Why I’m Voting for Barack Obama

Barack ObamaIn the 2008 presidential election I’m going to be voting for Barack Obama. That’s probably not a surprise to people who know me, but I feel the need to explain that position.

Caveats
I’ve been contemplating this post for some time. Should I even write it? As a person who makes a living writing for a faith-based market (for the most part), it’s some what dangerous to talk about politics. There’s a very real possibility that people won’t hire me because of my political views. It’s happened for much lesser reasons.

But I guess because of that rationale I feel compelled to give a defense for why I’m voting for Barack Obama. I’d rather someone understand my reasoning and still reject me than reject me based on an assumption from something random like a Twitter post.

I think this will be the first time I’ve ever publicly blogged about who I’m voting for. The above rationale is part of the reason, but I’ve also never cared that much about politics. Part of the reason why I’m doing it this year is because of how important the times are. That’s said every year (I said it last election), but this election is historic on several fronts.

Ground Rules
I’m not going to load this post up with links and sources. Perhaps I should, but writing this is going to be grueling enough. I don’t have time to track down all the links. My arguments have come from watching the debates, listening to the candidates, following the campaigns and reading fact check sites. That said, feel free to call me on facts that I get wrong.

I’d also like to remind people of the importance of disagreeing well. How we disagree perhaps says more about our character than what we agree on.

Abortion
Let’s get right to it. Abortion is perhaps the biggest hurdle Christians face when it comes to supporting Barack Obama. I don’t like Obama’s stance on abortion. However, three things give me pause:

  1. For the first time ever the Democratic Party is not simply pro-choice. One of the goals of their platform is reducing the number of abortions. That’s a goal everyone can agree on, and one we should all be pursuing. This strikes me as a much more realistic and attainable goal than the Republican approach of overturning Roe vs. Wade.
  2. I think the Christian strategy of fighting abortion through legislation is a failure. By solely focusing on the political battle, I think Christians have made this a horribly polarizing issue and have failed to make any real gains in reducing the number of abortions. It’s been an all or nothing strategy, and so far we’ve got nothing. At this point I’d rather see small gains in reducing the number of abortions, even if it means abortion remains legal. I think the church needs to take the abortion battle away from politics and bring it into real life. That’s the only place our grace, mercy and love will make a difference.
  3. I don’t buy the arguments that Obama is somehow pro-abortion. Nobody is pro-abortion. I accept his explanation of his Illinois Senate votes that seem to upset so many pro-life voters. Frankly, I think Obama is doing more to find middle ground on this issue that John McCain is.

I’m certainly not the only one who thinks this way about abortion:

In general I find that the Republican Party is pro-life only when it comes to abortion. And that’s not good enough.

Whew. Now that we have that out of the way, let’s move on.

Economy, Taxes & Stuff
Anyone who read my disagree well post and took the quiz will know that I came down pretty close to socialism (and no, it’s not a bad word). On economic policies I think those who can afford more of the burden should shoulder more of the burden. I don’t think giving tax cuts to the wealthy is a way to help the middle and lower class. I think the Clinton years (which is similar to what Obama’s tax plan would return us to) are a good example of economic prosperity with higher taxes on the rich. Likewise, I think regulation is important. Our current economy seems proof enough of that.

This is an issue that I’ve seen little progress in debating. People seem to come down on one side or the other, and no amount of bickering seems to change minds. So take it or leave it. You either like the Bush policies (especially on taxes it’s clear that McCain is following the Bush example) or you don’t.

Defense, Terrorism & Foreign Relations
This is another issue where McCain seems to thoroughly follow Bush. I think the last eight years have been a foreign relations nightmare. Instead of a beacon of hope and light the U.S. has become a worldwide bully. We were misled into the war in Iraq and we’ve lost focus on the war against terrorism (and let’s be clear: terrorism in Iraq is a monster we created).

With John McCain I see more of the same. He was right about the surge (for now; I think it’s dangerous to tie political success to what happens on the ground—if Osama Bin Laden is ever caught it’s going to have very little to do with who is president at the time), but he was also wrong about the Iraq/9-11 connection and was wrong about Iraq not distracting from Afghanistan.

For whatever inexperience Barack Obama has, I think he has a much more reasoned, considered and sane approach to foreign policy. I think we have to sit down with our enemies and try diplomacy before resorting to destruction (bickering over preconditions aside). It’s working in Libya and I think it can work elsewhere. Even the Bush administration seems to be realizing this now, too little too late.

Other Issues
Certainly there are other issues to consider. Energy, education, the environment. I won’t go into great detail here, but again and again I find myself siding with Obama over McCain. Drill, baby, drill is not a solution.

Character & Temperament
Finally, when it comes to who I think has the character and temperament to be president, it’s hands down Obama. He has a vision and the calm, reasoned temperament to get there. What he lacks in experience he makes up for with a level-headed approach.
By way of contrast, John McCain seems erratic and reactionary. The negative tone of his campaign, suspending his campaign to “help” the bailout, his VP choice, even his slogans of “country first” and “maverick” seem disingenuous (for some one who rails against cronyism, I find it remarkable that his military advancement came primarily thanks to his family name). The man is certainly a hero who deserves our respect. But I don’t think the John McCain of 2008 is the same as the John McCain of 2000 who earned the respect of so many moderates.

And in what has to be the lowest priority and the stupidest reason to want to vote for somebody—I like Barack Obama. The man is a charismatic speaker. While that alone doesn’t qualify him for the presidency, it certainly helps. I find him inspiring.

In my previous presidential elections (which would only be two) I never really liked the person I ultimately voted for. And looking back at previous presidents I don’t see many that I genuinely like (though it’s fair to say my sense of history is pretty short-sighted). Actually liking a presidential candidate, never mind agreeing with him on the issues, is a welcome change.

In Closing
Part of the reason I felt compelled to write this post is because of all the insanity flying around as the election looms closer and closer. The fear-mongering and hatred is unreal. It probably happens every election, but it seems over the top this year. I don’t know if it’s due to race, religion, ideology or all three, but it’s kind of frightening. I think America is better than that.

