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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why I'm Voting Obama in 2012

Most of my close friends likely assume that my support for Obama was never in doubt.  After all, I worked my heart out for him in 2008, have sported his '08 campaign gear around town from time to time, and have had mostly good things to say about his presidency in public.  It has not, however, been a foregone conclusion.  I have privately flirted with third parties, I have made some sharp comments about his presidency from time to time, and have been active in non-electoral activism throughout his presidency.  I have serious issues with the guy: the failure to close Guantanamo Bay (yes, I know, Republican obstructionism, etc. etc.), I felt that for all of the good in it the Affordable Care Act was ultimately a giveaway to the health insurance industry, and I have seen him make woefully few attempts to rein in American imperialism abroad.

Nevertheless, I realize that we face an important election, and I cannot in good conscience allow Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to take the reins of power.  The following are the three primary reasons I will be voting for President Obama in November:

The End of Labor

In their current campaign and throughout their careers, Romney and Ryan have made no bones about their (at the very least) indifference toward labor and (at the worst) their downright derision toward working people in this country.  Three of their most vocal advocates in this campaign are Governors Chris Christie (NJ), Scott Walker (WI), and John Kasich (OH).  Christie has time and again assaulted public schools in NJ and when confronted about his attacks on teachers, he just yells at his critics.  

John Kasich is a man who served on the board of directors of Lehman Brothers--yeah, the guys who literally kicked off the crashing of our financial sector just a few short years ago--and was elected overwhelmingly in 2010 to...fix the economy in Ohio.  But Kasich didn't waste any time getting to work on the real business.  In 2011, Kasich rammed through Senate Bill 5, which he later signed into law.  Senate Bill 5 effectively banned collective bargaining for all public employees in Ohio, including teachers, police officers, and firefighters.  The law was immediately met with loud protests from labor and their supporters, which culminated on June 29, 2011 when pro-labor activists marched in downtown Columbus to deliver nearly 1.3 million signatures to put the law on the ballot--over a million more than needed.  Later that year, SB 5 was voted down by a whopping margin of 61% to 39%.  

And we all know the story of Scott Walker, perhaps the highest profile nemesis of organized labor in this country, and an outed Koch Brothers minion.  These three Republican governors are representative of the mainstream in their party.

We have every reason to believe that these efforts to kill labor unions at the state level will be replicated just as soon as the Republicans take control of the White House and the Senate.  Just take a look at Ryan's score from the AFL-CIO for 2011, who gave him a mere 20% on their Congressional Scorecard.  And yet--perhaps Ryan has a dirty little union secret.

Time and again, Congressional Republicans have blocked appointments to the National Labor Relations Board, and it's quite clear why: they don't philosophically agree with its right to exist. American workers need agencies like the NLRB to help them level the playing field.  The Republican Party does not want the playing field leveled.

Let it be said, then: if the Republicans are elected this year, it will be the end of organized labor in this country as we know it.

Iran and the Middle East

Now that the general election is underway and "independents" are the voters who matter most, Romney's campaign is trying to argue that Romney will be a moderate in office.  These folks, bending themselves into tighter and tighter pretzel-like rhetorical contortions to justify their weak nominee, argue ever more desperately that Romney isn't really the "severely conservative" politician he was forced to claim he is way back in the Republican primary.  "Nay," they say, "he will surely return to his more moderate roots!  Just look, the ACA was based on Romney's Massachusetts healthcare overhaul, and check it out: the gays even love[d] him!"  These contortions belie the reality that when a man has no principles, you have very few means to assess his hypothetical future actions.  So what is a man without principle to do?

That's where Sheldon Adelson comes in.
Adelson as a younger man.
Adelson is the now-famous billionaire casino magnate who gave millions to pro-Newt Gingrich super pacs during the Republican primary before dutifully jumping ship to Romney once the latter's nomination became inevitable.  Adelson recently hosted a Romney Israel. The price of admission?  A personal contribution of $50,000 or $100,000 raised for Romney/RNC.  Like many people richer than God, Adelson tends to be reclusive.  But the issues important to him are no secret: Adelson wants the U.S. to bomb Iran.

Love him or hate him, Barack Obama has ended one war and intends to end the second.  In the absence of compelling evidence to the contrary, one can only assume that Romney will continue the foreign policy belligerence of the Bush Era, expand American imperialism, and continue our country's sterling track record of bombing poor people in the Middle East because we don't like their leaders.

Administrative and Appointment Powers

Finally, we come to what is perhaps the least-sexy part of a president's powers, and that is his power to appoint people to various positions within the federal government and set the agenda for the federal agencies.  The highest-profile of these appointments that comes to mind is the Supreme Court.  Obama has already made two successful appointments to the high court in Sonya Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, and some experts predict that in the next four years, as many as four more appointment opportunities could arise.  The difference between a Romney court and an Obama court couldn't be greater.  Then we have the NLRB (see item 1) and the EPA.  Romney and his Republican ilk have foamed at the mouth about the EPA, basically ever since their fellow Republican Richard Friggin' Nixon created the agency.  Make no mistake about it: under a Romney administration, and with the backing of a Republican Senate, any and all gains made in the application of EPA clean air and water regulations--modest though they may have been--will be rolled back and the EPA itself gutted of funding and the staff it needs to function.

Gone is the hope and change of 2008.  Gone is the idealism of my first presidential election.  Gone is the glow of electing the nation's first black president.  Reality has set in for all of us.  Like many I am disappointed by President Obama's first term, but I cannot bring myself to turn my back on him completely, not given what he's up against from the other party.  I did not write this to try and change anyone's minds, nor to get into an argument with my friends on the left, with whom I'm sure I share many frustrations.  This is just one man's justification for his vote as it currently stands.

Yay, go Obama?

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