An undecided voter looking for a change in Washington would benefit from supporting Barack Obama.
The Illinois senator said as much during a visit to Ottumwa Friday night, where he met with the Ottumwa Courier editorial board.
“I think this is a ‘change’ election,” Obama said. “Change is more than just changing political parties. The culture of politics in Washington has to change. And to change it, you’ve got to get the American people involved.”
He said his track record shows that he’s willing to refuse gifts from lobbyists and special interest groups and to pass laws forbidding such practices. It’s the voters who should have their will done.
And he can bring about change by working with both parties.
“I have the ability to bring people together without attracting animosity from the other side; depolarizing politics is something I feel I can do better than anyone else [currently running],” he said.
He also wants to see change in how the world views the United States.
“We have a lot of work to do repairing damage done around the world,” he said.
With a Kenyan father and an upbringing that included life overseas, Obama said he can help the healing begin.
“I think the day I’m [nominated], the world looks at America differently,” he said.
He’s willing, unlike some of his rivals, to speak to this country’s enemies, something he said is vital for the security of America.
He would also begin bringing troops home from Iraq, though he would continue searching out terrorism in Afghanistan.
“I’ve said Iraq is a distraction,” he said.
He also feels the National Guard is being used in a way they were never intended to be used: as active duty units. He wants to see the active component of the military grow and be used more wisely.
But he said he doesn’t have all the wisdom. He plans to find the experts he needs to help him make good decisions.
“I trust my judgment but I don’t presume to know everything,” he said.
He is not intimidated being surrounded by people who are “smarter than me.”
Part of the president’s job is to have a vision, keep things on course and demand accountability from his staff. He won’t be surrounding himself with “yes men and yes women” because one learns nothing from them.
He would let his Cabinet know, “your job is not to protect me. Your job is to protect the Constitution and to be an advocate for the American people.”
He doesn’t want departments working counter to what their original purpose was.
“I want an Environmental Protection Agency [in which their job] is to protect the environment,” not make it easier for businesses to make a profit.
He said he’ll also demand more transparency in government so the people know what’s going on. When the voters are informed, he said, they can put pressure on Congress to do what is right for the people.
He said the American people aren’t going to accept business-as-usual in Washington.
“We have a unique opportunity to actually start making changes; we have to bring someone in whose track record is [they’ve] pushed for change in a way that brings [people] together,” Obama said. “If we’re really as frustrated as people [say, then] try something new.