On Nov. 4, we will cast our vote in the most important election of this generation — what will be the most important election of our lives. It comes at a critical time, as we bleakly watch our economy freefall, as so many of our neighbors — families — are losing their homes.
We have been trudged on for years and years with an inept presidency that blindly drove on a wholly unpopular war. We have grimly watched as the lives of our troops have been taken for granted — as if all they are a faceless means to an end. We have seen what eight years of divisive Bush policies have done to our country.
This is why Northwest Asian Weekly is endorsing Senator Obama in the 2008 Presidential Election.
We did not arrive at this endorsement lightly. It’s not about the glitter and the glitz — it doesn’t matter to us if he’s a “rock star.” It’s not even about our pride, our secret hope to see a person of color as our president.
Rather, it’s about integrity, intelligence and empathy — the fact that one man has the ability to move and inspire an entire generation of young people like no other. It’s about looking around at our current state of disarray and having a leader that makes every one of us Americans — rich, poor, man, woman — believe that the possibilities are limitless, that there is no wall that can confine us, that “change” is really here.
There is a misconception floating about — and that is when one minority group is strong, another is weakened. If a Black man becomes president, somehow Asian Americans will become minimized. There is no logic in this. It’s an irrational fear, and we cannot allow ourselves to vote based on fear. We ought to vote based on hope, on the possibility of what America can become.
We will not back someone who voted against raising the federal minimum wage, who is pushing a bare-bones health care plan, who has no plans to curb government spending at all. According to a report by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center, McCain’s tax plan is an extension of Bush’s tax cuts, which will end up raising our national debt by 50 percent over the next decade.
In 1983, McCain opposed creating a holiday honoring Martin Luther King Jr. despite it being hugely popular with a House vote of 338 to 90. McCain also voted against the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, which granted reparations to Japanese Americans who had been wrongly interned by the U.S. government during WWII.
During this current campaign, where Obama has gone on record supporting same-sex civil unions, giving gay couples the same legal rights as heterosexual marriages, McCain has consistently avoided dealing with the issue, instead opting to leave it up to states.
However, when he has been prodded on whether he personally supported same-sex civil unions, he said, “I do not.” He supported the failed 2006 Arizona initiative to ban gay marriage. Likewise, he’s supporting California’s proposition 8, upcoming in 2008.
As Asian Americans, how can any of us feel right supporting a man who voted against redress? How can we feel right in supporting a man who doesn’t believe that civil rights are a priority? As a group with a deep history of racial discrimination by our own government, how can we feel like we will be heard this time around?
We want a president that values diversity, who will uphold the principle that makes America unique and strong — that all men and women are created equal. The evidence is in Obama’s staff, which is very diverse. McCain’s is not.
To the detractors who harp on Obama’s lack of experience — we only need to point to Bush as an example of how the formula doesn’t always work. For us, we value character and judgment before experience. It’s more valuable to have a leader who makes the right decision for the first time rather than one who makes the wrong one because he has already done it before.
Imagine how America’s image would change internally with a man who is less prone to resort to brute force. Imagine our country led by someone who has refused to stoop down to dirty politics, who tolerated racist mudslinging without retaliating. Imagine how America would look with a man, who built his grassroots campaign from the ground up, who knows us, our lives, our challenges, our dreams.
The news agencies Arizona Republic, MSNBC, Washington Post and The New York Times contributed to this report.