Thoughts on the Election

Here are a few thoughts on the upcoming election. Don’t worry, I’m not trying to convince you to Goooooooobama. I know most of you don’t like him, which is fine, and nothing I could say would change your mind. These are just some of the things bouncing around in my head.
 

     

  • I’m actually undecided in my vote for President. Green Party candidate Jill Stein might win my vote instead, but I’m not completely happy with either candidate. It’s time to study their positions more closely.
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  • A popular question right now is,“Am I better off now than I was four years ago?” For me and my family, the answer is a definite yes. Since September 2008, we’ve bought and refinanced a house, we’ve been blessed with another beautiful little boy, my income is higher, my wife has identified her second career and returned to college, my company is doing well, my job security is higher, and overall we’re doing great. However, I don’t credit Obama or anyone else in the government for those improvements. Instead, I credit my company, our own choices, my union, and God. On the other hand, I know many people would answer that question with an emphatic NO because they’ve been laid off, lost loved ones, lost homes, lost wages, or experienced other troubles. Does the government deserve blame for those things? Maybe in some cases, but it’s a huge stretch to blame every problem on the government. Many aspects of our life, particularly our economy, are mostly outside the government’s control, contrary to popular opinion. People who haven’t studied economics tend to give the government, and particularly the President, far too much credit for their ability to direct the economy.
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  • I still don’t understand why the two parties are so polarized. It’s the independent voters, the people in the middle, who decide every election. Digging in on extreme positions only produces gridlock, alienates the moderates and the other side, and prevents anything from getting done. Both sides have some good ideas that we need to move forward. The American people elect and pay the members of Congress to pass legislation to make our country better. When Congress is gridlocked, it fails in its duties.
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  • There are two different ways to vote: 1) Which candidate will be better for me personally?, or 2) Which candidate will be better for our society overall? When it comes to large elections like this year’s, I choose option 2. I expect myself and my family to have a good life regardless of who is in charge. But I generally vote blue because the Democratic party seems more focused on the collective good, largely through fighting for those who are not in power – the poor, the gay community, minorities, the middle class, women. Survival of the Fittest is not the best way to structure our society.
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  • I love that the Dems finally included marriage equality in their 2012 platform. With the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell and growing acceptance of gays in society, the gay community is better off than it was four years ago.
  • My biggest fear related to this election is that the Affordable Care Act will be repealed in January. Does ACA affect me? Not really, not right now. I have great insurance through my employer. But it has already helped many other people, and most of the provisions won’t kick in for a few more years. Among other things, ACA limits health care companies’ ability to do evil, such as denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. Children with pre-existing conditions are already protected by ACA. Adults will gain protection in 2014. If Romney wins and the Republicans retake the Senate, all of those benefits and restrictions will disappear. No, ACA isn’t perfect by any means, but it’s a huge step forward, and I don’t see a comprehensive alternative plan from the other side.
  • It’s interesting that neither of the main candidates nor their VPs are Protestant. Obama is United Church of Christ (which is MUCH different from the Church of Christ you find in Texas). Romney is Mormon. Both VPs are Catholic, albeit with very different political views.
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  • I admire Paul Ryan for one thing: making some gutsy, difficult choices in his budget. I disagree with many of his decisions, and find it difficult to respect him after he was caught lying about his marathon time (really????), but at least he’s thinking and willing to go bold. We need leaders with courage.
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  • One of the big debates is whether to raise taxes on people who make more than $250,000/year. It seems odd that so many conservatives oppose this idea. Most of them don’t make that much, so it doesn’t affect them either way. If Jenny and I ever reach that level of income, we won’t mind paying more in taxes. OK, we might mind a little, but we’ll have so much free cash flow by that point that it won’t really matter. Many people in that income bracket, including multibillionaire Warren Buffett, feel the same way.
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  • Like another writer whose name escapes me, I wonder if the presidential election is truly neck-and-neck like they say, or whether the media just wants us to think so. A close race increases interest, and ratings, and revenue. I guess we’ll find out in November.
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  • If Obama wins, I predict John Kerry will be our next Secretary of State after Hillary retires. He was the first Democrat I ever voted for. I picked him over W for one main reason: he wanted to end the war in Iraq.
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  • If you ever want a lesson in spin, listen to how the two parties can interpret the same information differently. Consider employment stats. The Dems claim that the economy added 4.5 million jobs since Obama took office. If you measure it right, that’s true, and sounds good for Obama. The Republicans point out that the total number of people working in America is at its lowest point in 30 years, which is also true, and sounds bad for Obama. No wonder my poor wife hates politics. Politicians are trying to take very complex issues and reduce them into sound bites that will make the news, even though those sound bites cannot possibly convey the nuances of any given issue.

 
Enough from me. What are your thoughts on this year’s election? Do you plan to vote? Are you excited, apathetic, or scared? Are you hiding in a closet until it’s over so you don’t have to listen to it?
 

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