Tuesday, October 30, 2012

November Election: President

As much to document to myself my positions going into the election as anything else (this being a bicycling blog, primarily), I'll stake out my position on the presidential election. Really, this should be no surprise.

I'm voting Obama.

A sufficient if not necessary grounds for this position is energy policy, and with it, environmental policy. If you read transcripts of the debates, you may not have seen much of a difference between the two major candidates. However, listening revealed a clear difference. When describing his position, Romney would say "Coal. Oil. Nuclear. andrenewables (one syllable)". On the other hand, Obama would say "Of course oil and clean coal (sic) (rushed), but also a focus on the energy of the future... (emphasis)." Is this significant? I say it is.

In the Republican National Convention, Romney ridiculed Obama for trying to "pick winners" in the energy sphere by supporting Solyndra, a solar energy company which went under not so long after. Additionally, he ridiculed Obama for trying to "stop the rising oceans" (not exact quote, but close) with his policies. Laughter erupted from the crowd.

First the prior issue. The government, Romney argued, shouldn't pick winners. That sounds all nice and all, but Romney has no issue promoting the benefits to the economy from increasing military spending, which explicitly involves picking who and who will not receive military contracts. He has no problem dumping billions into agricultural subsidies, which directly involves picking winners, since some crops (like corn) receive more subsidies, others less. He has no problem picking winners in transportation, as the federal government supports massive transportation projects which have a huge influence on which win (like roads) and which lose (like rail). So Romney is a hypocrite, plain and simple. He has zero reluctance about picking winners. Indeed, in energy he's picked his winner. He has stated his plan to open federal land to more oil drilling. Federal land is a shared resource, owned by every citizen. Romney is taking it upon himself to sell the value of that land off in the quest to sustain cheap oil. If that's not picking winners, then nothing is. Romney is willing to talk the conservative talk when and only when it serves the interests of his donors. There is nothing about him which is actually conservative in the true sense. The only conservative in the election was Ron Paul, and he got blown out of the water early on.

Obama has been at least consistent on the matter. His view is te federal government plays a roll in the success of the nation. Consider that the nation's manufacturing dominance came about primarily as a result of our success in WWII, and nobody would deny war is a "federal program". Our success in the car industry came about only due to the massive investment in the interstate highways, a federal military program. And our success in information technology came about largely following our investment in internet infrastructure, which was also a federal military program. And who is the dominent nation in manufacturing right now? That champion of small government, the champion of individualism, that champion of low taxes: China. So the whole "we built it" line the Republicans have been toting is a line of deception and denial. Without a supporting infrastructure, we'd have at best a feudal economy.

Now the second item: climate change. Well, a lot has been said on the manner and I'm not going to summarize it in a paragraph. But my view, and it's my view, is if you ignore the risks of continued reliance on carbon-emitting fuels, you are a reckless fool or a self-serving fraud. I'm willing to give Romney the benefit of the doubt and give him credit for both. Indeed, how is it that the Republican Party promotes such enormous skepticism about scientific projects of the effect of massive carbon injection into the atmosphere on the climate, but is so willing to accept selected warnings about the effect of debt on the economy? A "conservative" view would be to take the cautious position in both. But in reality, Republican presidents have increased the deficit way more than Democratic presidents have, and there's no indication Romney's going to reduce the present deficit any faster than Obama will. So the whole climate change "skepticism" is nothing more than a weak front for well-paid influence.

That climate change has become such a religious issue in the United States, and perhaps only in the United States, is a testament to the efficacy of marketing and the gullibility induced by neglect of science in our school systems. After all, ignorance and religion go hand-in-hand. This is not an area for Obama enforcement, as his position here has been gross neglect, but the sad state of affairs is even gross neglect is better than what the Republicans offer.

So in summary, It's Obama all the way.

I've been following the polls, and in particular the excellent Five Thirty Eight blog on the New York Times, for months, and my confidence Obama has the support to win this election has been unwavering. However, you don't win on support, you win on votes, and if you claim to support Obama and do not vote in the election, I consider that far worse than voting for Romney. Please vote, not because the vote is likely to swingy the election, but because an educated vote is a personal responsibility in a democracy. A vote is as strong a statement of support for checks and balances, of the strength of our system as it is support for a particular candidate. It's especially tragic when entire blocks of the population under-represent themselves through laziness, allowing fringe fanatics their disproportionate influence.

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