…to burn, you need but a match.
* * *
In 2005, Tommy Thompson stepped down from his post as the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services. He had been appointed by the GW Bush administration, and I remember watching his press conference and noting just how relieved he looked. Like Christine Todd Whitman before him, pushing the extremely misguided agenda of GW was uncomfortable; constantly having to agree with things he knew false pushed him to the brink, and he ultimately stepped aside. Neither politician has gone on record and stated as such, but body language sometimes speaks volumes when compared with words; “It has been a great honor… Enjoyed my time here…” The clichéd phrases people use to placate the powers that be have been around forever.
(Side note: I remember Paul O’Neil being not so gracious. When asked to step down because he wasn’t willing to toe the lying line, he said, “Fire me.” Paul O’Neil publicly stated the U.S. could not carry on without tax increases, something prophetic given the 2008 collapse of the economy thanks to poor GW administration policies and spending. But I digress.)
When he was governor of WI, I voted for Thompson twice before moving out of the state. I thought he was a reasonable man, with sound ideas. During that same time, I voted for President Clinton twice. I thought he, too, was a reasonable man, with sound ideas.
I’m not sure if I consider myself apolitical or independent, but I’ve always liked the idea of voting candidate, not party.
Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean I always stick to that credo.
In 2008, a young upstart named Barack Obama landed the Democratic nomination for presidency. Many people were taken with his (apparent) charisma and (supposed) oration skills, but I was left confused. He seemed affable enough, yes, but as far as being a commanding speaker? I found listening to awkward pauses and jilted sentences a bit tough to swallow. I enjoyed the “Hope” aspect to his message; it seemed far more commanding than “FEAR,” which is what the Republican Party used to keep people supporting them since 2001. But just because I liked the man’s advertising, it didn’t mean I was going to vote for him.
When the month of August began, my expectation was that I would pick a write in candidate. Maybe Nader. By the time the month had concluded, I resigned myself to the idea I might have to pull the lever for a candidate that didn’t thrill me. Over the course of August, the McCain campaign began a crusade of double-speak, negative attacks, and position switching to pander to extremists on the Christian-right. The month ended with one of the most incompetent people to ever open their mouth being put on the ticket as VP: Sarah Palin. It would take another couple weeks for my resignation to become cemented, but the more the campaign dragged on, the more Sarah Palin was allowed to speak. And the more she spoke, the more it was confirmed she was neither a very moral nor intelligent person.
I found myself in a position I didn’t like: what if I voted for Nader, and like election 2000 in Florida it caused the election to swing to the most incompetent candidate? I was stunned by the fact the pollsters said the election was going to be close; In the middle of the worst financial crisis seen since the Great Depression, people were angrily saying, “We need more of what put us here!” It was simply mind-boggling.
Obama won; I shrugged. It felt like cold pizza: not great, but never horrible.
Four years have passed, and here we are again, election time. Once again, I find myself torn, and baffled. My confusion is twofold: one, what’s with all the hatred of Obama, and what’s with the love of Mitt Romney, a man that elicited no passion during the Republican Primaries?
A friend of mine asked his FB friends what they saw in the Romney ticket and received the response: “It doesn’t matter what you say, you’re not going to change my mind.”
(This meant he wasn’t going to vote for Obama, no matter what the facts were)
What’s funny—meaning sad—is: that isn’t what was asked, and it shows a complete and absolute unwillingness to process information. “This is what I believe, and I refuse to allow anything to challenge that.”
Curious, I put the other side of things out there: What do you hate about Obama so much? I received nothing but rhetoric in response.
When the rhetoric was challenged with facts, I received radio silence.
- “I am against Obamacare and any government takeover of the health care industry.”
Fair enough, except Obamacare isn’t a government takeover of the health care industry, it is legislation that sets standards for the existing industry. By blindly saying you are against it, you are stating you want the uninsured to continue clogging up our emergency rooms at taxpayer expense. You are saying someone with a pre-existing condition should be denied coverage and remain ill (or worse, go away and die). Health Care reform does not require anyone to change doctors or coverage, it simply says that—like a car owner—you must have coverage.
