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Why I Am Voting For President Barack Obama
Why I Am Voting For President Barack Obama
I realize that my decision to vote for President Barack Obama will not be a surprise to most Hubbers that read my articles. The issues that I have previously addressed and my views on them tend to place me with similar political philosophies in comparison to the President. Does this mean that I should not bother to examine my views and compare them to those of the candidates more closely? Certainly not. I stated in an earlier Hub entitled, "The Question Of Good And Evil And How It Informs Governance", that everyone should continually reconcile their personal morality with their governments and candidates. We should conduct this exercise regarding all issues when sizing up whom we should vote for. All voters should study up and decide on what their views are in regards to the important issues of the day and compare that to the candidates' views on those issues. Only then will a voter be able to make an educated electoral choice for a candidate that best matches his or her political views and values.
That being said, I decided to take my own advice and execute this procedure to decide which candidate fit my views and values in this Presidential contest. I peformed this process in regards to the two major candidates, President Obama and Mitt Romney in three main areas. These were economic policies, foreign and defense policies, and various social issues. Some issues overlapped these areas but I only addressed each within one area to avoid redundancy. Furthermore I only analyzed the political views of the two main candidates because the others have so little support that voting for them would be a wasted vote in my opinion. I would vote for a third candidate if the top two were completely unsatisfactory to me but this is not the case in 2012. In conclusion, I will summarize my insights and give you a broad summary of my decision.
The number one issue facing President Obama when he took office in 2009 was stopping the free fall of the American economy. President George W. Bush rightfully helped shepherd the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) through Congress in 2008 to loan money to large banks in an effort to prevent them from going bankrupt. Then Senator Obama, endorsed and voted for that bill and in turn expanded upon it in 2009 after he became President. Smaller banks, other financial institutions, and the automobile companies were now lent money to prop them up while the economy fell. President Obama also had "stress tests" performed on the large banks to determine if they could withstand a further shock to the financial system. Those who failed were ordered to increase their cash reserves to bring them up to a level where they could successfully stave off bankruptcy if the economy fell precipitously.
These moves instilled confidence in these institutions and the economy soon stabilized. Soon the stock market began a steady rise that is still continuing. The auto industry began a dramatic rise in revenues and profits that are now at record levels. Mitt Romney is on record opposing the automobile bailouts and TARP. I believe he would have supported TARP if he had been in Congress at the time. This is just an example of his pandering to the Far Right in the Republican party.
The 2009 stimulus bill was enacted to help break the record level of job loss in the United States by both preserving state government jobs and creating new private sector positions. This was enabled by giving money to state governments to retain their employees and by funding their much needed and long overdue infrastructure projects. Unfortunately this bill was less effective than it should have been due to huge Republican and "blue dog" Democratic opposition in Congress. The result was a greatly watered down version that did save jobs but failed to generate nearly enough new ones. Mitt Romney has stated that he would have kept government out of this endeavor entirely leaving it to the private sector.
Finally the Dodd-Frank Wall Street reform bill was passed in 2010. This legislation was created to put controls in place to prevent another financial meltdown such as we experienced in 2008. Even this plan was watered down greatly by Republicans and is a much more modest law than originally intended. Still It is being opposed by the banks and Republicans in Congress because it will restrict their autonomy and profits. Mitt Romney also opposes this legislation and has stated that he would repeal it. I guess they would rather return to the "Wild West" days of the Bush Administration where the financial industry plunged us into the deepest recession since the Great Depression.
Let me now turn to the area of foreign and defense policies. This political arena has been a historical weakness for Democrats dating back at least to the 1960's. That condition has dramatically changed over the last four years and continues this election cycle. President Obama decided from the outset of his Presidential term to withdraw combat troops from Iraq and temporarily surge troop levels in Afghanistan. He was very successful on his deliberate withdrawal of troops out of Iraq which was completed in December of 2011. The surge of troops in Afghanistan illicited some strategic security gains at first but has now stalled badly. Certain areas outside of the capital city of Kabul have even backslided. Still we are on course for total combat troop withdrawal in 2014. Mitt Romney has argued for a return to full combat status against the Taliban in Afghanistan. He has also criticized the President for his withdrawal of troops in Iraq. These foreign policy statements show that he has adopted the views of his neo-conservative foreign policy advisors. Most of these advisors worked for President Bush and helped craft the strategies that brought us and left President Obama these two wars.
The battle against terrorism has intensified since President Obama took office. Drone strikes against Al-Qaeda leaders and their strongholds has greatly diminished their operational capabilities. He has also increased Homeland Security intelligence activities which resulted in the location and elimination of Osama bin-Laden. Mitt Romney has not stated much in public on this subject but has said that he would continue to pursue Al-Qaeda terrorists aggressively.
The more diplomatic and collegial tone that President Obama has adopted with other nations of the world has increased our standing among these countries. They now feel that their opinions will at least be listened to and that we will not run roughshod over our allies. The belligerent neo-conservative policies of President George W. Bush greatly decreased the respect and cooperation we received from our allies and even some adversaries. Mitt Romney will most certainly return us to these Bush adminstration policies since most of his top foreign and defense advisors are neo-conservatives who worked for President Bush.
The final area that I will address is the one that most energizes both political bases. These are the social issues. Some have more importance and relevance to voters depending upon the Presidential election year. I will briefly analyze four that have become most important during the lead up to this Presidential election. The first of these are the so-called women's issues. These include both equal pay for equal work along with freedom of choice in reproductive rights.
