Saturday, November 01, 2008

Why I'm Voting for Obama

Husband here. So in church on Sunday one of our friends discovered that we were, gasp, democrats (well technically only I am, Wife remains unaffiliated only because I won't let her register as a socialist). We were kind of surprised that our friend hadn't guessed that our political leanings were a bit left of center (if you define center as Ted Kennedy). Now that doesn't make me feel as bad as when people are surprised I'm a church-goer (seriously I've got to work on that mouth of mine).

This experience coupled with a comment from another old friend who found me on Facebook and is as far right as I am left, made me feel like explaining my political philosophy. So without further ado here it is. For those not interested skip to the end, I embedded an Anamaniacs song.

1. Taxation--All taxation is redistributive by definition. The McCain/Palin assertion that Obama's a socialist belies the reality that all taxes have a socialistic element to them. Honestly debating the virtues of +/-3% here and there is hardly sufficient reasoning in my book to favor one candidate over the other. That said I think that politicians should work on reducing government bureaucracy and wastefulness. We need to end no-bid contracts and have complete and total reporting of government funded projects. I do tend to think that we need to err on the side of lower taxes but I like the progressive tax rate. As beneficial as they are to me personally I think we should eliminate some of the tax credits including the mortgage interest tax deduction. It was this deduction that made it necessary from a fudiciary perspective for us to buy a house before we might have been ready and is the cause of much of the subprime crisis today.

1a. That said we also need to have a complete and total rework of our national infrastructure. This is best done with state/regional planning boards over seeing the revitalization of roads/bridges/sewer/power lines/rail/IT infrastructure. Frankly in dark economic times this seems to be a good use of the unemployed. (yeah that's very new deal but our continued economic dominance demands an upgrade in our infrastructure) A national renewal of this sorts would also be a good training ground for college students and we could offer it as a debt forgiveness program for them.

2. Abortion--Abortion as birth control is an unnecessary evil. It is a way for individuals to back out of a condition that is the natural by-product of sex. That said, I view a wholesale outlaw of abortion as even worse. To force a woman who has been raped to carry a child to term, reminding her of the actions of her rapist every day for nine months is something I cannot accept. Given that neither side fully supports my views on this issue I don't use it as a litmus for selecting my candidates. Further, abortion will never be wholly criminalized in America. If Roe vs. Wade was overturned it would simply return the right of abortion regulation back to the states and allow them to make it illegal. Assuredly many would, but I think the majority would not so it's becoming a moot point.

3. Iraq--We should not have invaded Iraq. Iraq was a distraction from the fight against the perpetrators of 9/11 and their Taliban allies. The only compelling argument I saw for the invasion was that once Iraq was neutralized we could draw down our troop levels in Saudi Arabia which were stationed there as a check on the Iraqis. Our troop presence in Saudi Arabia has been a great rallying cry for Islamist movements around the world. That said we have yet to see any substantial reduction in our Saudi force contingent based on our "successes" in Iraq. Further, the Hussein regime itself was viewed as anathema to the militant Islamist movement for many years. We thus need to withdraw from Iraq. Now this does not mean I'm a defeatist, our troops must and should return with their heads held high for their efforts. If McCain thinks a timeline for withdrawal is defeatism...well how does one withdrawal from a war where there is no formal enemy state to offer their surrender.

4. Immigration--Immigration is what makes this country great and should be accepted more readily than it is. For all the talk of Mexicans never learning English, it has been the history of most immigrant communities in US history to preserve their language for the first generation and a half (meaning the second generation is typically bilingual). This is exactly what is happening in Latino households across this country. That said we should work to reduce illegal immigration if for no other reason than that illegal immigration often results in some of the most wicked brutality that man can commit against man. So long as we are the world's best hope for freedom and prosperity, people will come to our shores seeking a better life. That is what they've always done. The best policy to reduce illegal immigration than is to improve conditions in their home countries so people no longer feel the need to immigrate and/or loosen immigration requirements and provide a clear path to citizenship and assimilation.

5. The Environment--Ah Climate Change. Well given my relatively liberal bent thus far you can probably imagine that I'm a left wing-the ice caps are melting-tree hugging-hug a California Condor type....well you're kind of right. I do believe that humanity affects the environment around us. This is basic Newtonian physics, for every action there is a reaction. You dump benzene/PCP/petroleum in a watershed, it is going to have an affect. Thus regardless of the reality of climate change I think we need to be more careful with the stewardship of this planet. God did not give it to us simply to have us strip mine everything we can out of it. Unfortunately too many think that our resources should simply be exploited without concern for the consequences.

