Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Confessions of a Conservative Who Voted for Obama

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Confessions of a Conservative Who Voted for Obama

Article excerpt

I'm a former Republican from the South who enthusiastically campaigned for Barack Obama in 2008. Now I have serious questions.

A few months ago, I sat with some friends in a pizza place in Chapel Hill, N.C., engaged in my own version of a "beer summit." A successful Connecticut entrepreneur, a Wall Street executive, and a retired senior bank officer pummeled me with questions about my support of President Obama. Politically outnumbered, I ended up playing defense most of the night.

I get myself into these situations because my conversion from moderate, middle-aged, Southern conservative to Obama campaign foot soldier got splashed all over the Web after an opinion piece I wrote for the Monitor went viral and briefly turned me into a liberal darling. The questions I was getting that night were not the Sarah Palin-like "So how's that hopey, changey thing workin' out for ya?" kind of question. These were insightful questions from intelligent friends interested in a constructive dialogue about politics.

The problem for Mr. Obama and Democrats is that it's not just Republicans asking questions anymore. Two years ago, 52 percent of independents backed Obama. Today, according to an Associated Press poll, just 3 in 10 say they want Democrats to retain control of Congress. Nine in 10 say the economy is the No. 1 problem, and more trust Republicans to deal with it. What happened?

Campaign promises vs. reality

In 2008, independents backed Obama because they believed he would end the war in Iraq, focus on growing the economy, improve the standing of the United States in the world, and raise the quality of debate in Washington in order to solve problems facing the country.

Though Obama campaigned on "shifting" resources away from Iraq and toward Afghanistan, independents are questioning the wisdom of his surge in Afghanistan. The Pentagon has admitted there is no military solution to the challenges facing the people of Iraq or Afghanistan. We need to get our troops home.

As the economic crisis deepened in 2009, centrist Obama supporters questioned the administration strategy of going "all in" on health-care reform. Eager for a needed focus on jobs but seeing value in healthcare reform, those in the political center were frustrated that Obama spent so much political capital to end up with a bill that is so much less than we hoped. …

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