The last few days have been a general election circus, and for good reasons. Obama is for abortion, but he is also for faith based funding. He is against gun ownership, yet he is for the second amendment and the latest Supreme Court ruling. He opposes the death penalty, but he dismays the highest court decision to strike down the death penalty for child rapists. Adding salt to injury, Obama told us that his visit to Iraq might influence his future actions on the issue. Therefore, he must be a flip-flopper and the critics are right.
The same critics that discovered Obama’s secret liberal identity during the primary, now are certain that he belongs to the gang of unprincipled politicians willing to promise anything until elected. The simple logic leading to this conclusion is the fact that his positions are not representing a liberal stance and subsequently he must be another liberal flip-flopper.
With all due respect, I disagree with the political analysts on the two sides of the fence. The ones that loved Obama’s liberalism and the ones that wanted to hang him for it. The political pundits that reject his positions as a betrayal of the high principals and the ones that believe it is another general election maneuver, both are wrong.
Obama’s positions are not contradictory. A woman’s right to choose is not a call for abortion, and is never a proof of abandoning the role of faith based organizations in helping their communities. In fact, Obama worked closely for years with churches as a community organizer in south Chicago.
The constitutional right of an individual to own weapons is not in dispute. It is the government’s obligation to protect the society from criminals carrying guns, which needs an answer. The Patriot Act imposed many restrictions on individual rights; does the same logic apply to weapon’s ownership?
Although the decision to strike down the death penalty for rape might sound reasonable from liberal perspectives, it is conceivable that in some cases the damage done on the victim is so severe that the jury decides death is the only punishment fit for the crime. Should such decision stay in the hands of the justice system?
The Iraq comment is another example where a simple and sensible comment was blown out of proportion. Obama never went back on his promise to withdraw our forces from Iraq. He rightfully made it clear that his upcoming visit to Iraq will help influence his future actions on the subject. I thought that such comment would not merit any response. It is obvious that you go to places to learn, and if you are a normal human being, these facts should influence your decisions. However, the political world created a full forty-eight hours of meaningless analysis to push through the airwaves.
Any attempt to analyze these actions would lead to a simple conclusion; Obama is a pragmatic leader with an independent approach to solving problems.
In his book “Audacity of Hope,” he addresses faith, race, and family among other critical and controversial subjects, which any smart political operator would avoid at any cost. However, his thought process throughout the book defies the left and right positions in many cases equally.
For example, Obama is not a conservative when it comes to abortion, while his discussion of faith in forming political positions stands in contrast with the liberal points of view. His support of a government sponsored national health care program as a competitor in the market place verses a single payer program –Hillary’s model- align with market forces championed by conservatives. These are just two examples out of many that would enforce any reader to conclude the independence of his approach to solving problems outside the predefined formulas of the two party systems.
Obama’s independent political position should be a major asset in a year when polls show that sixty percent of Americans refuse to identify with either political party. However, because of the nature of the primaries the Obama campaign failed to capitalize on this reality.
The next few months will be crucial in defining the independent nature of the candidate, but more importantly to depict the independent voter that can relate to this campaign.
An independent political position is not an ideology adapted by individuals or parties but more of a dynamic vision of what the country needs at a specific point of time. Subsequently an independent voter and candidate are left or right leaning depending on the circumstances. This is no flip-flopping, unless the country and the candidate fail to see eye-to-eye.