President Obama's first major bill signing was the Lily Ledbetter Act. This law extended a woman's ability to sue for redress if an employer discriminated against her in regards to wage compensation. Mitt Romney opposes all governmental intervention in this and many other areas. He feels that it is an employer's perogative to pay any employee what he or she feels appropriate regardless if it is discriminatory.
President Obama is pro-choice regarding abortion. He also strives to preserve the ability of all women to have affordable access to all contraceptive services. The President feels that this is important in empowering all women to have the freedom of all choices regarding their reproductive options regardless of income status. Mitt Romney has been all over the place on abortion. He was pro-choice when he was Governor of Massachusetts. Romney was opposed to all abortions during the Republican primaries but now he has exclusions for rape and the health of the mother. He seems to be more interested in his Presidential prospects than the reproductive rights of women. Planned Parenthood is an organization that Romney has vowed to de-fund if he becomes President further resticting the reproductive options of poor women.
A second social issue is one that the Republicans took full advantage of during the 2010 elections. This is the Affordable Healthcare Reform Act. The Republicans were successful in demonizing this landmark legislation both during the legislative process and afterwards. My view is that it was essential to pass this law because it is inhumane to tie affordable healthcare primarily to employment. There is now much more fairness in our healthcare system. Healthcare insurance companies are no longer allowed to penalize people with pre-existing conditions. Everyone are also now required to obtain this insurance. Medicaid will be expanded to pay for those who cannot afford healthcare insurance. There are also built in mechanisms to start decreasing unnecessary procedures that are performed simply to increase revenue for medical groups. Quality will now be rewarded over quantity by compensating for better health results. The new state healthcare exchanges, which will start in 2014, will also greatly reduce costs due to economics of scale. Mitt Romney has continually vowed to repeal the Affordable Healthcare Reform Act. He now states that he will keep the good aspects such as the pre-existing condition protection while gutting the rest of the law. This is economically unfeasible. His own Massachusetts Healthcare Reform law initiated the individual mandate and statewide exchange to allow the state to be able to afford this new law. The Massachusetts plan has been highly successful and widely popular. Why not institute this nationwide?
Immigration reform has been a major issue since the Bush Administration tried to pass sensible and fair reform in 2008. Then as now political pandering defeated it. President Obama saw the opposition in Congress regarding this reform and decided to scale back his proposals. His adminstration instead pushed new legislation called the "Dream Act". This legislation would grant permanent residency to undocumented residents who either performed two years of military service or attended two years at a four year college. Furthermore, they must have a clean criminal record and be under 35 years of age. This program is also only for undocumented residents who entered this country as minors under their parents auspices. Republicans defeated this bill in Congress so President Obama issued a new mandate to stop deporting young undocumented residents. He is also granting them work permits if they have clean records and meet other criteria. Mitt Romney has denounced this move along with the Dream Act. He says that he will instead propose new comprehensive immigration reform legislation but offers no details.
The final social issue that I wish to examine is Gay Rights. President Obama has been deliberate and careful in addressing these issues. He has always been in support of the same civil rights for gay individuals as any other minority groups. The President was bold in repealing the "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" policy in our military services. Gay military service men and women are now allowed to come out publicly in stating their true sexual orientation without fear of reprisal. His stance on gay marriage has been a different matter. President Obama originally believed that marriage was reserved only for heterosexual couples. He did support civil unions for gay couples which gave them the same benefits and legal protections. The President slowly began changing his views on this subject and a few months ago he publicly announced that he has now decided to support efforts at legalizing gay marriage. Mitt Romney was, in his own words, to the left of Senator Ted Kennedy in regards to gay rights during his 1994 U.S. Senate campaign in Massachusetts. Now he is totally against gay marriage and most equal rights efforts for gay individuals.
My conclusion after all of this analysis is that President Barack Obama is by far more closely attuned to my views on all of the issues that I have just addressed. In fact, it is not clear to me what Mitt Romney truly believes in. He has changed his stance on most every issue several times depending upon the audience he is addressing. I find this to be an extremely dangerous condition.
President Obama received a very large amount of his campaign contributions from Wall Street in 2008. That did not prevent him from pursuing a strong financial reform bill that they vigorously opposed. The result is that Wall Street is contributing only a fraction of what they contributed to President Obama in 2008 for this election. Mitt Romney is supported by mostly wealthy corporate contributors. My belief is that he will be beholden to their wishes and interests. These wishes are primarily eliminating regulations on business and drastically lowering their taxes. Mitt Romney will have to tremendously slash our social safety net programs and many middle class deductions to achieve his goal of a large income tax rate cut. He claims he will not but that is not economically feasible. A much greater percentage of the national tax burden will then be on the middle class while his wealthy patrons reap a financial bonanza.
The bulk of the campaign contributions to President Obama's 2012 campaign have come from small contributions by middle class Americans. These are the people who he will primarily serve. His stances on the issues demonstrate this and they match my own. It appears that the whole rationale behind everything that Mitt Romney says and does is to get elected President. He does not seem to have any core values. Consistency, courage, and truthfulness certainly are not among them. I believe that he will gut the middle class with his economic policies and eventually plunge us back into an even worse financial meltdown. The reason for this is that an economy without a vibrant middle class to fuel it will eventually implode upon itself without enough consumer spending. Corporations and the wealthy only see their own short term interests and not the bigger picture. Mitt Romney is one of them and will install these short sighted policies if he is elected.
I am voting for President Barack Obama because he has all of our interests in mind and will work for us. I implore everyone to conduct a similar exercise examining your own views and values and then matching them with the candidates. Please vote and make this decision carefully. The stakes in this Presidential election are too critical not to.