On Thursday, Aug. 28, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, in one fell swoop, outlined his agenda, hit back at typical Republican smear tactics and unified the Democratic Party for the first time since the Clinton era. His acceptance speech was what many are calling one of the greatest political speeches of our time. Of course, Republicans were ready to fire back with their “inexperience” argument. Obama isn’t ready to lead. Obama doesn’t know how Washington works. Obama just doesn’t get it.
And then, not even 24 hours later, Republican nominee John McCain picked Alaska Governor Sarah Palin as his running mate.
Anyone who’s been following the election can see this is a big contradiction. McCain’s argument has been to point out Obama’s inexperience as a hindrance, yet Palin has only been governor two months longer than Obama has been running for president. However, this argument, as the Republicans are now finding out, is severely flawed.
To better understand, we need to go back to March 18, 2003. The United States, along with a small group of other countries, has begun its invasion of Iraq with the now infamous “shock and awe” military strike. Since then the war has been a disaster resulting in an approval rating so low that even the ideologically-driven Bush must be ashamed. But at the time of the invasion, Bush had not one, but two of the most experienced politicians in the world standing by his side, guiding him through a time of war: Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.
And what became of two of our most experienced politicians? One was forced to resign for doing his job so poorly, while the other accidentally shot his friend in the face.
I bring this up because this illustrates the flaw in McCain’s thinking. Experience doesn’t count for everything. Is it important? Yes. It’s nice for nominees to have dealt with more than local government, or a few oil companies they unsuccessfully ran. Is it everything? Certainly not.
What we should be looking for in our candidates is not how long they’ve sat behind a desk but how clear and responsible their judgments were while sitting behind that desk. Obama has shown he’s capable of making reasoned, thought-out decisions. One look at his Web site, which clearly outlines his stances on all of this election’s issues, supports this. So, the question is: how sensible is it to not vote for a candidate with a proven track record of sound judgments because he hasn’t been a part of the game for a few decades?
But if this argument can be applied to Obama, surely it can be applied to Palin, right? The unfortunate truth is that Palin’s stance on many issues shows she lacks Obama’s insight and clarity. You don’t have to look further than the recent controversy surrounding her daughter’s pregnancy. Palin has asked everyone to stay out of her family’s personal business, yet she wants to get into everyone’s personal business by making abortion illegal. While I completely agree that the media shouldn’t drag her daughter into this, the fact is that her actions clearly contradict her policies. That’s hypocrisy at its finest.
This November, when you head to the polls to cast your vote, please remember that experience doesn’t count for everything. Please remember that clear judgment on issues such as education, the economy and foreign policy count for something too.