I’ve had an easy time deciding who to support for president for pretty much every election cycle since I turned 18. This year, though, the choices are not so easy. I’m a life-long conservative with a distrust for Democrats but a growing distaste for the Republicans. Which makes this next sentence a very difficult one for me to say: unless something drastic changes between now and November 4, I’m voting for Obama.
Now, let me work out some of the reasoning behind this, for my own mind if nothing else. Let’s group it around three broad areas: economy/domestic policy, war/foreign policy, for lack of a better term, “morality” issues, and, finally, general personality issues.
- I have a huge distaste for the tax-cut promise pandering. Both sides think that they’ll get me to vote for them by promising me more money (i.e. “tax cuts”). I’d rather they told me why they need to spend my money, and then we’ll figure out if I can pay a little less.
- I’m not much of an economist, but it’s clear that things are pretty hosed up right now. That’s probably the fault of both the Bush administration and the Clinton administration before that. I don’t think anybody has a magic bullet to fix it right now.
- Short conclusion: this area doesn’t really make me favor either candidate over the other.
- As far as the war goes: I think both candidates will have to more or less do the same thing – slowly withdraw troops as Iraq becomes more stable. Both sides know that leaving immediately would cause big trouble in Iraq, so they won’t do it. So they try to recriminate each other to score political points. Ick.
- Maybe I’m foolish here, but I think an Obama win would force the rest of the world, Europe especially, to take a long, hard look at themselves. It’s been too easy for the past decade to just blame George W. Bush’s America for all the world’s ills. When the European’s darling is in the White House and there are still problems in the world, they’ll have to start looking further for how to fix problems. (Or, they’ll just still blame GWB for everything… )
- The biggie here is abortion. I have a real difficulty wanting to support anyone who is in favor of legalized abortion. But we have to look practically at it, too. Aside from appointing Supreme Court justices, there’s not a lot the president can do about abortion law. I may need to just hold my nose here.
- And about those Supreme Court justices. The traditional right-wing position is that a liberal president will get to make several appointments, thus turning the Court to the left. But let’s look at who’s likely to retire from the USSC: Stevens, Rehnquist, maybe Breyer? Liberals all. Which means even if Obama replaces them with liberals, the Court’s ideological balance won’t change much. The conservatives Scalia, Thomas, Roberts, and Alito are comparatively young and healthy, unlikely to leave their seats any time soon. So, I see this as a non-issue.
- Another thing I want to lump into the “morality” bit: health care. This is one place where I’m increasingly convinced the hard Right has gotten it wrong for a while. We have a moral obligation to provide health care for those who can’t afford it. Now, I’m skeptical about the effectiveness of government-run health care, and I don’t think the USA will end up with a fully-socialized system akin to the Canadian or British ones for a while yet, but we should find a way to make sure people are cared for. i think Obama will have a better focus in that regard.
- The VP candidates: the debate last night cemented it for me. Palin isn’t totally incompetent, but she isn’t ready for the number 2 position, either. Let’s put it this way: if something happened to Obama, I wouldn’t be afraid for my country to have Biden in the White House. If something happened to McCain, I’m not sure I could say the same thing. I like Sarah Palin, I like the idea that someone like her could make it to this point, but the hopes that she was the great savior of the Republican party have been dashed over the past few weeks. If she wants a political future, I propose this: get that corrupt Senator Stevens out of office and let Palin replace him. Give her some time to get used to the national limelight and bone up on the issues. Then let her come back in 4 or 8 years.
- John McCain. I respect his years of service to the country, but I’m not really sure that we’d get anything different from him than we’ve had from the previous administration. All the talk of “reforming” is great for the stump speech, but much harder to do when you’re in office, especially if you’re dealing with a Congress controlled by the opposition party.
- Barack Obama. For whatever it’s worth, I like the idea that America could elect a non-WASP to be president. I like his notion of change, though again I’m skeptical of just how much of it will translate from the stump to the office. I don’t think for a second that he’s the messianic non-politician that some want to make him out to be (can anything non-corrupt come out of Illinois politics?), but I think he’s different than the Harry Reid-Nanci Pelosi school of Democrats we’ve been afflicted with for lo these many years.
In conclusion: most of it’s a wash. Obama takes it just based on health care, VP, and general “change”. So, that’s my ramble. I’m sure this will greatly please some friends and family and greatly shock others. Feel free to agree, disagree, argue, whatever. I’m just hoping that next time around there’s a candidate I’m actually enthusiastic about voting for.