Monday, November 5, 2012

Why I'm Voting Obama

Consider this the official Planet Blue Presidential Recommendation - Barack Obama for President tomorrow.  And make sure you vote, even if you disagree with me.  In fact, especially if you disagree with me, because as the polls stand now Obama is going to have a very narrow victory tomorrow mostly thanks to the Electoral College.  Its going to be difficult to vote in New Jersey this year thanks to Hurricane Sandy, but for the most part power is back on everywhere relevant for me now a week around the hurricane hit.  Of course, I have to thank the President, Governor Chris Christie, FEMA, and every other agency that helped us out.  Its weird as hell for New Jersey to be playing the role of Florida for once, and I'd rather it not happen again.

Anyway, my vote for Obama, I'm sorry to say, is based on what has become the general trope of politics:  my guy isn't very good, but the other guy is worse.  The Economist last week recommended Obama last week for roughly the same reason, "the devil you know".  Historically it appears that Obama is going to stand as a mediocre president, perhaps even a bad president once his eight years are up, and frankly looking back I have to say we probably made a mistake back in 2008 when we didn't elect John McCain.  However, I ignored John McCain back then because he wasn't the same John McCain from 2000, he was playing the arch-Republican role.  And for the same reason, I'm snubbing Mitt Romney because he isn't the same Romney from his days as governor of Massachusetts.  Once upon a time Romney was a true moderate, brining fiscal prudence along with health care reform and shockingly, a strong environmentalist record, and these are all things the new Mitt Romney would like us to forget.  Even when Mitt Romney in the last debate tried to become the pious moderate (and accidentally ripped-off his opponent's foreign policy basically word for word) he still managed to come off as dangerously nationalist, talking of a massive increase in military spending and then, most disturbingly for me, and bizarre despite his claims of being a competent businessman who understands the economy, he wants to start a trade with China.

In his first four years, Barack Obama has been a disappointment, let's not mince words.  We all thought when we supported him and voted for him* that four years later we'd be in a much better place, economically, socially - we might be doing better internationally.  Obama had a very tough battle against the Republican Party to get even what he accomplished finished, most notably Obamacare, which is still an incomplete step towards complete health care reform.  We still don't have legislation that fixes No Child Left Behind, we still don't have immigration reform, we have a Wall Street Reform bill, but I'm not sure if its getting enforced properly.  The economy is in stable but weak, the deficit is rising, and I'm concerned about our international position.  If there were another reasonable choice between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, I'd probably vote for that guy.  If the Republicans had run a good candidate like Chris Christie or Paul Ryan or even McCain again, I would have voted for that side.  Four more years is a dangerous gamble for our country's future, but I believe Mitt Romney represents a far worse gamble.

Luckily for the Republicans, they at least made the choice somewhat difficult, since Mitt Romney was one of the most moderate people they ran this year.  Compared to bizarre circus act of various Tea Party zealots and pizza men, Mitt Romney seems like a sensible and quite handsome choice.  The only problem is that I don't think his economic plans are any better than Obama, I know for a fact that his social plans will tend Right, and most of his term would be based around undoing what gains Obama actually made.  Apparently on the first day of his term, right after he declares China to be a currency manipulator and our economic enemy instead of partner, he's going to repeal Obamacare.  Will he create a viable alternative?  Does he have one?  Hard to say.

My main problem with Mitt Romney is that even though his biggest plus is a supposed understanding of the economy based on his years in business, his economic plan doesn't really make much sense to me.  Cut taxes massively, cut five trillion in federal spending somehow, then massively increase federal spending on our armed forces when we really don't need it.  This has always been the Republican solution, to cut down the federal government, essentially European Austerity.  And luckily Europe has been an excellent economic laboratory for us in the US, since we can see exactly what Austerity has done over there:  nothing.  Europe is been slowly collapsing and steadily declining for years now, and its especially bad in Greece where the entire country seems to be coming apart.  Yeah, the deficit is a problem, but its not the problem right now.  The problem is that people can't find jobs, and they're not spending enough, so companies aren't hiring enough.  Our economy has very slowly been coming back, but I don't think five trillion dollars being suddenly cut away from the federal budget will save anything.  Everybody is saving their money right now, especially big businesses, that's the problem.  If nobody spends any money, how are we getting out of this trap?

Yeah, I admit I don't understand economics as well as I should.  Romney is probably a smarter economist than I am, but his plan is ridiculous.  Obama, on the other hand, isn't that much better, most of his plan relies upon increasing taxes upon the wealthy, and that won't pay for everything he wants.  However, the current course for the most part is one that's moving upwards, even if it will take a decade for things to return to normal (if there is a such a thing in economics).  The Republican Party has a predatory view of the nation right now, that at least half of us is eating off the other half.  The Tea Party is nothing but a furious rejection that their money should be spent to help out other people.  And even if Mitt Romney is a moderate in that position, he still is promising to give them what they want:  a weak federal government that won't steal their money.  I simply have to oppose this philosophy.

Romney must be given credit for holding his own as a credible political figure and not falling into the nonsensical madness that seems to be gripping the Republican Party.  He never asked for the President's birth certificate, he never called the President's policy "socialism", he isn't talking in millennialist rhetoric about the final battle between the Bible and the godless Democratic Party.  For once the election isn't about Gay Marriage, or abortion, or prayer in schools, its mainly about the practical economic success Mitt Romney says he can offer.  However... I don't buy his pitch.

