Posted by: minnow | October 30, 2012

DECISION 2012

Overall the presidential debates may have helped some undecided voters decide but I doubt it.  The spin doctors obviously played their roles well and the already decided fell in line for the most part.  (I unapologetically  include myself in that last comment).  I have had my mind made up since before former Governor Romney clinched the Republican nomination and it has only become more firm as the campaign season progressed.  With less than a week to go the presidential race is basically a dead heat and no one is more dumbfounded than I am.  I thought for certain at the beginning of the season, that President Obama would win this election by a landslide the size of which we haven’t seen since McGovern lost to Nixon.  Yet, that obviously isn’t going to be the case.

I could perhaps blame money or more to the point advertising.  Simply put, “the Republican side has spent $115 million more than the Democratic side — $539 million versus $424 million” according to an October 26th article in the National Journal.  Yet that doesn’t tell the whole story since in fact Obama’s campaign is actually airing more ads than Romney’s.  How can that be?  A couple factors come into play.  In the first place the earlier the advertising was purchased the less costly it is.  Secondly, campaigns pay considerably less than outside groups for advertising, even when the advertising is for specific candidates.  Thus, since many of Obama’s ads were purchased months ago and more of Romney’s have been purchased at the last minute Romney pays more.  Additionally, since 86 percent of the ads run for Obama have been paid by his campaign compared to only 44 percent of the ads run on Romney’s behalf the Republican side has again spent more.

Of course how much one pays does not address the effectiveness of the advertising.  But here are a couple points to think about–61 percent of Obama’s ads and 71 percent of Romney’s ads have been deemed “negative”.  The public says they would prefer to hear more about what the candidates will do and less about the bad qualities of their opponent.  Yet, studies have shown that people, and especially women, remember negative political advertising more than positive political advertising.  So what’s a candidate to do?

If I were a pessimist I might wonder if the American people have simply given up, if their willingness to do the hard work which was so enthusiastically shouted about four years ago has waned.  Certainly the President himself has been a less boisterous cheer leader this time around.  He was fairly somber and serious during the convention and during the debates he sometimes appeared worn down and certainly frustrated.

Yet Obama has much to be proud of with regard to what has been accomplished.  He extended the Bush tax cuts for everyone making less than $250,000 dollars.  He expanded loan programs for small businesses.  He required insurance companies to cover pre-existing conditions and gave seniors prescription coverage.  He increased the Veteran Administration’s budget to recruit and maintain more mental health professionals, expanded VA centers in rural areas, launched a supportive-service housing program for veterans, and expanded the housing voucher program for homeless veterans.  According to PolitiFact, Obama “increased funding for the Violence Against Women Act in his 2010 budget and asked for further increases in 2011.”  He got the US auto industry back on its feet, helped us become less dependent on foreign oil and has encouraged investment in green energy programs.  Many of these things former Governor Romney says he will undo once he gets in office.

As for foreign policy the third debate revealed that Romney would have done pretty much everything Obama is doing only sooner and with more force (read ego).  Forget that on his visit to England this summer he insulted one of our closest allies, just knowing the names of some countries and their leaders is not the same as having a foreign policy.  Obama has worked hard for four years to regain the trust and respect of a whole host of world leaders, respect that was lost during the Bush administration and has been key in successfully crippling Iran’s economy through a joint multinational effort.

Beyond relationship building Obama has a lot to be proud of with regard to his foreign policies.  He ended the war in Iraq and has a plan to be out of Afghanistan by 2014.  He has increased the size of the Army and Marine Corps, made military aid to Pakistan dependent on anti-terror efforts, and extended the bioforensic program to track biological weapons.  And just to set the record straight–in the third debate the most memorable moment came when former Governor Romney suggested that having fewer ships than we had in 1917 meant we had a less equipped Navy.  When Obama responded to Romney’s comparison by saying , “we also have fewer horses and bayonets” meaning that counting ships was not a valid way to measure Navy readiness or strength Republican pundits tried to spin the response as an insult to the Navy.  Yet, the truth is we might have fewer ships than we had in 1917 but we have more than we did when President Bush was in office.  And, our Navy is significantly stronger.  So while we might not have what some deem the optimal number of 313 we have seen improvement over the last four years.

The two issues that have gotten quite a bit of FB play but were barely mentioned or not mentioned at all in the debates impact women and the LGBT community.  Obama supports choice and marriage equality.  Romney does not.  Some would like to turn those stands into a moral debate others into a constitutional rights issue.  To these two groups I say this–Read your constitution and read the New Testament.  Both documents defend individual freedom.  Both support the principles of equality.  The Bill of Rights specifically forbids government from enforcing a particularly interpreted set of religious tenets on the people and the Bible advocates living in such a ways as to care for all who have need.  If we want to see our nation walk out doctrines of freedom and equality, if we want to live in a nation that reflects Biblical values, then we will support candidates who are willing to look at the big picture and work for the kind of change necessary to include everyone.

Political strategist, James Carville, helped Clinton beat Bush in 1992 with the simply phrase–“The economy, stupid!”  And in this election, the economy is also a key factor, if not the deciding one.  Yet, our most recent economic indicators have been heading in the right direction.  Unemployment is below 8%.  Retail sales have gone up by 5.4%.  The DOW has shown consistent increases since early June and inflation remains in check.  Growth is slow.  It has felt long in coming but we’re back on track.

The few policy details Romney has shared indicated he plans to undo much of what Obama has accomplished.  He wants to deregulate Wall Street, again.  He wants to extend tax breaks to the wealthiest by keeping taxes on investment income at the lowest rates and getting rid of estate taxes altogether.  He wants to rescind Obamacare and privatize medicare.  His solution to many of the other problems is to push them onto the states.  Granted some wealthy states might do fine but the poorest have a difficult enough time with the administrative costs they already face.  And frankly, the mandate of the federal government is to protect the rights and liberties of all its citizens.

Election 2012 is too close to call.  But one thing is certain–the more people who choose to be heard the better!  We occupied Wall Street.  Thousands of groups around the country followed suit and occupied their court house lawns.  People are still occupying sites on-line.  The time is almost here for us to occupy the ballot box!  VOTE!  Please vote!

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