5a. Energy policy. This naturally segues to a discussion of energy policy. In the short run a comprehensive energy policy consists of the use of all energy resources. We need to continue using our fossil fuel infrastructure for the time being including oil and natural gas exploration. That said the continued use of what is essentially a 19th century paradigm of development will stagnate our growth in the medium and long term. It is for this reason that we need to augment the fossil fuel infrastructure with increased development of hydro, nuclear, wind, and solar power, with a goal to eliminate our dependence on fossil fuels entirely. Nothing frustrates me more than when I drive through northern Arizona and southern Nevada and I fail to see any development of photovoltaic technology. Honestly no one lives there, it never rains, why has no one put solar plants there? Further, a restructuring of our energy infrastructure where every individual fed back into the grid by placing solar panels on their roof would revolutionize this nation's power supply needs.

6. Electoral/Campaign reform--The current primary system must be abolished. It is a byproduct of the unholy union between big money and the 24 hour news networks (they're already talking about 2012 for the love). Electoral reform should include the following. There should only be six weeks of voting in a given primary season. Iowa and New Hampshire can keep their first in the nation status, voting in consecutive weeks in late June. Following a two week break we will hold four, 12 state primaries. One occurring every two weeks.

These states will be divided demographically with all regions of the nation represented in each 12 group cohort. The primary cycle will thus end at the end of August or the beginning of September. Every four years the 12 state cohorts will move forward one week in the primary voting cycle with the first cohort moving to the last week of that years voting block. Further, I think all states should keep their electoral college votes but distribute the votes in one of two ways. 1. Distribute all votes proportionately to the popular vote cast for the state as a whole. or 2. Votes should be distributed based on the winner of the congressional district. The individual who wins the most districts would get the two additional electoral votes allocated to the state based on their senate seats. Barriers of entry for third parties should be removed but I have no idea how to do that.

7. Gay Marriage--This is a tricky one. Personally the marriage that matters for me is the one sanctioned by my faith. I understand that the state has an interest in marriage as it is the unit that traditionally has provided the most social cohesion. That said I think the delegation of the right to perform marriages to churches is what has put us in the quandary we now find ourselves. If states change the rules of who they'll recognize as married than churches find themselves afraid that they will be prosecuted/persecuted for failing to solemnize marriages they find themselves to be in doctrinal conflict with. I think the best solution is to completely disassociate the two institutions. For the state only recognize marriages made by state agents (justices of the peace, appointed city hall officials, etc.). Churches can do what they want subsequent to the state marriage but church unions will have no force or binding power in the eyes of the state any longer.

Now those are my personal views and subject to change. However more important to me than any of these things is the tone of a candidate. I don't like this McCain because his whole candidacy seems to be about instilling fear of Obama. I didn't like Bush or Gore in 2000 because both of them seemed to feel entitled to the presidency. As if their pseudo-aristocratic background made them far superior to McCain and Bradley whom they defeated in their respective primaries. I disliked Kerry in 2004 precisely because he (and Bush for that matter) lacked any understanding of the life of the common man.

When I listen to Obama speak, I feel that he believes that he has a responsibility to serve this nation and not a right to rule. Quite frankly that feeling of service to your fellow citizens is so novel in American politics he's actually convinced me to abandon third party politics this election.

To finish up I'd just like to give a general note about why I vote Democrat rather than Republican most of the time. It is precisely because of the issue of tone and respect. I've found, especially at Church, that Republicans are much more dismissive and quite frankly disrespectful of my personal political beliefs when they differ from the party dogma. Frankly I've found this troubling and spiritually unsettling. I'm reminded of a scripture where the Lord says that in the last days: "...[Satan shall] rage in the hearts of the children of men, and stir them up to anger against that which is good." Now I'm not saying that I'm correct on all of my political beliefs but I think that the rage that people feel regarding politics saps the spiritual strength of many on all sides of the political divide. Thanks for listening.

As promised here's some Anamaniacs:


Coops said...

What I find funny is that on most things that I say, most people would consider me conservative, then they would hear one of my 'wacky' socialist ideas and shun me! I think I lean more centre now than my idealistic days of 17 - 19, but I always vote, locally, nationally & in Europe & I have only ever voted for a major party once, and that was because that was the best choice for my views at the time.

In a conversation with an American on a recent flight (who was clearly Republican), much to her disgust I suggested that Obama was worth considering simply on the fact that he is young and has a truly fresh perspective. I also admit that this could be dangerous, as I am still not sure he has made it clear enough what he would do.

