Sunday, October 28, 2012

Why I'm Voting for Barack Obama

I haven’t written anything of substance in my three blogs in well over a year. It took this year’s election to finally shake my typin’ fingers from their slumber. Only barely since this has been the most unbearable slog of an election in memory. Four years ago we were treated to the most entertaining and compelling one we’re likely to see for a long time. It inspired me to compare it to The Big Lebowksi, Dr. Strangelove, and your favorite professional wrestlers. There’s no such fun this time around.

I must begin by saying that I am disappointed by the Obama presidency. Not because I believed in Hope and ChangeTM. I’m not often naïve; I always knew there was a high probability of disappointment. Obama was dealt the toughest of hands, but I feel strongly that he played it wrong. He blew an opportunity that rarely comes along in American politics. From the moment he took office, he looked to extend the olive branch to Republicans even as they repeatedly knocked it from his hand and stomped it into pasta seasoning again and again. Even before inauguration, he went to George Will’s house to court every significant conservative columnist. He held similar court with Republican members of congress even though they were the minority. All of that outreach resulted in zero GOP votes for a stimulus package in the middle of the worst economic situation the country had seen in almost 70 years, even after the Democrats threw in extra tax cuts just to appease them. All of those open-armed gestures resulted in the Senate Minority Leader stating that his single most important goal in the midst of all these challenges was “making Barack Obama a one-term president.”

When he chose how to treat those who got us into so much trouble, he turned the other cheek. Obama did nothing to hold anyone accountable for the economic disaster, despite the myriad of laws broken in the financial sector. He let Dick Cheney, José Rodriguez, and their ilk completely off the hook for the torture programs they devised, leading to a complete scumbag like Rodriguez recently bragging about his “big boy pants” on 60 minutes. And nothing was done about altering the illegal surveillance strategy employed by the Bush administration. Hey, I get it. He didn’t want to lose his financial backing, didn’t want to piss off the CIA right off the bat, and he figured he’d better use everything in his arsenal to avoid any terrorist attack for which he’d undoubtedly be pilloried.

When I say he missed an opportunity, it’s because instead of going straight to the public that elected him, he was too busy trying to make nice with those who were dead set on destroying his presidency with any available weaponry. In his nomination acceptance speech a few months ago, he said “So you see, the election four years ago wasn't about me. It was about you. My fellow citizens — you were the change.” This statement is correct. But it took until this election for him to realize that his energy would have been better spent with those same fellow citizens rather than hoping to appease those who have declared him a sworn enemy. This is of course 20/20 hindsight. I’m not saying Obama shouldn’t have tried outreach first, and he would have been a hypocrite if he hadn’t. But why did it take so long and so many useless peace offerings? The people were indeed ready for major change for the first time since Richard Nixon. But Obama chose a different strategy.

I am, generally speaking, a progressive. It’s not that I expected him to be one. I just think he played the game wrong. Yet my disappointment sells him short. He’s actually gotten a whole lot done despite the mess the country is in. And all this with an opposition party that long ago stopped giving a damn about decency.

The shameless, craven behavior of the Republican Party absolutely astonishes me. I suppose I was naïve about one thing. I thought they would take Obama’s 365 electoral vote victory as a pretty clear sign that the will of the people deserved acknowledgement. For instance, Obama had said if elected he would fight to enact universal health care. He did so with a plan largely devised by the right-wing Heritage Foundation and employed successfully by Mitt Romney. But rather than helping craft a compromise Republicans chose to lie their way into a battle to the death panel (one that was eventually declared alive by their own Chief Justice Roberts). At that point it was clear that whatever Obama proposed, they would be against, and with no qualms about outright lying to garner public support for their side.

But this runs deeper than simply looking to score political points. If these Republicans have shown us any governing principle it’s that they do not think that factual truth is important. This certainly applies when talking about Obama, but also on any relevant issue of the day. When presented with clear evidence of anything, today’s Republican Party prioritizes their beliefs over reality. Think about it. According to the Republicans:
  • ·         Climate change either doesn’t exist or is not important.
  • ·         Obama raised your taxes.
  • ·         Voter Fraud is a tremendous problem.
  • ·         Obama was born in Kenya.
  • ·         Abstinence education reduces pregnancies.
  • ·         Republicans are trying to protect social security and Medicare.
  • ·         Sarah Palin was against the Bridge to Nowhere.
  • ·         Iraq was working with Al Qaeda.
  • ·         Tax cuts on the wealthiest sector of the population create economic growth for everyone.
All of the above is well proven bullshit.

Which brings us to President Obama’s opponent. From the beginning of this campaign, it was clear that Mitt Romney was going negative. This is America, and that’s his right. But during these last 40 weeks, he has told lies on 891 occasions! 891!! That’s simply astonishing. OK, so maybe you don’t believe all of those are actual lies and are open to some interpretation. Even if you want to be extremely generous and take just 10% of them as untruths, that would still be more than two a week for nearly a year. Nobody questions that Romney has told different audiences different things at different times. To be fair, nobody has any idea what Romney would look to do as president. I doubt he even really does. So there’s no reason to trust him on just about anything, right?

Ah, but there has been a handful of areas where he’s actually been consistent. He will increase military spending. He will cut taxes, primarily on the wealthiest Americans. He will cut various public service programs that benefit wide swaths of our fellow citizens in various ways. Aside from also being consistently “pro Freedom,” that’s about it, man. In the only executive decision he’s had to make since 2007, he selected Paul Ryan as his running-mate. Ryan is a self-proclaimed “policy wonk” who can’t even handle basic mathematics and devoutly worships at the altar of voodoo economics. He has also constantly lied about subjects important and banal, from whether he requested stimulus funds to his marathon time. He is in so many ways today’s exemplary Republican.

