My usual disclaimer: I’ve been leery to discuss politics this year, mainly because I’ve seen a lot of people I once respected making fools of themselves on Facebook. I don’t want to be that person. So I’m trying to talk politics without being a jackass. Hopefully I’m getting there.
In 2008 I explained why I was voting for Barack Obama. I wish I’d written similar posts in 2004 and 2000. Though it’s entirely possible I was so unexcited about candidates in those elections that I wouldn’t have bothered.
Before going any further, it’s worth pointing to my 2008 post, Here’s Where I Stand: Let’s Disagree Well. Part of why politics is so caustic is that we fail to recognize where we stand on issues. If you’re socially conservative and I’m socially liberal, of course we’re going to disagree on a lot of social issues. Instead of getting mad over statements about specific policy stances, sometimes it’s easier to recognize those underlying positions and just agree to disagree.
Which is why these discussions are hard and tend to turn people off. In some cases there’s not a lot to discuss. But I do think it’s important to talk about where we stand and why. To explain our position. To exercise our democracy. And to hopefully do so in a humble and respectful way. That’s the foundation of everything we hold dear.
Many of my reasons from 2008 still stand (like abortion).
But a few issues to highlight:
Every time I talk economics everybody seems to have their own theory and rebuttal and it’s almost worse than talking politics. So maybe this article is equally as biased and open to rebuttal, but I think it’s fascinating: Want a Better Economy? History Says Vote Democrat! The authors claim to approach the data without bias (as much as that’s possible) and explore all kinds of other factors (like who controls Congress).
Fascinating stuff. Then again they back my guy, so what else would I say?
But in general, I think Obama inherited a disaster and things are slowly getting better. We’ve had positive GDP growth for 13 consecutive quarters. Unemployment is slowly going down. It’s not a homerun and I know people are still hurting, but it’s moving in the right direction.
This was probably Obama’s weakest area in 2008, though I did prefer his temperament and approach. And I think that’s proven a success. We’re no longer a bully in the eyes of the world. Some people think that’s weakness, that we’re somehow apologizing. I think we’re in a position of strength, ready to be taken seriously and not stretched thin. We’ve been tough on Iran. Hillary seems to be an incredible stateswoman.
Libya has been a good example. Obama had a tough choice and found a way to stop civilian slaughter without risking too much (this lengthy Vanity Fair article does a good job showing that decision-making process). We’re helping create democracy in an Arab nation without committing American soldiers and with vast international support. That’s a big win. When else have you seen Arabs take to the streets protesting in support of the U.S.?
We also bagged Osama Bin Laden. I said in 2008 that this would have little to do with who was president, but it turns out Obama made some big (and risky) decisions in getting Bin Laden. Much of the credit still goes to our Seals, but anyone who thought Democrats would be soft on terrorism needs to think again (some would argue Obama has gone too far with the drone attacks).
Honestly I don’t see a lot happening in this election on social issues, but gay rights and immigration seem like two important issues where we could see progress (or a lack of progress). Obama has been slow on the gay rights issue, but I think he’s being very deliberate at making slow, calculated progress. And whenever Republicans talk about immigration I want to cry. But I’m socially liberal, so we may not have much to discuss here.
I suppose health care would be another big social issue. This one is pretty cut and dry. You either like Obamacare or you don’t. I don’t think it’s perfect, but it’s a big step forward.
In general, I like where Obama is going and I think we should give him another four years. Nobody could live up to the hype Obama faced, but I think he’s made some real progress. I believe the narrative Andrew Sullivan tells that Obama is playing the long game. If you think Obama has been a let down, I think we’ll see more progress in a second term. That’s probably not a great way to get reelected, but leading for the long term rather than the short term seems like a smarter move for the country.
As for Mitt Romney, well, I don’t have much to say. He reminds me a lot of John Kerry, which is not a compliment (did anybody really like John Kerry?). It seems Romney’s primary draw for Republicans (he’s not Obama) was the same draw Kerry had for Democrats (he wasn’t Bush).
That’s where I stand. How about you?
Wherever you stand, just go vote. I’m hoping this will be one of my last politically focused post for a while. And I’m planning a nice distraction for election day.