September 12, 2008 / Uncategorized

A Case for Obama

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NOTE: A few days ago we published The X Factor, in which lifelong Democrat Lynette Long urged women to vote for McCain/Palin. For balance, we asked Ann Bartow of Feminist Law Professors to make the case for Barack Obama.

The New Agenda is non-partisan and does not endorse any candidate. The following is Ann Bartow’s personal opinion.

The President of the U.S. has a tremendous amount of authority over judicial appointments, over federal agencies, and often, over the success or failure of legislation. A Presidency is far more than a person, because the political party that President represents will staff huge sectors of the government for the next four years. George W. Bush and the Republicans he brought into government with him did horrific damage to the Justice Department, FEMA, the Department of Labor, the Department of the Interior, and the federal judiciary, just to name a few obvious examples. To keep Republicans in power for four more years means incompetents will stay in place, corruption yet uncovered may remain that way, and investigations into corruption we are already aware of will remain largely stymied. The people Obama is likely to hire into powerful positions if he is elected may not be perfect, but they are surely going to be a significant improvement over the folks McCain would leave in place.

What if there is another devastating natural disaster? Do we want McCain in charge of FEMA, staffed with his cronies? I don’t think so, because I don’t want to see thousands of additional people suffer and die unnecessarily. What if there is another human-made disaster such as the 9/11/01 attacks? Do we want McCain and his team making the decisions about whether and how to retaliate? Again, I don’t think so. I don’t want to see another nation devastated at our hands the way Iraq has been. I doubt I’ll agree with every choice Obama makes, but I am very confident he and his team would do a far better job of governing under difficult circumstances than McCain.

And consider the judges McCain would appoint for life, not just at the Supreme Court level but also to federal appellate and district courts, and as federal magistrates. Four years would give him hundreds of opportunities to add to the conservative majority that already dominates the federal bench. In a cumulative sense, four years of new Republican appointed judges can prevent a whole lot of justice from happening over their lifetimes.

Hopefully Hillary Clinton will be part of Obama’s team. I like Hillary Clinton, always have. And I’m proud and grateful to see her campaigning for Barack Obama. If he is elected, I’d expect him to utilize her various skills in his administration. She in turn is likely to bring other well qualified women into an Obama administration, where experienced left-leaning women can lead, and more junior women can learn and grow and prepare themselves to assume power in the future. Despite his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate, I am very skeptical about the likelihood of a McCain administration hiring many women. And even if he does, they are not likely to be women who share my values on many issues.

Finally, given how close the election is likely to be, I think women voters generally can exert a lot of influence over an Obama administration. Barack Obama will want to be re-elected, and after witnessing the positive reaction Sarah Palin has received from so many voting demographics, I think he truly understands how important it is to women, who are the majority of voters, to be represented by someone who views and treats us as fully human.

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