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Sunday, November 4, 2012

So I Voted for Obama...

Probably not much of a surprise for you guys.  But seeing as Election Day is fast approaching (for us Americans, at least), I decided I’d interrupt my current series to make a political post.  I am not going to talk about any of the congressional candidates, as I have only investigated those candidates running in my state/district.  And since very few of my readers will be voting in those races I don’t think it’s worth the effort.  So in this post, I will explain the various reasons I voted for Obama.

First off, I strive to analyze such decisions as “Who do I vote for?” as rationally as I can.  The simple fact of the matter is that voting for a third-party candidate will not achieve anything meaningful.  Whether or not that fact indicates some flaw in the system is completely irrelevant at the moment.  Even if I want to remove the two-party system, throwing my vote at a third candidate or simply not voting at all is not an effective strategy, not even as a form of protest.  As a protest attempt, such a tactic does not convey any clear message to the people as there are too many people engaging in the same activity for entirely different reasons.  I would be far better off casting a vote with a higher chance of affecting the election and then planning a more impactful form of protest elsewhere.  Voting for Obama or Romney gives me a much larger chance of genuinely contributing to a national decision, and that is a better use of one’s vote than a protest.

With that settled, there were four key areas in which I chose to vote for Obama over Romney.  This is not to say that I agree with him on all points or even on any point.  It is simply a matter of Obama having a better or at least more coherent position than Romney.

Here’s the thing: I don’t fully agree with either party’s position on this matter.  However, Obama wins this category by a decent margin.  Still, I feel the need to point out that the president alone does not have all that much control over the economy.  If the economy is among your largest concerns this election cycle, then I suggest you carefully investigate your congressional candidates.

Pros for Obama
-Obamacare increased the Medicare payroll tax for Americans earning more than $200k a year.  This shows that his administration is not automatically adverse to raising taxes.  While nobody likes the idea of paying more taxes, there is a serious problem with the way our tax burden has been distributed.  Republicans are usually dogmatically opposed to cutting taxes in any way – to the point of refusing to even consider the option.  Here, Obama has demonstrated the ability to consider tax increases on wealthier Americans, and that is a point in his favor. 

-Obama is not proposing a trickle-down model of economics.  Even the Congressional Research Service agrees that trickle-down does not grow the economy.  All it does is increase the wealth gap.

-Obama is pushing more for investments in new energy technologies.  In addition to giving points to Obama for environmental concerns, these investments could help create a lot of new jobs.  The Democratic party also has a better track record for investing in other aspects of America’s infrastructure.  Contrast this with Romney’s plan to seek new jobs through the coal industry, which would only help our economy at the cost of our environment.

-Obama shows more concern for the poorer Americans.  He is against ‘saving’ our economy by removing safety nets.  This is in stark contrast to Romney, who seems to think that it’s not his job to worry about the poorest 47% of America. 

-Unlike the Republican Party claims, Obama has not ballooned our spending.  That’s Bush you’re thinking of.  Obama inherited an enlarged spending level and a crashed economy.  Now the spending level is roughly the same after accounting for inflation, while the economy is recovering.

-Obama actually has a legitimate tax plan.  Romney says he has a tax plan, but it is really a bunch of empty promises.  He promises not to cut military spending or Medicare benefits while also cutting taxes across the board.  That means he wants to decrease the government’s income without touching the biggest two sources of spending.  Then he says he’s going to balance the budget and get the economy back on track.  The only way the budget could balance without increased taxes or defense or Medicare cuts is if non-military, non-Medicare spending was absolutely slashed, and that is not a responsible thing to do in a recovering economy.

-Romney has sworn to oppose abortion and especially forcing insurance to cover abortion, contraception, and even birth control medication that is used to address health concerns rather than as a contraceptive.  I put this in the “Economics” category because Romney’s position here makes no economical sense.  I understand that people don’t want to pay for others’ promiscuity, but abstinence simply does not work.  So when you get right down to it we will either be paying for birth control or paying for kids that men have walked out on and women can’t afford to raise.  And the former is much more economically viable than the latter. 

Points For Romney
-Romney appears more willing to cut costs, even though the particular costs he wants to cut tend to be in the wrong place.

It’s a Wash
-Neither candidate seems willing to push for the responsible cuts to defense spending that I would like to see.

Verdict: Obama

Health Care
Obama wins by a substantial margin for having actually done something to address this area.  Obamacare is quite literally the only piece of federal legislation I have ever seen that could actually solve the bigger (for being more immediate) of the two key problems I have with America’s healthcare industry.

Points for Obama
-Obamacare is an enormous point in Obama’s favor.  It is the first legislation I’ve seen from the federal government that actually requires health insurance agencies to stop discriminating against disabled Americans.  While I do not think that Obamacare alone will fix our system, it is a major step in the right direction and one Romney has sworn to appeal. 

