Monday, September 08, 2008

I've Decided Who to Vote For...

After the conventions are over and the running mates have been picked, I have finally made my selection. I am a registered independent, and although I have strong political opinions on each specific issue, I am very much undecided between political parties in each given election cycle. This time, I have taken longer than is typical for me to make a decision. The reason is that both candidates were appealing to me for different reasons.

Before I let you know my decision, let me tell you something about my political views. Readers of this blog already know that I am a staunch free market capitalist. I am very much pro international-trade, I am against large government, I support lower taxes AND a balanced budget. I am very much against corporate and farm subsidies. My economic agenda pretty much matches that of the traditional Republican Party, before they decided that deficits were the way to go and that corporate welfare was a good thing.

However, I am very much a social liberal. I am for gay marriage. I am pro-choice. I am for reasonable gun control. I very much support social security and I am extremely pro-environment. Drilling for oil? Not if I can help it. Tax credits for clean energy? You betcha. You could say that my social agenda is pretty close to that of the Democratic Party, although I seriously dislike big labor. 

My rationale for both my social and economic positions is similar: I don't think that government should be interfering in people's lives. They shouldn't be picking economic winners and losers, and they shouldn't tell us who we can and cannot get married to. For that matter, I don't think they should be telling us what we should or shouldn't be smoking in the privacy of our homes. Basically, my philosophy is: live and let live, and I view good government as an impartial regulator that steps in to prevent an individual or a group from taking unfair advantage of another individual or group. It's as simple as that.

So you can see my dilemma. I don't completely agree or disagree with either the Democrats or the Republicans. If I vote for McCain, I get his right-wing religious fanatics stepping in to push their creationism and erode the separation of church and state. If I vote for Obama, I get to pay higher taxes and give more power to organizations like the teachers' union who will keep fighting against school reforms. Darn it.

BUT, I finally did make up my mind, AND it wasn't that tough either. I am voting for Obama. Here are my reasons:

1. Disgust -  I was driving back from work one evening during the Republican convention and I was listening on the radio to Rudy Guilliani speak at the GOP convention. A more vile, condescending and obnoxious speech I have not heard in recent years from a "main stream" American politician. Guilliani was actually belittling Obama for his previous work as a community organizer. Would he dare to do this if Obama worked as a teacher, fireman, sanitation worker or any other profession? How dare he stand up on the national stage and insult someone's honest day's labor? Well, that's just Guilliani, right? Nope. Instead of shouting the idiot down, the Republican establishment stood around, laughed, clapped and cheered.

When I got home and turned on the TV to watch Sarah Palin accept her nomination, the vile rhetoric continued to spew. Sheer arrogance is the message I got from the screen. After 8 years of a disastrous Republican presidency, I would think that more humility would be in order.

2. Environment - global warming is the biggest challenge facing human kind today. Hearing the cries of "Drill, baby, drill" coming from the Republican convention, I am now sure Republicans simply don't get it. They may pay lip service to the problem, but they will drag their feet until it's too late. Economy and Environment are my two main issues this year, and the Republicans clearly fail this one.

3. Economy - from my perspective this one would typically be an easy one in favor of the Republicans. I think that it still is, marginally. However, after having mis-managed the economy for the past eight years, even if they win a few points in my book compared to the Democrats, their record is simply not good enough to tilt the balance in their favor.

4. Hope - as jaded and cynical as I am about the American political system, I have to say that I find Obama inspiring. Listening to his speech at the Democratic convention, I heard something that I haven't heard from a politician in a long time: vision. This makes me want to bet on him. 

4. Sarah Palin - I like McCain. Until he chose Palin as his running mate there was a decent shot that he would get my vote. No more. I have no problem with Palin's lack of experience. OK, I have some issue with this, just like I have some issue with Obama's relatively short record. My real problem, however, are her positions on the issues (as far as these have already been revealed). This is someone who supports abstinence-only sex education - after the utter failure of this approach has been demonstrated by her own teenage daughter's pregnancy. I don't question her personal decisions, I simply refuse to let these misguided opinions be applied to my kids. Palin is someone who truly believes in creationism - even if, to her limited credit, she hasn't tried to push this superstitious and ignorant position as Governor of Alaska. Perhaps worst of all, she doesn't believe that global warming is man made...

