Friday, October 10, 2008

On politics in 2008

This election year has been unique in a number of ways, particularly for me, and particularly unique for the last 16 years.

First, some disclosure for those who don't know. I am a registered Democrat and I have been since 1984. I am proudly Liberal and Socialism doesn't scare me. I do not believe that G. W. Bush actually won the election in 2000. I decided upon Barack Obama as my choice for the Presidential nomination at the end of January, but if I could have had the opportunity to choose earlier, Chris Dodd would have been my choice. I have worked in 5 Presidential campaigns and two Gubernatorial races. I have voted for one Republican, Mike Bloomberg for NYC Mayor, twice, and I will vote for him a third time if given the opportunity.

This election is a change from the last two because neither of the candidates scares me. I knew in 1999 (as did anyone else who chose to open their eyes) that a George W. Bush presidency would be an unmitigated disaster for this country. In previous campaigns I was just working to express a preference, in 2000 and 2004 I was desperately trying to prevent a national tragedy.

I like this better. Even though I'm completed disgusted by the campaign McCain is running. his Presidency didn't scare me until he chose Sarah Palin. Ms. Palin is completely unprepared and unqualified to be Vice President. This choice was reckless and completely irresponsible. Something happened to McCain, something got to him. He wants this too badly. He's forgotten why he got into public service.

This is sad for me because i have a lot of friends who are life-long Republicans. They haven't had national leadership they could be proud of in 12 years. They aren't Republicans because they believe in borrow-and-spend legislation, corruption, abuse of power, torture, lying, militaristic opportunism, governmental incompetence and institutional hate. But, that's what their party has done with their support since Bob Dole lost to Clinton in 1996.

They had a chance this year, McCain has a long record of being a decent man, a competent legislator and an enlightened leader, particularly in times of crisis. Then, whatever happened to him happened. They're back in the idiot-bucket, either reduced to apologizing for their leadership and holding their nose to vote, or they simply have stopped discussing politics and stopped voting altogether, dismissing the entire field with the same brush.

While Obama has misrepresented McCain's record on Social Security and exaggerated the closeness of his association with (and emulation of) G. W. Bush, he hasn't even approximated the lows of the McCain campaign since the convention. Politics could stand some kindness, generosity and wisdom on both sides, but there's a palpable difference between the parties in tone and restraint. My Republican friends are decent, polite, respectful people whom I trust with my feelings and reputation. They deserve better leadership.

Winning isn't everything. It's not even the third or fourth most important thing. It's like watching Jerry Springer or Reality TV sometimes, I just can't believe that people are willing to act that way in public.

It is interesting that in the same year that Hillary Clinton broke such ground for women with her campaign, Sarah Palin trots out the worst stereotypes of anti-feminist lore. She's trading on her looks, she's vindictive, vicious, unprepared, and vain. Every old boys network that has whispered behind the back of a female executive promoted beyond her capabilities has practically described Ms. Palin to a T. The McCain campaign is treating her like a fiance that no one in the family likes, keeping her protected and under wraps, accusing anyone who challenges her as a childish, sexist, partisan while preventing Ms. Palin from having the opportunity to defend herself and demonstrate that she is something more than a cheerleader in a silk jacket and tailored skirt. The contempt that the McCain campaign shows for Ms. Palin by protecting her like some delicate, fragile flower is far more palpable than anything offered by the opposition, the press, or the public.

"Being thrown under the bus" is going to take on a new meaning when McCain loses this campaign. Sarah Palin is going to be virtually tarred and feathered. This trooper firing thing is going to hang around like a bad rash. She been the point person on the hate-mongering that has rapidly gotten so out of hand that McCain had to dial it back today, getting booed by his own rally for doing so. She's the reason that a large number of conservatives offended by her anti-intellectualism will stay home on election day. She is going to be the face of McCain's loss this year.

I expect she'll end up with a show on Fox News, though.

I'll make my prediction public now about the popular vote--Obama 55%, McCain 41%. Both Ron Paul and Bob Barr are going to poll more than expected. They won't throw the results, but they will embarrass McCain as the election will be compared to LBJ in 1964. In the electoral college I am thinking about 293-245.

I don't support everything Obama has proposed. I like HIllary's health plan better, I liked Edwards' focus on economic violence (aka poverty) better, I even found Huckabee's focus on small businesses and rural economics an interesting approach. But, I've been around long enough to realize that no Presidential candidate gets everything legislatively that is promised.

If we get a responsible government out of this election, it will be the first in a long time, and there will be a lot of work to do. One of Obama's core values is that compromise is better than loss, so I imagine a lot of work will get done on long-overdue domestic legislation. With regard to foreign policy, it's clear that the entire world is just holding its collective breath until Bush is gone, I'm confident we'll get a lot of good work done there as well.

WIll taxes go up under Obama? Yes. That's the price we'll pay for responsible government. Less spending on our children's credit. I live in one of the highest taxed locales in the country, I pay about 40% of my income for the privilege of living in New York City. I am a single childless male earning in the high five figures. I get no relief from anywhere, I just pay.

That's fine with me. NYC government is efficient and helpful People who need help get it, the city works. I value the quality of my life more than the quantity of my bank account. Taxes are not a dirty word to me.

So, that's it. I've been commenting on the election in other people's blogs, but not writing much on my own. I am not in a campaign this year. That's weird, it reminds me of the first fall that I didn't go to school. I'm a bit disoriented, but okay. It really is fun in a way to watch.

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