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Where I Stand on Obama and Romney

by John on 09/25/2012

I am real uncomfortable posting this. 

I have never endorsed any candidate.  A lot of that has to do with being a journalist.  Another reason is my upbringing in New England: you just kept politics and religion to yourself.  The biggest reason is I never like to offend anyone.

But a couple of things made me change my mind.

  • First, a number of friends have asked me directly “Where do you stand?” 
  • The second is the book The Righteous Mind which I reviewed here.  The book offers scientific reasons of why we vote Republican or Democrat, but it also reveals who we are individually and our biases.  As you will see in my explanations I use a lot of what Haidt talks about — and I get personal here. 
  • Third is this website I have created.  One of the foundations of this site is to demand “open government” and “full disclosure” from everyone you deal with in politics or business.  You deserve that from me.

A warning: this is long; and it is personal.  I may really piss you off since I am making the case for Barack Obama.  Am I right?  I think so.  Do I think you’re wrong if you don’t agree with me?  No, unless you want to denigrate or diminish Obama and his followers for reasons outside of trying to make America a better country.

I understand the passion and anger on both sides.  To me, it means we are all concerned, worried, and frightened.  These are trying times.  Some of us want to return to the 20th Century; others, like me, can see that the world is changing and America’s role is changing in relation to other countries.

If you want to change my mind on what I have written, use documented facts.  Otherwise, shut-up and read – or click off the page.  If you fail to read this website again because of what I have written, then you are a partisan not interested in open discourse.

Here goes.

On a gut level, again purely gut level, why I lean toward Barack Obama as being more qualified to be president.

  1. I know more people who are like Obama – who I enjoy – compared to people I know who are like Romney.  Still, I actually like Mitt Romney; I understand his background and his beliefs, of which many I embrace.  And some of his ardent supporters I consider friends.
  2. Obama is far more intellectual and well-read.  He is articulate and can easily express his ideas.  Overall, I think he believes in what he says.  Sure, he caters to politics and there are things I disagree with him on.  Romney, on the other hand, comes across as unsure of what he is saying.  He is a stumble-bum at times.  I am uncomfortable with that since he is an articulate person; I just don’t think he believes what he says.  I am also uncomfortable with his trite, simplistic answers.  I want a president who is nuanced and fully versed on the issues.  Romney falls short in looking like an expert.  I am not hiring a guy who I’d like to meet at a cook-out; I want an expert who knows his stuff.
  3. Obama is younger and more physically fit.  Romney comes across as an old man, not in his appearance, but in his thinking.  I worry about the fact we had Ronald Reagan bordering on Alzheimer’s and George Herbert Walker Bush falling asleep in public.  I was more comfortable with Clinton and George W. Bush who had more vigor.
  4. Obama’s wife is healthy.  I worry that Romney will be side-tracked if he’s president if Ann gets sick again.  I don’t want a president distracted.  Is this cold?  Yes, but I am all about our country first.
  5. I don’t want another year or two of on-the-job training.  Romney will make the same mistakes that Obama made getting used to the job. 
  6. I like that Obama has pissed off the left-wing of his party on a number of issues.
  7. Obama comes across to me as a partner — not a boss.  I hate bosses.  I especially hate bosses who, I think, know little or who got there for reasons other than merit.  In essence, you could say I have a problem with authority figures.
  8. Romney’s goal seems to be that he just wants to be president.  A fellow journalist recently told me that Romney’s campaign slogan should be, “I really, really, really want to be President.”
  9. I am angry that right-wingers attack the President on his birth certificate and other racist themes along with accusing him of being a Socialist, which the GOP won’t stand up and say is wrong.
  10. But I am proud of Obama and his supporters for not ridiculing Romney’s Mormon faith.  

 That is all “pure gut” loaded with my biases.  You can’t refute much of this.  It’s all me.

Here are my intellectual arguments.  As Jonathan Haidt in The Righteous Mind points out, I am using a lot of my “gut feelings” and then justifying them with my intellectual side.  These points can be contested – if you have documented evidence. 