In many cases I think this election has little to do with hope or a maverick, but it has everything to do with the opposing ideologies of Republicans and Democrats. If you like George W. Bush and you’ve enjoyed the last eight years then your choice should be pretty clear. If you disagree with those Republican policies, then your choice is also pretty clear. Throw in a maverick or hope and change, a woman VP or a black President, it doesn’t change the underlying issues.

That’s my admittedly biased rationale for supporting Barack Obama. Wherever you land, I hope we can disagree well. Now go vote.

(and hopefully I can shut up about politics for a while)

43 thoughts on “Why I’m Voting for Barack Obama”

  1. I’m a life-long democrat and I can’t vote for Obama. I went to college with the weathermen types… Obama is a wolf in sheep’s clothing… He was mentored ages 10-18 by a communist bisexual predator (Frank Marshall Davis); he has a long relationship with unrepentant bill Ayers (NYT 9/11/01 article). Percy Sutton who I know personally said that Obama’s backers were black muslim terrorists. Obama’s record is quiet as to any achievements in the House. He want’s a redistribution of wealth. Biden says there will be an attack. I’m a christian – I would never sit in a church and listen for twenty years to the garage coming out of Rev. Wright’s month; Michelle Obama said “for the first time she’s proud to be American”:.. this from a princeton grad who is married to a us senator. I dont like what happened w/ Bush; I’m not fond of McCain but I’ll be damned if I turn my much beloved country over to the mantle of this unknown, nebulous, socialist guy. I was in NY when the weatherman bombed the townhouse on 13th street…

    I hope you reconsider. Think of our country…. vote Democratic as much as you want on the rest of the ticket, just dont vote for Obama! Please, please, please reconsider and rethink this!

  2. PS. You can look everything up on the net. Everything I said is true. Obama says Percy Sutton made a mistake but Percy Sutton (a big time black lawyer, business in NY – doesn’t make mistakes…. and his family says that the Obama’s statement is wrong….

  3. The trouble with Obama’s views on abortion is his lack of support for legislation that would protect babies who survive the procedure.

    Please explain to me why I should “shoulder the burden” for those who don’t do as well? Didn’t I work hard for that money? Don’t I deserve to keep it?
    Cutting taxes on the wealthy (who are often business owners) allows them to hire more people, who can then spend money and allow others to prosper, too. Not to mention all the money that the wealthy spend directly that allows others to prosper.
    Not to mention that a tax cut for “95% of Americans” seems odd when 40% of Americans don’t pay any (Federal Income) taxes. How can you cut nothing?
    A “worldwide bully”? How so? Because we toppled two corrupt and evil regimes that professed a desire and capability to destroy us? How is that “bullying”? Terrorism in Iraq is a monster we created? Wow… So financial support of Palestinian suicide bombers isn’t terrorism? Or what about Messrs. Yasin and Zarqawi? Not to mention that “regime change” in Iraq was stated United States foreign policy by a Bill Clinton.
    Libya is not coming around to our side because we chose to sit down and talk to them. Quite the contrary: a shipful of illicit weapons was caught steaming towards Libya. Then Qaddafi saw tanks rolling through downtown Baghdad and decided he didn’t want the scene repeated in Tripoli.
    We always DO try diplomacy before force. Don’t you recall all of the effort that went into enforcing standing UN resolutions against Iraq?
    McCain erratic and reactionary? What evidence do you have that his military advancement came thanks to his prominent name? He was, by his own admission, a spoiled and bratty “wild child” until he was shot down. Was his advancement in elected office thanks to his famous father and grandfather, too?
    How exactly did McCain change between 2000 and 2008?

    John McCain is the man for the job. Disingenuous tax “cuts”, a dreamy foreign policy, a history of questionable relationships, and statements about the United States Constitution he purports to serve do not make a good presidential candidate.
    The real test for me, however, is McCain (and, for that matter, Palin’s) historical willingness to set aside personal ideology and vote according to constitutionality and the best interests of the country. Further, it must be understood that politics is a game of compromise. Time and time again, McCain has been willing to cross his party’s line and work with Democrats to craft and pass legislation that he believes is for the better of the country. Which candidate do you think will do more good for the country? The moderate with a proven track record of working with both sides to accomplish, or a far-left executive pushing a super-liberal agenda through a legislative body filled with moderate-left, centrist, and right-wing members?

  4. Just a few additional points to consider on your economic argument…

    Remember that the prosperity of the Clinton years came in a booming economy which was in large part a lagged reaction to the deregulation policies of earlier administrations. There is more to the equation than tax rates when determining prosperity and how the country got there.

    Also, I would argue (and so would many others) that the current economic crisis is due to faulty regulation not the lack thereof. Since the Carter administration, the government has assumed much of the risk of the subprime mortgages it has encouraged. This means that the mortgage companies have been shielded from the actual costs of their investments, leading to the current crisis. When people and companies aren’t responsible for the results of their actions, things get out of whack.

    Recently, Ben Bernanke chairman of the Federal Reserve admitted that the Great Depression happened as a result of faulty regulation. To me, that means the largest expansion in government regulation occur as a result of a mis-interpretation of the actual causes. Something that should be remedied indeed.

    ~AF

  5. Being this is a Christian writer and I would assume most of the readers would refer to themselves as Christians, any refuting of a “socialism” style financial policy is hard to backup. We read in the Bible that we are simple stewards of God’s resources and we should be wise and following God’s heart in taking care of the poor.

    If you are wealthy, it isn’t your money, God has been faithful to you through hard work and diligence and you’ve been given a larger share to do more of his work with.

    The downside to more government programs is it takes the place of people doing the work themselves. We don’t see the struggles and hardships that people who rely on government aide, all we see is a portion of our paycheck removed.

    I’d love it if the rich took care of the poor out of a desire to serve God’s heart, but that won’t happen in this day and age.

    I am also a Christian who will be voting for Obama in a week. I think you’ve done a great job explaining your position.

  6. Kevin,

    Glad you posted this in such a well thought out and articulate manner. Though, I disagree with just about everything you said. I’m one of those others who comes down on the other side of the issues, I guess.

    Andy said most of what I wanted to say. I did want to throw in my own personal 2 cents about redistribution of wealth. I think it’s ridiculous to even consider. My wife works with family (if you can call them that) after family who live on handouts. They drive cadillacs and have big screen tvs yet their children are running around half naked and without proper care, but these families continue to have kids so that they can continue to receive checks. I’m not saying everyone is like this, but it is so common.

