On the Election
There are a lot of people saying that this is the most important election of our lifetimes, or of recent years, or of something equally hyperbolic. Balderdash. There’s no way to judge an election until after it has passed. In hindsight, perhaps you could say the 1980 election was the most important, because it led to changes in U.S. policy that helped speed the break-up of the Soviet Union.
And you certainly could point to the 2000 election, where the guy who lost the popular vote squeaked through in the Electoral College. At the time neither of those guys seemed to be very hot stuff, but we had to pick one. I voted for the guy from Texas. And you know what? As it turned out, that guy was a completely incompetent president who helped wreck our economy, came up with bogus pretenses to invade Iraq — a decision that cost our country thousands of lives, billions of dollars, and all the goodwill the country had built up in the previous 60 years — and conspired with both Democrats and Republicans in Congress to spend an inconceivable sum of money and dig us a huge financial hole.
So it turns out that maybe the 2000 election was the most important one of our lifetime. Oops.
Anyway, now it’s 2008. And here’s the unsolicited brain dump.
I’m voting for Obama because I think he’s a pretty smart and pragmatic guy, and that when push comes to shove he’s probably likely to make some decent decisions. I think McCain’s temperament is not generally suited for the office, though if elected I’m pretty sure he would compromise like a son of a bitch with the Democratic-controlled Congress. (What is McCain’s 2008 presidential run but a demonstration of compromise? This moderate Republican has said anything he could to be elected, including kowtowing to the same religious right-wing Republicans who tore him a new one in 2000.) In fact, I might even wager that McCain would do more backroom dealing with Congress than Obama would, if that makes any sense. I think Obama will want to be his own man, while McCain would want to “go across the aisle.”
I have little doubt that Obama will disappoint me, in ways big or small. Every president I have voted for has disappointed me. But I think he’s the right guy for the job, especially now.
The other reason I want Obama to win is, I want the Republican party to fall out of power and consider what it did to get to this point. What the trends — demographic and otherwise — are in this country. And to find a way to remold itself into something better than it is now.
When I checked the Republican box in my first voting registration in 1988, I did so because I appreciated the party’s beliefs about reduced government intervention, competence in government, and a philosophy to reduce spending whenever possible. These days, the Democrats seem more financially responsible (how in the world did that happen?) while the Republicans seem more concerned about fighting the culture war.
My vision of the Republican party was a party that wanted less government. Today’s Republicans want more government intervention than ever before, so long as it’s intervening for their interests, whether that’s Terri Shiavo or a late-term abortion or, yes, gay people who just want to get married.
Back in 1980 the Reagan Democrats said that they hadn’t changed — but the Democratic Party had changed right under them. When they looked up, they saw they were voting with Ronald Reagan instead of Jimmy Carter. Well, I feel much the same way. I haven’t gone anywhere. But the Republican Party has changed, and the ground beneath my feet is no longer painted in their color.
I haven’t been a registered Republican since 1996 (I’m a certified California Decline-to-State), but in all that time I generally thought of myself as a default-Republican voter. Even in 2004, when I voted for the stiff known as John Kerry because Bush had already proven himself to be incompetent, I felt that way.
But this year? This year, for the first time in my life, I want the Republicans beaten back into the woods. I want it to hurt. I want them decimated. Not just because they deserve it after the ruin that they have made of this country and their own party in the past ten years. But because they need to spend some time out of power, thinking about all the things they’ve done wrong.
It’ll be good for them.