Saturday, November 3, 2012

Obama's Better

In the article Explaining Centrism/Moderation, I described partisan zeal as a sort of delusion. No candidate will bring us to the promised land, because 1. the promised land doesn't exist, and 2. if it did, no politician - even a president - would have the power to get us there. Politics is all about lofty statements, some of them perhaps even sincere. But governing is another thing. It's a grind, riddled with endless compromise; the unloftiest thing imaginable. So those caught up in partisan zeal at moments like this have been misdirected via tribal cues. And I'm not big on tribalism. Hence my low zeal.

That's not to say elections don't matter, or that individual policies can't hurt or help. I make my choices, but it's not a white-hats versus black-hats thing. There's no one to love, and nothing to join. The coded language coming from both sides sure ain't speaking to me. So I have, as best I could, weighed how competently these candidates would contend with the grind. I'm choosing an administrator, nothing more. It's not sexy, and it has nothing to do with my self-image or my resonance with one or the other "vision for our future", or any other such rhetorical nonsense.

I'm for Obama. It's not about belief in liberal values (not that Obama's been ruling as a liberal at all; to anyone clear-headed, he's been barely left-center). I'm for him because:

Republicans jumped the shark with that shameful debt ceiling brouhaha, one of the most unpatriotic chapters in American political history, whose long term effect hasn't even begun to be widely apparent. It deeply shocked me, as it did the world.

I want to see a balanced Supreme Court - not too liberal, not too conservative. But I'm certain that President Romney, however moderately he might rule, would need to follow through with his pledge to appoint another Scalia/Roberts/Thomas if he hoped for reelection. And we all know how craven Romney can be when it comes to elections. But as a moderate, I like balances. Another liberal judge would bring balance, but another conservative would upset balance.

I despised the Bush administration's neocon-influenced approach to foreign policy, and Romney's got a full slate of those same neocon assholes on his staff, so it's a good bet that's the direction his administration would take. I don't think the country could stand much more of that. Anyone who proudly uses the term "Exceptionalism", embracing arrogance and hypocrisy as core values, is going to make poor foreign policy decisions. Romney's recent trip to Europe revealed a tendency for Bush-ish klutzy, empty-headed conceit in dealing with the world that I don't want repeated. I prefer realpolitik, and I believe Obama's pretty good at that. He's also skilled at framing his actions to reassure the world that America's not run by petulant children (anyone with friends abroad knows that's no exaggeration of how even moderate foreigners viewed the Bush years).

Regardless of one's views about deficits (Republicans have, until lately, always loved them and blithely inflated them), a recession - or sputtering recovery therefrom - is not the time to address them. The recovery would be jeopardized if the Congressional tea partiers were accommodated in their desire to impose Hooverish austerity at this delicate time (actually, their proposals radically out-Hoover Hoover). Romney, for all his pro-austerity rhetoric, certainly knows this, but I don't believe he has the backbone, or the political base, to oppose it with any force. Counting on Romney to show backbone isn't a winning bet.

As a life-long freelancer, it's hard to express my sense of gratitude for health insurance reform. In New York state, freelancers (even young, healthy ones) pay over $1000/month for not-totally-crappy coverage. This squelches entrepreneurship and locks workers into corporate wage-slavery - a dreary, economically catastrophic long-term scenario nothing like the plucky, free-wheeling, ingenious America we love. Listen, I don't pretend to have read the Affordable Care Act...and neither have you. We all just rely on other people's talking points. But it can't be all that impractically leftist, given that it's so close to what was proposed by Bob Dole and implemented by Mitt Romney, neither fervidly Marxist. And it's a miracle that any sort of reform actually got done.

Finally, in that other entry, I wrote that government is "a never-ending series of drastic compromises which squelch idealism and favor steady-handedness." I think President Obama has the steadier hand. Nowhere near perfect, but at least reasonably steady. Even diehard Republicans know, in their hearts, that Romney is anything but that.

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