Sunday, November 4, 2012
2012 US Election: How to Vote is a No-Brainer
This past week I voted for Barack Obama for President of the United States. By way of disclosure, this represents the first time I have ever voted for the nominee of the Democratic Party for President. In the past, I have voted either for Republicans or third party candidates. I voted for Barack Obama because the election of Mitt Romney and his Republican colleagues, I believe, would be devastating to civil rights, human health, the economy, foreign policy and the environment.
Presidential elections in the US are often a matter of taste and philosophy but not monumental in their significance for - despite the rhetoric of political campaigns - once in office US Presidents often act in a fairly similar manner. This year is different. This year the choice is stark and will have lasting impact on US civilization and likely on the rest of the world.
The issue is not so much Barack Obama. Barack Obama came into office having to deal with the dire failures of the Bush administration:
• The Bush administration botched the war in Afghanistan.
• Bush launched an unnecessary war in Iraq on the basis of a propaganda campaign of falsehoods. In terms of American service men and women this war resulted in 4,400 deaths, 32,000 wounded in action, and many more with war related medical conditions. The direct cost of this war to US taxpayers approached one trillion dollars and the costs of caring for the veterans of this war will continue for the next sixty years. Furthermore, Iraqi casualties in this war were an order of magnitude or two greater than the American casualties.
• While the US was tied down in two wars, the US was not considered a credible threat by its adversaries and thus North Korea exploded its first nuclear weapon and Iran proceeded apace with its nuclear program. Under the Bush administration the US sanctions on Iran were completely ineffective.
• The Bush administration deregulated the financial system which led to a financial collapse and the greatest recession in the US since the Great Depression of 1929.
• Bush appointed incompetent administrators such as Michael Brown who as head of FEMA callously botched the Hurricane Katrina rescue operation leaving Americans to die in their flooded homes while he typed inane email messages.
• Health care costs in the US continued to skyrocket while delivering results substantially below that of other countries which spend a fraction of what the US spends on health care.
• Bush administration tax and spending policies led to exploding deficits prior to the onset of the recession.
• While in office Barack Obama has, as promised, ended the Iraq war and is winding down the Afghanistan war while vigorously pursuing the war on terror.
• The Obama administration has orchestrated a worldwide crippling set of sanctions on Iran. Whether or not these sanctions will dissuade Iran from its nuclear ambitions is not yet known, but at least the sanctions are now a reality rather than just empty rhetoric.
• The US economy is slowly recovering from the financial crisis.
• President Obama has appointed technically competent people to head government agencies such as W. Craig Fugate who is currently head of FEMA and has had a long experience in handling natural disasters.
• President Obama has started to address the health care crisis by implementing Obamacare.
As this blog makes clear, I certainly have not agreed with all of the Obama administration initiatives. But on balance President Obama has been a sober, middle of the road, and competent steward of the nation and a man who empathizes with the plights of its citizens.
President Obama’s election spawned the takeover of the Republican Party by its most extreme right wing. Venerated members of the party, such as Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, have lost their primary battles to right wing nuts. Into the mix marched Mitt Romney who has mustered the most cynical Presidential campaign in my memory. Mitt Romney has switched his position on virtually every issue – sometimes within days or weeks – depending on which audience he is addressing. His campaign has been insulting to the US voter who, apparently Romney thinks, has the memory of a flea, and cannot view video clips of each of Romney’s contradictory statements. Mitt Romney has divulged no specifics of his economic plans because he does not want to subject them to the rigor of arithmetic. He also has refused to divulge his tax returns.
What would a Romney administration actually do? This can be discerned from the one unchanging guiding principle of Romney’s life – the advancement of Mitt Romney. Mitt Romney would cater to his political base – the extreme right wing of the Republican Party – to solidify his political position. Thus:
• Mitt Romney would terminate Obamacare – resulting in 28,000 additional deaths each year in the US. The equivalent of a 9/11 event every 5.5 weeks.
• He would support laws and an Amendment to the US Constitution which would define life as starting at fertilization and result in the banning of abortion and many forms of contraception including hormonal contraceptives and IUDs. The net result of these actions would be to substantially increase the number of abortions in the US. Furthermore, by making nearly all abortions illegal there would be a large number of maternal deaths and complications resulting from the unsafe illegal abortions.
• He would support legislation and an Amendment to the US Constitution which would prohibit same sex marriage denying the most basic of civil rights to a substantial fraction of US citizens.
• He would appoint right wing ideologues to the US Supreme Court to accomplish in the courts whatever restriction on civil rights he could not accomplish by executive order, legislation or amendments to the US Constitution. Roe vs. Wade would surely be overturned. The impact of his Supreme Court appointments would last for decades.
• He would roll back regulations that protect the safety of air, water, food and drugs.
• He would promote burning of fossil fuels that have led to climate change. Just this past summer the US suffered the hottest July on record and experienced devastating drought and wildfires. Also this past summer Arctic ice was at its lowest level since we started monitoring it by satellite 33 years ago. Hurricane Sandy became the largest Atlantic hurricane in recorded history and devastated the northeast of the US on the heels of hurricane Irene the previous year. Mitt Romney in his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention ridiculed efforts to deal with climate change.
• He would deregulate again the financial industry and implement tax reductions that would explode the deficit, recreating the conditions that led to our most recent financial collapse.
The current Republican Party is not the party of limited government; it is the party that promotes intrusion of the federal government into the most private aspects of peoples’ lives. Election of Mitt Romney and his Republican colleagues would lead to an enormous set-back for civil rights in this country and recreate the catastrophic domestic and foreign policies of the Bush administration from which we have just started to recover.
I hope that the Republicans are handed a resounding defeat in this year’s election, and that a new responsible Republican Party can emerge that will provide a credible alternative to the Democratic Party within the US two-party system.