    Personally, I am 100% opposed to sharing my hard earned cash with anybody who isn’t going to educate themselves and work hard. Government handouts haven’t worked, ever. To tax the hard-working upper middle class and the rich to give even MORE money to these people is stupid.

    I paid for my own college by working hard. I was poor growing up. I paid for my wife’s master’s degree. People should earn what they get. If you work hard and spend wisely you can make it.

    Obama has run his campaign on this pity the small man ideal that is far from true. The middle class isn’t struggling, it hasn’t been devestated by the economy. Like he could even relate.

    Obama is for re-framing the constitution. Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with the principles the original framers wrote. Obama sees them as “negative liberties” — the Constitution sets forth what the Government can’t and won’t do. He is in favor of reversing those and setting forth all these things the Government CAN and WILL do. Again, I’m not thinking it takes too much to make the connection between those ideas and a very socialistic, possibly even fascist BIG government. The original intent of the Constitution was to keep Government from growing too big.

    I fear that if Obama is elected we will become France in one fell swoop.

    Again, it’s obvious you’re pretty set on your decision, I commend you for thinking through the issues.

    God’s Best,
    Russ

  7. wow, kevin. a bold move. :-)

    the problem with this seems to be that the majority of people are just too stubborn to have a healthy discussion on political topics. once they have their minds made up they refuse to consider an alternative, even blindly accepting lies and rumors rather than change any of their political stances.

    i’m with you, i don’t agree 100% with everything obama, but i do believe he is clearly the best choice for president. i thought you laid your post out very well. however, the cynic in me says that you won’t convince anyone (who doesn’t already agree with you) that your reasons are valid… is that bad? christians aren’t supposed to have cynical thoughts, right?? :-)

  8. Kevin, first let me say I appreciate your candor on this stuff. And in general I would like more civil discussions and for people to better understand those on the other sides of issues.

    That said, I’ve got to challenge you on at least one main point your making regarding abortion. Regarding Christians and abortions you write: “I think the Christian strategy of fighting abortion through legislation is a failure. By solely focusing on the political battle, I think Christians have made this a horribly polarizing issue and have failed to make any real gains in reducing the number of abortions. It’s been an all or nothing strategy, and so far we’ve got nothing.”

    This is simply not accurate Kevin. Christians have done a lot more than political action. In fact, Christians have shown that they care about babies (both unborn and born), and about mothers. “In the last thirty-five years, the Christian community has founded 2,300 pregnancy help centers. This means Christians ready to help women before, during, and after pregnancy, while saving the children.” This has helped reduce abortions and has shown kindness and mercy to women in difficult situations.

    There’s also been a significant adoption movement that is a very real way of Christians putting their money where their mouth is. They are not simply voting, but saying with their lives and their growing family that life matters and abortion is wrong.

    So for you to say that Christians only do the political thing and it hasn’t worked is at best ignorant. The facts say that politics is only one part of the fight for life and that Christians have done that and much more.

    Would you say that Christians should NOT do anything politically about abortion? The risk is that you give this issue up and eventually you have no party or candidates willing to stand up for justice for the unborn.

    I’d appreciate your thoughts Kevin.

  9. Kevin,

    This is a fantastic post. I’m sure part of why I feel that is because I agree with you, and many of the thoughts you expressed here are mine as well. I particularly appreciated your articulation of the problem of abortion and voting for Obama, and foreign policy. As an American living abroad, I’ll tell you it really does look like that. The instant credibility and respect we’ll gain will be worth it’s weight in gold.

  10. Andy & Russ thanks for saying what I was thinking. Government has proven time and again that when they “manage” something, they always manage to screw it up.

    I’ve seen my grandmother, may she rest in peace, denied medical treatment because she was too old. That is what socialized medicine is all about. One can claim that it won’t be like that in the US, but ultimately it will cost too much money and they will have to “prioritize”.

    I’m also not exactly crazy about the idea that a guy who goes to a white/Jew hating church has a good chance to be our next president. I’m sure that you disagree about this point, but it’s right there on tape. Not to mention that Wright wasn’t the only Israel hater that Obama associates with. I don’t want to see my family and homeland wiped out by Iran. I can’t support a man who thinks that a country, lead by a man who has said that the Holocaust was a lie and Israel must be annihilated, isn’t a real threat.

    While most countries who have a past steeped in communism and socialism are moving toward capitalism, with great benefits to their citizens, the left in our own country wants to drag us into the mire of those failed regimes. Socialism is not only unconstitutional, it is unethical. It’s even in the ten commandments, thou salt not steal.

    What makes America unique amongst all the other nations, and what makes it so great, is the constitution. I know that the left wants to “unburden” us of that old document, but without it we will be left with nothing. What stands between us and the government? What keeps us free? What ensures our ability to work toward the American dream?

  11. Hey Kevin, regarding your take on economics and giving tax breaks to the wealthy, I think this little anonymous story “Bar Room Economics” is a helpful way to think about the way taxes are distributed.

    http://tinyurl.com/5qfbwk

    At least it was helpful for me. Does it resonate with you at all? Is there some logical error I’m not picking up on?

  12. I love how everyone thinks that government assistance programs are doing nothing but making poor people lazy ingrates and moochers. Clearly, no one who’s said that has ever actually been poor before.

    They’ve lived lives of reasonable comfort, never having to wait five hours in an assistance line to have money for groceries, only to be told that a case worker forgot to fax over the form needed to get you that assistance

    They’ve never known the pain of needing to buy gas but knowing there’s no money in the bank, so you run your card anyway, knowing that you’ll be $100 in the hole after all the overdraft fees.

    They’ve never understood the shame of asking your family for a little money so you can keep your kid in diapers.

    They’ve never felt their heart sink to see a repo notice or a warning for eviction. They’ve never had to hope that the phone calls will stop.

    I’ve been around long enough to have been both poor and middle-class at one time or another. And it’s frustrating that some people think that, “well, if the poor just worked a little harder or weren’t so lazy, they wouldn’t be in this situation,” which is just a bunch of crap. Oh sure, most people wouldn’t say it out loud, but everyone who denigrates the poor as lazy bums is thinking it or assuming it subconsciously.

