Thursday, October 16, 2008

Political Question

This isn't a political blog, but I've got a question on which I'm looking to get some opinions to help me understand something I cannot currently comprehend.

I’ve got a serious question that I want to ask, really because I just can’t wrap my mind around the opposite viewpoint to the one I’ve come to -- something I am usually good at -- and I’m curious as to all of your thoughts to help me understand this other side.

I watched the Presidential debate last night (October 15, 2008). Let me preface my question with the fact that I will not be voting for either party candidate, but rather for the Green Party, whose platform is one that I agree with wholeheartedly. Here’s my question:

How can anybody actually think that voting for McCain is a good idea?

After watching Obama and McCain go at it last night, I just cannot fathom anybody coming to a conscious decision to vote for McCain. Here are my reasons. First off, watching them last night, I don’t trust McCain’s judgment under pressure -- and as President he’d be under a lot of pressure! He just seems angry and snippy, two traits that make for poor decision-making. He interrupted Obama regularly during the debate, which says to me that he’s impatient and isn’t giving due consideration to others. If you watched Obama in the split-screen, he looked directly at McCain as he answered, actually paying attention. McCain generally stared off into space, making mocking faces and fidgeting because he was so impatient to retort. And while both candidates distort the other’s platform -- that's a common tactic -- McCain seemed to take it to an unreal level, particularly with Obama’s tax plan which McCain just doesn’t seem to be able to get right.

Getting off the candidates’ personalities and mindsets, let’s look at issues.

McCain's focus on deregulation is disturbing. I’ve been a regulator for the last 6 years (not a Federal regulator, but my job is to regulate financial markets), and deregulation simply doesn’t work. The whole culture of the financial world is money-based, and the markets just do NOT regulate themselves. Strong regulation is required; I’ve seen first-hand what happens when there is insufficient regulation.

In terms of energy policy, McCain is just wrong. I am personally opposed to any additional offshore drilling. However, as a national policy, I can understand performing due diligence in studying the potential for future energy to be gained by such drilling, and if that is necessary because other means of energy production will be insufficient, then we’ll have to pursue it, in tandem with reigning in our consumption. However, McCain keeps saying that we need to drill offshore NOW, and that such is necessary to bring down gas prices today. Well, additional offshore drilling simply will not have any effect for approximately 10 years. So again, I think it’s something that needs to be explored, but McCain seems to really think it’s a solution, and I think it is patently obvious that it is not. Palin’s response in the VP debate when Biden said that McCain’s focus is, “Drill, drill, drill,” that “The chant is actually, ‘Drill, baby, drill!’” shows their misplaced focus. I think both candidates are right, though, that we need to pursue further nuclear options to wean us off oil.

One further thing I don’t understand is that McCain was very hypocritical in his statements on electing judges. He said at one point (in another segment of the debate) that he’s a Federalist -- someone who favors greater regional autonomy for the States, rather than a strong centralized government (a very Republican view). But then in the section on judges, he said he wanted to overturn Roe vs. Wade, which is the first step toward a federal law outlawing all abortions (possibly with danger-to-the-mother exceptions), which is the goal he has favored in the past. So how is that possibly a Federalist viewpoint? Though I do give McCain credit for voting NO on the constitutional ban of same-sex marriage, which is consistent with a Federalist viewpoint (leave that up to the individual states to tackle).

After the debate, channel 5 interviewed Mitt Romney, who said that he felt McCain did a great job and had Obama speechless at times. I could only sit there dumbfounded, wondering if he and I watched the same debate. I saw Obama easily handling himself under McCain’s assault, and I saw McCain appearing frustrated and impatient trying to counter Obama. I saw Obama answering the questions much more directly than McCain, though he too definitely skirted some issues like we see with every candidate. I saw Obama acting like a leader, someone I might actually trust being the face of our country, someone with the mental facility to consider the complexity of all the issues when advised by his advisors; whereas McCain was tense and impatient and disagreeable, and he appeared to struggle when forced to consider the mutual impact of complex topics like the economy and energy and military policies -- definitely not somebody I would ever follow as a leader.

