Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald


Change even we can believe in: GOP should vote for Obama

This is an open letter to my fellow Americans in the Republican
Party who are registered to vote in the Wisconsin primary this Tuesday. For
those who are not aware, an “open” primary allows registered voters
of one party to request and vote upon the ballot of the other party. This is a
truly powerful and progressive privilege, and in this year’s election, with
John McCain as your party’s de facto nominee, you should consider the rare
opportunity you have to venture across the party line, albeit temporarily, to
vote for Barack Obama. It might be enough for some of you that a vote for Mr.
Obama could effectively guarantee that Hillary Clinton is blocked from reaching
the general election, but I will ask you to consider voting for Mr. Obama on the
basis of a higher plain of reasoning.

On principle, I am not registered with either party. As an independent,
I voted for Bush in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and in this election I support Mr.
Obama. Recently, I have spoken with a handful of Republican friends and
relatives who have expressed not only a respect for Mr. Obama, but even a
willingness to consider voting for him (one direct quote: “He’d be the
first lefty I’ve ever voted for!”). Every time I hear something like this,
I smile. I can’t help it. And I can’t help thinking: If there are 10, there
might be 10,000 who hold a similar secret ? or not-so-secret ? admiration for Mr.

Now, much has been made of the inspirational note he strikes
in his speeches, and rightfully so. But the next time you’re watching coverage
of an Obama rally, turn down the volume and observe two things. First, watch
his face and especially his eyes. For those who pay attention to such things,
there is ? despite the grueling schedule of his whirlwind campaign ? a
consistent mark of intent yet patient intelligence, a visible directness that
seems to meet the audience halfway. Second, look beyond Mr. Obama, and see how
the crowds that gather around him forge a powerful tableau of American diversity:
The faces in the bleachers blend in a display of the mottled beauty that is our
diverse heritage. There are men, women, senior citizens, babyboomers and droves
of the oft-reputed apolitical generations X and Y. And now, imagine adding to
this tableau a contingent ? even if it is a small one ? of Republicans not
afraid to recognize a leader with the ability to bring a universally desired
change to the earmarked halls of Washington.


One can see the potential power of a message by its ability
to attract a large crowd. But one will know the true transformative power of a
message by the diversity of the crowd that gathers to listen. And the world is
listening to Mr. Obama. Here is an individual who has reengaged large swathes
of the American populace with the American political process, and who ? as a prospective
national figurehead ? possesses the rare potential to reengage the goodwill of
the world community and introduce to them a renewed American identity.

Consider, for one, Mr. Obama’s bold assertion to hold
diplomatic discussions with foreign leaders branded by our current president as
members of the “axis of evil.” The current administration’s policy of
“diplomatic embargo” and isolating unfriendly nations is a modern
phenomenon based upon a new wave of false patriotism and xenophobia. Recall
that throughout the Cold War, American presidents communicated directly with
their Soviet counterparts ? Kennedy with Kruschev, Reagan with Gorbachev ? and
it very well might have been this direct communication that kept the Cold War
from ever heating up.

On the more immediate level, I believe that if you cast your
vote for Mr. Obama in the open primary, you would be voting in favor of a more
enlightened debate in the general election. Mr. Obama has made a policy of not
attacking Ms. Clinton on anything other than what is based on fact. Meanwhile,
in South Carolina, the Clinton campaign showed its willingness to bring a knife
to a boxing match as former President Bill Clinton put on a shameful display of
race-baiting. Mr. Obama kept his head up and weathered the assault with a
tremendous amount of grace. After Mr. Obama’s recent eight-state winning
streak, Ms. Clinton is spinning yet another yarn, calling him a candidate of
speeches and not a candidate of substantive policy. If you go to his website,
you’ll find Mr. Obama’s “Blueprint for Change,” which lays out in
plenty of detail his position on 15 major issues, the first and foremost of
which is ethics.

Needless to say, I suspect an election between Mr. McCain
and Ms. Clinton would deteriorate into a montage of Bill Clinton, red-faced and
jabbing his finger in the nose of anyone who criticizes his wife, and Mr.
McCain raising the specters of the Rose Law firm, Whitewater and Bill’s Oval Office
infidelities. Personally, I dread the idea of five months watching the dirt fly
as the political steam shovel we’ve all grown to detest digs up skeletons from
the 1990s.

On the other hand, I would welcome the opportunity to watch
a debate between Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama. Although it would be just as
vigorous and heated as any election, I believe the trajectory of the debates
would be more enlightened, more forward-looking and issue-driven. Furthermore,
with respect for the candor of both Mr. McCain and Mr. Obama, I believe each of
these candidates would be mutually elevated by the other: two strong, vigorous
competitors making for a strong, vigorous competition.

And I smile when I think of this. I can’t help it. This
would be the kind of debate the American people deserve. So I remind you once
more of the rare opportunity you have to bring this forward-looking debate to
the stage by casting your vote for Barack Obama in your state’s open primary.
And then, on Tuesday, Nov. 4, after the great debates have ended, we’ll all
line up for the same ballot, free to rejoin our respective party lines.

Or not.?

Rev. John DeLore Bauer

UW alumnus, 2001

[email protected]

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