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The closing argument

Tomorrow is election day. Finally! It's been incredibly hard to live for 8 years with George Bush in the White House. The worst presidency in the history of the United States is almost over... And not a moment too soon.

The time is upon us to issue a categorical and unequivocal repudiation of the last eight years:

  • No more incompetence in government!

  • No more dismantling of the social welfare net!

  • No more tax cuts for the rich!

  • No more preemptive wars!

  • No more unilateral foreign policy!

  • No more no-bid contracts for cronies and no more war profiteering!

  • No more free market fundamentalism!

  • No more torture! No more Guantanamo! No more "compromises" on civil rights.

  • No more... (add your own)

In this election the choice is clear. The republican party offers a continuation of these disastrous policies. More isolation abroad and more deterioration at home.

On the home front, the policies of the last 30 years, this radical right wing experiment, are causing the "Latin-Americanization of the United States". People without health care. People that give up on public education. People that become afraid of the poor and move to virtual closed neighborhoods. Visit a large Latin American city to see what we're turning into. You will not like it.

Abroad, the standing of the United States is the lowest it's been in my lifetime. The illegal war in Iraq showed total disregard for international law and its institutions. And any good will the American people still enjoyed vanished when we elected Bush in 2004 (we did not actually re-elect him, but that's little consolation).

Now is the time to change direction. We can restore our position in the world, make the country safer and radically improve conditions at home. But only if we elect Barack Obama and if we achieve a filibuster proof majority in the Senate.

The filibuster proof majority is key. We need to pass major legislation, starting with health care, which the republicans and their masters will fight every step of the way. We should not expect bipartisan cooperation from their side.

Finally, why do we need Obama to win this election? For many, many reasons:

For the return of competence to government. The republicans pontificate about the evils of government, but government is evil only when they run it. Government works under Democrats because Democrats believe in the role of government. Obama will restore competent people to key posts and disasters like FEMA's handling of the Katrina response will not happen under his watch.

For the return of reason and thought to the Presidency, the highest role model of the land. Obama's background shows him to be a thinker, an intellectually curious individual, a rational being. He seems sure enough of himself to listen to competing sides of an argument and make rational decisions. In the campaign he has shown he has the strength and patience to avoid impulsive reactions. Instead he provides careful, well thought out leadership.

For the return of policies for the common people. The class war is real, it's been waged continuously for the last 30 years and the rich have won. Inequality has risen to levels rivaling the Gilded Age. The current economic crisis requires a government that can act to restore balance and save the economy by helping the masses of working people and the poor. Enough damage has been done already. Health care reform is only the first step of a program that needs to restore the welfare state, mirroring all other advanced democracies.

For the return of regulation to save capitalism. Temporary insanity allowed rampant deregulation to remove key checks on capitalism. The notion that the free market would regulate itself has been spectacularly discredited by facts. Only fundamentalist free market dogma, supported by a well oiled PR machine, allowed these reforms to be passed in the first place.

For the return of a rational foreign policy. For the end of unilateral bullying of other countries. For an era of peace and respect of international law. Ending the war in Iraq, closing down Guantanamo, re-engaging other countries and using diplomacy and international institutions to work together with other countries can restore the United States position as an important and respected member of the international community. An apology would be nice too, but that's too much to expect, even from Obama.

For taking concrete action to save the planet from our own impact. Global warming is real and we've wasted precious years under republican rule. Controlling the damage and reversing the trend will require a massive effort at home and a concerted diplomatic push abroad. The good will that electing Barack Obama generates overseas can help allow the United States to play a leadership role in achieving a truly global initiative. And Obama has a plan to combat Global Warming which can get things rolling right away.

And finally, for the triumph of enlightenment over racism. Who could have predicted, only a few years ago, that an African American candidate could be so close to being President of the United States? The younger generations seem to be already in a post-racial frame of mind, but with Barack Obama we might not need to wait for them to achieve critical mass. The moment could be right now. And what better way to repudiate the last few years and signal real change than electing the first black President?

I grew up in Argentina under a military dictatorship. In 1983 we held elections and democracy returned. It was the end of one of the darkest periods in our history and the election was a historic cathartic moment for the country. Democracy was welcome with huge, extended parties befitting the start of a period full of hope and promise. This election feels exactly the same way to me. We're on the verge of moving on and putting behind us a dark period of history. And it could all end tomorrow.


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