So I’m curious -- for those of you who plan on voting for McCain, how do you come to that decision?


Angela said...

No time now to write a detailed response right now. But I had to chuckle at your fundamental question. You forgot to mention the very likely possibiliy that Palin could eventually be president.

And you have to remember, that the gun-toting, prejudice, conservatives, and stingy filthy rich all need someone to vote for too! This is America - equal opportunity for all!

LV7 said...

The people I know that are voting for McCain are doing so because they trust him. They trust Bush. They inherently believe that voting republican is a vote for the religious ideals they hold dear. And they are willing/determined to elect someone who relies on their faith to pull us all through difficult times. They -want- the speech on TV that says "everything's going to be okay."

Additionally, some friends of friends own small businesses, and they're voting for McCain in the hopes that they'll receive the tax cuts for their company that he promises. His administration would be better for business owners.


Overall, I believe one candidate stands up there as a leader, debating. One candidate stands up there trying to appease his supporters and appear to "fight", regardless of whether or not he's even on the right topic.

One candidate has the integrity to handle looking the other in the eyes for more than a glance. The other believes talking directly to an opponent means you automatically accept and endorse their views (i'm frankly surprised McCain didn't force a pre-condition that Barack should promise to give up the election, before agreeing to meet to debate the issue.)

One is a leader. One is running for president.


And, on the Green Party ... /shrug. :) I think that vote is as helpful in the grand scheme of things as my non-vote. :)

Amy V said...

Well, I don't plan to vote for McCain, and you've pretty much summed up why. But maybe I can speak for some of my fellow evangelicals. I know atleast for my parents and many people in the community I grew up in, they don't know much about politics or concern themselves much with politics because everybody votes republican. It really doesn't matter who the candidate is or what the office is. And yes some of them (my family included) are just plain rednecks who think they have a constitutional right to hunt deer and hide from the government. But abortion issues are a big deal. It may seem like a far stretch, but for them, voting for a democrat is the same as voting for someone who supports murder. It's a compromise they can't fathom and none of the other issues even matter compared to killing babies. I remember having those same convictions, but I think now I try to see the bigger picture more. I am still pro-life, but I am also pro-choice. I don't think anyone has a right to a woman's body but herself. My goal is less (or no) abortions. But I think a more efective and respectful way is to focus on preventing unwanted pregnancy which I don't think republican policy in general tends to be very good at. And when it comes to other so called rublican leanings like less gun control, less regulation, privatized healthcare, less social services, etc., I find myself not identifying at all.

mike said...

To touch on what Amy said, it's true that many people who lean republican in elections do so because of the single issue of abortion. I feel that this is a result of propaganda. Not to sound overly dramatic, but one goal of propaganda is to make issues appear so complex as to produce apathy in the electorate. One way in which the republicans repeatedly accomplish this is to paint the democratic opponent as "elitist" or "academic" or as McCain said repeatedly in the debate, "eloquent" to the point of intelligibility. So in the voters minds, McCain becomes the straight talking John Wayne cowboy who tells it like it is to the common man, all the while insuring the further polarization between economic classes. Anyway, I've gotten on a tangent, but to reduce people's perspective to a single issue, a moral issue that speaks to the individual's integrity, has been a successful tactic for the republican party.

This is not to say that similar manipulation isn't employed by the democratic party also. Blah. I need to sleep.

Matt Stone said...

In conversations with McCain supporters online (I am an Aussie so its all online) I get the impression its all about abortion. It doesn't matter who is who, what matters is abortion. As a Christian who is pro-life in a holistic sense, valuing the born as well as the unborn, I struggle to fathom the myopia I am witnessing. Your society seems so much more polarized than mine.

rmg said...