Over the last 32 years, Republican Party policy has resulted principally in Debt and DestructionTM. We’ve seen unnecessary wars, unfunded mandates, and embarrassing corruption and scandals. This is what Republican Presidencies have meant. And most of these actions were based on lies or false promises. George W. Bush stated again and again that he was against nation building. We know how that turned out. He named his tax cuts “middle class tax cuts” even though the majority of the reduction was for the wealthiest. “Healthy forests” was a veiled giveaway to logging companies. “Clear skies” reduced regulations on polluters. “Support the troops” meant support George W. Bush’s war, but don’t provide any body armor or sufficient health care upon return. And of course to dress every newsworthy wound we got terror alerts that were designed to intimidate and distract us every time something went wrong for the Bush White House. I question whether Americans really remember what it was like with a Republican president. With good reason, we all wanted to move on. But those who cannot remember their past are doomed to repeat it.

Is there reason to think a Romney presidency will be a departure from previous Republican policy and behavior? Lucky for us during the second debate, a conscientious citizen actually asked him “What is the biggest difference between you and George W. Bush, and how do you differentiate yourself from George W. Bush?” I present Romney’s response in full:
 “The — President Bush and I are different people, and these are different times. And that's why my five-point plan is so different than what he would have done. I mean, for instance, we can now, by virtue of new technology, actually get all the energy we need in North America without having to go to the — the Arabs or the Venezuelans or anyone else. That wasn't true in his time. That's why my policy starts with a very robust policy to get all that energy in North America, become energy-secure.
Number two, trade. I'll crack down on China. President Bush didn't. I'm also going to dramatically expand trade in Latin America. It's been growing about 12 percent per year over a long period of time. I want to add more free trade agreements so we have more trade.

Number three, I'm going to get us to a balanced budget. President Bush didn't. President Obama was right. He said that that was outrageous to have deficits as high as half a trillion dollars under the Bush years. He was right. But then he put in place deficits twice that size for every one of his four years, and his forecast for the next four years is more deficits almost that large. So that's the next area I'm different than President Bush.

And then let's take the last one, championing small business. Our party has been focused on big business too long. I came through small business. I understand how hard it is to start a small business. That's why everything I'll do is designed to help small businesses grow and add jobs. I want to keep their taxes down on small business. I want regulators to see their job as encouraging small enterprise, not crushing it.

And the thing I find most troubling about "Obamacare" — well, it's a long list, but one of the things I find most troubling is that when you go out and talk to small businesses and ask them what they think about it, they tell you it keeps them from hiring more people.
My priority is jobs. I know how to make that happen. And President Bush had a very different path for a very different time. My path is designed in getting small businesses to grow and hire people”

In this moment Romney had a wonderful chance to say how his direction would break the trend with Republican presidencies past. He took the opportunity to attack Obama, China, and Venezuela, but didn’t reveal any substantive way he would govern differently. This is because his few consistent policies are nearly identical to Bush’s. And in fact most of his advisers come directly from Bush’s administration.

I acknowledge that Obama hasn’t been perfect. I wish he would have given up on his version of change for something more practical after it simply wasn’t taking hold. At the very least, he’s an honest and honorable guy. Maybe he isn’t wired to be a true leader, but he is perfectly suited to steer a steady course. And right now that’s probably what we need more than anything.

The GOP has tried to redefine reality for decades. Yet given what we can safely believe about Romney, we know these policies will only send us farther backwards, bolstered by dishonest arguments the entire way. Do we really want to reward a party that has so clearly proven that they will never put the country ahead of their own agenda? A vote for Romney is a vote for falsity and pettiness. And it is almost certainly a vote to return to the Bush years. Given that threat, we must give Obama all the support we can.

When Obama was elected, I wrote “He’s got his work cut out for him.” I didn’t realize that the Republican Party would make so much harder than it had to be. If he is reelected, he will have another four years of brutal fighting ahead of him. My hope for 2012 is that he’s been kicked in the balls enough times to know he must come out swinging from here on out. Because even if he wins 365 electoral votes, his opposition won’t suddenly value truth, honor, or the needs of our country. As an American who values all of these things, there’s no other available choice in this election.

And just to show I'm not too much of a Debbie Downer, have a righteous jam by The Equals that's on topic enough:


Matías Potel Feola said...

Nice post! I would vote for him too if I could do it, man the Republicans scare the shit out of me... I remember the Bush years, that was bad for the whole world.

The whole "Obamacare" stuff it's impossible for me to understand, how can they oppose something that's good for most people? In Argentina we have free health care (although collapsed) and I cannot imagine taking that away.

But the worst is this "his single most important goal in the midst of all these challenges was “making Barack Obama a one-term president.”"... wow, I would expect that from our politicians, and I hate that about them.

What puzzles me though is, how do they get so much support from the people? Well... I guess that the same thing that happens here does there, right?

Anyway, do you think he WILL win?


PS: I don't know if you did already, but I believe that you would enjoy the show "The Newsroom" very very much, did you see it? If not do it, it's worth it.

Reed said...

Mati, you ask a great question. Why do people support a party that is so cravenly self-serving? I wish I had a good answer for that. In the US, we have a fractured media where people can hear what they want instead of what is necessarily the truth. This can happen on every issue and on either side. In sum, it's complicated.

Yes, I think Obama will win. It's going to be close for sure, but he seems to have the advantage in some key states. We'll know in a week!

Reed said...

For another example of the latest Republican horsenonsense, check this crap out.

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