John R Selig

Writer. Photographer. Podcaster. Outspoken.

The 2008 Presidential Race — A Look at Barack Obama

Originally Heard on the John Selig Outspoken Podcast

John Selig Outspoken – Episode 28

This episode is being produced during the last week of December in 2007 and the presidential primaries will be upon us as quickly as the next Bush scandal. As I’m a news and political junkie I’ve been watching the candidates with keen interest.

The only Republican contender that I respect is John McCain. I believe him to be a man of integrity. Still, I don’t agree with McCain’s positions and the thought of another Republican appointing strict constructionists to the Supreme Court sends shivers up my spine.

Let’s face it; the only recent contribution to LGBT rights by the Republican Party has been the widening of bathroom stalls in public restrooms thanks to Senator Larry Craig’s wide stance. Gee thanks Larry, perhaps you and other closeted Republicans might consider coming out and stop voting against gays in order to protect your closets!

I’m shocked that 25% of the LGBT vote in the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections went to Bush. What were those people thinking? Bush hates gays and always has. The American Taliban controls the Republican Party and their platform is staunchly anti–gay. I understand that the Democrats aren’t perfect, as they all too often have lacked balls. The Defense of Marriage Act is a prime example of this. Still, congressional Democrats don’t introduce legislation to marginalize us. Gays supporting today’s Republican Party makes about as much sense as “Jewish Nazis!”

I can’t vote for a Republican for president because of the GOP’s anti–gay stance. However, even if I weren’t gay (perish the thought) I still couldn’t vote Republican. If I fight only for my rights then shame on me! Republicans care only about big business and protecting the wealthy. Republicans want to cut crucial social programs and further build our military. The U.S. has over 50% of the world’s armaments and Republicans want more.

I’m not naive, America needs a strong defense but enough is enough! Before President Eisenhower left office in 1961 he warned Americans to beware of the Military Industrial Complex. Ike is turning over in his grave as Halliburton and Blackwater, not to mention other defense contractors and the oil companies, make billions and billions from this senseless war in Iraq. Bush’s flagrant abuse of the U.S. Constitution with nary a peep from the Republicans in Congress is one of the saddest tragedies in our history.

The Bush Administration, with the support of Congressional Republicans, took our country from a position of reducing our national debt (which currently amounts to $9 trillion, that’s almost $30,000 for every living man, woman and child in our country) to increasing the debt by almost $300 billion per year. Bush did this while entering America into a war in Iraq, which has proven ghastly expensive in human lives and respect for America and at a cost of $275 million per day!

Meanwhile, Bush granted a huge tax cut to the wealthiest Americans. Don’t believe for a minute that the tax cuts were put through for the middle class! 47.4% of the tax cuts went to the top 5% tax bracket, with 36.7% going to the top 1% and 15% going to the top one–tenth of one percent who make $1.6 million per year or more. To accomplish this, social programs have been cut well below fat, well below muscle, and deeply into bone. Our infrastructure is collapsing. One need look no further than the levees in New Orleans and the inhumane debacle that resulted after Hurricane Katrina. Our bridges and highways are crumbling, our educational system is a disgrace as we fall further and further behind other industrialized countries and our health care system is a tragedy.

As Barack Obama points out, “we should stop pretending that all cuts in spending are equivalent and all tax increases are the same. Ending corporate subsidies that serve no discernible economic purpose is one thing. Reducing healthcare benefits to poor children is something else entirely. At a time when ordinary families are feeling hit from all sides the impulse to keep their taxes as low as possible is honorable and right. What’s less honorable has been the willingness of the rich and the powerful to ride this anti–tax sediment for their own purposes or the way the President, Congress, lobbyists and conservative commentators have been able to successfully conflate in the minds of voters the very real tax burdens of the middle class and the very manageable tax burdens of the wealthy. The rich in America have very little to complain about. Between 1971 and 2001 while the median wage and salary income of the average worker showed literally no gain, the income of the top one–hundredth of 1% went up almost 500%. The distribution of wealth is even more skewed and levels of inequality are now higher than any time since the Gilded Age.” And that is before the exacerbation of wealth redistribution to the wealthy that has occurred during the Bush Badministration!

I could spend an entire podcast on the Republicans push to turn our schools and society from a secular one to a sacred one. A mother, that I knew who lived in Suburban Dallas, understood the crucial importance of keeping religious dogma out of public schools. The mother spoke with her daughter’s high school principal when she learned that her daughter was forced to participate in a prayer led by her daughter’s coach before a game. The mother was outraged. She told the principal that her daughter’s coach should stick to coaching. Both the girl’s parents were Methodist ministers. Mom’s comments to the principal were, “You teach math, science, English and history. My husband and I will take care of prayer!”

