Monday, November 03, 2008

A Republican Votes for Obama


I recently had a disappointing email exchange with a family member. He is a life-long Republican, but will be voting for Obama due to Bush "muddying the waters" over the past eight years. I was disheartened by our conversation, but drafted up the following response. I post it here in the hopes that it will reach other Republicans that are contemplating an unwise vote:
I certainly understand and agree with your frustration with the GOP generally and GWB specifically. W did a poor job of making use of the political capital he acquired after 9/11, and he's not the kind of eloquent communicator that we have come to expect from our Chief Executives. To be fair to him, though, the media has done an extremely poor job of reporting on the successes of his policies. Nobody's perfect, and no battle plan lasts past the first 5 minutes of engagement. But taken as a whole, and in the context of the times, his successes ultimately outweigh his failures. But I suppose how history judges him depends on to what degree those successful policies are continued.

We won't know for a long time whether the post-9/11 period of no domestic terrorist incidents was as a result of (either deliberately unreported or clandestine) successful policy application, or whether militant islam was never that big of an enemy to begin with. But I suspect it is the former. Such is the price of success.

But to address the question at hand: is "change" always a good thing? Is a drastic change of direction going to result in a net positive? BHO will certainly get the country going again, but at whose expense, and according to whose idea of “justice”?

Given the socio-political climate in our current culture, I fear the potential of "with chaos comes opportunity." Specifically, the use of high uncertainty to gain, consolidate and wield political power. In the case of BHO, his societal perspective comes from a desire to fix a culture that is wrong on balance, rather than build upon a culture that has been the most positive force for humanity that the world has ever seen. And he will likely surround himself with people whose views are even more radical than his.

Any regular run-of-the-mill Democrat would probably be relatively harmless. But BHO is not run-of-the-mill. He’s the farthest left candidate to be brought by the Democrats in a long time, if not ever. Given the choice between a far-left Democrat and a moderate Republican, the choice would seem clear in any normal circumstances.

I do hope that I’m wrong about him and that the office of the President will bring out the best in him. But I’m not optimistic, and it’s a big chance we’re taking to put him in office.
The next 20 years are going to be more challenging than we can imagine. Societal memory is very short, and we’re going to make LOTS of mistakes. BHO may turn out to be relatively harmless. But I think both your and my warning bells should start going off if we see serious consideration of:

1. “spreading the wealth around” and “economic justice.” (already happened, and not surprising)
2. Governing from the far left, without consideration of the views from the minority.
3. Reinstatement of the “Fairness Doctrine” (silencing his critics) and expanding it to include the Internet (by either outright mandate or a financial disincentive).
4. Looking to the United Nations (a governing body that is outside of our legal constitutional framework) to formulate domestic policies
5. Socialized medicine and child care (already happening), especially if it happens quickly
6. Diplomatic distancing from our closest ally in the Middle East, Israel
7. Nominations of justices who have radical views (Alinsky-esque) about the role of the judiciary in regards to economic and social policy
8. Gun registration and federal limitations on concealed carry (in effect, disarming his critics. The reinstatement, and probably the expansion, of the “Assault Weapons” Ban is a given)
9. Reparations for slavery

With the exception of Israel, none of these actions fit within the framework of the Constitution. And none of them will assuage any racial guilt we may have as a society or as individuals, nor will they really correct those injustices. The union of socialist ideology with racial justice is extremely disturbing to me.

My general point is that people – especially groups of people – can make all kinds of poor decisions when they’re in the middle of a crisis. Clever leaders will use panic to their advantage. It works great against a (external) military adversary (see Sun Tzu), but if the “adversary” is viewed more increasingly as being internal, I will be VERY concerned (see Stalin). And I suppose what’s most troublesome is not what BHO will do, but what his most fervent supporters will do to further his cause.

There are two very good reasons why my online political/philosophical activities are anonymous. The first is to remove my employer and my associates from the situation, and the second (and more important) is to protect myself and my family from harm by those who feel that the first amendment does not apply to people with whom they disagree. While there are constitutional protections of individual rights in place right now, I think that any of them can be removed recklessly, given the right (chaotic) circumstances. So who would be better able to protect and maintain those rights? A person who feels that government should - by default - make decisions on behalf of individuals? Or a person who understands the importance of individual liberty from first-hand experience?

I don’t pretend to believe that I can sway anybody’s opinion. Oregon will go to BHO, and nearly all of my family members will vote for him. But I, like many Republicans, will hold my nose and vote for the GOP. There’s just too much at stake to do otherwise.

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, ensure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Additional discussion is welcome, but not necessary. I have stated my case.

1 comment:

James said...

Your comments generally seem quite reasonable and well-thought-out, but you have an interesting understanding of what does, and doesn't, fit within our "constitutional framework."

Take, for instance, your first example, "spreading the wealth around." We've been doing that at least since we made the income tax permanent, and we did that in 1913 with a constitutional amendment, so it's certainly part of our constitutional framework.

Obama only wants to change very slightly the percentages at which Americans are currently taxed or receive financial benefits (and his plans call for reducing taxes on most Americans).

These tax plans differ from McCain's only by a few percentage points. Are McCain's tax plans, then, redistributionist? Do they not fall within our constitutional framework?

And what about your final example, reparations for slavery? There are a host of arguments against providing financial compensation to the descendants of slaves for the wrongs done by this great country to their ancestors. But what, exactly, would be unconstitutional about such a plan?

You also argue, apparently, that Obama believes government should "make decisions on behalf of individuals" by default, while McCain "understands the importance of individual liberty from first-hand experience."

Do you really think the candidates are that black-and-white (if you'll pardon the pun)?

McCain, for instance, strongly believes in government making a wide range of decision for individuals, from personal choices (on abortion or education, for instance) to environmental and energy choices.

Meanwhile, Obama has experienced life as a black American. While racism is much less of a problem than it used to be, surely he understands, at a gut level, the vital importance of individual liberty.

Thanks for listening to this feedback. Again, I've really enjoyed your thoughtful discussion.