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A Conservative For Obama

Meet Ron Wilcox:

I'm a conservative. I've spent my money and my time in support of Republican candidates. I also support Barack Obama for president.

Modern conservatism is deeply rooted in ideas and political philosophy, in rational discourse and pragmatism. John Stuart Mill matters to conservatives. Friedrich Hayek and Milton Friedman matter as well. They matter not only because of their conclusions about the limited role of government power in a free society but because they were aggressive questioners, carefully dissecting problems to uncover potential solutions.

The American version of modern conservatism began as an intellectual revolt against the excesses of government emerging out of the New Deal era. The prevailing liberal view of the time was that government could engineer a more just and equitable society by elevating its role in the day-to-day activities of citizens. Proponents believed the benefits of collective decision making outweighed the increased restrictions on individuals' liberties that such social engineering required.

The modern conservative movement, through rational discourse and appeals to empirical research in economics, pointed out that reducing these individual freedoms had negative consequences far in excess of the commonly held view. Yes, you could decrease poverty among low-wage workers by mandating a minimum wage, but you would also increase unemployment among the young and those of color. Yes, you could use the power of taxation to redistribute income, but this could dramatically shrink the wealth available to the entire society.

Conservatives used to ask the tough questions and did not accept simplistic solutions. That is why it is deeply disappointing to me, both personally and professionally, that John McCain has run a campaign that is so antithetical to rational discourse about public policy. His campaign has been about glib answers to complex problems. His choice for vice president was political malpractice.

He has catered to a wing of the Republican Party that believes everything will be all right--if only the government gets out of the way. No matter the problem, that is the only acceptable solution. To suggest that research about or thoughtful analysis of a situation might, in some cases, point in a different direction is apostasy.

For these Republicans, simply the act of doing policy analysis must mean that you are a liberal. They know that real Republicans, and real men, don't need to think things through. I do not respect these people. They have dragged a proud movement that had much to offer our country down into the mud of ignorance.

And yet the reason I now support Obama is only partially due to McCain's decision to embrace this base form of populism. It also stems from a growing respect for Obama's thoughtfulness, which reveals itself when he's faced with difficult questions. I do not agree with all elements of Obama's tax policy, but I certainly get the impression he has thought about it a whole lot more than McCain.

In a world that will certainly throw many unexpected, unknowable problems at the next president, I don't really care if I agree with all of their policy decisions. I want a smart, thoughtful person who can adapt his ideas to the facts on the ground. I don't want someone who retreats to ideology because he cannot--or is not inclined to--think through the complexities of the problem at hand. Barack Obama is not afraid to talk about complicated solutions to complicated problems. He is a skilled critical thinker. John McCain, unfortunately, has not left the same impression on me.

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Comments (5)


"Conservatives used to ask the tough questions and did not accept simplistic solutions"

They still do. Entitlement reform has been an ongoing complex problem needing to be solved. Most of the time it is the Democrats telling the public that such problems do not need to be seriously addressed at the present time.

I can give very little credence to Mr. Wilcox's argument. Of course, he may vote for who he wishes, but I don't believe it is possible to equate conservatism with the Repubican Party. I have no problem with this gentleman eschewing the Republicans in this election cycle, but any time an avowed long term "conservative" throws his support to Obama, I really have to question his honesty. I mean, come on. There are other "conservative" partys out there such as the Libertarians or the Constitution Party which would hold more than a passing interest for an avowed conservative who is disenchanted with the Republicans. Mr. Wilcox supporting a Bill Clinton I could maybe accept. I think Mr. Clinton is/was an example of someone who in office not only grasped but relished addressing complex problems. But Obama? I think Mr. Obama is more a rigid idealogue and I believe he has a clear unalterable agenda in mind. The number of times he has used the word "distraction" is indicative of this and he clearly has a hands off attitude when the situation is messy. He would rather stand back and wait for the dust to clear. I feel that Clinton is the opposite - he enjoyed the messiness that can be inherent in complex matters.

You, Lee, supporting Mr. Obama needs no further explanation. Mr. Wilcox, avowed conservative voting for Mr. Obama who is one of the most if not the most liberal nominee ever for the office of president and without making any other comment as to why he is not interested in other conservative parties suggests he isn't as much of a conservative as he would like us to believe.

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

"But Obama? I think Mr. Obama is more a rigid idealogue and I believe he has a clear unalterable agenda in mind. "

I haven't seen any sign of that at all. And the "clear agenda in mind" is just McCain/Palin fear mongering.

Wilcox chose the smartest guy, the one who can think his way through obstacles best. That isn't McCain, and clearly Palin - who we'd end up when McCian died in office - is just too scary a prrospect for someone who thinks the President should be a thinking person.

Talk about knee-jerking "agenda in mind" ideologue - Palin is it.


Lee, one of my points is that Wilcox professes apparently profound respect for Hayek and Friedman. Now, the economic philosophies of these men are well known to any educated individual, so this guy finds Obama as his best choice among other candidates available to him? I understand why this man's "epiphany" excites you, but sorry, I question this Wilcox's logic.

OK, I take back what I said about Obama being a rigid idealogue....$250,0000.....$200,000...

Lee Ward[TypeKey Profile Page]:

You Terrorists are all alike...


Lee, IMO the thing that really scares the wingnuts is Obama, if he wins, can abuse the power of the executive branch like Bush has done.

Even though Obama says he is against signing statements, he can and most likely use them. And no matter what the GOP screams about, he can, like Bush is doing, say "executive privilege."

And he also can, like Bush, load up the Justice Dept. with a whole bunch of people to screw the GOP like Bush did to the Demo's. PAYBACK IS A BITCH.

And guess what, Bush set the precedent, so if Obama does the same thing, the GOP may be screwed real good. And until the GOP changes their thinking, purge the nuts out of the party, they are going to be screwed for at least 4 years, if not 8.

But just remember about voter caging and those pesky flopping machines. Nothing is a given in this election. Plus a new ethics complaint was filed against the wicked witch recently.


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Editors: Lee Ward, Larkin, Paul S Hooson, and Steve Crickmore

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