- “Obama is going to bankrupt me by making me give health care coverage at my small business!”
Turns out, the person had nine employees and wasn’t affected by the legislation. But instead of researching that, anger and outrage was easier.
- “I’m tired of Obama apologizing for America.”
OK… except that has never happened; Obama has never apologized for America. This has been covered extensively by many news and fact checking outlets. When I asked for clarification, it could not be given beyond, “Well I know I’ve seen it and don’t have sources.”
- “He said he would bring home the troops and he didn’t so he is a lier.”
I purposely kept the grammar and spelling as was given to me on that one, because… well, why not? It was said sometime in 2009. Obama would have been President for less than a year at that point, and an immediate withdrawal of troops would have been near-impossible. Yes, he could have probably ordered an Executive Decision, but how unwise would that have been? Plus, the troops are home from Iraq now, and Afghanistan is on a timetable (one Romney apparently agrees with, given his statements at the 3rd debate), so… yeah.
- “The economy…”
What about it? Unemployment is dropping and more people have finally been hired under Obama than were fired due to the GW recession. Plus, the Dow is sky high; corporate profits are through the roof. What? That’s not trickling down to you? Then why vote for Romney/Ryan, who have put forth a tax plan saying they are specifically cutting taxes for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class? I’m not talking about what they say in stump speeches, I’m talking about the written tax plan that ready to be submitted to Congress should he be elected.
- “I believe he has made us less safe in the Middle East.”
OK, how? By killing Bin Laden and other Al Qaeda leaders in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen? You could argue that using drones in Pakistan and Yemen have made us more hated, but that wasn’t the response I got. I got radio silence.
- “The deficit is out of control…”
In 2004 conservatives went ballistic over an advertisement showing children working adult jobs; the point was the deficit being created by GW would cripple future generations. Now that the rate of spending has been shrinking under Obama, it’s is suddenly a problem? Interesting. According to the numbers, while spending may have increased, under Obama, it slowed to the slowest rate under any recent sitting president.
Also, the deficit would be lower today, had Republicans not demanded that the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest 1% of Americans not been a mandatory part of a bill designed to extend unemployment benefits for those in need. Because when you’re helping some people buy food, you should help others buy yachts.
- “I don’t feel he had enough experience to be president.”
- “Obama did nothimg to assist in the capture of bin laden, just figures id throw that out there.”
Once again I kept the spelling/grammar as it was presented. In response to the post, I said: Obama put government resources behind the finding of Bin Laden, he made it a security priority, and then ordered troops into a sovereign nation we are supposedly allies with and had the man killed. That’s nothing? That’s like saying the CEO of McDonald’s has nothing to do with the burger you just ate there.
The response I got to that was: “well Obama didnt kill him wit his own hands.”
Touché. Ya got me there.
- “Tax and spend must end!”
You mean like it did with Paul Ryan voting for every single expenditure put forth by the GW administration and turning the Clinton surplus into an enormous deficit? Or did you mean with taxes being lower today and spending slowing now that money isn’t being poured into Iraq?
- “Taxes are too high!”
You mean the ones that are at historic lows, and were higher under GW?
- “I’m the NRA, and I vote!”
So look at the record: Governor Romney was tougher by far on gun rights than Obama has been. Obama hasn’t even sneezed near the gun lobby, much less introduced a single bill that would attempt to restrict any rights.
- “Romney is a businessman, and knows business.”
Well, that’s not a reason for not liking Obama, but ok. Romney is actually not a businessman, he’s an investor. He does, and always has, what’s best for him. To quote The Fact Checker: “Bain was about wealth creation, not job creation.” It was concluded that employment figures put out by Romney regarding his successes were greatly overstated, especially considering that if made more money for him, Bain would shut a company down and liquidate it or move the work to China. This isn’t scare-tactic stuff, it’s reality, plain and simple.