Internationally Barack Obama has been a limited success in my view, though certainly an improvement over George W. Bush.  Bush's presidency will forever be marred by the massive, unprecedented in our history disaster that was the Iraq War, which was handled so badly and so incompetently, that Bush will never ever be invited back to the Republican clubs.  In the end, Bush and Obama used a united strategy of troop surge to end the war, and Obama finished the work his predecessor began - five years later than it should have taken, but still completed it.  Killing Osama Bin Laden seems to have finally broken the spell that Al Qaeada had, it is a broken organization that will never again manage to be a threat to this country.  International Jihadism still exists, but its leader is dead, and symbolically we've already won.  I'm unhappy with our course in Afghanistan, the government we put in place is corrupt and anti-democratic and probably going to get overthrown shortly after we leave, just as it should be.  Afghanistan will probably not be a functioning state for many years, but neither candidate has the will to keep fighting the war there, and the American people are fed up with foreign adventures.  Which is a shame.

But that's the War on Terror, that's the international picture of the last decade.  We live in new times, a new paradigm.  Now the Middle East is gripped by massive democratic revolutions across the region.  Obama hasn't been a leader in this movement, but he's been supportive for the most part.  Libya was his greatest success, Egypt was a success as well.  Syria is a festering ulcer which neither candidate wants to seriously commit to.  Obama has led conservatively and defensively, not wanting to commit America to a controversial position.  We can trust that he won't get us into any adventures during the next four years.  Mitt Romney even while he sings that same moderate song, still has designs on China.  Which is the wrong foreign policy and the wrong economic policy.  Say what you want about Obama being anti-business or even socialist (which is utter nonsense), he isn't dumb enough to imagine the world economy like its the 19th century.

I was just praising Mitt Romney a while ago  about social moderatism, but this is probably the best placed where Barack Obama makes his case.  Obama supports gay marriage, he didn't a year ago, but now he does, and that makes him a more attractive candidate for me.  He tried to get the DREAM Act passed, but the Republicans killed it.  At some point I hope that Obama will offer realistic immigration reform, he doesn't seem to have had time for during his first term.  Mitt Romney made his case clear during the second debate:  he does not see a place in the United States for unskilled poor immigrants, and will have no amnesty despite the obvious failures of our immigration system.  Obamacare is at least an attempt to fix our medical system, Romney's own plan is a phantasm without any solid form, he can change its shape to whatever we want as long as it gets him elected.  In terms of education Obama has made moves, but I want some real legislation passed.  Romney's own educational policy is No Child Left Behind again, but with perhaps a more functioning system of support, but it still doesn't solve the main problem that schools simply are not being funded properly.

For all these reasons I'm voting Obama.

However, tomorrow Mitt Romney might indeed win the presidency.  And that will be the American people's choice.  I may not agree with the choice right now, but I accept the fact that I'm an idiot on the Internet yelling about stuff.  Unlike "Paranormal Activity 4", which sucks now and always will suck forever, I cannot predict the future nor can I give the final word on what is best of the country.  If Mitt Romney comes to power and his more dangerous and stupid positions get ignored in favor of honest leadership, we might have a truly bipartisan leader.  If he might actually deficit and improve the economy, I'm a pessimist.  Either way the election goes tomorrow, its not going to be simply a defeat for the Left and nobody has to move to Canada.  It could be a real possibility for a better tomorrow.  The Obama choice is the better one depending on the information we have now, but is it the correct historical one?  Nobody can know that.  So if Romney is elected, he would be my president one way or another, and I'd accept his legitimacy.  If he's a fuck-up, then the best thing to do would be to kick him out of office in 2016.  Just like if Obama really is as bad as the Republicans say, it would be time in 2016 to vote conservative.  I'm hoping whatever happens tomorrow, it will be the right choice.

* I didn't actually vote for him because I was seventeen at the time.  By the way, age-based suffrage is retarded.  Most seventeen-year-olds are morons, but I consider how many forty-year-olds still want Obama to show his birth certificate.  How about this?  Instead of simply turning eighteen as the limit, you need to get your high school diploma, or your GED.  That's restricting a lot of people, typically poor people, but I'm going to argue that they should graduate high schools.  And in fact, we shouldn't be letting these poor people slip by without a high school diploma, since in the modern world, you can't do anything without even that little of education.  If education is the requirement for functioning in democracy, maybe this country will finally get serious about education.


  1. What about Gary Johnson of the Libertarians? Hypothetically he has a chance to get the 5% of the popular vote he needs for Federal funding, I think he's on the ballot in nearly every state in the USA. You could vote Jill Stein but she's basically a stupid Socialist. Like a real Socialist, not Obama.

    I agree with most of your votes. If I was American I'd probably vote Romney though just to have some entertainment.

  2. My completed uneducated opinion would be the 'the devil you know' argument. My gut feeling would be that people, when it comes to the crunch, will stick with the familiar as Romney hasn't proven himself to be any more competent in his words or his actions. It would genuinely surprise me if Romney was President.

  3. I would rather deal with eight years of mediocre then 4 years of epic fail. Plus look on the bright side! Apparently the world will end on the 21st of December so the economic crisis won't even matter.