It was after Palin concluded her speech that I made up my mind. I like McCain. I like him a lot. If he had chosen a centrist running mate, such as Lieberman, chances are that McCain would have gotten my vote. However, with his party so full of hubris after eight years of failure, and his horrible choice of running mate my choice seems simple enough. In fact, it's not even close.

I went to Obama's website and made my campaign contribution. This is the very first time I have ever contributed financially to a political campaign. I truly hope he gets the job. 


Kara said...

I was amazed at how closely my political views are mirrored in your post. Thank you for stating so simply and eloquently what I have been trying to put into words myself. I will be sharing your post with my husband and others who are struggling with their decision, and with those who are asking me why I am voting for Obama.

frugal zeitgeist said...

I could not agree with you more.

ryan said...

i mirror you as well, socially and policitally/economically.

i on the other hand am voting repub. and not b/c i like mccain, i truly wanted Ron Paul.

i just cannot vote for more social programs and "wealth redistribution", as i do not believe this is what the fed. gov't should be doing.

Anonymous said...

Well said.
In many ways it comes down to: One side is offering inspiration and one side is fear-mongering, hoping that the American public is too stupid to rise above it. I HOPE they are wrong...

ryan said...

as far as HOPE and FEAR, i couldnt tell you if you are right. This is because I dont watch debates or listen to soundbites.

i read their policy ideas, and what impact they will have on taxes and the economy.

unfortunately Obama is a socialist and Mccain is only a republican by the new standard set by Dubya.

Anonymous said...

I could've lived with McCain before. But since Sarah Palin -- no way. I hate Sarah Palin. She makes my skin crawl. I'm all for strong women but they have to be smart. She was so snarky in her acceptance speech. Her views are so off the mark -- she's more like Bush than McCain is!

The entire rupublican campaign comes from a place of fear and it drives me nuts. We better turn this ship around.

Obama has to win.

Anonymous said...

Since you agree with the Republicans on the things a president controls but disagree with them on the things a president has little influence on, then you should really be voting Republican and thanking the evangelicals for working their asses off for your candidate in exchange for a few scraps of policy.

Please realize that every barrel of oil pumped in America is $100 of wages, royalties, taxes, and dividends that stays here rather then going to the middle east. The environmental damage is less if we pump it here because it isn't shipped by tanker.

You might also want to consider basing your decisions on what a candidate actually says and does rather than the smears their opponents toss out on the web.

Anonymous said...

Great post. Fiscally, I'm fairly moderate. But I'm voting Obama because I'm a social liberal. After all, what good is money if I can't enjoy life as an equal citizen with equal rights, living on a sustainable planet? Obama doesn't promise everything I'd like, but at least I know he'll keep his policies out of my bedroom and won't drill drill drill to appease big oil. And since I'm middle income, Obama's policies will be better for my bottom line than McCain's, anyway.

Not that it matters, but I don't think McCain is nearly as socially conservative as he has to pretend to be for the loud minority of fundamentalists in his party. I believe Palin is going to turn off a lot of moderate voters.

Shadox said...

Thank you all for your comments. I am not used to such a lively discussion on Money and Such...

Anonymous #2 - a President controls much more than the economy. He appoints thousands of political appointees to positions that have a huge impact on regular citizens - e.g. remember Browny, the one from Katrina? He also nominates judges and sets the larger policy agenda. He also decides whether or not my phone is tapped without a warrant and whether or not I get declares an enemy combatant even though I am a law abiding citizen living in the Bay Area. Those so-called scraps of policy matter a great deal to me. The separation of church and state, for example, is one of the things I cherish most about the U.S. system of government. A president makes a very big impact on the lives citizen - he is head of the executive branch, for crying out loud!

I have no intention of sticking my nose in my wallet and making my decisions based solely on whether I make more or less money. There is more to me than that.

