In The Final Hours
Election Day is tomorrow. Many have already voted early in a lot of states. There are a lot that will stand in the polls on Tuesday to help decide many things, one of which is a new president on January 20, 2009. It’s the outcome of these issues and individuals that will decide the course of our country for the next four years to the next twenty years. This is my final post before the election and my views and who I voted for the office of president.
I am a life long Democrat. I make no bones about it or try to hide it. But, I do not vote straight ticket, as I think there are many other qualified candidates that can put aside their personal vendettas and other divisive thoughts to represent the people their jurisdiction covers. I want to see more independent candidates on the ballots, for I think they could very well help erase a divide in this country and get people to really be concerned about true issues that affect all Americans.
As I always do, I researched the candidates, fairly and unbiased [which is not an easy task] and tried to see all of their positions and what kind of changes they would bring to the table. Let’s face it, the country is in tailspin of bad shit. Economy, the environment, human rights… there’s a lot that needs change. For almost the last eight years, we’ve wasted fuckloads of money in a country we don’t belong in, focused our efforts on issues that shouldn’t be issues anymore, allowed corporate greed and corruption to give large sums of cash to walking CEOs while wiping out the working class investments and threatening any chances of a stable future. Sure, we’ve made some progress, but in my opinion, it’s been minimal and it’s time we found someone to help guide this place to a better future. We can’t erase the past, but we can elect someone that will help both houses of Congress and other elected officials to get back on track.
I had some discussions with one of my friends, a frequent commenter here, on the presidential candidates. Bob Barr was brought up as a potential option. Mr. Barr is a Libertarian, who’s party stands for less government intervention. I’m very much for less government in our lives. Although, we do need checks and balances and regulations set up, I think that could be managed a lot better than it is today with less than it has been for the last thirty years. But as I researched Mr. Barr’s positions, I found that he really didn’t have much of a history of pushing for less government. He started the whole impeachment process against Bill Clinton. Not for the “blow job” issue but for campaign fundraising issues. When the impeachment proceedings continued on, not on the fundraising concerns, but the lying under oath about Ms. Lewinsky’s actions on Mr. Clinton’s johnson, that was very off track and wasting taxpayers money and government time . Add to that a list of other “more government” meddling: Defense of Marriage Act, The War on Drugs, voting for the war in Iraq. To me, this is a Republican, which at the time of these positions he took, he was one. In late 2006, he moved to the Libertarian party and has since changed some of his positions. Sorry Bob, it’s a little too late. Leopards don’t change their spots over night and two years in the political scheme of things is considered over night.
Enter John McCain. Decorated war hero, POW and an all around nice guy [on most days]. He’s been in the Senate for over twenty years and seemed to have some moderate views like stem-cell research and concerns for the environment. But red flags go up everywhere right away when you look at his voting record – over 90% of the time with George W. Bush. Then there’s the lack of support he gives to POW/MIA war veterans. Dave from Blogography has been very vocal about this over on his blog and explains Mr. McCain’s position [or lack of one] very well. And watching his campaign implode into a series of hate-filled rallies and racial epithets [although to McCain’s defense, he did try to tell people “that’s not very nice”] and focusing on what a bad guy his Democratic opponent is, turned me off even more. His meager offering for health care reform was to give a $5,000 tax credit to help add to your helath care and HMO coverage. At least they were upfront that this $5,000 would be taxable. Tell me how someone who makes $25,000 a year is going to come up with an additional $5,000 during the year for health care costs, then have to wait till April to claim it on their taxes, only to be taxed on that amount in the end. If I am reading this right, it means you are being taxed on money you spent only to write it off and be taxed on it. Not very logical or helpful unless you make a decent amount of money. And even then, $5,000 doesn’t even begin to make a dent into any emergency hospital visit. Adding to this his involvement in the Keating Five, which doesn’t give much hope for correcting these economic failings we are having. And I’ve not even mentioned his choice for a running mate, which could extend this blog post longer than I would like it to be. So I have to say a big “NO” to John.
Which brings us to Barack Obama. First off, let me outline what I don’t like about Obama. As a junior senator from Illinois, I do think there is some lack of experience here. Not a lot, mind you. But being president can be tough. It requires some know-how and being able to negotiate terms and make decisions that can and do affect over 300 million people. Some of the promises he made to the people of Illinois were never put forth. I can understand that not all campaign promises are kept, but there were some innercity programs that could have had more attention. I wish he had the guts or balls to say he supports gay marriage. If it’s a personal decision, fine. But I think it’s a cop-out to say you support something that gives rights to same-sex couples, but than wanting to call it something else. Marriage is a civil right, not something exclusive to any religion. I will talk more about this later, but don’t appease for the sake of being nice.