I have never voted Labour in this country and probably never would (they are not socialist enough for me), but I have to admit that Blair brought about a needed change, and if it had not been for Iraq generally did a good job for the British (but he did not follow typical Labour politics). Brown on the other hand is useless (and the people never even put him in power). Just like the Conservatives needed to lose power in the 90's to shake them up, it is time for Labour to be shaken out now. I think countries need young leaders who are willing to try new ideas, learn fast and keep things moving. I would probably vote for Obama, not because of his party, but despite his party - the questions remains will he be allowed to make the changes necessary, and will he go too far. I still think that he is only the best of 2 bad choices, but not as bad as the last couple of times. (McCain just contradicts himself too much - he almost comes across as starting to go senile).

The whole campaign system in the US appals me though, Obama thinks he is some kind of 'Rock Star' - but sometimes you have to work with a broken system. I agree with you on virtually all you points, but not all your solutions - particularly Iraq, I have no better solution, we should not have gone, but now we are stuck there!

At least you know when your elections are - we have an unelected Prime Minister, who refuses to give any indication of when he will call a general election - he keeps hoping he can make something happen that will con the public into voting him in!

(sorry for the very long comment)

Alissa said...

i'm a flat tax girl, myself.

also, i definitely lean more to the left than the right... and i really hate sarah palin.

but i can't figure out why, when i think about voting for obama, I feel immense guilt. I'm pretty sure it's my dad's fault with his SEVERELY CONSERVATIVE leanings.

Cami said...

shaBANG!!!! i really like your electoral college idea.

La Yen said...

I am not sure what I am. I like my money, and I want to keep as much of it as possible. To the point that I would rather give to charities myself than to the government to dole out as it sees fit. And I actually give more to charity than I do to the government, so you know I am not all stingy. (Except to the guy who tries to sell me giant pixie sticks on the side of the road.)

I want as many of the decisions made by the states as possible, and I want as many officials elected, rather than appointed. And I want some major term limits. (Did you know Cuba, under their constitution (that only lasted a few years) required politicos to serve in lower offices before they could run for presidente? Even if they had already been presidente? Hence Batista being "the senator from Datona.")

I think if you can touch the soil you are in, but you have to register and pay taxes. I don't care if you don't speak-a, as long as you don't get all bitchy when I don't speak-a your language.

And I am fine with first-trimester abortion, even though it is not something I would ever consider.

But, mostly, I want my money.

Does that make me a Republican or a Democrat or a Pimp?

And "Lake Titicaca" is my favorite Animaniacs song.

Roy said...

Nice post. I like the topic-based approach, almost like your own platform. Running for state assembly in 2010? So, are you voting on 11/4, not early or absentee? Are you expecting insanely long lines? Being in a swing state, I envisionthree-hour waits, and, honestly, I don't have the time for that. Thus my early voting.

Andrea said...

Again, I'm not a fan of politics and i don't trust either canidate, but loved your post and the last paragraph touched home. Every morning I run with my two very conservative LDS friends and am amazed at their inability to accept that you can be a good LDS member in good standings and not believe the same things as them. Uggghhh...I'm ready for the election to be over and I'm tired of hearing all the hateful comments --sometimes (often) politics can be so immature.

Carma said...

Good blog! Enjoyed reading our views...and sad that even within the church we can't be more open-minded about politics.

museumeg said...

All right, Stew, two hours later I finally finished reading your post. Just kidding. But I find your views interesting. I even agree with some of them. I'm a tree-hugger myself. I am thinking a registering as an Independent because I am so sick of party politics! But that is kind of the stepchild designation second only to being a supporter of Ralph Nader.

Yadira said...

Thank you for wanting to hug a California condor! I wouldn't recommend it, but we at the California Condor Recovery Program very much appreciate your support. Happy voting. Thanks again!

AzĂșcar said...

I concur!

Ryan said...

I enjoyed your comments... although, perhaps to your dismay, you sound a lot more moderate than I would have expected. I certainly don't see you as a crazy-eyed Nancy Pelosi disciple.

Also, it's very sad to me that you've had those experiences at church. I'm glad there are people with your political beliefs in the church...if for nothing else, it makes for some fun diversity and conversation.

Finally, I didn't vote for Obama. I voted for McCain, but what I wanted was the year 2000 John McCain. However, I'm very optimistic about Obama, and I think his presidency could turn out very good for the country...if, of course, he doesn't run us into the pit of socialism;)