The first presidential debate, in my opinion, did not have a clear winner. There were no “defining moments” and neither candidate knocked the other one out. However, seeing them next to each other articulate their policies and philosophies made me realize that each offers a very different vision of and future for America. McCain will perpetuate the past 8 years while Obama will usher in real change.
Under McCain, the yawning gap between the affluent and the rest of us will widen. Even though his persona du jour is populist, he will continue catering to corporations and to his set – the rich and powerful. Under Obama, the country’s gini coefficient will go down as income and wealth distribution is improved. The middle class will recover and more will join its ranks. He will accomplish this by providing tax relief to 95% of Americans; by insisting on fair trade with other countries; by investing in the manufacturing sector and its workers; by rebuilding national infrastructure; by championing science and technology; by uplifting small business and labor; and by securing home ownership.
Under McCain, the 36.5 million poor men, women and children will be ignored and many more will join them. Under Obama, poverty will no longer be dismissed. He will address the dire situation faced by 1 in 8 Americans by expanding access to jobs; increasing the minimum wage to a realistic level; by strengthening families; and by providing affordable housing.
Under McCain, racial and gender minorities will remain marginalized. Women will continue to make less than men. Lesbians, gays and transgendered people will not move towards parity. African Americans and Latinos will not see any justice under the criminal and judicial systems. Under Obama, women will finally earn their due. Gay and trans women and men will find themselves in a more favorable and open atmosphere. People of color will see justice. He will achieve this by combating employment discrimination; by expanding hate crimes statutes and strengthening civil rights; and by ending racial profiling, reducing recidivism, and eliminating sentencing disparities.
There is no doubt that John McCain and Barack Obama are both ready to be president. The question is, what kind of America do we want?