Work on the Candidate

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Many of you know I’ve lived outside the United States since late 2001.  If I were trying to seem poetic or sentimental I would mention that it was 2 months after 9/11.  Or I would bring up the extreme difficulty and hostility I experienced trying to do research as a freelance journalist into the disappearing immigrants of Arab descent.  But thats not really it either, the reasons I left are more complex and less dramatic.

Still throughout the last 7 years I’ve often wondered if a change of president would make it more appealing to live once again in the US.  But I can also tell you that one thing I’ve figured out for myself is that the president is not what is wrong with the United States.  No the problems go beyond the white house and beyond politics.  So a change of president does not equal a change in culture… things don’t happen that quickly or easily.

Speaking with one of my most valued friends back in NJ today, he said to me “Obama mania is sweeping the nation man… its going to be great.”  To which I responded “Just because there is Obama mania does not mean things will be great.” Which is the response I feel I need to give more and more these days.

Like his profile? Sure why not. Plenty to like about that life and family history.  Like his speaking style? Most of the time, although if we’re honest with ourselves we know that 75% of the time he’s not really saying anything, just using the talking points and the slogans like advisors tell him to.  Like his politics? Im not sure about that anymore either. From Free Trade, to Middle East policies, to Criminal Justice, Barak Obama says less and less that I can actually agree with or that differs with the same old populist politics of the last decades.

Obama mania is sweeping the nation.  It starts to sound like any one progressively minded should lay down their arms and embrace the man in the name of getting him elected.  Yet I propose.. hell.. I demand something else.  I demand that you hammer this candidate with questions. That you scrutinize his proposed policies, his staff choices, his voting record, and the details of the lofty promises or the shady relationships with questionable forces. Don’t jump on the bandwagon, stand up and ask your candidate to explain himself.  Run him through the ringer, before its too late, and we end up with a man that owes favors to the same old powerful interests and politics we never actually wanted.

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