Dante said that the hottest place in Hell is reserved for those who in time of crisis remain neutral, so I will now say my piece about the choice we have tomorrow at the voting booths.
We all know America is in bad, bad shape. Today our once-loved country enjoys its lowest standing in the world community to date. We are at war, our economy has tanked, our resources are waning and our civil rights are under constant attack from a government run by theocratic bullies.
The presidential administration of the last eight years has embraced and freely inflicted torture techniques (on both the guilty and the innocent) that flagrantly defy international law, human rights and basic decency -- and while doing so, has systematically immunized itself from legal accountability.
The top al Qaeda leaders believed to have orchestrated the 9/11 attacks of seven years ago are still at large and gaining strength, while our military is stretched to the breaking point in Iraq, where we have killed 93,000 of its civilians since 2003 in the name of "Operation Iraqi Freedom". Meanwhile, the country's infra-structure is still in shambles and in-fighting and sectarian violence continue unabated there.
Bush-Cheney have defiled the constitution, tapped our phones without warrants, detained and tortured anyone deemed suspicious without due process and essentially given themselves a blank check to perpetrate illegal and amoral actions under the bogus banner of Homeland Security.
Speaking of Homeland Security, I wonder how secure the citizens of New Orleans feel at home -- their entire city was nearly washed off the map a few years ago thanks to Bush's sheer negligence.
This administration has tirelessly fought against gay rights, tried to overturn Roe Vs Wade, and has promoted an insidious anti-intellectualism that would have our children taught the crackpot junk science of "Intelligent Design" in public schools.
And now we find ourselves in a financial shitstorm worse than anything any American has seen since the late 1920s.
It leads one to wonder, could it get any worse?
I would daresay that it could indeed get worse, much worse.
Tomorrow we will elect a brand new president for our country. And we have a chance to at least begin to turn things around -- and to my thinking, the only realistic choice is Barack Obama.
John McCain is surely a decent man at heart. And the sacrifices he made for America as a POW are enormous and undoubtedly heroic. But he is unqualified to run this country, much less lead it out of the deep quagmire it is in.
Among the reasons why is the fact that for eight years McCain has walked in lockstep with Bush-Cheney, policy-wise, at least 90% of the time. Hardly an agent of change.
Employing the same evil masterminds who smeared his own good name in the 2000 election, McCain has run a shamelessly rabble-rousing and disgraceful campaign this year, easily marking a historical nadir. Short on substance, McCain's message is about instilling racism, fear and xenophobia into the American people. As you've seen in countless Youtube videos taken at campaign rallies, McCain and his strategists have deliberately stoked the most bigoted and vile tendencies of its constituency, even standing mutely by as talk of assassination gets carelessly bandied about.
Perhaps McCain's biggest disqualifier is his choice of running mate, Sarah Palin. Potentially the next president of the United States, this proudly ignorant woman believes creationism should be taught in schools, while sex education should be banished. She is an adherent of the kind of fanatical religious fundamentalism that lives just a hair's breadth way from the Islamic extremism we all condemn.
As we have seen in the few interviews she granted before she was swiftly muzzled by her advisers, Palin possesses only the scantest and most infantile understanding of the world (she's only once traveled outside the USA); it's no coincidence that her handlers have since kept her under lock and key -- she is worse than embarrassing; she's terrifyingly unqualified. And so for the first time in US history, a would-be president has not granted a single press conference.
Consider this: McCain's first important -- no, crucial -- decision as a potential United States president was Sarah Palin. It must be his last.
Some would see Barack Obama as merely the lesser of two evils in this election, and at the very least that is true. Barack Obama should not be viewed as a knight in shining armor, much less a messiah or celestial entity. But he is nonetheless the only way to go at this point.
Obama is an extremely capable and highly intelligent man who stands for goodness and equality. A true American success story, he embodies all the promise and opportunity this country has to offer and as such, he has been the most transformative political figure to come down the pike in generations.
Obama has the kind of temperament that has been missing from the White House for a long time and desperately needs to be restored. He is strong, principled, patient, calm, thoughtful, open and decent. After eight years of rashness, thuggery and boastful, swaggering ignorance, don't you think these qualities would make a refreshing change?
He has carefully chosen as running mate an experienced and decent statesman in Joe Biden, and clearly understands the importance of collaborative leadership, unlike McCain, whose bizarre and indefensible choice of VP can only be called hasty, rash and shockingly thoughtless.
If elected president, Obama will be tested mightily, as he stands to inherit Bush's legacy: two disastrous wars in progress, un-stemmed economic hemorrhaging and the seething contempt of many of our neighbors. There's no way Obama or anyone else can put out these fires in one term, but I believe he can at least get this ship moving in a straight line again.
Perhaps most importantly, Obama also has the ability to unite. You've witnessed the seismic changes in the political landscape these last few weeks: lifelong Republicans have declared their support for him; white folks who never thought they would vote for a black man (much less ever have the chance to) are overcoming their bigotry. An Obama presidency would be a devastating blow to the culture wars and long-festering racism in America; it would put an awful lot of rottenness behind us.
Watching this man's unlikely ascendancy these last few months has been terribly encouraging, inspirational and exciting -- and I want to see it continue. I beg you all to get out and vote tomorrow, and to vote for Barack Obama. I believe it is the only sensible option.