From the viewpoint of my own particular reality, it makes no sense whatsoever to vote along party lines. It’s a type of tribal thinking that I have never been able to grasp; it just seems so terribly wrong. And when it comes to America in particular, with its leadership position in the world, it seems all the wronger. As with any job, we hire a person based on qualifications, not party allegiance; that’s something China and Iran does, not here.
A piece I wrote over a year ago (shit, but this election has been endless!), “Do Republicans Dream of Electric Elephants?,” has been getting some traction recently on a political forum by way of a quotation of mine someone appropriately named Bonkers reposted. I’d forgotten I’d written these words, but I stand by them even more today:
I guess my warped way of thinking just can’t embrace the notion of supporting a political party. I understand the need for governance of some kind to maintain social order, I understand being conservative in your views, or liberal, but I question the whole concept of being part of a political organization when so many members of that party are so manifestly corrupt, morally subversive or just plain vile. Why would you want to be part of anything that has even a little bit of rot in it?
I don’t agree with much of what Ayn Rand wrote, particularly in her dystopian Atlas Shrugged, but that isn’t to say I disagree with her entirely. I do believe there is an objective reality, and while that reality is easy to apply to processes involving scientific method, where cause and effect are absolute and therefore objective, I think the same can be done when it comes to whether one person is more qualified than another for the task at hand. If the Republicans had fielded a candidate who was a true contender against Obama—and I specifically mean Jon Huntsman, and only him—then finding objective criteria on which to base one’s voting decision might be a bit more difficult.
But Romney? To quote Susan Sarandon a few months ago, “Surely the Republicans can do better than that.” The Economist, in a typically well-written reluctant endorsement of Obama yesterday, agrees with Susan. I would urge you to read the article; they take my objectivist stance—“elections are about choosing somebody to run a country”—and as a British publication they have only an indirect vested interest in the outcome of our elections, which assures a greater measure of objectivity.
If you don’t want to read the article, but want a snapshot of The Economist’s decision, here is a link to a video (sorry, those pesky uptight Brits won’t allow an embed). It seems they had to take the extraordinary measure of explaining their endorsement because the blinkered financial community, with their hopeless addiction to management consultants like Romney, can’t see their obvious reasoning.
I took the same stance during the Democratic primary of ‘08: Hillary was the best choice to run the country. She has first-hand experience of the White House, is blazingly smart and grounded, and would have had Bill Clinton, perhaps the most effective president of my lifetime, at her side. To me it was a no-brainer. But they fell for the unstable, facile charms of a black messiah rather than the healing powers of a good witch. They went for second best, and what we got was a second-rate presidency. However, then as now, Obama was the better candidate over McCain.
Indeed, the Republicans were a wash in ‘08; they were then as now too riddled with dysfunction and wrong-headed rhetoric to rule this country properly. We simply cannot afford another disaster like George Bush, and the choice to bring Sarah Palin within an old-man’s heart attack of the presidency was the most glaring evidence needed that McCain was as unfit a candidate as ever put forward by the GOP. Yes, he’s a good, kind-hearted man for a right-winger, a rare moderate, but the risk of having Palin as president would have been a disaster akin to a thousand 9/11s. The fact they didn’t have time to vet her properly is only more reason why McCain and his people were unsuitable.
For Gheys and women in general, the subjective reality is we cannot support any Republican candidate during this Cold Civil War. (By the way, thank you, Andrew Sullivan, for co-opting that term. Flattering. Looks like you’ve been reading me after all.) A vote for the GOP from either group is tantamount to a black person supporting the Confederacy. Just as in the real Civil War, the GOP will lose in the end, but that won’t stop them from sitting on their cricket-chirping porches generation after generation chewing tobacco, sipping juleps, and spitting out hateful epithets against those who aren’t them. They will forever need to be kept in check, but I hope that within my lifetime we will see them dwindle in significance to the position similar tribalist cuckoo birds occupy in Europe.
But gay and women’s rights alone do not determine how we should vote; those are social issues that will eventually come out in the wash naturally as civilization evolves. It is the task at hand that is paramount, which is rebuilding the economy after the catastrophic events of ’08. In that respect, I agree with The Economist: Obama could have done more the past four years, even if he did avert a full-on depression and left us in a better position by far than Europe.
In the end, both The Economist and I are being tough on the President, but it’s tough love. In a speech last night, Bill Clinton mentioned a conversation he had with moderate Republican economist Keneth Rogoff, author of This Time It’s Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly:
“I called him on the phone and I said, ‘I read [your book] very carefully. I just have a question. Do you believe that there’s any way America could have fully recovered from that crash in four years?’
“He said, ‘Lord no… No serious person believes that.’ He said, ‘The average country takes 10 years.”
America won’t need that long because it is by no means average, but in fairness to Obama we need to give him the time to play out his plan for the economy in a way that he does so brilliantly in the political arena, with the long game. And this is no time to change the administration of this country; we are still too weak.
I’m not going to be boring and repetitious about why Romney is unqualified. Okay, here’s a few keywords: His taxes. Our taxes. Lying. Flip-flopping. Mormonism. Heartlessness. Paul Ryan.
It is not my belief that Romney will win, which isn’t the same as stating emphatically that he will not win. I’m being agnostic, which is unseemly for an orthodox atheist… Okay, I’ll say it: Romney will not win.
As of this writing, Nate Silver has Romney with a one-in-five chance of winning, which pollsters and pundits on the right are trying to massage as very good odds, when they aren’t sneering and dismissing Silver altogether, a terrible mistake. He gives Obama a four-in-five chance of winning. Yes, Romney would stand a chance if this were just a roll of the dice in a casino, but it’s not. So everyone relax. The best-qualified man will (probably) win.
This will hopefully be my last political post for some time, praise Cheesus. For those of you who are still skittish and having trouble sleeping because you fear a President Romney likelihood, I leave you with this video. Bonne nuit!