Swing vote

I’m in that camp that is ever so desired for about three months each election year and scorned the rest of the time: I’m independent, or ‘unenrolled’ in either major political party as we say in Massachusetts.

In the last two presidential elections I’ve voted for one Republican candidate and one Democratic candidate. I’m a swing vote.

I hate the manner in which American politics is conducted, but have become interested in that fascinating challenge of figuring out how to govern a huge nation full of people of widely differing interests, economic standings and religious faiths, some in urban settings and some rural, etc etc etc. I reject altogether the idea that ‘liberals’ or ‘conservatives’ are either right on every issue or categorically not only wrong but also stupid or evil, which is the general tenor of discussion these days. It’s childish and disgraceful. The excuse of ‘passion’ is IMO complete, total, utter BS. You can believe something strongly and still speak respectfully to people who disagree. Respect is the most powerful lever you can pull in a discussion, with me anyway.

Anyway, despite the rancor, I’ve followed this campaign pretty closely, including the primaries. After much consideration, I decided to vote for Obama.

I’d be glad to vote for a Republican candidate in the future, but I’ll tell you a big reason why I won’t do it now (aside from the fact that the ship has hit the rocks so somebody else gets a turn to steer):

The alleged connection between Republican and conservative doesn’t currently make sense to me. How is an economic policy ‘business friendly’ when it leads you a massive stock market crash and hundreds of thousands of layoffs? How is it possible to lead an unprecedented expansion of federal government powers and debt, and then turn around and accuse the other party of being ‘big government’?

I enjoy reading George Will and this weekend listened to a wonderful NPR interview with Rod Dreher, a thoughtful conservative commentator with the Dallas Morning News, and they have also posed many questions like these. (I believe a specific Will column said ‘We seem to have decided that big government is okay as long as it’s our [Republican] government.’) Smart guys. Don’t agree with everything they say, but I don’t agree with everything I hear from so-called liberals either.

I’d love to see small, efficient government. I’d love to see economic policies with a moderate, steady, amount of intelligent regulation instead of occasional gigantic spikes. This ‘swing vote’ would love to see the Republican party return to some of what I understand to be its once-core conservative values.

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8 thoughts on “Swing vote

  1. What I really wish for is greater choice. There are only two political parties that count (they can get the $$$). This can’t be that beneficial.

    And we pretty much already know what they believe and how things will happen:

    1. During the primaries, the candidates appeal to the base.
    2. As the general election gets closer, the candidates start sounding more moderate.
    3. We “discover” the GOP candidate is pro-life, capitalistic, pro-military, pro-death penalty, etc.
    4. We “discover” the Democratic candidate is pro-choice, socialistic, pro-peace, anti-death penalty, etc.
    5. Whoever does the best job of capturing the swing votes in the handful toss-up states wins. (Sorry, Derek, this means neither candidate is really even trying to get your vote.)

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  3. I have most recently voted Democrat, then Republican, then Libertarian.

    Before people say “you’re wasting your vote” – I disagree. You should vote your conscience, and if we had an instant runoff system (like Cambridge MA), we’d all have more choice. It is we the people that got ourselves into this mess – right?

    Reasoning for Libertarian:

    Much of the rancor, squabbling, and even hate speech in federal elections is because people see so much riding on it. Why? Because so much is riding on it. The federal gov’t not only sets policies, but gets in the middle of countless redistributions of money. So everyone has their hand out, and fights break out.

    If the fed stuck to the basics, and pushed more to the states, then the “differences” we see in the national scene would disappear, because the scale of locality of interests would be smaller (let Alaska be Alaska, same for MA and CA).

    This doesn’t mean the fed shouldn’t be involved in things like like banking regulation. On the contrary. But to say “we have a problem”, and then “gee the fed can fix it” for almost every problem is absurd. And it is breaking us.

    Reasoning for Obama:

    Barak stands a good chance to be elected, and he strikes me as someone who would actually think things out. He is a classic “big fed can fix things” kinda guy, but then again, so is Bush.

    So the difference would be a matter of approach, a bit more inclusive. And above all, he would (I’m convinced) do his best to repair our crappy foreign relations arena. This is extremely important to do.

    Reasoning for McCain:

    Wow. I can’t think of any. And if he thinks “the surge” makes him a genius, that’s all the more reason not to vote for him. He needs to get off that high horse and discuss his philosophy of leading instead of pandering and saying “I tell you my friend…” all the time.

    So isn’t it strange?

    I am Libertarian at heart, but see Barak as a _much_ better candidate. The Republicans have disintegrated under Bush, and they are without a philosophical foundation except for greed and control to the extreme. It’ll take decades to “Reassemble” – but then again that is what this blog is about, huh?

    (just seeing if you read till the end)

  4. No, I stopped reading halfway :)

    Good & interesting thoughts.

    I completely agree that I’m looking for a President who will think things through. The attempt to characterize Obama as “tweedy & professorial” amuses me. I come from a tweedy & professorial family; what’s so terrible about that? :)

    I am not sure about the banking regulations point – a current case study would be ‘data breach disclosure laws’, the ones that force a company to actually tell you if they lost data about you. There are 40+ different state laws right now, and any bank with national scope has to contend with figuring out which requirements apply where. So a single federal law would actually be ‘business friendly’ in the sense that it would streamline compliance, save time & money etc.

    A single galvanizing figure could reassemble a fractured party more quickly, I’d think.

    What would happen if we dumped the electoral college & went to a direct model? (In response to Donnie’s observation above.)

  5. (just seeing if you read till the end)

    I read that part and the first sentence. Same thing I do when installing software and “accepting” the Terms of Service.

    What would happen if we dumped the electoral college & went to a direct model?

    Hopefully, it would mean more votes would count. Candidates would probably actually have to spend time in most every state.

    This might cause campaigning to be more expensive, discouraging third-party candidates. However, people would know that whoever they vote for translates a real number, not swallowed up by electors. This could encourage more people to vote their conscience.

    But there’s undoubtedly more negatives, which I’m too unperceptive or myopic to figure out.

  6. You know what I’d like to see?

    1. Revamp the Alternative minimum Tax to scale with inflation ( since it was invoked in the 1960s

    2. Revamp the process of how bills get voted on in the senate. No more padding with ugly pork barrel items. Vote on only one issue…ONE at a time…period. Also see teh next one:

    3. No more lobyists.

    4. Flat tax… get over it… everyone pays the same rate no more complicated forms.

    5. Media reform. What happened to true unbiased, investigative reporting? Why is there conglomerates owning most of the propaganda passed off as news?

    None of the candidates are really advocating any of this … but then again i am radical… it shows up in the way i play chess.

    I am an Obama supporter mainly because I really think its time for someone to think before they act to take the helm. McCain doesn’t strike me as the type.

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