  • Obama better understands the new economy.  The Republicans are living in the 1980s; the Democrats are living in the 1990s.  Those decades don’t exist anymore.  Obama seems to see the future and what is happening.  Romney, to me, is more interested in maintaining the status quo and stopping innovation.  I think corporations, especially banks, and labor unions are our biggest problems to allowing the creative destruction of our economy which will lead to a new 21st Century economy using new technologies.
  • Obama and Romney, I believe, equally understand the looming debt crisis we face.  To me, this is a draw.  Unfortunately, their parties promote fear-mongering among the extremes of the party.  Whoever is in the Oval Office in January, 2013, will have no choice but to cut entitlements and raise taxes.
  • Would I leave the country if Romney is elected?  No.  I actually think he might govern more moderately than he campaigned.  I just don’t know what he will do.  Will he govern like he did in Massachusetts or will he bow down to the campaign donors who helped get him elected?  I think the latter.
  • Obama represents the new America; Romney is hanging onto the old America.  We are in the midst of massive social change now.  For the past decade, we have seen our institutions fail us: Congress; The Catholic Church; major league and college sports such as baseball, football, and Penn State; and our banking and mortgage industry – just to name a few.  As a result, there is a new morality that is coming.  It will put people and not profits first.  It won’t be socialism either.  I think the GOP will have a major break-up or reorganization after this election; they will become more Hispanic, more immigrant, less Tea Party ways while holding onto the Tea Party goal of reducing debt and government; you will see fewer shallow thinkers like Palin, Bachmann, Cain, and Trump.
  • Romney seems to pander to the failed neo-cons on foreign affairs.  The world has changed and is changing drastically as we speak.  Thanks to America and technology, we have unleashed on the world about 5 billion new capitalists.  That is fabulous in many ways: new markets for us to sell; more technology in the hands of people allowing them to communicate and work; and people lifting themselves out of poverty.  But the downside is: immature democracies or governments; social upheavals, violence, and unrest; looming fights over natural resources; and, more importantly, lower wages and fewer jobs for Americans who can’t compete with cheaper.  I think Romney panders to the corporations that are trying to stop this innovation and trying to keep a stranglehold on power.
  • Romney is too much George W. Bush.  We don’t need to spread the Gospel of America when it usually means war and wealth for a few companies that have paid to be part of an Administration.  However, I don’t think Obama is pure here.  I think he is paring down the military and putting more resources into Special Forces and intelligence and we will return to the foreign policy of the 1950s where we use more covert actions rather than out-front battles.
  • Obama does not have to run again so we will finally get a president who will use the bully pulpit and go directly to the people – leaving behind the GOP and the Democrats.  I think Reagan and Clinton had their most productive years in the second terms.
  • Obama already has the blueprint for financial and fiscal success.  It’s Bowles-Simpson.  Granted, I was pissed off that he didn’t implement it – strictly for political reasons.  Alan Simpson, a staunch Republican, sides with Obama about shelving the plan because he said he would have gotten killed politically.  Sure, I am pissed at Obama, but I am also pissed off at our political system that caters to special interests.
  • Being a businessman does not qualify you to be president.  We can’t run the government like a business.  In business if you get 10% of the market you’re great and successful.  In government you need to get at least 50% of your market just to succeed.  Sure, there are business practices that need to be used in government, but to say a business person should run government has not worked out historically.  George W. Bush and Herbert Hoover are our latest examples.
  • Obama Care is a partial failure.  Here’s where I will seem like a screaming liberal on the surface, but I am really an advocate for small business and entrepreneurs.  I think Obama Care didn’t go far enough.  I wanted a government option so businesses don’t have to offer health care to employees.  Let the employees go get their health care.  In addition, I want a free-market for health insurance.  The government will offer a basic health plan for the poor or the young and healthy.  The private health insurers will have some competition.  Allowing corporations the upper-hand at attracting talent – by offering health care – hurts start-up businesses that cannot attract innovative workers and executives.
  • The Tea Party has played a crucial role in our politics.  They help us stay on message about cutting spending and balancing the budget.  Even many Democrats – including Obama — agree with that.  Where the Tea Party loses most people is their foray into social issues.
  • Obama’s attacks on Romney’s success at Bain are all politics.  That’s what Romney is running on; he has no choice but to paint the Bain record in a bad light.  Politics is a full-contact sport. 
  • Obama and Romney both deserve ridicule on the outsourcing issue.  Again, it’s all politics.  We need outsourcing to create new jobs.   We also need investment to help people train for the new economy.
  • No one is talking about immigration.  It’s too volatile and both parties have splits within their ranks that won’t allow a comprehensive immigration policy.  An Obama second term could lead to a policy that is fair and also helps our economy.  By the way, if we had a medical insurance government card system, then illegal immigrants wouldn’t be able to get health care without it.  Sounds like an incentive to keep them from crossing the borders.
  • I would push Obama to create a law that says America is English-only.  Catering to all these languages hurts immigrants to become a part of our society.  Conservatives got this right.  Previous generations of Italians, Poles, Germans, and Russians learned English to be a part of our economy.  Did they lose their ancestry?  No.  Can they speak their home language at home?  Sure.  I have friends, who are liberal, who talk about their grandfathers learning English by reading the newspapers.

Overall, conservatives have legitimate solutions to our problems.  But they also have many backward ideas that don’t see the world that is changing drastically.  They also think that America can change the world; we can’t.  We might influence, but we can’t control the world.  Get used to this new world.

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