Obama, the good, the bad, the ugly: or why I voted for him despite all his faults

It never occurred to me not to vote for Obama this time around. Why?

In so many ways he’s been disappointing — here, let me enumerate just a few of them, in no particular order:

1) Drones — why are we bombing innocent people just to get one or two “targets?”  Who said that the “targets” deserved a death sentence just because we suspect them of bad intentions? Or even suspect them of bad deeds?  Is this an appropriate use of military force? What happened to the rule of law?

2) Speaking of the rule of law, what is going on with the Patriot Act and all its attendant bad policy of allowing the government to spy on each and every one of us? Civil rights keep eroding badly in this post-9/11 world — why is living in a surveillance world becoming more and more acceptable?

3) Why aren’t the people who tanked the economy in jail? What is wrong with the Obama Justice Department that it spends more time going after whistle-blowers, and no time going after the banksters? Why isn’t Goldman Sachs being prosecuted as the criminal conspiracy they are?

4) Why have there been more deportations under Obama than any other president?

5) Why wasn’t the stimulus bigger? Why isn’t Paul Krugman the chief economic advisor? Why isn’t Howard Dean Secretary for HHS? Why did he take Janet Napolitano from Arizona and set up Jan Brewer to be one of the worst governors ever? Why … why oh why?

6) Medicare for all? Why wasn’t single-payer on the table? Why can’t the President negotiate from a position of strength, rather than starting from the middle and bargaining down to a worse place?

7) What the hell are we still doing in Afganistan?

8) Arne Duncan? Really? Charter schools? More tests? Is this really the best way to achieve education reform? What happened to evidence-based logical answers to our problems?

9) Why aren’t you up front with support for workers, Mr. President? Whose side were you on in Wisconsin? Whose side were you on in the CTU strike? Do you think the unions and their members don’t notice your lack of vocal support for them?

10) Guantanamo. Indefinite detentions. Supposedly torture is gone from our vocabulary of interrogation techniques … but is that true?

11) Bradley Manning. The way he has been treated is a crime. And not in a metaphorical sense.

And I’m sure there are many, many other things we could all name.

So, why am I not withholding my vote from him? Why not seriously consider voting third party? I know several people who are, people who I respect and whose opinion I value … and I’m not in a swing state, so why not vote third party?

I can’t afford not to. Simple as that. Why?

1) Reproductive health/reproductive freedom: yes, I’m a normal person, who feels that sex is a normal healthy activity, and that I shouldn’t be penalized just because I’m female. I know plenty of women who need birth control not because of sex, but for preventive maintenance of their bodies. But honestly, even if it’s so a woman can have sex without getting pregnant …. it’s no one’s business but hers and the guy she chooses to sleep with, so but out. A woman taking birth control, by the way, is a lot less expensive an employee than one who doesn’t …. and frankly, none of it is your business. But the point is: my life, my choices — and no male politician gets to tell me what to do or how to live my life.

2) Rape is rape. period.

3) My kid goes to a public school. Charter schools are selling out to corporate interests without the actual increase in educational outcomes … so why bother disrupting lives to put in charter schools?

4) Lily Ledbetter Act: I need the equal pay for equal work — as a single parent, I can’t afford to be paid less than a man doing the same work … really, can’t.

5) Affordable Care Act: OK, it’s not perfect. But it means my kid can stay on my health insurance until his mid-twenties. It means no more pre-existing conditions. It means at least 80% of the fees I pay are going to actual health care costs, and not some insurance executive’s new boat or second or third home.

6) Pretty much we’re out of Iraq. War costs are down.

7) Social Security/Medicare: while I don’t entirely trust Obama not to “compromise” on this issue, I think our only hope of defending Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security is to put Democrats in charge (paging Speaker Pelosi …). I don’t want a president who thinks that these necessary programs are too expensive, and need to be eliminated — and that’s what the other side believes. “We’ll gut it to save it” is their mantra: no thank you.  Very few of my friends have retirement savings: what was there went south after the economic downturn in 2008: with the jobs that vanished, so did the 401K’s that were cashed in so folks could eat in the here and now. What happens when we’re all old? I worry about it.

8) At least Obama wants to develop wind/solar/sustainable energy. He may be gung-ho on “clean coal,” drilling for oil on public lands, etc., but at least he’s trying to invest in the future as well. The other side … denial.

9) Dodd-Frank: not enough, but more than any Republican ever wanted or would pass.

10) Gay rights: yes, he deserves props for being the first president to come out in support of marriage equality. Then there was the end to “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and the refusal to defend DOMA in the courts. He evolved: which is more than any Republican can ever admit to doing.

11) Got the banks out of the Student Loan business. That’s huge: eliminating the middle man eliminates costs.

12) The economy is better. It may not be back to “normal,” but it is better. My office was down to two employees and a temp at one point. Now … we’re attempting to hire someone for whom we don’t have actual desk space for. The office is full. I am way less stressed about my work load now … even though I still have a lot of work. Yes, it’s better. We are not in danger of all getting laid off. That’s a good thing.

