The truth is that I am not a member of the "angry left", and in fact, I'm not a member of the "left" at all. I'm just angry.
My personal political position is not easily categorized. To those on the right I appear as a liberal, and to those on the left I appear as a conservative. I do support some core liberal positions, but am also a fiscal conservative, and someone who believes in limited government, and strong national defence (but not the "proactive" warmongering that the current crop of neocons has brought us). On the whole, I consider myself mostly a libertarian.
So why do I appear so far tilted to the left during this election? Simple: I'm pissed off. I was a Bush supporter in 2000, largely because I disliked Gore and I bought into Bush's promises of bipartisanship, limited government and avoiding "nation building". He lied about all of this and more, and has taken this country down a path to ruin. The greatest problem of his administration was and still is the Iraq War, and in John McCain I see someone who is more than willing to continue down this path and even start more wars. Unnecessary wars are killing our young people, destroying our economy and ruining our international standing and power. We cannot afford another one.
To this I must add the character issue. I used to respect and admire John McCain, but he has become an empty, hollow shell of a man. The former maverick has sold out to the right-wing fringe of his party, has conducted a vile and sickening smear campaign against his opponent, and betrayed his long-standing commitment to security and foreign policy issues by choosing a vice-president he knew was not ready for the job. He also started a culture war to try to win votes. Overall, he's shown poor judgment and a willingness to put winning ahead of the good of the nation. In so doing, he transformed the debate, for me, from "which man is better" to "which man is competent". It's simply not even close any more.
At the same time, while I started out supporting Obama solely on the grounds of the alternative being unthinkable, the man himself has impressed me. He's not perfect, and I don't agree with all of his policies -- mostly, the ones that real liberals care for. But Obama is a real leader. He's someone who had the foresight and wisdom in 2002 to recognize that the Iraq War would become the fiasco that it has. And while he has engaged in some campaign fibs like all politicians, he has mostly run a clean race and avoided the sort of blatant, childish mudslinging that has become a staple of his opponent.
Where does the anger come in? Simple: the Republicans of the last 8 years have proven themselves to be corrupt, dishonest and craven. The way we were manipulated into the Iraq War makes me angry. The tax cuts for the rich that Bush rammed through make me angry. The corruption and coverups in the Bush administration make me angry. The stacking of the Supreme Court with far-right-wing dogmatists makes me angry. But most of all, it is watching 40%+ of Americans willing to reward the Republicans with 4 more years in the White House that has me seeing red.
I don't consider myself a conservative in the strictest sense of the word, but ironically enough, I am in many ways more classically conservative than the majority of those who support John McCain. Many true conservatives are also coming to realize that McCain and the Republicans have moved so far away from the traditional ideals of this movement that what passes for the GOP now is almost unidentifiable.
Wick Allison, a life-long conservative and former publisher of the National Review, is the latest in a long string of Republicans to publicly acknowledge what many of us see: the GOP has rotted out from the inside. His editorial A Conservative for Obama prompted me to write this post, because he makes so many salient points that really represent my own feelings about this election perfectly. His article is not long, and I urge you to read it in full. Here are a couple of key excerpts, but it's hard to choose only a few quotes since I find all of it so compelling:
...[T]oday it is so-called conservatives who are cemented to political programs when they clearly don’t work. The Bush tax cuts—a solution for which there was no real problem and which he refused to end even when the nation went to war—led to huge deficit spending and a $3 trillion growth in the federal debt. Facing this, John McCain pumps his “conservative” credentials by proposing even bigger tax cuts. Meanwhile, a movement that once fought for limited government has presided over the greatest growth of government in our history. That is not conservatism; it is profligacy using conservatism as a mask.
Today it is conservatives, not liberals, who talk with alarming bellicosity about making the world “safe for democracy.” It is John McCain who says America’s job is to “defeat evil,” a theological expansion of the nation’s mission that would make George Washington cough out his wooden teeth.
This kind of conservatism, which is not conservative at all, has produced financial mismanagement, the waste of human lives, the loss of moral authority, and the wreckage of our economy that McCain now threatens to make worse.
Barack Obama is not my ideal candidate for president. (In fact, I made the maximum donation to John McCain during the primaries, when there was still hope he might come to his senses.) But I now see that Obama is almost the ideal candidate for this moment in American history. I disagree with him on many issues. But those don’t matter as much as what Obama offers, which is a deeply conservative view of the world. Nobody can read Obama’s books (which, it is worth noting, he wrote himself) or listen to him speak without realizing that this is a thoughtful, pragmatic, and prudent man. It gives me comfort just to think that after eight years of George W. Bush we will have a president who has actually read the Federalist Papers.