Also, with respect to the barrel of oil argument. Clearly you have a point that a barrel pumped and used in the U.S. causes less harm than a barrel shipped from elsewhere in the world. However, since I do believe in economics, I think that price signals are the best way to reduce the use of fossil fuels. Therefore, I would like to see fewer supplies coming online as an incentive for higher prices and for the development of alternative energy sources. In fact, I would like to see a carbon tax enacted into law in the near future.

Anonymous #3 - I agree with you that McCain is not nearly as conservative as he pretends to be. I am telling you, I really like the guy and was seriously considering giving him my vote.

Anonymous said...

I think Palin is a a hypocrite and is a figment of spin as much as anything else. Luckily as a VP she will have ZERO impact on policy and no, I don't think McCain will drop dead making her the president.

My problem is that I think America does need a big change. It cannot keep playing by the 20th century rules. The world is just to damn small now.

I think Obama is big risk, big reward (I hope) while McCain is more of the same...

Tom said...

My views somewhat mirror yours. I am a capitalist, against large government, and more or less socially libral.

As a Republican I don't know if I can bring myself to vote for Obama. I whole-heartedly agree with your "Hope" comment and a part of me secretly wants him to win just to see how this country will turn out in 4-8 years.

I just cannot get over his lack of experience. Yes, I agree that Sarah Palin has just as much, but let's be honest... the VP doesn't do much. Here's how I view the situation and please let me know what your opinion is...

I view Obama as a mid-level manager of a global conglomerate. Would you, as an employee of the company, ever allow a mid-level manager to be CEO, even if he aspires to do great things? I don't think I would be comfortable with him at the helm.

I realize he will be surrounding himself with advisors who are a million times smarter than he is in their respective areas, but it still comes down to Obama's decisions.

Whatever happens, I truly believe that they both are good men and will change the country for the better.

Kady said...

Fantastic post. I could not agree more. I'm a life long liberal, but my husband a life long conservative. He is voting Obama in November, the first time in his life that he's ever voted for a Democrat.

I'm also a bit fearful of the inherent conflict btw where the Dems are today and their ability to manage our economy. I'm hoping that Obama's professed love of pragmatism and his econo-wonky tendencies will put him on the right track.

Shadox said...

Tom - that is a very well thought out comment. I guess that we just come out on different sides of the equation. As I said, global warming and the economy are my two big items this year, and I am positive that the republicans have zero intention of doing anything about global warming. On the other hand, I am concerned about some of the economic policy that Obama has been talking about. I am hoping that at least a large part of it is campaign talk.

With respect to whether or not I would let a mid level manager run a fortune 500 - that is a very good question, but then again, I don't think that a Fortune 500 CEO is on either ticket. To be honest, I don't think that being a Senator really prepares one to run the largest economy in the world. Unfortunately, Senators are all we have to choose from.

I agree with you that both are very good men, and either is vastly superior to the two jokers who stood up for election last time around.

Kady - I share your concerns and hopes. Because I am not a partisan, I make my decisions on a balance of pluses and minuses for each candidate. I do not pretend that Obama is the perfect candidate, but in my mind, the Democratic ticket and platform this year are more attractive.

Les@SpillingBuckets said...

As many commentors have said, this post mirrored my own political and social views almost perfectly. Also had the same reaction from the RNC - but I am so against wealth redistribution and big government that I might still vote for McCain. I don't know who will get my vote yet, and honestly I will probably decide when I see the ballot.

Thanks for the eloquent post.

partialexponent said...

Hi Shadox, I just stumbled across your blog & this post today, and just wanted to say that this is an excellent post! Like many of the other commenters, my views on the issues are very similar to yours, and I really like the concise and eloquent summary and analysis you have written.

I also wanted to add that though I had a tremendous amount of respect and appreciation for both candidates going into this election cycle, seeing the low tactics of the McCain campaign has also reinforced my decision to vote for Obama. Though I recognize that some degree of attacks are inevitable, McCain has really taken it to a (in my opinion) disgusting level, whereas Obama has kept his campaign on a much more positive, issues-oriented level.

Thanks again for the great post!