Sunday, October 21, 2012
A realist pitch for Obama
My official ballot, issued by the Multnomah County Director of Elections, arrived yesterday with the mail. On the morrow, it'll be filled out, sealed, stamped and on its way back. In a future post, I'll write up where I came down on everything.
Tonight, I want to make a pitch for President Obama.
I'm a realist. I've got a lengthy list of disappointments in the Obama administration.
Right at the top is the way in which the administration has expanded authoritarian, constitutionally-questionable powers to conduct warfare and counter-terrorism operations. Drone assassinations, indefinite detentions, illegal imprisonments --all the stuff initiated by the (Junior) Bush administration in the wake of 911 --it's dangerous and appalling. I had hopes, at one time, that President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder might really get to the bottom of the myriad and obvious crimes of the Bush administration. Today, admitting to such naivete is embarrassing! Not only has the Obama administration failed to hold anyone from the previous administration accountable, but has continued apace with some of its most egregious abuses of power. Frankly, that sucks and is nearly unforgivable.
There was also health care reform. Rather than really reform heath care by making it truly universal and lowering costs by cutting out the health insurance middle men, the administration worked to ensure that the biggest beneficiaries of the Affordable Health Care Act were health insurance companies.
And, of course, in 2010, when Democrats everywhere were facing an angry Tea Party uprising, the President stayed detached. Rather than risk political capital, the Obama administration mostly hung back and let the Red Wave roll. A bitter pill for Democrats who risked everything to further the President's agenda.
These and other issues have tempered my support of the President.
But I'm still voting for him.
His administration really has achieved some progressive goals. Homosexuals can now serve openly in the military. We have two moderate Supreme Court justices, Justice Kagan and Justice Sotomayor, who will influence the Court for many years to come. US troops are out of Iraq. And, for all its faults, the Affordable Care Act is an improvement over what came before, when insurance companies denied claims by citing "pre-existing conditions."
But the biggest reason I'm voting for Obama is this: The Republican party as it exists today is a cancer on the nation.
When you consider how the GOP has insulted and debased this President from the very beginning, it is clear how much the party relies on bigotry and ignorance --the birth certificate "issue," the claims about his heritage, the questioning of his legitimacy despite having won a national election by a decisive margin. There are many racists (as well as misogynists) in the Republican party.
And then there are the plutocrats seeking to absolve themselves of any responsibility toward the country or toward humanity. Romney is one of those. To them, taxes are for the little people. To them, regulations that protect air and water, that prohibit financial swindlers from betting against their clients, do nothing but get in the way of profits.
The fatalistic truth, as I see it, is this: republic leads to empire. Eventually, even these United States will succumb to their own corruption. History confirms it at every turn. So, we're on a one-way street and that's just the way it is. By voting for Obama, I'm voting to slow the transition.