    The bottom line is, people lose jobs, or get hurt, or didn’t get an education to get a good job, or made a bad choice or two and that doesn’t make them any less important, less worthy of help or less of a human being.

    Anyways, I already voted early for Obama, for pretty much all the reasons you outline, Kevin, verbatim in a lot of places. I’m in Texas though, so my vote will really only apply towards the popular vote.

    I will say that as Christians, we’ve allowed our voices to be distilled down to a point where if anyone says “Abortions bad” that somehow that sews up the Christian vote, despite what a despicable, corrupt idiot that potential elected official may be.

    As Christians, politically, we need to do more than just be outraged about sex. And, let’s face it, the major Christian talking points are all sex-related! Abortion, gay rights, sex education, teen pregnancy, birth control. Are we so one-track-minded that these are the only issues of importance?!?

    Anyways, I’m rambling now, so summary: Come on, Christians, God can use us to accomplish great things if we let Him. “In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16) Are unbelievers seeing the light of Christ in you or are they just seeing an angry, lukewarm Christian?

    “You say, ‘I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.” (Revelation 3:17)

  13. So much to respond to here. I’ll hit what I can:

    Rick: If you make more than $250,000 a year than yes, I think you should pay more. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that notion. McCain himself has argued for that (in 2000, by the way): “When you reach a certain level of comfort there’s nothing wrong with paying somewhat more.” It seems to me the choice between McCain and Obama is over how much more. McCain isn’t advocating a flat tax.

    Andy: If faulty regulation is the problem, then I’m not sure how McCain’s push to deregulate is helpful. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m pretty clueless about what’s going to help or hurt this economy (bailout good? bad? I dunno). But I do feel more comfortable with Obama’s fiscal policies.

    DR: I think refuting socialism (or policies that come near to socialism–I think it’s a joke to call Obama a socialist) from a Christian perspective has more to do with government power. Many Christians aren’t against helping the poor, they’re against the government doing it. They’d rather see lower taxes so churches and charitable folks can help the poor. I disagree with that approach, but I can appreciate the idea.

    Russ: Thanks for your candor. I appreciate your respectfulness (much needed in this conversation). I think any form of taxation is a redistribution of wealth. That’s how we get roads and schools and all the rest. So again, I think it’s a matter of how much taxation we’re talking about. And in the case of Obama it’s not like he’s proposing some crazy new level of taxes. We’ve had the conversation about government handouts before on my blog. I think it’s clear welfare could use some reform–but poor implementation doesn’t negate the idea. This really isn’t an issue I expect to convince anyone on–these kind of Republican vs. Democrat ideas on taxes are usually pretty deeply rooted.

    And I’m not sure where you’re getting your ideas about Obama reframing the Constitution. I think that’s taking it a bit far.

    Michelle: Will I convince anyone? Who knows. I probably didn’t do a very good job of citing facts and giving a balanced perspective to convince many people. But I think simply making my stand, that a Christian can support Obama, is important.

    M. Taylor: I hope you’re right. I hope Christians are doing loads outside the political circle. Unfortunately, the political arena is all we ever hear about. I don’t get e-mails exhorting me to help out at a pregnancy center, I get e-mails urging me to vote against X candidate. I don’t get Facebook invites to support pregnant women, I get invites to abolish abortion. If Christians are truly doing so much more than just politics, that’s not the story most people hear. I hope that’s just a messaging problem, but I’m afraid it likely goes deeper (in the sense that Christians do care more about the politics of it and legislating their views). I’d be very happy to be proven wrong though.

    And I’m not saying Christians shouldn’t do anything about abortion. I’m just saying it’s not the only issue. I think Obama is a good example of this, where Christians have pushed the Democratic Party to do more than simply be pro-choice. I think that’s positive political involvement, working towards lowering the number of abortions. It’s not ideal, but it’s not giving up on the issue either.

    I think some of the folks I linked to probably do a much better job articulating this position than I do.

    Limor: Nobody is arguing for socialized medicine. To say that Obama doesn’t see Iran as a threat is to misconstrue his comments (Factcheck). We’ve gone off on Wright before, and we disagree. Frankly, I think it’s hard to understand a religious viewpoint from the outside (Palin’s pastors look pretty nutty). And again, I don’t think socialism is what Obama is moving us toward.

    M. Taylor (again): Honestly, I think that story is a snide way for conservatives to make their position sound good. I’ve heard it shared before with a much snottier attitude, so perhaps I’m biased against it. It doesn’t give fair numbers–who pays 59% taxes? It also doesn’t put forth an alternative–should we have a flat tax rate then? That’s not what McCain is advocating either. As I said to Rick, I think we’re bickering over how much more the wealthy should pay. I don’t think it’s ridiculous or socialist to ask those who make more than $600,000 to pay more.

    Everybody: Good thoughts and discussion. As the comments keep coming in I don’t have the time or energy to respond to everything. I just hope we can continue to disagree well (and if you haven’t taken that test, I’d recommend it).

  14. Radical Bender, you assume too much. I’m not going to piss and moan about my family’s finances, I have too much self respect.

  15. Last I checked, my tax rate worked out to 15%. The maximum tax rate is 39%. How is that not paying more? (I’m just glad there’s no more 91% tax bracket) Plus, wealthy people own more property in more affluent places and buy more things, thus paying more property and sales taxes.
    And how are all taxes redistribution of wealth? Taxes go towards, as you said, roads and schools-plus tanks and policemen and city clerks-how is that redistribution of wealth? Seems like basic government services to me.
    Oh, and Barack Obama has indeed said that he wants to reframe the constitution.

  16. Limor: Let’s take it down a notch.

    Rick: “Last I checked, my tax rate worked out to 15%. The maximum tax rate is 39%. How is that not paying more?” That is paying more. That’s what I said: If you make more you should pay more.

    Taxing is a redistribution of wealth because if none of those basic gov’t services were provided for all people, then only the rich could afford them. Since we want all people to afford those basic services, it is a redistribution of wealth. And again the argument is going to come down to what basic services and how much redistribution (which many here clearly disagree over).

    What’s the source for Obama wanting to “reframe the Constitution”? I haven’t seen that one before.

