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Sunday, June 22nd 2008

Why I Support Barack Obama For President

Seriously, John McCain Has Never Even Heard of A Health Savings Account

Everyone likes feeling like they ‘know‘ their leaders. No matter how cynical they are about politics in general. I’m not different; I’m star struck of Barack. I’ll say with a smile (despite it’s true inconsequence) that I met the future President once. I attended the AMSA Legislative Affairs Leadership Institute in 2006 with about 40 other medical students and had the joy of having Senator Obama speak to us and indeed getting to chat one on one with him. Granted that makes me far from a political mover and shaker but that is one of the joys of Senator Obama, his ability to create rock star-esque moments as I now realize I had.

I remember thinking, at the time, how I could never find myself agreeing with the man’s health care policy but how intelligent he was. Senator Obama was direct and critical of physicians’ role in maintaining the current health care system and highly knowledgeable about the workings of health care policy. Granted, he had an RWJF fellow on his staff at the time but I remember appreciating his fund of knowledge and his willingness to criticize those medical students before him and challenge them to do more than physicians currently were to help fix the American health care system. That even if I didn’t agree with the charge.

Now, over the course of a brutal primary, he has proven his charisma and leadership as well as that intelligence and integrity I saw that day on Capitol Hill.

I went out and gave my winter break to campaign for Ron Paul in four degree weather in the Iowa Republican primary. I am a libertarian (with a small ‘l’). But one of the privileges of staking out that territory of political ideology is that no mainstream candidate will ever satisfy all of my positions on the issues. Largely I am socially liberal and fiscally conservative. Because of such I am, for all intents and purposes, an independent.

I will never agree with Obama’s effort for universal health care or likely with his tax policy or any number of his fiscal policies. That said, as much as I have trouble stomaching liberal health care proposals, Mr. Obama having David Cutler as his chief health economics adviser is about as good as could be hoped for from a Democrat. Dr. Cutler has long refuted the claim that America’s spending on health care is somehow dramatically misappropriated. And, where Dr. Cutler has spent the considerable bulk of his work I actually agree with his conclusions – pay for performance. Granted, such is a delicate matter which we may argue over the specifics of, but certainly tying provider pay to outcome measures is where I stray from organized medicine and more conservative commentators in general.

Even if I find much fault with his proposals on health care, on a whole host of issues I will agree with Barack Obama. Namely, something every American should cherish, his promise to protect our civil liberties.

My greatest fear remains that Senator Obama will get so caught up in securing the middle, in toeing the line that he will forgo his promises (I do feel shameful linking to the Huffington Post) to defend our civil liberties.

But until that plays out Obama remains everything we need right now. His charisma and intelligence are things desperately needed on the world stage. This coming from an author who generally, initially supported the war in Iraq – so far as America had the will and stomach for it – and who doesn’t give a whole lot of credence to multilateral action or for how the world thinks of us.

I don’t believe that America is in it’s darkest hour as some crazy ass liberals will shout but what more could America hope for after the blunders of the Bush administration than a charismatic intellectual as President? John McCain that certainly would not be.

Pending surprises on the campaign trail I imagine that down here in Texas my vote may not count for much but, even if Ron Paul throws in his hat as an independent and even with the Libertarian candidate on the ticket, I will be casting my ballot for Barack Obama.