What’s that you say? Why didn’t I mention other negatives like his middle name or that he “palled around with terrorists” or that he “wants to take everyone’s guns away” or that he’s not eligible to be president because “his birth certificate is a fake and he wasn’t born in this country”??? Because all of those issues are not negatives. They are fucking red herrings that people chase to ignore their focus on real issues like job creation, clear air, alternative fuels, health care, ending a useless war, financial stability and getting back our positive outlook to the rest of the world.
Lots of people have middle names that could scare up a controversy or two. If you focus on Mr. Obama’s middle name, you are being racist and just trying to incite fear. Bill Ayers is a well respected professor at a university. It’s been years since he was a violent protestor. It’s not like he was on the news last year for killing people. People do change over thirty years. The government is not going to come into each and every home and take all of your guns away. Do you really think that 37 states are going to ratify an appeal to the second amendment? This is about controlling illegal assault rifles and keeping them out of hands of kids and adults. Responsible gun owners will never be affected, despite the lack of Obama’s moose-hunting skills. And finally, how many birth certificate experts are there on the internet? Obviously, there’s hundreds of you. You are so well skilled at PhotoShop that you can spot a forgery a mile away. What the fuck ever. Get over your self and read this link or this one.
Casting The Vote
I voted this last Thursday in early voting. I waited in line for over twenty minutes. It was a line I didn’t mind waiting in. As I walked up to the voting machine, I placed my vote for Barack Obama for President. While I have reservations about his experience, I have enough confidence that he can focus on the imperative issues and what needs to be done in this country to help get us back on track. The Bush years fucked us over pretty bad. Ultra religious zealots running around trying to sway the vote and inject fear into getting people to vote their way. It’s not about winning that matters. It’s about someone standing up and wanting to take charge and give this country back to the people. If you have to use dirty tricks and fear and other forms of discouragement to win an election, we really don’t want you in office. That just means you’ll use the same tactics to get your way once you are elected. That only helps selected individuals, not the entire population. I want unity, not diversity. That’s why I voted for Obama. He is the strongest candidate to bring unity back to this nation. Will it happen for sure? I don’t know, but I think he’s got a good shot at making it happen.
Civil and Human Rights
There are two issues that I feel that should be removed from the political landscape: abortion and gay rights. While I mentioned above that I wished Obama wouldn’t beat around the bush for an alternative solution to gay marriage, I do wish it didn’t even have to be brought up at all. The whole religious vs. non-religious divide is doing nothing to help anyone in this country. To focus all of your efforts to save the unborn or deny someone their rights shows how short-sighted and selfish your views are. While they may be important to you, let’s face it… making abortion or gay marriage illegal does nothing to help or hurt you in your life. Your marriage stays intact. Your choice to not get an abortion never changes. If all it does is help you sleep at night or help you to know you are controlling someone else’s life’s decisions, then those are not valid reasons.
Plain and simple… abortion should be a medical decision between a woman and her doctor. Marriage should be a decision between two people that want to legally commit their lives together. Human and civil rights should NEVER be put to the vote of the people. Each and every time, the majority will vote away the rights of the minority, especially when it comes to subjects that border on religious beliefs. Now I’m not against anyone’s religious beliefs, just when they affect everyone. Again, it’s a majority vs. minority issue.
If you live in California, Florida, Arizona or Arkansas, you may be familiar with propositions that are intended to remove, deny or eliminate rights for GLBT citizens. Arkansas and Florida even effect foster or adopted children. I’ve already done a recent blog post on voting No on Proposition 8 in California. Marriage isn’t some exclusive right only for people that get married in a church. Marriage is civil. It’s a legal right. People get married without being religious or belonging to a particular sect. My wife and I got married on a beach in Lake Tahoe, Calif. Hardly a church [but some place I would consider spending my Sunday at]. And tradition…. what tradition? Marrying for property rights? Shotgun weddings? Divorce rates? Get it a rest. Remove your bias. Throw out your cherry-picked bible verses. Stop listening to the fear about what will happen if gays are able to marry. No church is forced now to marry anyone. Why would that change with same-sex marriage being legal? Any church has the right to deny who they want to marry. It happens with heretosexual couples, it will happen with same-sex couples. Nothing changes and people go find another venue to get married in. Just vote NO on each one of these propositions. It will prove that you really are not bigoted and biased and can let others live their lives, even if you don’t like it. Because at the end of the day, we are all human.
I cannot stress how important it is to vote. Even if you disagree with me on each of the issues and positions I discussed above, at least exercise your right to vote. And stop finding ways to deny others to vote. That’s a fucked up way of trying to get your person elected or initiative passed. It’s a right we earned and each and every eligible person over the age of 18 should never be stopped from voting.
That’s all until Wednesday morning, when we will see what the outcome will be of all of this.