  17. Hey Kevin, I hope I am disagreeing well. I am certainly not trying to be stinky.

    That said, Kevin, I think you have missed the point of the little “Bar Room Economics” analogy. It is not saying that anyone pays 59% in taxes. It is not really about tax rates. The analogy is using ten people to stand in for the population of the nation. And the wealthiest person in the group (or wealthiest 10 percent of the nation) pays 59 percent of the nation’s taxes.

    I am certainly not arguing that wealthier people shouldn’t pay more taxes than those who make less. They already do pay more. But the point is, if you give a tax break, then the people who are paying the most taxes are going to see the biggest reduction in total dollars, though not in percentage. So you can’t talk about lowering taxes being unfair to the poor or the middle class because they don’t get as much back as the wealthy. The fact is, the wealthy paid more so they have more to get back.

    And I did take your test before I responded to your post. It turns out I’m more economically liberal than you (33 permissive). Go figure.

  18. Limor: LOL. I love how you accuse me of making assumptions by assuming I was even speaking to you. (I wasn’t. I was speaking to the general feel of the comments thus far.)

    But now I will, for a bit. First of all, regarding your false assumption that I’m “pissing and moaning” about my financial situation, I’m hardly complaining. I’m just explaining where I come from. I was merely saying that I have experience in things that I hated having to go through, but has shaped my beliefs and principles.

    Also, it’s not a matter of self-respect. In fact, the very idea that you relate my story of personal poverty with personal self-respect even the slightest is not only insulting, but exactly the kind of (sadly) middle-class mentality that is demeaning and harmful.

    Anyways, I’m not interested in “Fisking” your thoughts on a line-by-line basis. I will raise a few points however.

    1. Since you have damned Barack Obama for his association with Rev. Wright on the basis of (most likely) out-of-context snippets of his sermons on YouTube (whipped into a moist, flaky batter by Fox News, right-wing bloggers and their ilk), I would encourage you to actually listen to Obama’s “More Perfect Union” speech, which can also be found on YouTube. In it, he not only denounces the comments of Rev. Wright, he also effectively withdraws his membership from that church.

    2. On an ironic note, I am amused how you decry the evils of socialism while supporting Israel, ignoring the fact that the nation was basically founded on socialist principles. And, lest you try to make another assumption about me, I am actually a firm supporter of the nation of Israel.

    3. And you can’t hardly accuse the left of butchering the Constitution, since there’s barely any Constitution left from the hack job we’ve seen from the past eight years. Fourth Amendment? What’s that?

  19. “While most countries who have a past steeped in communism and socialism are moving toward capitalism, with great benefits to their citizens, the left in our own country wants to drag us into the mire of those failed regimes. Socialism is not only unconstitutional, it is unethical. It’s even in the ten commandments, thou salt not steal.”

    The principles of ownership and trade are all throughout the bible; it takes willful covering of one’s eyes to miss them. Socialism is not only unconstitutional and unethical, it is murderous. There is nothing “Christian” about stealing from anyone, forcing people who are not Christian to obey Christian ethics and mores, or for that matter forcing Christians to obey someone else’s conscience. If Mr. Hendricks wants to donate most or all of his money to the poor, if half the people in the country wish to do so, they are MORE than welcome to do so – Americans, being prosperous, have always proven to be the most generous of peoples. Forcing everyone else to do so is immoral, unethical, non-Christian, unbiblical, unjustifiable, and in the end with the barbarous murderous system in place, it is a great evil to perpetrate.

    Anyone who doubts this needs to read Yuri N. Maltsev, who was there. http://mises.org/story/3105 If they actually have any doubts that socialism has and always will lead to gulags and murder, which they would be silly to try and pass off to anyone. Also, socialism HAS a definition; it’s not arbitrary or up for debate – it means what it means.

  20. OK, people, disagree well.

    I don’t think it’s fair to call socialism “murderous”. That’s like saying capitalism is greedy. Let’s avoid the sweeping generalizations. Have specific instances of socialism been murderous? Yes. But that doesn’t mean all instances of it have been murderous (Radical Bender’s example of Israel?). Let’s give a little more credit to opposing viewpoints here.

    Furthermore, Obama is not proposing socialist policy. He’s proposing a progressive tax policy, which we’ve had in the past, still have and McCain supports. It’s just a question of how progressive. By some of these arguments, there’s a point at which progressive tax policy must become socialist (what is that point?). The other two choices are that Obama’s plan isn’t socialist, or any progressive tax is socialist, in which case John McCain is socialist and the U.S. has been socialist for some time. (FactCheck has a nice overview of criticism of Obama’s tax plan)

  21. I’m sorry, there is no question that socialism is murderous – that isn’t a smear, or a barb; it is an established fact. And I provided the backup – whether the people die from starvation or in gulags or in concentration camps or in roundups; they die, usually in droves. Even the milder examples will give you ample examples of people dying from denial of medical care and hunger. So…I’m not sure how this can possibly be debated; it’s an unbiblical, unjustifiable, immoral, anti-Christian philosophy at its very core. I’m not going to stick around and keep arguing it blue in the face, so don’t worry; but there is no question that these are factual statements – not subjective ones.

    You get to a more valid point in declaring (not rebutting or proving) that Obama’s plans are not socialist. Again, this really isn’t debatable – it already has an established definition. The question would be whether we aren’t already socialist and Obama just wants to take it to the next logical level – and yes, that’s correct (though honestly he wants to skip a few levels.) However, it’s unacceptable to ethical and moral people, who believe in what this nation was *founded* on and who consider the bible to be God’s word. It always will be, and you’re going to face the same fight every time someone tries to further socialize the country – I won’t deny that there seem to be fewer and fewer people fighting it, but I will say that it seems patently obvious that if ever there was a *really* anti-socialist, pro-liberty, pro-constitutional candidate once again who wanted to go back in the direction of liberty and a free market (which brings wealth to ALL classes, top to bottom) such as a Reagan or maybe even someone better, I have to believe that people would start coming out of the closets and hidey-holes and blow the next socialist, anti-liberty candidate out of the water quite handily. After that, the prosperity brought about by their economic plans – for example Reagan cut the taxes meaningfully, and within what, a year and a half the income to the gov’t had tripled, not that that’s a good thing, but it should make people like you happy because then the gov’t can spend more – ends up keeping them in office. So long as they are true to liberty, our constitution, our declaration of independence, our rights, all of which encompass private property and free trade among them, the prosperity brought about with such policy leads to further terms. Soon as they reverse it, that’s when we get panic, more socialism, and more leftism. All that is going to bring – to us ALL – is ruin, poverty, hunger, famine, and eventually, death in droves. Whether Obama will get more than four years and whether it will finally snap the rubber band past the breaking point it’s at is impossible to say; but reading the history of other communist regimes, it’s very likely this is our last chance. At any rate, my point was that McCain wasn’t exactly some big pro-liberty, pro-free-market candidate to begin with; which is why more people aren’t and weren’t fighting very hard for him. If one ever surfaces, you’ll know. It’ll be impossible to contain people.

