Sunday, November 4, 2012

Why Barack Obama Has My Vote

Why Barack Obama Has My Vote

In February, I started writing this blog.  The first entry concerned Mitt Romney’s odd comment about the ‘trees being the right height.’  Since then (almost fifty entries later), I’ve written an eight-hand bunch about the 2012 U.S. Presidential race.  Now it’s almost over.

Which is a relief, I’m sure, to most of us.  Particularly to people like me who live in swing states and have been pummeled with 24/7 political ads over the airwaves and internet, not to mention those inconveniently timed advocacy phone calls.  A sliver of my psyche must admit, though, that I will miss all this hoopla, if for no other reasons than there’ve been endless political fodder to write about . . . lots of interesting stuff to watch on TV (interesting if one gets a kick out of politics) . . . and good excuses for having debate-watching parties.

Seriously, I wouldn’t have written all these blogs if I didn’t care about the election, no matter how absurdly amusing (and sometimes dispiriting) the contest often has been.  Therefore, it seems right to explain (or reiterate) why Barack Obama has my vote.  No snark (or at least not much).  And no attempt to persuade.  As one of my friends so sensibly stated a while ago, she knows how she’s going to vote and doesn’t want to be bombarded with reasons why she should vote differently (or, for that matter, reasons why she’s absolutely right and should steal the yard signs of those who don’t agree with her). 

So for people who have followed these blogs, here are the five issues and stances that have most influenced my vote.  Just so you know.  Transparency, baby!

**Supreme Court and other Federal Judiciary appointments.  There’s no doubt whatsoever that Governor Romney would appoint the most conservative, ‘strict constructionist’ jurists that he could come up with.  (No matter what he thinks personally [although, as my October 24th blog suggests, I imagine he would agree), he would find this the most efficient way to assuage the ultra-conservative part of his base, and thus he would do so.)  I believe that such reconfigurated courts could easily strip women, ‘minorities,’ gays, union members (make your own list) of hard-won rights.  President Obama has not, and will not, appoint reactionary judges (I dare anyone to show how Supreme Court Justices Kagan or Sotomayor have been reactionary). Judicial appointments have consequences that last long after the term of any particular President ends.

**Foreign Policy.  President Obama has conducted foreign policy with prudence, sensitivity to and knowledge of other cultures and histories, and a reluctance to involve the United States in another ground war – especially in the Islamic world.  All we know about Governor Romney’s foreign policy is that he’s quick to make pugnacious declarations, he’s surrounded himself with Bush (W. variety) neo-cons, he’s BFF with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, he finds it smart to vilify the Chinese in offensively racist ways, and his world-historical and geopolitical knowledge base seems, uh, well, severely limited.

**Infrastructure.  It shouldn’t take Hurricane Sandy for the United States to realize that our national infrastructure – from power grids to traffic tunnels – is at best creaky and at worst, on the edge of collapse.  President Obama sees a significant federal government role in repairing, rebuilding, even re-conceiving our infrastructure.  This is not just a make-jobs project (although that’s probably a good byproduct).  It’s a major initiative that involves energy sourcing, actual attention to demographic patterns, climate conditions, and recognition that individual States and private enterprise could only approach such huge and needed projects in a piecemeal fashion.  Maybe I’ve missed it, but Governor Romney has offered nada/zip/zilch about national infrastructure.

**Science.  Oh, where to start.   One:  this country’s economic strength has been in large part propelled by scientific and technological initiatives supported by the federal government . . . and by a general stance that respects actual science.  Two:  whether it’s climate change or good old evolution or female biology, there’s a scientific consensus about the facts (as opposed to what we should do, given the facts).  The Republican Party, as it now presents itself, seems to take pride in ignoring or belittling many such facts. Governor Romney has not distanced himself from the ideologically reinforced ignorance that seems to dominate his party.  If he is elected President and has a yawping minority of Tea-Partyish know-nothings at his back . . . God forbid.

**The Nature of Government.  Back a zillion years ago, when Civics was still a secondary school course, we were taught about the Social Contract, American-style.  E pluribus unum.  And for that pleasant motto to work, we expected to contribute to the collectivity that was the United States – taxes of course, but also military and public and community service.  Some things could be handled on the local level, and other things could not.  As citizens, we had a responsibility to our fellow citizens, particularly when they were in distress.  Again, it would be easy to evoke Hurricane Sandy here . . . and actually, why not?  No individual State can deal efficiently with such devastation, and relatively poor States (see Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Katrina) may not be able to deal even minimally.  Governor Romney has stated quite clearly that FEMA is not needed, that everything can be best handled by States and, even better, by private companies (another new branding for Blackwater?).  President Obama, obviously, thinks differently.

You’ll notice that in my top-five list I do not include the deficit or, specifically, job-creation.  Issues surrounding the deficit are definitely above my pay grade (which, for blog entries, would be zero); I do not presume to understand much about macro- or micro-economics.  Instead, I have a rather naïve belief that if the five ‘issue areas’ outlined above were addressed sensibly, the United States of America would be in much better shape economically and socially.  It seems to me that President Obama has tried to address them, with varying degrees of political suppleness and varying degrees of success.  It also seems to me that Candidate Romney has not addressed them thoughtfully, and that he is likely to go along with the troglodytic views of the current House of Representatives, if he is elected President and the House remains controlled by intransigent Republicans.

[Neither do I specifically mention health care.  No matter how he tries to run away from what, arguably, is his best contribution to public welfare, Governor Romney did sign into Massachusetts law a health care policy that provided a template for ‘Obamacare.’  Neither plan is perfect, but they both move toward providing medical services for all citizens.  Mitt Romney has said he’d ‘repeal Obamacare on Day One’ of his presidency, but I don’t really believe him.  It’s his plan, or at least one he endorsed in principle and, when it was politically expedient, took credit for.  Maybe this is just wishful thinking . . . ]

Do Social Security, Medicare/Medicaid, and Defense Spending (the three largest chomps on our national budget) need serious reconsideration?  Does the Federal Tax Code need reformation?

Yes indeed.  Neither 2012 Presidential candidate has put forth a clear vision about how he would attack these problems resolutely.  That’s why I outlined the five issues mentioned above.  These are issues about which, I think, the candidates have given the voting public pretty clear indications concerning where they stand. 

Those indications are why President Barack Obama has my vote.

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