good way to start chipping away at rights. I think it's likely (read: guaranteed) to come up. So if he doesn't stand in the way, he allows it to become law. Effectively, this is equivalent to supporting it."

I don't agree. Certainly with the Democrats controlling Congress it will never come up. If the Republicans gain control of Congress, then you are right and it will come up again and again, but only because they want to score political points and not because they want to get anything done.

anon3 said...

Even if you're right about Obama supporting legislation that will slowly whittle away women's right to choose, I don't think the right conclusion is to not help out his campaign.

You said you agree with Obama on more issues than with McCain. For you (and me), it's clear that life would be better with Obama in charge than McCain. Not helping the Obama campaign because there's one issue (albeit a very important one) that you may not agree with him on is like cutting off your nose to spite your face.

sorelle said...

anon3 - I totally agree with you. And I'd like to want to help the campaign. And there are some ways that I can do that even if I'm ambivalent about the candidate (money, for example). But I'm not nearly as convincing an advocate in person (knocking on doors, phone banking, etc) if I have reservations. It's not so much a logical thing, I'm afraid.