I’ll vote for any of the Democrats should they get the nomination as each and every one of them are better than all of the Republican candidates. I would love to see a woman as president. Hillary Clinton is capable of the job. However, I don’t believe Hillary stands for anything other than her thirst for power. I see Hillary Clinton as being in the grip of the corporate elite and out of touch with the average American. I think Hillary would sell out gays in a New York second if it would benefit her own priorities.

Hillary Clinton is the one Democrat easiest for any Republican candidate to run against next fall. If Hillary Clinton is at the head of the ticket attempts to hold Republicans accountable for Bush’s atrocities are much more likely fall flat with voters.

Still, if Hillary Clinton ends up the Democratic Party’s presidential nominee, not only will I vote for her, I will campaign on her behalf because Hillary Clinton is far better than any Republican.

I’ve been enormously impressed by Barack Obama since I listened to his 2004 Democratic convention speech. Obama is captivating and I feel not only his intellect and his poise but also a hope similar to that my parent’s generation felt when John F. Kennedy ran for president in 1960.

I was livid when Obama had anti–gay Grammy Award winning gospel singer, Donnie McClurkin, at his side while campaigning in South Carolina in October. He did so for the purpose of attracting the all–important African American church voting–bloc. McClurkin, who is a self–proclaimed “former homosexual,” was a slap in the face to the gay community. We rightly raised a hue and cry over Obama’s decision. Obama explained that he was trying to “build bridges” and “bring people together” so he would not remove McClurkin and he tried to smooth things over by having Rev. Andy Sidden, an openly gay South Carolina pastor, appear at the same concert. I don’t think that Obama would have invited David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, to appear with him in Louisiana to obtain white votes. In spite of Obama’s error of judgment I believe that Obama supports the fight for equality for the LGBT community.

Obama went on to his reaffirmed his pro–gay stance amid questions about his commitment to gay rights in an interview in the “Advocate.” In another interview Obama said, “You’re talking to somebody who talked about gay Americans in his convention speech in 2004, who talked about them in his announcement speech for the President of the United States, who talks about gay Americans almost constantly in his stump speeches,” Obama added, “If there’s somebody out there who’s been more consistent in including LGBT Americans in his or her vision of what America should be, then I would be interested in knowing who that person is.”

Barack Obama’s book, “The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream,” was published as a hardback in January 2007. I recently downloaded the audio version on iTunes because Barack Obama narrated it. It is also readily available at Barnes and Noble and Borders and on

I have to admit a predisposition towards having a soft spot for Obama as he taught at the University of Chicago, which is where I obtained my MBA in marketing. However, the University of Chicago has supplied many advisors to Republican administrations, especially during the Reagan years. So my predisposition has by no means resulted in blind allegiance. From personal experience I can say this much, anybody teaching at The University of Chicago has an incredible mind. Obama taught in the Law School, which is currently ranked 6th in the country by the “2008 U.S. News & World Reports Ranking of American Graduate Schools.” Obama’s specialty is constitutional law, which will definitely come in handy to help piece together the U.S. Constitution, which has been put through the shredder repeatedly by George W. Bush.

I recommend that you read Barack Obama’s book. Better yet, listen to the audio version of “Audacity of Hope” as I did. Obama gets it, not only on LGBT issues but also on everything else about America, our economy, our role in the world, our political system and what is wrong with it, education, healthcare, civil rights, separation of church and state, corporate America and the environment. His intelligence is immediately apparent, but so is his compassion. When weighing decisions that impact people he always asks himself, “How would that make you feel?” Most of the facts and figures I have cited in this commentary are from Barack Obama’s book; many are direct quotes.

Barack Obama understands the different sides of issues and freely points out faulty thinking by both Republicans and Democrats. Furthermore, he has sound policy proposals. Obama is unabashedly a Democrat who strongly believes in taking global warming seriously, fixing our broken educational system, universal health care for all Americans, civil rights for all, shoring up social security, separation of church and state, and ensuring a secure safety net for the disadvantaged. He believes that since all Americans must share risks than all American should share the benefits. At the same time Barack Obama believes in a strong economy with American businesses capable of competing in the ever more competitive world economy, eliminating abuses in social programs, the importance of the family, the role that religion plays in many peoples lives (but not forcing ones religious beliefs on people who believe differently or who don’t believe at all). Obama’s analysis of our nation as well as his policy suggestions have enabled me to experience a sense of optimism that I haven’t felt in a long time.

At this point, as of late December 2007, I am leaning strongly towards supporting Barack Obama. I trust him more than anybody else. He is forthright in his analysis, positions and vision. It is still more than three months until the Texas primary on Tuesday, March 4th so I’ll make my final decision on whom I will vote for closer to election day. However, I certainly feel comfortable in recommending that you read or listen to Obama’s “Audacity of Hope.”

© 2007 John R. Selig. All rights reserved.