cross-posted to goodCRIMETHINK

This letter was passed on to me recently. There’s been a lot of talk about Republicans for Obama (Obamacans), often followed by the assertion that they are faking their support for him. This writer, a Brooklyn-based reverend, no less, makes a stronger appeal to Republicans than merely Clinton-bashing…

An Open Letter to Republicans in Open Primary States: Vote for Obama

This is an open letter to my American brothers and sisters among the Republican Party who have yet to vote in your state’s primary. If your state is among those that are OPEN primaries, I am writing to ask you to consider voting for Barack Obama. For those of you who are not aware, an open primary registered voters of one party can request and vote upon the ballot of the other party. This is a truly powerful and progressive privilege, and in this year’s election, with John McCain as your party’s de facto nominee, you should consider the rare opportunity you have to venture across the party line, albeit temporarily, to vote for Senator Obama. It might be enough for some of you that a vote for Barack could effectively guarantee that Hillary Clinton is blocked from reaching the general election, but I will ask you to consider voting for Senator Obama on the basis of a higher plain of reasoning.

On principle, I am not registered with either party. As an Indpendent, I voted for Bush in 2000, Kerry in 2004, and in this election I support Senator Obama. Recently, I have spoken with a handful of Republican friends and relatives who have expressed not only a respect for Senator Obama, but even a willingness to consider voting for him (one direct quote: “he’d be the first lefty I’ve ever voted for!”). Everytime I hear something like this, I smile. I can’t help it. And I can’t help thinking: if there are ten, there might be ten thousand who hold a similar secret (or not-so-secret) admiration for Obama.

Now, much has been made of the inspirational note that he strikes in his speeches, and rightfully so. But the next time you’re watching coverage of an Obama rally, turn down the volume and observe two things. First, watch his face, and especially his eyes. For those who pay attention to such things, there is—despite the grueling schedule of his whirlwind campaign—a consistent mark of intent yet patient intelligence, a visible directness that seems to meet the audience halfway. Second, look beyond Senator Obama, and see how the crowds that gather around him forge a powerful tableau of American diversity: the faces in the bleachers blend in a display of the mottled beauty that is our diverse heritage. There are men, women, senior citizens, babyboomers, and droves of the oft-reputed apolitical generations X and Y. And now, imagine adding to this tableau a contingent—even if it be a small one—of Republicans not afraid to recognize a leader with the ability to bring a universally desired change to the earmarked halls of Washington, D.C.

One can see the potential power of a message by its ability to attract a large crowd. But one will know the true transformative power of a message by the diversity of the crowd that gathers to listen. And the world—at home and abroad—is listening to Barack Obama. Here is an individual who has re-engaged large swathes of the American populace with the American political process, and who—as a perspective national figurehead—possesses the rare potential to re-engage the goodwill of the World community and introduce to them a renewed American identity.

Consider, for one, Senator Obama’s bold assertion to hold diplomatic discussions with foreign leaders branded by our current president as members of the “axis of evil.” The current administration’s policy of “diplomatic embargo” and isolating un-friendly nations is a modern phenomenon based upon a new wave of false patriotism and xenophobia. Recall that throughout the Cold War, American presidents communicated directly with their Soviet counterparts (Kennedy with Kruschev, Reagan with Gorbachev), and it very well might have been this direct communication that kept the Cold War from ever heating up.

On the more immediate level, I believe that if you cast your vote for Barack Obama in the open primary, you would be voting in favor of a more enlightened debate in the general election. Senator Obama has made a policy of not attacking Hillary on anything other than what is based on fact. Meanwhile, in South Carolina, the Clinton campaign showed its willingness to bring a knife to a boxing match as former POTUS Bill put on a shameful display of race-baiting. Obama kept his head up and weathered the assault with a tremendous amount of grace. After Senator Obama’s recent eight-state winning streak, Hillary is spinning yet another yarn, calling him as a candidate of speeches and not a candidate of substantive policy [hint: go to, click on the word “ISSUES” and you’ll find Senator Obama’s “Blue Print for Change,” which lays out in plenty of detail his position on fifteen major issues, the first and foremost of which is ETHICS].

Needless to say, I suspect that an election between McCain and Clinton would deteriorate into a montage of Bill Clinton, red-faced and jabbing his finger in the nose of anyone who criticizes his wife, and McCain raising the spectres of the Rose Law firm, Whitewatergate, and Bill’s oval office infidelities. Personally, I dread the idea of five months watching the dirt fly as the political steam shovel we’ve all grown to detest digs up skeletons from the 1990s.

On the other hand, I would welcome the opportunity to watch a debate between Senators McCain and Obama. Although it would be just as vigorous and heated as any election, I believe that the trajectory of the debates would be more enlightened, more forward-looking and issue-driven. Furthermore, with respect for the candor of both Senators McCain and Obama, I believe that each of these candidates would be mutually elevated by the other: two strong, vigorous competitors making for a strong, vigorous competition.
And I smile when I think of this. I can’t help it. This would be the kind of debate that the American people deserve. So I remind you once more of the rare opportunity you have to bring this forward-looking debate to the stage by casting your vote for Senator Barack Obama in your state’s open primary. And then, on Tuesday, November 4th, after the great debates have ended, we’ll all line up for the same ballot, free to re-join our respective party lines.
Or not.

The Reverend John DeLore
Brooklyn, NY


Tues, 03/04: Ohio [OPEN, 2/3],
Rhode Island,
Texas [OPEN, 2/4],
Vermont [OPEN, 2/27]
Sund, 03/09: Wyoming [dem. only]
Tues, 03/11: Mississippi [OPEN, 2/10]
Tues, 04/22: Pennsylvania [OPEN, 3/23]
Tues, 05/06: Indiana [OPEN, 4/9],
North Carolina [closed, 4/6]
Tues, 05/13: Nebraska [closed, 5/2],
W.Virginia [closed]
Tues, 05/20: Kentucky [closed, 4/22],
Oregon [closed, 4/29]
Tues, 05/27: Idaho [OPEN, 5/27—register day of]
Tues, 06/03: Montana [OPEN, 5/3],
New Mexico [closed, 2/5],
South Dakota
Sat, 7/12: Nebraska

Links to state election offices & list of open primaries.

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