-In addition to repealing Obamacare, Romney plans to do absolutely nothing to solve the key problem that Obamacare solves.  Romney’s healthcare plan does not forceinsurance companies to stop discriminating .  Rather, he’s hoping that the states will individually and universally adopt such a practice.  If that’s what he wants, then why is he so unwilling to push for it federally?

-Despite a lack of tort reform, Obamacare still somewhat addresses the problem of healthcare costs and Medicare spending.  Romney’s alternative plan to address these same costs is likely to merely pass them on to seniors.

-As mentioned above, Romney has sworn to oppose abortion and especially forcing insurance to cover abortion, contraception, and even birth control medication that is used to address health concerns rather than as a contraceptive. 

Points for Romney
-In his previous assessment of healthcare reform, Obama was unwilling to consider tort reform.  Tort reform is critical to healthcare reform because it would allow us to lower the cost of malpractice insurance, which would in turn lower the cost of healthcare.  I hope that Obama’s refusal to consider tort reform was a political move – he thought the Republicans would block an attempt at tort reform and so chose to pursue a different route – but I cannot be sure of this.  In contrast, Romney is openly in favor of tort reform. 

Verdict: Obama

Human Rights
Obama wins this category in a landslide victory.  Romney does not even score a single point in this category.

Points for Obama
-Obama supports the legalization of gay marriage.  Romney is against it.

-Obama is pro-choice.  Romney is not.

-Obama ended the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
-Obama has actually included references to nonbelievers in some of his speeches.

-Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act.  Romney has said that he won’t repeal the act, but refuses to come out in support of the act.  So despite the frequent misleading presentation style and subsequent confusion about how best to tackle the problem (it's not all or even mostly about women getting paid less for the same work), Obama has shown a desire to address the wage gap and to help protect workers against discrimination, while Romney has dragged his feet on the matter.

Moot Points
-Obama has not ended Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative program.  Then again, neither would Romney.

-Neither candidate appears to have any concern for removing religious language from our currency or pledge.

Verdict: Obama

What I mean here is my interpretation of how much the candidate’s position is accurately reflected in their campaign, and how much it is influenced by people in comparison to money.  Obama comes out way ahead in this category as well.

Points for Obama
-Obama is funded by grass-roots donations as opposed to Romney’s Super-PACs.  Ads for Obama are paid for by “Obama for President,” while ads for Romney are paid for by “Romney for President, Incorporated.”

-Obama called out the Supreme Court for its ruling on Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commission, which grants corporations certain personhood rights that in turn allow them to effectively bribe government officials through enormous campaign donations.

-Romney has reversed his position on an enormous number of topics, particularly during the presidential debates.  He is also in the habit of telling increasingly obvious lies.  While I am aware that lies cover both sides of the political coin, that coverage is still heavily weighted.  In particular, Romney vows to repeal Obamacare despite the fact that it is base on Massachusetts legislation that Romney supported.

-As a second-term president, Obama would be less constrained by a need to pander to those who funded his campaign.

The Verdict: Obama

And there you have it, the most influential of my thoughts on this year’s presidential election.  Now get out there and vote!


  1. Very good read, thanks for posting.

  2. Depending on your state, it could be reasonable to vote for a third party. If your electoral college members are already almost certainly going to vote a certain way, your vote doesn't actually alter the election by voting for either party in a significant way. Ultimately, voting for a third party is a Prisoner's Dilemma where you need thousands of other people to not defect to get noticed. Of course, I'd like to believe in the clone solution to the PD, to wit: Your strategy in the PD should be such that you cooperate with a clone of yourself, even absent other forms of exterior pressure (aka, this is a True PD with no actual repercussions, signaling, etc). So given the above, it could be rational to vote for a 3rd party candidate in said states, and hope that the group that considers voting for 3PCs is similar enough to you to also want to cooperate. There are a few issues ignored, and I haven't bothered to think through some of the math in the ways that this isn't a PD, so there might not be a useful equilibrium outcome overall. This isn't really gaming the system; in fact, the reason to vote for a 3PC is probably because one more closely aligns with your values, and voting for one of the big two is actually gaming.

  3. Re: Brendon

    1. This is not like a prisoner's dillemma because whatever happens, we all get the same results. It is closer to the tragedy of the commons.

    2. If you're going to vote at all, your vote has a higher probability of affecting the election if it goes to a main-line candidate, regardless of your state. Concern that your vote doesn't actually alter the election is a better argument for not bothering to vote (and if you want to protest, use the time in a more productive way than casting an unvarifiable vote for a candidate nobody's ever heard of).

    3. Voting for a 3rd party as a protest requires organization if it is to be heard and understood. This post went up 2 days before the election, which is way to late to organize a 3rd-party campaign.

    4. In the event that one such as myself values keeping Romney out of the whitehouse more than making political statements through the ballot box, it behooves that person to advocate for Obama over third-party candidates on his/her blog.