Back in March, I decided to vote for Barack Obama for President. Today, I’m even more convinced.
I still believe Obama hasn’t done a good job as President. He’s been a weak leader. He’s outsourced many of his major policy decisions to unpopular, hard left Congressional Democrats like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid. He hasn’t done what he said he would. Even in the face of extreme opposition from Congressional Republicans sticking to fundamentalist positions, it’s no excuse. A leader must lead.
But I’m still going to vote for Obama because I believe a Romney Administration and Republican rule would be a disaster. For a long time I’ve argued that both parties were the problem, that they did the same things. Much to my friend Erik’s chagrin, I refused to believe that the Republicans were really worse than the Democrats. The last six months have proven that he was right and I was wrong.
The Republicans have become dogmatic, anti-science and anti-thinking on the economy, national defense and social issues. They’ve become the party of fear. And fear leads to anger, which eventually leads to knee-jerk, dogmatic decisions, which many times leads to violence. Republicans are making policy based on dogma, religion and their gut. Many Republicans seem to want to put us into a moral theocracy, an individualistic Ayn Randian dream world of the 53%, all the while increasing military spending. That’s a scary mix.
On the economy, the Republicans view any dollar that goes out of a government account as bad. They don’t differentiate between spending and investment. But anyone with a brain knows that it’s a completely different thing to borrow money to buy a new house (an asset) or borrow money to take a Caribbean vacation (an expense). The Republicans equate investing money in roads, bridges, schools, high speed internet or alternative energy with spending money on worker’s salaries, pensions, social security, health care, food stamps and other government services. That is just plain wrong.
I am extremely worried about our national debt and runaway spending and believe we have to make big changes to get our financial house in order. But Republican austerity for social programs while spending an extra $2T on defense that the Pentagon isn’t even asking for, at the same time cutting taxes, will destroy us just as continued runaway spending from a Democratic administration will bleed us to death. We need massive changes and at least an Obama administration will look at the facts and try to make policy, even if I don’t agree with it completely.
We are in the biggest period of economic structural change since the industrial revolution. Unlike other periods of rapid change, this time we are destroying many more jobs than we’re creating. Software is eating the world. It’s replacing jobs that people used to do with computer programs or robots. A factory that would have employed 50,000 people in 1950 would likely only employ 5,000 people today and produce way more.
We are shedding jobs at an unprecedented rate, not just in manufacturing, but also in white collar and middle management. In journalism. In government. The only sectors that are growing are highly skilled professional jobs, highly skilled service jobs like plumbers and nurse practitioners and low skilled service jobs like Walmart or Starbuck workers.
I used to lean Republican because I agreed with their stance on the economy and defense, but now that the party has moved so far right and embraced too many hard line, litmus test, far right ideas, I can’t support them anymore. Even though I believe that many Democrats are wrong on how to fix our economy, they at least have the social issues right, defense mostly right and at least know the difference between spending and investment.
I would have voted for the Mitt Romney who was the Governor of Massachussets. The pragmatic centrist in a liberal state who did what he thought was right after looking at the facts. But now that the entire Republican party has moved right, so has Mitt. He’ll do anything to win this election, even if it means pandering to the religious and economic fundamentalists that have more in common with the Taliban than they would like to think. If elected, he’ll continue to do the same.
We need massive change, a real leader. Someone to tell it like it is, not just try to get reelected. I’m voting for Obama because he might just grow a spine and say, “fuck it, it’s my last term, I’m going to lead and do what’s right.” Doubtful, but I know Romney won’t. He’ll just do what he thinks he needs to do to get reelected. An Obama win gives us a chance with a rejuvenated Obama and a Republican party that can push out the hard right, religious, anti science, fear mongering, anti-thinking conservatives and come back in four years with a real game changer.