I was just reading this essay by Michael Pollan and it reminded that Obama as a Senator has been very supportive of farm subsidies for Illinois factory farms. Which is bad. (Probably anyone reading my blog knows this already, but just to summarize: factory farming, enabled by federal farm policy which includes huge subsidies for farmers who grow massive amounts of corn, has wrought havoc on the energy-food supply cycle, leading to more pollution and less nutritious food, among many other problems.)
Anyway, being reminded of something negative about Obama actually felt reassuring to me. He's not perfect, he's not our saviour. But he is a man who listens and responds to reality, and I think that's the essence of the "change" we all keep talking about. Knowing there is an issue I disagree with him about makes me feel more engaged. There's a conversation. Democracy is supposed to be a conversation, isn't it? (The closest I've gotten to a dialogue with the Bush administration has been shaking my head and saying "unbelievable.")
The other area of disagreement I have with Obama -- regarding war -- seems very different to me. Somewhere deep in my heart I'm a pacifist. But I am able to somehow reconcile that deeply-held conviction with a kind of philosophical distance from some military action.
For instance in the case of Osama bin Laden. Even though I find killing people morally repugnant, I understand the need for justice. When Obama says "we'll take him out," something deep in me reacts with sadness and horror. But at the same time I understand how killing Osama bin Laden in exchange for him having killed thousands of people may be necessary to restore balance, or justice. I know this is intellectually incoherent.