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October 30, 2008

Why Obama, by Chris Schlarb

Why Obama is a series of guest essays by musicians and authors, where they share their support for Democratic United States presidential nominee Senator Barack Obama and offer arguments why he needs to be elected president of the United States.

Chris Schlarb's solo debut album, Twilight and Ghost Stories, was released last December on Asthmatic Kitty.

In his own words, here is Chris Schlarb 's Why Obama essay :

It is important that we judge Barack Obama on his own merits, accomplishments and ideals. Eight years of George W. Bush presidency and the terrorist attacks on 9/11 have obscured our collective vision and may incline many to take a relativist view of the Democratic Presidential nominee. In recent weeks polling gaps have widened in Obama's favor and many disenfranchised Republicans have jumped ship to endorse his candidacy, but why?

In Obama, a Harvard graduate (Juris Doctor) and constitutional law professor, the country has a rare opportunity to place a scholar and thinker in a position of power. As with Bill Clinton, John F. Kennedy before him Barack Obama has displayed a willingness to engage with viewpoints differing from his own. His selection of Sen. Joe Biden as his Vice Presidential candidate is an obvious example. It was Biden who criticized Obama's lack of experience and knowledge on foreign relations issues before being defeated in the democratic primary. Having chosen someone with differing views one can at least be assured that an internal debate will take place. In fact, Obama's ability to genuinely empathize may be one of his greatest strengths.

Having long served as a community organizer, civil rights attorney and Illinois state Senator, Barack Obama is uniquely qualified to address the growing inequity in poverty and wealth in America. He has stopped short of promising universal health care with a plan that bridges the gap between idealism and cold, hard reality. We must not forget that Barack Obama is a politician and, as such, is more familiar with the internal trade offs and measured judgments of Washington than most voters; and yet, there is an abiding sense that he will truly promote the general welfare of the United States. Obama's repeal of the Bush tax cuts for the rich to Clinton-era levels is another marked example: moderation with forward momentum.

With our constitutional rights disappearing and religious fanaticism at a seeming fever pitch, I am hastened by Obama's balanced, Jeffersonian approach to uphold the separation of church and state. In his book, The Audacity of Hope, he is quick to point out that a single religious group cannot take hold of policy and government at the expense of other religious groups (and those who practice no religion) also occupy the same republic. As Thomas Jefferson stated, "Christianity neither is, nor ever was a part of the common law" and Obama, himself a Christian, has clearly parsed, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution which states, in part: "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof".

Surely the times we live in are perilous. Of course the same can be said for most periods in our nation's past. A deep appreciation for history and its lessons are an asset for anyone willing to take up the mantle of President of the United States. In the manner in which he has exhibited forethought- opposition to the invasion of Iraq, his decision to forgo "public funding", his warnings of the oncoming subprime mortgage crisis, stationing over 10,000 lawyers at the polls on November 4th- Barack Obama has exhibited not only an acumen rarely seen in politics but a nuance in approach that allows both acolytes and dissenters to feel as though their concerns have been addressed.

Within a week's time the United States will collectively decide who to elect as its 44th president. After examining Barack Obama independent of George W. Bush (or John McCain for that matter) the choice comes more sharply into focus. For all the ownership that the country has taken in the rise of Barack Obama's political career and presidential campaign, my hope is that after being elected as a man of the people, he will use his discernment and learned sense of justice to govern over a nation that needs a man of his measure and also, a man apart.

Chris Schlarb links:

Chris Schlarb's website
Chris Schlarb's page at Asthmatic Kitty

also at Largehearted Boy:

other Why Obama essays
Book Notes (authors create playlists for their book)
Note Books (musicians discuss literature)
guest book reviews
musician/author interviews