I Never Liked Obama... But Times Have Changed
By Jonathan Gelbart
I never liked Obama.
During my freshman and sophomore years in college, as dorms across the country were drowning in a sea of HOPE posters, I did not take part. I disagreed with almost all of the senator’s policies. I thought he was too inexperienced. And I proudly voted for John McCain. After four years of an Obama presidency, I voted against him again, happily casting my vote for Mitt Romney.
But I watched President Obama’s farewell speech on January 10, 2017…and I cried. I cried for my country, which had chosen of its own free will to replace this flawed but honorable statesman with a “grab ’em by the pussy” egomaniac — someone who delighted in cheerleading hatred, trampling on American values and institutions, and perverting national politics into a childish, vulgar reality show. As we know now, that was only the beginning.
That was before our new president unleashed the poison of “alternative facts,” brazenly lying to the American people more than 20,000 times. Before Helsinki, when President Trump publicly took the side of Vladimir Putin against America’s own intelligence agencies. Before “shithole countries.” Before Charlottesville.
And before everything that has happened this year alone:
· Inviting foreign interference in our elections.
· Ignoring Russian bounties on the heads of American soldiers.
· Undermining faith in our democracy with constant, baseless attacks against voting by mail during a pandemic, and refusing to commit to a peaceful transfer of power if he loses.
· Defending a vigilante accused of murdering two Black Lives Matter protesters.
· Using federal agents to kidnap protestors off the streets in unmarked vans, Soviet-style.
· And of course, the deliberate downplaying and disastrous handling of the coronavirus — including policy choices that have explicitly targeted “blue states” — causing the preventable deaths of tens of thousands of Americans, and now his own infection as well.
Four more years of this wanton disregard for the wellbeing of our country, on top of the President’s continuous, gleeful twisting of the knife of racial tensions, will leave our nation unrecognizable and the fabric of our society irreparably damaged. And don’t just take my word for it: there’s a reason more than 500 former national security officials have endorsed Joe Biden.
I say all this as someone who was a lifelong Republican until last year. I had held out hope that the party I had always belonged to would rediscover its principles, and I ran for office myself in an attempt to play a small part in making that happen. Most of all, I hoped that Republican elected officials would finally speak out against the endless stream of disgraces coming from the White House. But that pushback never came. And in the face of a 90% Republican approval rating of the President, I felt I had no choice but to change my registration to Independent.
Unlike in 2008, when our choice for president was between two honorable men with differing visions of how best to lead our country, this year’s choice is more stark: decency versus cruelty; integrity versus mendacity; honor versus shamelessness. I’m confident that Vice President Biden will fight for the best interests of our nation, not heedless self-enrichment. He will listen to facts rather than fabricate lies. He will work to unite us rather than divide us. And he will support the rule of law and our democratic institutions over corruption and cronyism. Based on his personal and family history of public service, it is clear that he cares deeply about America, while Donald Trump cares only for himself.
So I hope that even if you have reservations, and even if you have never voted for a Democrat before, you will join me in voting for Joe Biden in this election. There is far too much at stake to sit this one out.
Jonathan Gelbart is a former Republican candidate for Arizona Superintendent of Public Instruction