Diatribes of Jay

This blog has essays on public policy. It shuns ideology and applies facts, logic and math to social problems. It has a subject-matter index, a list of recent posts, and permalinks at the ends of posts. Comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

29 December 2007

Vote Your Hearts, Iowa!

(A Message to Iowa’s Democrats)

Responsibility is yours. Vote one way, and you’ll begin a coronation. Vote another, and you’ll make the nation think. All eyes are on you as you caucus.

What do the rest of us ask of you? To parse the charges and countercharges? To unwind the lies and half truths? No, those are jobs for pundits. All we ask is your hearts.

With an eye on the polls, one leading candidate will tell you what she thinks you want to hear. Sometimes she twists herself into knots.

Do you trust her? Do you really believe that failing to reform health care is “experience”? That voting for war with the crowd—twice—is “leadership”?

Does having known Benazir Bhutto make up for not publishing specific plans to catch bin Laden and stop terrorists, as Barack Obama did? Are we picking an international celebrity or someone who can solve our most difficult and dangerous problems? There’s a difference between knowing people and knowing how.

Some of you may remember Richard Nixon’s “secret plan for peace” in Vietnam. To win the 1968 election, he promised he had one. But he never revealed it. We all know how that “plan” ended: in humiliating defeat after Nixon resigned in disgrace.

Do you really want to bet your children’s future on Hillary Clinton’s secret plans, which her “experience” tells her she would be “naïve” to reveal to us voters? Wouldn’t that be really “rolling the dice”?

Hillary Clinton says that talking to leaders of countries like Iran, Syria and North Korea without preconditions would be “naïve.” Barack Obama says, “Not talking doesn’t make us look tough, it makes us look arrogant.” Which view makes more sense?

Another leading candidate promises real change. Both he and Obama will tell you the truth. They’ll even tell you what you don’t want to hear.

But beyond that the two diverge wildly. One sees enemies here at home that we must “fight.” He girds for an internal war. The other seeks unity.

Haven’t we had enough division? We’re in a deep hole—of debt, failing energy, internal discord, foreign wars, and lost honor. We dug that hole ourselves, mostly by fighting among ourselves. We’ve got culture wars, ideological wars, religious discord, political wars, and conflict over war itself.

For seven years we’ve wasted our nation’s vast potential in internal strife. Isn’t it time for unity?

We can dig ourselves out of our hole if all we pull together. If we keep on fighting amongst ourselves, we are lost.

There is only one Democrat who’ll level with you, bring real change, and foster unity. You know who he is.

Some have called Barack Obama “inexperienced” and “naïve.” But hasn’t that been the charge against all great Americans?

George Washington was “inexperienced” in European warfare. Our Royalists thought him “naïve” to lead a ragtag band of citizen-farmers against the mighty British Empire. But he did, and they won.

When Abe Lincoln became president, he had less experience in elective office than Barack Obama does right now. He was “naïve” to think we could end slavery, so deeply embedded in the South’s culture and economy. But he crushed slavery and preserved the Union.

FDR was “naïve” to lead an isolationist country unprepared for war against the world’s most fearsome military machine. But he did. The peace built on his leadership and our nation’s sacrifice thrives in Europe and Asia today.

Ronald Reagan was just a screen actor. He had only eight years in elective office when he became president. (Obama will have twelve.) Reagan was “naïve” to ask Gorbachev to “tear down that wall.” But he did, and the wall came down.

At every turning point in our nation’s history, “naïve” leaders made big dreams come true. “Go along to get along” has never been our credo. We left that sort of “experience” behind in 1776.

Now we have new Royalists. Our dynastic leaders—Bushes and Clintons alike—are beginning to think they were born to rule. They expect us to anoint them without even knowing their plans.

Without taking us into her confidence, Clinton wants us to trust her “experience.” But on issue after issue she won’t tell us what she will do. She thinks a “blind trust” is something voters give a winning candidate.

So the light of our dreams is dimming. We all know it. Our honor abroad is tarnished. Danger mounts with no official plan to face it. Our middle class is sinking.

We need someone who believes in hope and unity and has real plans to fight terrorists. We need someone with enough confidence in his own judgment to share those plans with us before we vote. We need someone “naïve” enough to think we can make the light shine again.

Obama is that person. You know it in your hearts. So vote your hearts, Iowa, and show us all the way.

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