I generally vote Libertarian, and did so for the most part when I early voted on Friday. However, I couldn’t get past the feeling that Bob Barr was more Republican than Libertarian. Traditionally, I’ve been able to support Republicans over Democrats out of a belief that our civil rights are already much more protected than our fiscal ones. The courts seem to do a reasonably good job of continuing that protection, while we seem to enjoy no such protection for our wallets.
Then, on Friday morning something just clicked in my brain. I really don’t know of any specific catalyst, and it had probably been building for some time. I determined that I was simply fed up with the constant attacks on our civil rights coming from the Republican party. I voted for Obama, something I had not expected to do (well, not since the his first steps toward declaring he was running, when I was originally tempted but quickly became disenchanted).
I do want to point out, however, that I believe your understanding of McCain’s health care plan is way off-base. I believe my understanding is accurate, which is that it consists of two many components (at least, the part you are describing): 1. Employer-provided health benefits would become taxable to the employee. 2. Families would receive a $5000 tax credit toward health care (contrary to what you’ve understood, this credit would not itself be taxed).
To be clear, that is the portion about which I am confident of my understanding. What I am saying next is much more in the realm of opinion. Taxing employer-provided health benefits has been criticized as likely to cause employers to stop offering the coverage. I don’t see why that would be the case since, as far as I can tell, the employer still gets the tax benefit. Sure, it may make the employer somewhat less competitive for employees, but given the perceived value of health care as a benefit, I would doubt it. A much bigger disincentive to employers would be a government-offered health plan, though that really depends on how much the employers end up having to pay for that.
Additionally, I’m pretty confident that the taxes on employer-provided health care would be far less than $5000. Even at a 28% tax rate, the value of the benefit would have to be nearly $18,000 in order to raise a family’s taxes by $5000. Also, I really like that any portion of the $5000 not spent on health care would go into a Health Savings Account. I think Health Savings Accounts are the best innovation in Health Insurance in recent memory.
I liked reading your take on the candidates quite a lot. Great post.
For me (as well as other residents of the DC area), Bob Barr leaves a bad taste for another reason: He spearheaded an 11 million dollar campaign to change all of the signs on the Metro, our public transportation system, so the stop which had been simply labeled “National Airport” would be changed to “Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.” He felt that it was critical to use millions of dollars in Federal funds to do this because, apparently, he had constituents who kept on riding past the airport several times because they were looking for a Metro stop with Reagan’s name in it. (Keep in mind that, at this time, this is the only Metro stop at an airport.) We rolled our eyes at this when it occurred, but we laughed when he decided to run on the platform that would cut frivolous spending.
Oh — and my wait was over two hours on Saturday afternoon. Also worth it. 🙂
ADDENDUM TO MY COMMENT ABOVE: I researched this further and found more accurate figures: The re-signing only had a price tag of $400,000 — which Metro declined to foot the bill for. However, they changed their mind only after Barr threatened to withdraw Federal funding from Metro if they didn’t. Either way, it’s not the best history to have if you’re running as a Libertarian…
Will you marry me? Ha. I kid. But, your post is eloquent. Standing in line to read it was not a line I minded waiting in. =)
ren – I share your frustration on the civil rights attacks and that the courts provide a good protection.
As for my position on the health care plan being off-base, you are probably right. But it does come from you point #1. health care benefits will be taxable to the employee. My explanation of it was most likely off-base, but it’s the description I’ve seen in many places, and explained in some like form by the McCain campaign (sorry I don’t have links or places to go to verify this here and now). I also don’t think that employers are going to be dumping their health care plans en masse, but the reform in how the McCain web site explains it really scares me:
shiny – I actually had read about that Metro issue with Barr (most likely from one of your blog posts). It seems odd that someone who is running for less government would want to spend that kind of time and money to involve more government. I see someone like Kucinich as being more about less government than Barr. And threatening to pull funding… nice… there’s a positive for ya… sheesh!
nilsa – Marry you? didn’t you just get married?? he he Thank you for your kind words. And speaking of marriage, I need to come over and read and respond to your wedding coverage.
In a country where the church and state are (mercifully) separate, I wonder about just tossing the word ‘marriage’ altogether. Why not Civil Unions for absolutely everybody? People can take it where they want from there on their own, celebrating it in their own way, calling it whatever they’d like. But for the whole state licensing and documentation part of it, since who on Earth you are and why on Earth you are committing to one another is none of the state’s damn business, why not call that a Civil Union across the board, and just require the DNA comparison tests if you’re a male and female who haven’t ruled out having children?
I don’t know, just a thought. As things stand, I could not agree with you more.
I loved the restraint of this post. I don’t get to vote, although I reckon that as citizens of the world and given the mess you’ve (royal you meaning the US electorate) made of the last two elections, the world shoud get a few seats on the electoral college.