Obama gave grants to 63 companies, with 5 going out of business and an overall 92% success rate.
Bain Capital with Mitt Romney in charge?
Of 77 businesses invested in, 22% filed for bankruptcy or closed within 8 years, and Bain Capital lost every penny in 8% of those cases.
(22% failing = a 78% success rate. Grade wise, the Obama 92% is an A-, and the Bain 78% is a C+)
- “I’m a Christian!”
So is Obama. Mitt Romney believes in magic underwear and might as well be a Scientologist for all the sense his religion makes.
At the DNC, President Clinton made an assertion. This was verified as absolutely factual: from Nixon through GW, Republicans were in office for 28 years. 23.4 million jobs were created during that time. Democrats from Kennedy through Obama held office for 24 years. A whopping 42.3 million jobs were created during that time.
(Of course, you do have to say the Democrats had an easier go of creating jobs, as both Clinton and Obama were able to come in during Republican created recessions)
Plus, as his record shows, Romney is about profit, not jobs. If it is more profitable to those at the top to have Chinese pesants manufacture something, the American worker gets the middle finger.
- “I do not agree with his expansion of the Patriot Act, his use of drones to kill civilians, and the reduction of our personal liberties.”
This has been the only legitimate concern/response, and nothing I could ever argue against. I just wish the follow-up to wasn’t “RON PAUL!!!1!!ONE!!1!”
- “It’s been four years, and he still hasn’t fixed the economy.”
And here return to my original question: is it easier to burn down a house, or build one? In January 2009, the economy was on the brink of ruin. We were ready to slide into a second depression. Due to TARP bailouts by GW and loans by Obama, this did not happen.
Slowly but surely, the tide has turned. This has been done despite a Republican Congress that has set a record number of filibusters, blocking Jobs Bills for Veterans, funding for 9/11 responders, benefits for homeless veterans (they’re so pro-military, the republicans!), all of which was done under the banner “No More Spending!”
(Note: these same “No Spend” people generally voted for all the spending put forth by GW, which helped collapse the economy. Also, the blocking of bills that would have taxed companies for shipping jobs overseas, making political ads have full disclosure, or force oil companies pay for spills, that was all done just to be dicks.)
So again I arrive at the crossroads between integrity and resignation.
Several weeks back, I fully intended to vote for Gary Johnson come November.
Unfortunately, thanks to the willingness of the Republican Party to throw God-awful candidates up for election and people who support those God-awful candidates blindly and without legitimate reason, that combined with living in a (small, yet important) swing state, I’m not sure what I will do.
I neither hate nor love Obama. People think I love him, because I look at him objectively. Unfortunately, when reason interacts with ignorance, anything but “OMG OBAMA IS SOCIALIST DUR!” is seen as treason.
I also, for the record, I am no Chicken Little, crying, “The sky is falling!” regarding a Romney presidency. If Romney is elected, we will probably see a return to what happened under GW, with the same disastrous results. America survived GW, it will survive Romney. It’s just sad to see that people believe that going backwards is the way forward.
As of this moment, I don’t know which way I am going to vote this year.
According to every bit of reason and logic available, I should be voting for Obama.
But I still feel like voting for Gary Johnson.
If this were a perfect world, I believe the following would happen:
Anyone living in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, etc. who supports Obama: vote for Gary Johnson. Your vote is nil anyway, so send Washington a message. Tell your friends in swing states to still vote Obama, but take your wasted vote and give it to Gary Johnson.
Anyone who truly believes in a fiscally conservative government and doesn’t spend too much time hating gays or women: vote for Gary Johnson. You didn’t support Mitt during the Republican primaries, so don’t suddenly pretend he’s your savior.
Anyone who absolutely must be an idealogue and vote party over candidate, like people who voted for GW twice and didn’t learn from that?
Just stop voting.
You are what’s wrong with America.