I think we’re all a little war-weary. Let me explain.
What launched me into blogging was the buildup to the Iraq war in 2003. A decade later, that’s all my child, born in late 2003, has ever known. That is unacceptable.
Except it’s known, and not known — a conflict started by George W. Bush under the flimsiest of pretexts that has already lasted longer than Vietnam and killed many more of our soldiers…yet it’s a burden that has been undertaken by a small number of families who’ve endured multiple rotations. While they fought, we didn’t issue war bonds or conscript every man of eligible age and health status into service. No, most of America went blithely about its business.
Like children we lost interest when it got difficult, weren’t too clear on the concepts to begin with, or lost patience when our own troubles rose up in the near Great Recession. My son has an excuse for not understanding what we were doing in Iraq and Afghanistan — he’s only 8 years old. But the many adults who still don’t understand that Saddam Hussein had nothing to do with Al Qaeda have no excuse for their ignorance.
And so finally, in 2008, we elected someone who vowed to clean up the wars W. had started. That was President Obama.
He’s often lauded as an eloquent speech-giver, but two of the sweetest words President Obama has ever uttered were, “Welcome home.”
So part of the reason I’m voting for Obama is that we’re finally starting to see that draw down we were promised and committed to as a nation. We can’t undo our history there or leave in haste. But we also cannot let a constant state of war be the New Normal.
I’m voting for Obama because he painstakingly repaired our reputation abroad and repudiated the Bush doctrine. (You remember the Bush doctrine, the one the rest of the world protested against because in practice it meant unprovoked war? The Bush doctrine that Sarah Whatshername from Alaska barely understood like the overgrown child she was/is?)
I’m voting for Obama because, as he pointed out to Mitt Romney during the last debate, he and the State Department under the able leadership of Hillary Clinton carefully and deliberately laid, brick by brick, a new road to multilateral relations with our allies.
I’m voting for Obama again because if he’s president, I do not believe he would be cavalier about opening up new fronts against Syria, Yemen, Libya, Iran, or whichever right-wing nonsense “institute” fingers as the enemy of the day.
I’m voting for Obama because he and Joe Biden have consistently and purposefully built relationships with the military, with veterans, and with military families. I’m voting for Obama because he mentioned veterans multiple times during the Democratic National Convention, and in a meaningful way in full recognition of their many sacrifices to the nation as a whole, along with a vow to ensure the debt we owe them as a nation is fully paid.
I’m voting for Obama because lately, he’s been edging us all toward the idea of a peace dividend. I’m not suggesting that the deficit created by war spending should instead be thought of as “free money” now available for domestic programs. But it is a fact that simply by ending war spending, we’ll stop adding to the deficit. That’ll be huge in itself. When the deficit balloons, it becomes a cudgel that austerity hawks use to carve away our domestic New Deal legacy. Instead, if we raise revenue, we can get back to solid ground.
And we need to reorient our society to a peacetime economy. A world in which “nation-building” means building up America. Have we been at war so long with the majority of us inattentive to its many costs, that we’ve forgotten what a peacetime economy looks like?
I haven’t. We must never acclimate ourselves to a state of war. Just because reporting on Iraq and Afghanistan is incredibly poor and a beleagured corporate news media can’t figure out how to stay in business AND do the journalism we need doesn’t mean that our military actions overseas have ceased to matter.
That’s why I’m voting for Obama. He’s focused his attention on our country’s priorities even when the American people and mainstream media have not.
Even though I disagree deeply with his education policies, I want to have a conversation with someone who at least sees value in public schools.
Who will sign into law a Jobs Creation Act, a Jobs for Veterans Act, and many other programs where taxpayer money is spent domestically. Someone who’ll now focus on transitioning our many veterans back into civilian life.
That’s why I’m voting for Obama. I’m voting for someone who has started America down a path of clean energy and independence from foreign fossil fuels. I’m voting for someone who thinks science is a good idea, and believes that through our inventiveness and imagination we’ll be able to keep growing, and do it in a way that doesn’t destroy the planet. Because as many argue, it’s not a foreign nation that’s our greatest national security threat, but ourselves — meaning, people among us who deny that man-made global climate crisis will in fact erase coastlines, provoke increasingly harsh droughts or floods, and maximize inequality and resource scarcity. In 2008, President Obama argued that reliance on sustainable energies was a national security issue. The urgency to adopt a comprehensive renewable energy and smaller carbon footprint has never been greater. As we free ourselves from fossil fuel dependence, we free ourselves of international entanglements and at the same time slow carbon emissions that are rapidly and irrevocably changing our climate.
I’m voting for Obama because when I look at my child’s face, I can picture my son living and flourishing in a world that we are building now from the ashes of what we knew and used to believe. We used to think we could just use up the planet with no thought. We used to think we were the world’s policemen. We used to believe it was okay that some people were second class citizens. We used to think the only job a woman could do was have babies. We used to see differences in hair, skin color, or body shape as inferior or strange.
Those were comforting beliefs at one time but they were wrong. And they’re especially wrong now that we have a more diverse nation than at any other time and a more closely connected and interdependent global community than ever.
Half the country lives in terror of anything or anyone not exactly like them. It’s as if they’ve grown so used to warmongering that, now without Iraq and Afghanistan, they’ve now turned their energies to shredding the Enlightenment and making war on reality, the environment, and women, not necessarily in that order.
We’ve heard them squeal, whine, and cry for four years now. Their invented terrors have dominated the political landscape for too long. Their brains are permanently set on “freak-out” mode.
We cannot say we’re securing a peaceful civil society overseas in opposition to the religious extremists of a “less developed” war-torn nation when our own domestic Taliban runs rampant.
I’m voting for Obama because I want a reality-based future for all of us to look forward to, and not an invented, lie-filled past that was only good for some people. FORWARD, with Obama-Biden.