(This was written earlier today on the bus ride home from a 3-day vacation in Montreal and Quebec City with Han and her parents)
Tomorrow is the day that the United States will choose who will lead them into the next 4 years. The next elected President has an arduous task ahead of them; for in my mind there are 4 major challenges they face : 1) Energy reduction – with all this talk about energy independence, I stand for energy reduction and investment in renewable resources to achieve energy independence. Perhaps a deep recession will help achieve this. 2) Improving America’s image: The United States needs to improve its image in the world’s eyes. This is not an easy thing to do after 8 years of neo-conservatism that has spawned new enemies all over the world. The next President needs to appear tough, but compassionate (Two very contradicting positions) 3) War exit strategy – The next President needs to work on an exit strategy from Iraq and Afghanistan so the country can focus more on its own domestic issues. Regardless of who becomes President, this will be a big monkey on their back, with the fundamental difference that Obama will set a timetable on withdrawal from Iraq. But as the Canadian government has learned in Afghanistan, a timetable will most likely be delayed over and over again so it won’t have the “teeth” that Obama would hope it to have. War debt has preceded the end of all major empires. Money for war doesn’t grow on trees (Or does it?? Watch this 2-hour documentary to find out) 4) Financial System Reform – The next President needs to focus on an overhaul of the US financial system and regulations. The Government’s recent nationalization of private financial institutions will keep the financial markets inflated and will likely lead to a longer (however slower) decline in the economy; the effects of which will likely still be visible closer to the end of the President’s first term. It also encourages CEOs and CFOs to milk the system because if they screw up, the government will come to their rescue anyway. Even GM and Chrysler are trying to get a piece of the “bailout pie” with their recent request for $10 billion to assist in a merger of the two respective corporations.
The election race has been dirty. I really wanted to look at McCain and Obama from an objective perspective and focus on the issues. But I feel that McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate brought out the worst in the Republican dirty tactics. I even get the sense that McCain is uncomfortable with the extent of some of those attacks: Associating Obama with terrorism, using several approaches to tie Obama to Radical Islam, implications that Obama has Marxist aspirations, attacks that generate racist thoughts, deep mistrust, etc. While on one side we have Palin encouraging these thoughts, we have McCain on the other hand doing interviews where he acknowledges that he doesn’t think Obama is a Socialist or a Marxist, and that he’s a good decent family man, even acknowledging that Ayers is an irrelevant “washed up terrorist”. The biggest challenge for McCain is to maintain his bi-partisan stance as a man who brings people together to get things done, while Palin has been rallying the base Republicans to bring the Republicans further to the right thus dividing the parties even more. What McCain needs to do is to rally the more moderate Republicans and independents who sit closer to the center, instead of allowing the center-leaning Red states to turn into Blue states.
To top it all off, some base Republican groups and/or individuals have been trying to deceive the public by distributing flyers, emails and robocalls to deceive the public about the election. In one such example, voters were told in flyers that due to a high turnout in voters this year, Republicans would vote Tuesday and Democrats on Wednesday. However there is no evidence that these types of flyers were actually distributed by a Republican, so it’s hard to tell without these people being brought to justice. But there is evidence that Republican affiliated groups have been distributing pure lies about Obama, which is truly unfortunate but nothing new for the fear-mongerers.
No matter what happens tomorrow, the process of recovering the United States would take many years and many sacrifices, so regardless of who wins, challenging days are still ahead of us because things don’t change overnight. Obama brings that JFK-style of hope and pride for the future that could inspire the nation to change. John McCain is a man who can make change, but whether his direction is the right direction is another question. A McCain Administration would also have to deal with his VP’s aspirations in pursuing her own selfish agenda; and he has already indicated that he would contain Palin to focus on Energy reform, thus keeping her out of other issues. I agree with Palin that Energy independence is a major challenge of the next President, but I disagree with her 3-fold approach of drilling, burning coal and expanding nuclear production (Palin says she supports other methods, but these 3 seem to be her de-facto response to the energy crisis). I like Obama’s emphasis on investing in renewable energy sources such as wind, solar and tide, but I disagree with his support of the so-called “clean coal”, nuclear and offshore drilling.
At the end of the day, although I don’t agree fully with either candidate, I think one candidate has shown a higher level of integrity in the campaign trail as well as a high level of leadership, constraint and intellectualism. My friend James Leroy Wilson over at DownSizeDC.org is voting for Bob Barr because he doesn’t like McCain or Obama, but I think that Obama is the best choice for the future of America and I sincerely hope that positive change would be forthcoming in an Obama Administration. But hope is just hope and action is the only way to achieve one’s hopes and dreams, so we’ll see what the future holds for America.