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Seattle Times Political Caucus

The Seattle Times Political Caucus is an online community aimed at adding diverse voices to our coverage of politics. How we'll use the Caucus will evolve over time. But the idea is to create a conversation with people of various backgrounds and political beliefs. As the election season unfolds, we'll ask participants to weigh in on key political questions and then post their comments here.

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October 28, 2008 2:44 PM

Making your last, best argument

Posted by Katherine Long

Let's say you've just discovered that your best friend is planning on voting for the OTHER guy for president -- you know, the opposition. Can you change his/her mind? We asked The Seattle Times Political Caucus: What's your best argument, at this point, for voting for John McCain, or for Barack Obama?

It turns out that a number of caucus members have had this conversation with somebody they know well. Paul Graves of Seattle tried, to no avail, to convince his fiance to vote for McCain. Kurt Workman of Kennewick also had no success getting his mother-in-law to vote for Obama. But oh, they tried. Read all of their comments here.

Graves' argument begins this way: "John McCain has spent the last thirty years putting his country's interests before all else. He fought for it. He was beaten for it. He could have left the Hanoi Hilton three years earlier than he did. Doing so would have been a slap in the face to his fellow prisoners who were there longer than him and would have given the enemy propaganda. So he stayed."

Graves also notes McCain's support for legislation dealing with campaign finance reform, car fuel-efficiency standards and global warming.

"He put his country before his chances of becoming President. He voted against wasteful and wicked farm bills and opposes ethanol subsidies and tariffs, even though it already cost him two Iowa caucuses and will probably cost him Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota."

Workman's shorter, but no less passionate, argument: "What we need right now is someone to restore faith in America. Not just the faith of the rest of the world, which we've largely lost, but the faith of America's young people. Electing this youthful, charismatic, black man lets us all know that we are still making progress as a nation. Obama has the ability to excite and inspire young Americans not seen in a long time."

And so it went. Among the McCain supporters, ncarmstrong1611 of Bothell found McCain's argument about income redistribution in an Obama administration compelling: "If I worked hard enough all my life that I crossed that $250,000 threshold, I wouldn't think it was very fair that I should be forced to give my life's blood away to someone else who had not worked for it. By the same token If I were to receive one of those 'rebate' checks, and by the way I would, knowing that I had not earned it and that it was taken forcibly from someone else who had earned it, I would be guilty. I would not want it. Socialism i.e. income redistribution is wrong and un-American no matter who is proposing it."

Dale Amundsen of Monroe finds himself stirred by Obama's eloquence, but not his message. "In a world where evil regimes wish to do grievous harm to America -- this 'city on a hill' -- I want a proven patriot who knows the American ideal is worth fighting for. McCain and his running mate strike me as committed to these ideals at the heart of their being.

"We don't need for our country to lose sight of its ideals while Obama seeks an expansion of this nanny government."

Christopher Hodgkin of Friday Harbor would urge a friend to look beyond rhetoric and count accomplishments. "Obama was trained as a lawyer to speak decisively and convincingly even in support of people or causes totally contrary to his real views. That's what he was taught. That's why his rhetoric is not a reliable indicator of what he truly believes or would do. That's why you have to look at the actual achievements of the two candidates to see who would lead out country safely through a perilous time."

Obama supporters included Marc, of Burien, who wrote "Obama is clearly more level-headed and thoughtful. His economic advisors, including Warren Buffett, are among the best people available, practical, but non-ideological." But he was especially unhappy with McCain's pick of Gov. Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate, calling her choice "shockingly irresponsible."

Benjamin Johnstone-Anderson of Tacoma was turned off by Palin's pick as well, and wrote: "I feel that Sen. McCain has a strong record of duty and honor. However, I do not think he is especially thoughtful as a leader. Sen. Obama has shown opportunism at points (not disavowing ACORN or Rev. Wright), but every politician does. On the other hand, Sen. McCain's treatment of the economic situation was totally inexplicable. His choice of Gov. Palin for Vice President seemed more concerned with electoral positioning than with the country's future. He seems completely incurious about economics. It makes Obama's sometimes overly-tactical pragmatism seem downright desirable."

Dave I of Seattle used the candidates' choice of a running mate as "the best proxy" of their sound judgment. "Obama picked an experienced statesman with tons of foreign policy experience that could step in to serve as President if the need arises. McCain picked a somewhat experienced governor who stumbles describing her view on important national and foreign issues because she needed a reader's digest review of these issues. If it isn't a domestic social issue I don't feel Palin can step into the presidency with any degree of confidence. Obama wins this analysis hands down."

For anyone who's keeping count, 17 of our 31 respondents are voting for McCain, versus 12 for Obama. (To round it out, one reader's preference was unclear, and one posted two responses). (Update: Three more Obama supporters came in by email and have just been posted -- that brings the count to a closer 17 for McCain and 15 for Obama.) Are McCain supporters in a blue state more passionate? Are Obama supporters in Washington more complacent? Are Seattle Times online readers more conservative? Or is McCain going to pull a big surprise in this state Nov. 4? Let us know what you think in the comments below.

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Nov 4, 08 - 03:12 PM
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