I was having a discussion with a friend of mine the other night. My friend is a conservative Republican and he admitted to me that he donated to Obama’s campaign. I was really surprised by this and when I pressed him why, he really didn’t have a concrete reason. We began to talk about the differences in the policies between McCain and Obama. We first discussed their differences in domestic policy and my friend pointed out that he didn’t what what conservatives call a “nanny state”. From my view, it seems that conservatives believe that many of our domestic problems are rooted in the value of personal responsibility or lack thereof. If you are not doing well economically, then it is largely due to your not willing to put in the work and dedication it requires to advance economically. I think there is certainly some truth to this, but I tend to lean towards the more liberal or Democratic assessment that much of the reason why folks struggle is because of the lack of opportunities that they have to move forward. You know the saying “The man is keeping me down”…..there is truth to that notion I believe.
What’s fascinating is that when it comes to Iraq, conservatives seem to pull a switch-a-roo in their governing philosophy. The Republican argument is more or less that we need to stay in Iraq and continue to support the Iraqi government in the process of political reconciliation. Conservatives are supporting a more lengthy occupation in Iraq in order to create larger window of opportunity for the Iraqi government. We should remain patient while we spend billions of dollars in order to give Iraq a greater chance for success, even though the Iraqi government has shown very little in the way of political progress. In essence, what conservatives want for our Iraq policy is that we “nanny” them into success.
It’s fascinating that conservatives are willing to sacrifice almost 500 billion dollars, thousands of troop casualties (not to mention those who have been injured) in order to give the Iraqi government more time or more opportunity, rather than commit the necessary funds for a more inclusive healthcare system for it’s own citizens, or better public schools, or college scholarships. If you are an single mom in Michigan who has lost her manufacturing job, then her problem is lack of personal responsibility. But if you are an Iraqi Parliament leader and you’ve failed again and again to create political progress, you just need more opportunity.
I think that even though the issue of the Iraq war is being overshadowed a bit by other issues, it will return front and center in the general election and I think Obama is stronger than McCain on this issue. Obama’s message will resonate while McCain will insist that if you support an exit from Iraq that “you just don’t understand”.