Decision time is quickly approaching
Published 12:42 am Sunday, October 26, 2008
By By Tray Smith
After establishing the National Review in 1955, William Buckley Jr. declared the magazine, a weekly publication of conservative thought, would “stand athwart history, yelling stop!” In this election year, that unflattering conservative task has fallen to the reluctantly conservative John McCain, who in Barack Obama faces an opponent that, with the help of a supportive media and an effective campaign, has come to embody the future. This portrayal has left McCain fighting the rising tide of human progress, effectively claiming the future stops here.
Meanwhile, Obama, in sync with modern American culture, not only offers America a new direction but, armed with great rhetorical skill, offers to lead the world into a new era. This era will be fueled by people inspired by Obama’s compelling personal story, which provides voters an opportunity to transcend the distinctions that divide them. This Obama of the future is a man of mixed racial heritage whose campaign for the presidency has transcended race, a man of broad appeal who promises his tenure will enable the country to transcend partisanship, a self-proclaimed “citizen of the world,” whose global background enables him to transcend nationality.
However, this Obama of the future does not, actually, exist. The same biracial candidate whose campaign supposedly transcends race spent 20 years in a church led by a pastor who preached racism and condemned America from the pulpit. This candidate emerged victorious in the primaries after painting Bill Clinton, who did more for African Americans than any president since LBJ, a racist. He then accused Republicans, without basis, of scaring voters because he “does not look like the other presidents on the dollar bills.”
The same post-partisan candidate who supposedly transcends political divisions has accumulated, in less than four years of service, the most liberal voting record of any senator. The “citizen of the world” who supposedly transcends national identity is not as much a bridge to the international community as a disbandment of patriotic values who scoffs at plebian notions like flag pins and accuses U.S. troops of air raiding villages and killing children. The same candidate of change who has supposedly transformed American politics has spent more money on negative ads than any other presidential contender in history and shamelessly smeared his opponent’s running mate.
The approaching election, which will be decided by voters who have not yet made their minds, is being cast as an opportunity for America to break clean with its past and embrace a candidate suited for leadership in a globalized, multicultural world. John McCain, in the waning days of this campaign, must convince voters Obama is not capable of delivering that clean break.
McCain needs to remind voters that, in the midst of a financial crisis that has supposedly brought a crushing end to the Reagan era, Barack Obama doesn’t offer new ideas for the new economy; he offers to simply recycle the discredited ideology of the 1970s. His plea for universal health care was first issued by President Teddy Roosevelt in the first decade of the last century; his plan to invest in alternative energy was first articulated by President Nixon; and his proposal to gut No Child Left Behind would leave American students victim to the unacceptable status quo of the last 40 years.
Obama doesn’t want to turn the page on the Bush years; he wants to turn the page back to the Johnson, Carter, and Clinton years. If he is successful, it is because the young voters supporting him do not well remember how those years turned out.
That’s the bottom line.
Tray Smith is a political columnist for the Atmore Advance. He is a student at Escambia County High School and can be reached at tsmith_90@ hotmail.com.