"I think that vote is as helpful in the grand scheme of things as my non-vote. :) – LV7"

I do believe that is a very 'real' statement. Even though we can see other party platforms as reflective of our own, the Democratic or Republican party platform will be adopted after being voted in on November 4th. Therefore, a vote unfortunately has to be cast to benefit the masses that, at best, will reflect a portion of the voter’s needs and wants. I’m sure this seems simplistic but I feel that this election is one of the most important that I’ve ever voted in and I am very apprehensive about the outcome. I have, over the course of this campaign, changed my viewpoint on each of the candidates several times during the primary and now for the actual election. I am most certainly fearful of the VP choice for the Republican Party. I experienced the ERA movement and first hand experience of being paid approximately 60% of a man’s pay for the same job. I support Roe v Wade and the woman’s right to choose. Yes, I would like to see less abo rtions performed and stronger education of safe sex, education that will include birth control, as well as, the choice of abstinence. I feel our children are best served to have open communication regarding sex and their choices with their parents but I also realize that some parents are extremely remiss in their duties and children need options for answers and guidance. I know in this area of content, the Republican Party position is totally non-reflective of my own. And I do agree with the Chicago Tribune’s editorial of Oct 16th that McCain put campaign before country when choosing Sarah Palin. Please make your vote count for the masses.

Anonymous said...

After this angela person left a stereotypical, unimaginative, unintelligent answer I was invited by Mike to comment on this page. Let me start out by saying that I am a republican, even though I am NOT a "Gun-toter" nor am I filthy rich. Also I did not see this Debate so I will not comment on McCain's (or Obama's) performance. However I believe that an answer to Mike's question is a simple one...people mostly just vote their own party.

Please note that I did NOT vote for McCain in the Primary before you all start bashing me.

A great example of this would be the news today that Illinois Gov Blago's approval rating is 13% or lower than GW's rating. Blago sucked his first term and yet the Democrats of chicago re-elected him when there was obviously a better candidate. Come on 13%!!! You have to figure at least 13% just love the guy only because he is a democrat.

So this leads me why people will vote for McCain...because they are a Republican...Simple as that.

Why people vote one party or the other has many different answers. Mine is because I live in DuPage county (the most republican county in the state). Chicago as we know it is Democratic. A week does not go by without a news report of corruption in Chicago. Hardly do you ever read about corruption in the republican ranks of Dupage county.

Our County has very little crime, few murders, great schools, strong infrastructure, and reasonable taxes...among other things. The town I reside in has 6 Trustees, who do NOT get paid as opposed to Chicago who has 50 counselmen all making in excess of $125,000. Factor in their staffs and expenses and this cost the Chicago taxpayers $$Millions. Yet how many former counselmen are doing time???

Having said that I will skip to Mike's question at the end of his Blog...I will vote for McCain because he stands for what I believe, but also because I do not belive Obama is ready. He has zero experience. So far what has he done since he has been our Senator??? Nothing, because he has been running for President almost since the day he was elected.

Tom said...

I will be enthusiastically voting for Obama, but I think you have some wrong facts about McCain.

I don't view McCain as being that much against regulation. There are some things he wants to revert back to the states, but others he wants more-carefully regulated. Certainly, McCain would want better regulation of elections -- thus, McCain-Feingold.

I think that some supports of McCain's oil stance -- me included -- believe that the issue of 'healthier' energy consumption can go forward without respect to access to oil. If America drills, it is that much less wealth going to Arab countries. America should stop being dependent on other countries for our energy needs; drilling can be a part of the road to independence.

Overturning Row v. Wade does one thing: It returns the determination of abortion rights to the states; it DOES NOT outlaw abortions. Only a constitutional amendment would outlaw abortions, or a subsequent crazy new misreading of law by the conservative Court -- which is unlikely to the extreme. Thus, McCains position IS anti-Federalist. Note that in your post you mean to say anti-Federalist [which means opposed to central-govenment control] rather than Federalist [where decisions are mostly made in Washington DC, rather than in the states or even more locally.]

Mike said...