  22. Okay, I wasn’t going to get sucked into a debate, but I can’t let this slide.

    “I’m sorry, there is no question that socialism is murderous – that isn’t a smear, or a barb; it is an established fact.”

    No, I’m sorry, there are just so many things incorrect with that statement, that I just have to address it.

    First, there is, in fact, a difference between socialism and communism, despite the assertations of so many well-meaning but completely-ill-informed Americans. Socialism is more about better distribution of the capital in capitalism. That workers should ultimately have more say in their fates that the corporations who employ them. Communism, on the other hand, is straight redistribution of wealth, so that there is (theoretically) equality.

    Second, socialism itself isn’t murderous. Even communism itself isn’t inherently murderous, but communism without a democratic element will make it easier for despots to maintain dictatorial control.

    And finally, I don’t see people dying in the gulags of France, or Italy, or Sweden, or Greece, or Israel, or Australia. All of which either currently have or at one point in the not-to-distant past have been run by socialist governments.

    One thing that most Americans don’t understand is that on the global political scale, both Republicans and Democrats are both *far* on the right compared with the rest of the world.

    An example: in 2002, the very-far-right National Front of France surprisingly finished second in voting for the French presidential election, there were riots in the streets because most people couldn’t believe that such an extremist politician could’ve received so many votes. (He was defeated in a run-off.)

    The National Front’s platform?

    * Restricting access to abortions
    * Greater independence from international organizations
    * More tariffs on foreign trade
    * More restrictions on immigration
    * Reinstatement of the death penalty

    In cities that the National Front controlled, libraries suddenly stopped circulating literature they didn’t agree with, left-oriented newspapers, etc. Immigrants were frequently harassed by FN advocates, a few have even been killed.

    Look, I’m not saying it’s right or not, only to advocate my point that in most of the world, socialism isn’t the evil that we portray it, but the handbook that the Republicans play from frequently is.

  23. Kevin I find it interesting that you tell me to take it down a notch. Radical Bender assumed that anyone not voting for Obama, or supporting leftist economics lives a privileged life. I’m saying that he/she is assuming erroneously. I then went on to add that I wasn’t going to piss and moan about our financial situation because I have too much self respect. That is to say I’m not going to use your blog to cry about how I turned my cell phone ringer off weeks ago because we’re getting non-stop collection calls, the fact that there is a good chance that our house will be foreclosed on, that we have to look at every single penny that we spend, etc. I’m going to choose to believe that you made that comment because you are unaware/insensitive to our situation.

    I’m not a republican, and I’m certainly not rich. I have had to worry about money at various point throughout my life. Anyone that wants to believe otherwise, because it serves their purposes, is welcome to their opinion, but I’m not going to idly sit by while they paint all those who are not voting for Obama as silver spoon types. That is a load of crap.

  24. What??? So only “the rich” would afford roads and national defense? That doesn’t make any sense.
    Besides, other “gov’t services” could be provided by the private sector at prices affordable for those who are not “the rich”.

    Obama’s comments on the constitution came from his 2001 radio interview, which you’ve surely heard about by now.

    And what about my other points? I notice you haven’t tried to refute them…

  25. Limor; for what it’s worth, we’ve always been there ourselves. But like you, we have some pride as well, and you will get through. But it’s extremely personal, and extremely insulting to have such assumptions be made. It really is, in addition to being ludicrous and extremely ill-informed and just downright, pure wrong. It puts you between a rock and a hard place – you know you’re NOT that silver spoon person by a hell of a longshot, never have been – so do you write the melodramatic, poor-me plight posts or do you keep your pride intact? Keep your pride, it’s just one of those ridiculous false assumptions that are embedded into people from youth nowadays, when they really should know better.

  26. It also looks like there’s an assumption that someone who objects to socialism must be conservative/Republican. Again, dead wrong. Europe can cocoon itself in “benign” socialism for now because we are who we are – under the shade of our nuclear and economic umbrella. That won’t be going on much longer, it looks like. And with huge unemployment/welfare and an entitled dependent class that demands luxuries – good luck to them once our breast is dry and our defenses are down. People have always and will always die under an economic system which can not possibly provide for them sustainably, which is something socialism most certainly is. Meh, whatever; Kevin, I hope you do undertake to learn more about this subject – sometimes you seem well-intentioned if desperately misguided and just badly under-educated on economic issues. That’s not too hard to remedy, though. Good luck.

  27. Oh, where to start?

    Rick: We’re pushing 27 comments here and I don’t have the time or energy to respond to every question. You’ve done the same in plenty of other discussions. Besides, you and I have debated some of these issues before and we disagree so completely that it hardly seems worth going at it again.

    As for the Constitution question, I’ve seen the basic story and I’m not seeing whatever you’re seeing. It sounds to me like people reading into it what they want to see (which is so much of politics, on all sides).

    As for redistribution, I think it does make sense. Without the taxes on the richest (in our case, progressively) government wouldn’t be able to afford to provide the same level of services. Costs would be shifted down to lower incomes and it’s possible a poor person couldn’t afford roads, schools, libraries, parks, etc.

    What I find most interesting here is that no one seems to be arguing against a progressive tax. To be consistent in your socialism claims, I’d expect to hear some flat tax arguments. Is that really what we’re arguing about? Or are we arguing over how progressive?

    Limor: I’m not sure who you’re saying what to, if it’s me or Radical Bender. At any rate, you made a snide comment that was sure to evoke a heated response (which it did), so I asked you to tone it down. I’ve again asked for people to keep it civil.

