Earlier this year, I was elected to serve as a delegate representing Wisconsin at this summer’s Democratic National Convention. It was a great honor, and when elected, I looked forward to casting my vote on the convention floor for an experienced, well-qualified candidate for the presidency. The only trouble was, the Democratic Party saw fit to nominate Barack Obama, rather than Hillary Clinton — the candidate whom I strongly supported throughout the primary season, but for whom I will sadly be unable to vote in this year’s presidential election.
Ultimately, despite being tremendously well-qualified and possessing a great deal of experience, Hillary was passed over for the Democratic nomination. I’m sure I’m not the only one posting here at BlogHer who was troubled by the party’s elevation of Barack Obama over her. However, I may be one of the most visible Hillary supporters/Obama opponents because of one specific step I have chosen to take in the wake of the Democratic Party having chosen to nominate Illinois’ junior Senator. Rather than sitting the election out, or voting for the Democratic candidate whom I did not support in the primaries, I have decided to support John McCain this November. This week in Denver, rather than publicly advocating for the Democratic nominee, I instead focused my efforts on advocating for John McCain — a candidate who inspires the kind of confidence in me that Hillary did, and who I believe will garner the backing of numerous Hillary supporters this November, whether they are Democrats or independents.
Why take the radical steps of, first, pledging to vote for John McCain in the absence of a Hillary nomination and, second, choosing to abandon my Democratic affiliation and describe myself as an independent? I get asked that a lot. The honest answer is that like many of the 18 million voters who supported Hillary across the country, I am dismayed at the way in which the Democratic nominating process played out, and more importantly, the way in which Hillary was treated by the party along the way.
But more importantly, I recognize that there is a stark contrast between what Hillary Clinton and John McCain, and Barack Obama, respectively, would bring to the table as president. Obama has been in the U.S. Senate for just over three years. Literally, four years ago, he was a state Senator in Illinois. That just does not measure up to the experience that either Hillary or John McCain would bring to the table — and with Hillary off the ballot, that’s made John McCain appeal all the more strongly to me.
The importance of having that experience, especially with regard to foreign affairs, cannot be stressed enough; nor can the importance of possessing sound judgment. At the moment, America is facing a number of global challenges, and the recent crisis in Georgia demonstrated the importance of electing a president who has the right knowledge, instincts, and practical know-how to deal with situations like that one. John McCain showed he has all of those qualities with his response to events in the Caucasus region. Barack Obama, in my opinion, did not: He seemed to be playing catch-up with John McCain as events there unfolded. That underlined to me one basic point: Barack Obama simply does not bring to the table the track record of extensively working on matters of national importance, relevant to our global interests, that either Hillary or John McCain would. And that matters greatly to me, as I believe it does to others who voted for Hillary.
Many of those voters are in Denver this week, as you would expect. I have read and heard about them, and spoken with some of them. The bottom line is, while I may be one of the most well-known Hillary supporters to leave the party, emerge as an independent, and commit my vote to John McCain, I am by no means alone. I can say with confidence that there are other delegates here in Denver who would be more comfortable with John McCain as president than Barack Obama, even if they have not spoken out to say as much. Making your voice heard on such a difficult and attention-grabbing topic can be difficult (I should know — my delegate status was stripped from me as the result of actions taken by Obama supporters after I made my views known). But it also is important. The 2008 election is going to be critical for determining how we move forward in this country, and whether we do so under the leadership of someone qualified to make the best decisions for the country as a whole, or someone who is frankly not ready to lead. I trust John McCain to take us forward and lead the country in overcoming our greatest challenges, both at home and abroad. My hope is that other Democrats and independents will look at their options and decide the same.
Debra Bartoshevich is an emergency room nurse from Waterford, Wisc., and a member of Citizens for McCain.
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