Thanks everyone for your comments! It has definitely helped me to understand a bit where McCain voters are coming from. It doesn't surprise me how strong a role the abortion issue plays. However, it does confuse me as to how somebody could overlook what I see as McCain's poor personality with regards to a leader. Let me give an example. Back in 2000, despite my disagreements with the younger Bush and my strong agreements with Gore on the issues, I would have voted for Bush over Al Gore that year because at that time, I felt that Bush would make a better leader (I did not vote at all that year). Hence, applying that to this year's race, I think Obama has clearly shown a much stronger leadership personality, and McCain's personality appears diametrically opposed to that of a strong leader. The only thing I can think of is that some people disagree with me and feel that McCain's performance in this race IS that of a strong leader. Or perhaps they feel that they should vote the abortion issue even though they may feel he has terrible leadership potential in the executive branch. To each his own, I guess.

On the abortion issue, I agree with Amy in that I would love to see people never choose to have abortions, and thereby have that fade away as an option. However, despite that, I don't think government has any right to dictate that abortions are illegal and, thus, I fall in the pro-choice camp.

To touch on some of Tom's points:

(1) Regulation. I think McCain is finally coming around to a more regulation-oriented viewpoint, but only because today's financial situation has made it abundantly clear that more regulation is needed. What worries me more is how strong of a deregulation viewpoint he held when everything was going smoothly. That, to me, shows a discontinuity with our economy and a misunderstanding of the financial markets. So while I agree with you Tom that McCain is not as anti-regulation as many people, nor as much as he used to be, the fact that he held that view at all worries me.

(2) Drilling. I am not necessarily opposed to drilling for oil, as I can understand the political ramifications of oil dependence. The problem, though, is that that does not solve the cause of our over-consumption (the American mindset and our chosen suburban sprawl infrastructure), but rather only the symptom. Our oil companies are in possession of many fields that they are not currently drilling; I think they should be made to begin operations on these fields before obtaining new fields that might further damage the ecosystem in the surrounding areas. Once drilling on these currently unused fields has begun, then I think we could consider opening further reserves (such as those off the coasts).

(3) I agree 100% that overturning Roe vs. Wade does NOT outlaw abortions. The problem, however, is that that decision is one of the few deterrents in place for an amendment outlawing abortion or a "crazy new misreading of law by the conservative Court." With at least one Supreme Court justice likely to be appointed by the next President, an additional conservative Justice could tip the balance causing that misreading of law to not be so unlikely. Additionally, the base of the Republican party has made it perfectly clear that their goal is to ultimately outlaw abortion; hence, again, though Roe vs. Wade only stops states from outlawing it, overturning that ruling is just the first step on the path toward outlawing it altogether.

> Thus, McCains position IS anti-Federalist. Note that
> in your post you mean to say anti-Federalist

Actually, no, I said it correctly, per my pre-posting research. I had expected "Federalist" to mean in favor of central governmental control, as you noted, but wikipedia disagreed:

In contemporary usage, as articulated by President Bush's New Federalism, federalists advocate the principle of greater regional autonomy within the United States—usually by allowing individual states to set their own agendas and determine the handling of issues, rather than trying to impose a nationally uniform solution. (

I based my usage of Federalist on this definition. (though I understand your argument).

So, given that, though the simple overturning of Roe would return control to the states (anti-Federalist in your view, Federalist based on the definition above), the underlying Party's ultimate aim is to make all abortions illegal, and I would not put it past a conservative Congress to attempt to enact such, nor a conservative Court to uphold such. (Of course, the current Congress is Democratic, but we all know the government changes in cycles, so it's only a matter of time before conservatives regain control).

To touch on Loki's and Rita's point:

> And, on the Green Party ... /shrug. :) I think that vote is as
> helpful in the grand scheme of things as my non-vote. :)

Very possibly true in a practical sense. But voting against my conscience would be a much greater travesty, in my opinion. All movements start small, and all I can do is hope that the Green party gains momentum across the nation. That may or may not happen in my lifetime; but regardless, if I'm going to vote, I have to do it based on who I think will be the best leader for the United States in the world community.

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