    As Radical Bender said, you’re making assumptions about what he said and now taking offense at those false assumptions and accusing him of making assumptions (and AnnieMcPhee piles on more assumptions). I think it’d help if we all calm down a bit. At the very least being painted a silver spoon type (which I don’t think was Radical Bender’s intention, but he’d have to answer to that) is better than being called murderous. ;-)

    I think you’re taking this too personally. Of course people are unaware of your situation because nobody knows what your situation is until you tell them (which you proceeded to do after saying you wouldn’t?). I’m probably one of the few commenting here who knows you, and even I know only the barest details.

    Look, you’re in a tight spot, and so are a lot of people. It’s rough right now. But if you’re going to get into a debate on economic policy, take it personally and make it snarky, then you’re going to reap what you sow. I don’t know what I’m supposed to do about that.

    All: I’d like everybody to take it down a notch or three. I knew there would be disagreement in this discussion, but I was hoping we could disagree well. If you can’t do that, then don’t comment.

  28. Hi Kevin,

    I just saw your blog on our mutual friend Jason’s blog. Thanks for writing out what so many of us pro-life, pro-Obama Christians are thinking. I appreciate the thoughtfulness of your opinions and respectfully agree with just about everything you said!

    Angela

  29. Great post, Kevin. I appreciated your succinctness and clarity.

    Question for everyone – I’m pretty sure many of us don’t fall into the top earning 5% of the US, so what are you worrying about? Obama’s plan is taxing those people (only by a bit more) in order to make the majority of our lives easier. It seems that if you are earning that much a year, a slight percentage increase is not going to break your bank by any means…why not fulfill the principal as Radical Bender put it in his first post “To those who much as been given, much is expected?” This does not mean you (again you being only the top 5% earners in the US) need to enter the poor house, but just give a bit more to help those who sometimes need it. Those people who need the help are 95% of Americans. How is this bad?!

  30. Kevin,
    Have you spent as much time witnessing to others as you have defending a man who could care less about you? I wonder if the Lord will be as impressed with all the time and words you have spent supporting a man who does believe in abortion, and doesnt know when life begins. God demands we obey HIS principles…not man’s Acts 5

  31. and oh yeah…you will see a tax increase with Obama…because when the “Bush” rollbacks expire in 2010…you WILL pay more taxes!

  32. Thanks for the judgment, Cherice. And the incorrect facts. Check out what FactCheck has to say about Obama’s tax plan. He’s extending the Bush tax cuts for everyone but the top two income brackets.

  33. Kevin,
    Your blog on why you are voting for Barack Obama gave me an opportunity to listen to a perspective on the election that is different than my own.It also caused thoughts and questions to rise to the surface that I feel are important to address.
    I have been reluctant to discuss the abortion issue because I think people are tired of hearing about it and I wonder if it falls on deaf ears. Yet, as I read your position I felt compelled to respond. I do not think that Obama is trying to find the middle ground on this issue. Barack Obama co-sponsored the “Freedom of Choice Act” which will make partial-birth abortion (which is barbaric) legal again and force taxpayers to pay for abortions. He has stated that the first thing he will do as president is sign the Freedom of Choice Act. He has voted to block a bill that would require an abortionist to notify a parent before performing an abortion on a minor girl from another state. He talks about parents being involved in reading to their children, helping with homework, turning off the TV, yet in a life changing decision he doesn’t want to mandate parental involvement. Does he really think as parents , we don’t need to be involved in the decision, we just need to be there to pick up the pieces of a young girl’s life afterwards? He has voted against providing care and protection for babies who are born alive after abortions. I do not think this is a middle of the road approach.
    Fighting abortion through legislation is a slow process, (like fighting child abuse, trafficking of people, etc) but I do not believe it is a failure. When I become weary about how long the battle is, I think of Wilberforce’s fight against the slave trade in England. What is done legislatively and in the courts has huge consequences. In 1995 the Minnesota Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution contained a “right” to abortion on demand and a requirement that taxpayers pay for elective abortion. Prior to this ruling taxpayers paid about $7000 for 23 abortions per year. In 2006 taxpayers paid $1.6 million for more than 3,900 abortions.
    I think it is unfair to say that Christians have solely focused on the political battle. When I worked with Birthright, they did much to provide for the physical need for the mother-to-be and her child. There are programs to mentor young mothers through their first year of mothering and beyond. I know people who have helped single mothers, it just is done without fanfare.
    I understand the difficulties of unplanned pregnancies. I am a child of a relationship of incest. My mother had a very difficult time raising children alone. We moved many, many times because of her lack of ability to pay the rent or because people didn’t want to rent to a single parent. Life can be difficult for a variety of reasons. The reality that I was a living human being from the beginning is true, even if I came into being under horrible circumstances.Grace, mercy, and love do make a difference even in situations that seem beyond the pale. The truth that an unborn person is there, to be cared for and not gotten rid of, – to see how grace and mercy and love can enter into the picture, even if it’s years before you see a glimmer of redemption – this is the truth that I must take a stand for, personally by living and helping those in need and legislatively by standing for those who cannot speak up for themselves. I do not see Barack Obama doing this.
    On the economy, one does have to look carefully at what allows people to prosper and how do we encourage job growth. Higher taxes do limit the ability of many small companies to expand. Tax loop-holes do allow individuals and companies to avoid paying taxes. There are many issues that need attention and funding. I have found a book by Marvin Olasky, The Tragedy of American Compassion, to be a thoughtful presentation on what public policy can accomplish on social issues and the welfare of people. I know that when I worked in Chicago with a govt. food distribution program, two issues became concerns for me. It was easy for people to condone waste because it was nobody’s money and it became easier for people not to be personally involved in helping because it was the govt.’s job to provide assistance. I am not saying that there shouldn’t be govt. involvement, but I think groups like Habitat for Humanity, where people who help and those receiving help work on homes together, are good models for how to meet needs and change lives. We need to look closely at the way we help and the effects that our help has on the person’s spirit and their behavior, as well as meeting their present physical needs.Often real change comes when the giver and the receiver have a personal or community connection.
    As Christians we are called to compassionate use of our wealth. Yet, I need to be careful in how I judge another’s use of money.In I Tim 6:17-18I am called not to give preference to the wealthy. I should not fix my hope on wealth, for it can vanish, but I am also told to enjoy what God has richly supplied. I, in turn, am called to be rich in good works, generous, ready to share. This is a way of life I am called to – to be generous with money, time, abilities, encouragement, whatever God has given me. I do not think I am called to force others to give or judge that they have too much. We are all placed in different situations ,with different abilities and wealth, and are called to live out truth compassionately with others. In a fallen world many live in difficult situations through no fault of their own, working hard. I am called to help. In a fallen, sinful world there are times when meeting a physical need provides the person with the ability to continue to live in a hurtful way that affects that individual and the people around him or her. We need wisdom to know when is experiencing the consequences of choices the thing that is needed to turn a person around and become the person they were meant to be. These are complex issues.
    On defense, terrorism and foreign relation my concern for any leader is the balance that is needed to reach out and pursue peace while being aware that evil does exist. To be wise and discerning, knowing that not everyone speaks the truth, at home and abroad, to be kind and gracious, listening to truly understand, yet not being fooled by deception, the above is a huge task. One needs to understand the historical context that has shaped a peoples’ thinking and the effects this has on their current positions.
    In the midst of all this, there are times when evil will not be stopped without force. I do think strength and the knowledge that this strength will be used, holds back evil.
    In cities we have police that use force and at the same time need to be held accountable for their action. On a personal level, if I saw a person harming a child, I would start by talking but if that had no effect, I would use force to stop them. I know this is a simplistic illustration, but I know that John McCain is aware of evil and will resist it. He is not George Bush, He spoke out against the abuses of power in torturing of suspects. He did not stand in agreement with everything the Bush administration did.
    On character, I was greatly affected by a program PBS presented on the lives of the two men. Barack Obama was shown to be a remarkable and competent man. One example gave me great pause though, they showed how deliberate his plan was when he became a U.S. senator, not to take any public speaking engagements for the first six months and for the first two years not to vote on anything that might give people the opportunity to question his stand on issues. He wanted there to be no public record that could cause a problem for him if he ran for president.
    John McCain was shown to take a stand on issues,even if it caused him problems within his own party. He was willing to pay a personal price to stand for what he thought was right. He worked across party lines to accomplish things. He was even courted by democratic party leaders to switch parties.
    McCain is not as charismatic a speaker as Obama, but I do find integrity and an ability to stand for what is right , even if it is not popular.
    We can disagree on how to solve the issues at hand, but I think it is unfair to say that a vote for McCain is just four more years of the same. I think both men bring their own ideas of how to work for a better future and each of us need to decide which issues are of utmost importance to us and who we believe will do the best job.

