Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Why vote for Obama?

Now that the Republican nomination is essentially over except the shouting (getting cable TV ratings, getting publicity for failing candidates for future TV and book gigs, getting revenge, getting a few more moments in the spotlight before fading from view) it's time to be grateful that the Republicans are offering a relatively moderate candidate who is offering a standard conservative agenda, but who is not a livid culture warrior, an avid ideologue, a lizard, or an extremist nut-case.

That being said, what about Obama?  The center-right blogger, Andrew Sullivan, offers reasons why he supports Obama now.  He supported Reagan in 1980 and Obama now, just as I did and do, because the times, they are a changing, and different times require different politics.

Why vote for Obama per Andrew Sullivan, as he writes in Newsweek?  Because of his record (rather than the ideological spin from either the Right or Left):

    • He gets a 12 month pass in office after the economic meltdown because economies take time to shift course
    • Banks - he focused on stabilization of the financial system rather than the exacting of revenge
    • Since the job collapse bottomed out in the beginning of 2010, the economy has added 2.4 millions jobs (more than the net jobs created by Bush)
    • Overall government employment has declined 2.6% over the past 3 years (compared with 2.2% decline in the early years of Reagan)
    • The stimulus put a bottom under the free fall of the economy and prevented a second Great Depression
    • Cut taxes, a third of the stimulus was tax cuts
    • Cut the payroll tax (social security tax)
    • Grew non-defense discretionary spending only half as much as Bush

  • OBAMACARE is actually a moderate center-left program, not socialist:
    • Based on the individual mandate, which was pioneered by the conservative think tank, the Heritage Foundation
    • Does not have a public option desired by the Left Wing
    • Has health insurance exchanges similar to a proposal by Nixon in ‘74
    • Sets standards and grants incentives for states to experiment,
    • Provides universal health care that is controlled rather than the old law which mandated that all hospitals accept emergency-room patients anyway

    • Seeks long term strategic advantage rather than bellicose headlines
    • Sought and killed Osama bin Laden
    • Decimated al Qaeda
    • Is winning the propaganda war, plummeting al Qaeda’s popularity in the Muslim world
    • “Leading from behind” has made other countries actively seek America’s help and reappreciate our role

  • DOMESTIC POLICY - Practices a show-don’t-tell, long-game form of domestic politics
    • Extends a hand to his opponents, is rejected, moves to a moderate liberal position without being tarred as an ideologue, except by the extremists, of course
    • Refuses to wage a culture war
    • Offered to cut entitlements, but was answered with a refusal to raise any taxes at all
There is much that I am disappointed in about Obama.  Especially, for me, his refusal to take the Simpson-Bowles reform and try to turn it into law.  Many on the Left are disappointed that he is not the liberal crusader that they are.  Many on the right fear him as the liberal crusader that the Left wishes that he were.
I think the real fear the Right Wing has is that Obama is transforming the country and moving it away from the politics and culture that dominated for thirty years since Reagan's inauguration.  What they don't see, or don't want others to see, is that he is doing it as a moderate, center-left president rather than a fire-breathing left wing ideologue.  The Right Wing knows how to fight their ideological mirrors on the Left Wing.  So that is how they see and represent Obama, as one of them, but Lefties rather than Righties.

I haven't decided who I am voting for yet.  I still am very interested in what the process created by Americans Elect will produce as an alternative to both parties.  But, for now, Obama looks better than Romney, and much better than any of the hard core conservatives trying to beat him.

I am not sure how he governs in the next four years though.  He hasn't been able to reach across the isle, and he hasn't shown the stomach for confronting and beating a bellicose opposition.

Perhaps the Republicans will so sour the nation that they will give a victory to Obama and give him a more accommodating House and Senate.

One can dream...