13) You think civil rights under Obama have deteriorated? Wait to you see what President Romney has in store …

To expand on a few of these …

I’m female. I don’t believe some random white old guy politician should have any say in my reproductive health. I don’t care if my sex life offends his religious beliefs. I also think I can make my own decisions about my health care, and that I shouldn’t be treated as a second-class citizen just because of my reproductive organs. This goes for who chooses who I get to sleep with, to who chooses what my health care is around that choice, to how much insurance I pay. It all has consequences for me — and no old white guy gets to make that choice for me.

I’m not Catholic, and do not respect the Catholic Bishops who would also like to control whether or not I have birth control, or, heaven forbid, an abortion. Why they are granted any moral authority these days is beyond me: these are the same guys who spent decades covering up for pedophiles and who have yet to own up to their sins. Confess, guys, and go to jail for your crimes, and then, maybe, I’ll start to respect you again. Until then, no, you don’t get to claim moral superiority for your “pro-life,” anti-choice, anti-birth control stance. Corruption will do that. And that goes for all the other old guys who think they have the right to tell me what choices to make based on their religious beliefs — regardless of whether or  not I share them: no, you don’t get to choose for me. Go away, now.

Rape is rape. It’s a crime. There is not “legitimate” rape, “easy” rape, “forcible” rape, etc. etc. Rape is rape. It is a crime. Like anyone else who has a crime committed against them, rape victims have the right to attempt to make their lives right again, to return to the state that they were in before the rape. Getting an abortion after a rape, or getting the morning-after pill to prevent a pregnancy, may be one way to help restore that. Getting pregnant and potentially putting your life in danger does not return your life to the way it was before the crime.  Between 15 -20% of women in the United States experience rape in their lifetime.  91% of rape victims are women; 99% of rapists are men.  No, jokes are not appropriate, nor is ignoring it, nor is saying “hey, she asked for it.”  Believe me, no woman asks to be raped. Admired, maybe. Lusted after, maybe. Raped: no. No one “rapes easy.” Get over yourself: you don’t get to have a woman just because you want her — she gets to say no.

I worry that when we all get old, not all of my friends will have the resources that our parents’ generation did. We’ll have to live in communes to support each other. Will Obama fix this? I don’t know — but I do know Mitt Romney doesn’t care.  He’s a product of the Lucky Gene Club, and why isn’t everyone?

Here’s another thing: I look at Obama now, and I see a man who is aged significantly since taking office (they all do). But … when I hear him talk these days, I hear a man who is not entirely comfortable with all the choices he’s made, I hear a man who is second-guI essing those choices, I hear a man who has nightmares because of some of them. And this comforts me. He should have nightmares. He should second-guess. Its the ones who are cocky, arrogant, and self-confident that I fear most.

I watched all four debates. At the end, I remain uneasy about some of Obama’s polices, especially those where he’s trying to appeal to Republican voters (environment, foreign policy, drones, Simpson-Bowles, etc.). On the other hand, I confirmed my bias in regards to Mitt Romney: he’s nuts. He wants to destroy our entire way of life, kill every single bit of the social safety net, all in the name of tax breaks for the wealthy (who are no more job creators than I am, btw). So I came away from the debates knowing that my candidate is far from perfect, but definitely smarter, more thoughtful, and more nuanced than the other guy. And smarts, thoughtfulness, and nuance counts.

OK, what about the third party candidates? Well, OK, what about them? Are any of them running an actual campaign, where any of them will make a difference? My beef with third-parties on the left (and I make no judgments about right-wing third parties) is that they are completely clueless about winning elections, and in their cluelessness they are often self-righteous about not actually doing anything to win: people are supposed to see the name and party affiliation on the ballot and assume purity.  Arrogance and self-righteousness  is another name for that.

Noam Chomsky is credited with saying “Of course you should vote for the lesser of two evils. You get less evil.” Less evil, and more rights for me. Yes, I’ll take it. Is it enough? No, not quite … but I’ll continue to lobby to change the minds of our dear leaders until they come around through public pressure to do much less evil: it’s called holding their feet to the fire, and is worth doing. I’ll take the less evil of Obama, because with Obama I’ll have more healthcare and fewer excessive charges, I’ll be able to call a rape a rape, and not quibble about whether it was “forcible” or not … and the Supreme Court will be in better hands than with Mitt Romney. And less evil on the Supreme Court goes a long way.

I honestly don’t see how any woman could vote for Romney/Ryan. Here’s a pair that condescends to you, doesn’t think you’re capable of making your own choices in life,  can say “if women work …” as if that’s feasible for most of us (and believe me, I’ve had years when I wished I didn’t have to work …), and will gut social security and medicare in the name of fixing it. And we won’t even go into how retrograde their foreign policy is: can we say we”ll be fighting to take out the Soviet Union under a Romney Administration? Nuts.

Less evil. I’ll take it.

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2 thoughts on “Obama, the good, the bad, the ugly: or why I voted for him despite all his faults

  1. That said, I think there are good questions being brought up in the third-party debates that are not asked otherwise, and they do broaden the discussion in a significant way. Wish they got more press, and that the press we do have was better at framing questions, calling BS BS, pointing out lies, and talking about significant issues that people outside the Beltway actually care about.

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