    Sincerely, Karen Carr

  34. My source would be scripture, and organizations that share principals sensitive to truth…foxnews, mrc.org, newsmax

  35. Cherice: Talk about non-partisan. And I see you didn’t include any relevant links.

    Karen: Thanks for your comments and perspective. Though I’m a bit confused by this: “I do not think I am called to force others to give or judge that they have too much.” So are you against a progressive tax? I just find it interesting that people are calling Obama a socialist and accusing him of redistributing wealth, when his tax proposal is not radically different from McCain’s and is less progressive than U.S. policy has been in the past. No one seems to comes out and say they want a less progressive tax policy or a flat tax, they just call Obama a socialist (and I’m not calling you out on this Karen, because you didn’t use the word ‘socialist,’ but you do have a similar line of reasoning).

    I think all of McCain’s mavericky goodness and reaching across party lines has been absent this year. Like I said, he was a different candidate in 2000.

  36. My final comment to you is the same as my original one. Does God separate spiritual from political as so many “christians” seem to think? I think not. One day we will all answer to Him…then we will know. As far as sources go there are few that are non partisan…and that is my point, weather on taxes or any other “policy” http://www.taxfoundation.org/candidates08/compare/

  37. And using your source, it shows that Obama is keeping the Bush tax cuts for the lower brackets and only letting the cuts expire for the top two brackets. Just like I said.

    God also values speaking the truth, not spreading lies. If you’re going to judge everyone else maybe you should keep that in mind.

  38. 1) — MN voters hoping for a McCain/Palin victory need to relax and remember that our votes likely will make little difference in the outcome. One must go back to ’72 and Nixon see this blue state go for a GOP prez candidate. Don’t get yourself so worked up. Voting for McCain makes you a Maverick in MN.

    2) — If we do elect Obama, try to (seriously) look on the bright side. It will be an historic event that a black man will have become president of this country, and to many minorities this will be a truly emotional milestone

    3) — Accountability? Perhaps a sliver of the cynicism and distrust that has been reserved for Bush and the Repubs over the past 8 years will find a new home — “share the wealth” to quote Senator Obama. (Note I didn’t use the dreaded “S” word)

    4) — National Security? Imagine a world where Democrats aren’t demonizing Repubs for scaring folks about imagined threats. Perhaps a little ‘gravitas’ for something more important than John Kerry’s military record.

    5) — Judges and Abortion? Instead of wrapping ourselves in a pretzel to try and explain how people of faith can be (or at least vote) pro-choice, perhaps it will take a hard left turn of all 3 branches of gov’t for people to finally learn for themselves the unintended consequences of allowing Federal judges to mandate laws.

    6) — It took a good, decent, and well-intentioned Jimmy Carter to bring about real change.

    Keep the faith and remember that government isn’t the answer, rather a reflection of the electorate.

  39. How dare you accuse me of judging everyone else because I question the moral and spiritual responsibilty that comes with claiming Christianity as it relates to voting decisions? Truth? Hum….
    But, obviously you are determined to have the last word… Thank you Maverick…well said

  40. Cherice: Actually, that’s the second time I’ve said you were judging, so if you’re going to get all offended, it’s a bit late. And when you put quotes around Christians (as so many “christians” seem to think) it implies that you’re questioning whether or not they’re really Christians. That seems judgmental to me.

    And I notice you still haven’t backed up your claim that Obama would raise taxes. Truth? Hum… indeed. It’s disingenuous to make these claims about truth and then not speak the truth.

    It’s my blog, I think I’m entitled to the last word.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *