Thursday, October 30, 2008

My Votes, My Explanation.

OK, so I bit off way more than I could chew with that "Election 2008" post series I was planning. It didn't help that I ended up having to do a lot of prepping for the AIChE Conference Of Doom next month. But I'll just briefly go over my votes for the big races here, along with some stupid platitudes about why I chose them.

One note. I suddenly find myself living in a battleground state (Really? North Carolina? Who knew?), and I feel for you Floridians and Ohioans who have to deal with this dreck on TV every four years. Of course, if I had the time or inclination I could have gone to see all three major presidential candidates and two of their running mates (Wayne Allyn Root, you're slacking, dude), so that's kinda cool.

President: Sen. Barack Obama, Democrat. I was tempted to vote for Bob Barr, even though I spent most of my adolescence throwing up in my mouth whenever I heard his name mentioned. Barr's the only candidate that might actually have the inclination to rein in the absurd reach of executive power we've gotten ourselves into the past few decades. But I chose Obama because in the most important area in which the President is supposed to act - foreign policy - he's clearly the best. McCain, for all his supposed experience, doesn't get diplomacy as well as I had hoped, and his failure to understand who pulls the levers in Iran (hint: not A-Train), among other things, hurts him there. Temperament is also, ahem, an issue. I don't want him suspending his presidency if there's a war somewhere or something. Barr's foreign policy is way too far the other direction - isolationism isn't an option for a superpower.

My wish was for a candidate who understood the limits of the presidency and campaigned accordingly. Wish not granted, however, I get the sense that Obama would at least respect the Constitution and some of the limits it places on Presidential authority. The same could not be said for McCain, who seems to believe that the President should be able to do whatever.

Senate: State Sen. Kay Hagan, Democrat. See the next post down.

House: B.J. Lawson, Republican. What the hell? I'm voting for a Republican? How did this happen - especially given my professed approval of his opponent, Rep. David Price? Well, two things. One, Price isn't losing this seat. It's a pretty Democratic seat in a Democratic year. But he has made some horrible votes over the past few years - the bankruptcy bill, the bailout, gutting FISA, the Patriot Act... I could go on. (And yes, I recognize Obama cast many of the same votes. I'll get to the difference in a second.) He's been cruising to re-election this whole time - a little shock from an opponent could do him good, as would two years back in Chapel Hill reading the Constitution. Two, Lawson's basically Ron Paul without the crazy. He's anti-war, pro-civil rights for gays, and a budget hawk. He opposes corporate welfare (of course, he probably opposes welfare in general) and earmarks. And most importantly, he's running as a defender of civil liberties. A Congressman with a spine in the face of Presidential power-grabs? I'll bite.

Governor: Michael Munger, Libertarian. The major-party candidates, Democratic Lt. Gov. Beverly Perdue and Republican Charlotte Mayor Pat McCrory, aren't particularly objectionable. But they're both panderers... and Munger is decidedly not that. The rare LP nominee who has his head screwed on straight, Munger presents remarkably coherent views on education (public school choice, expanding charter schools) and immigration (once they get here, we kinda have to treat them like everyone else). Munger opposes tax breaks for companies that relocate here, which is good since those kinds of giveaways have plagued our budget for most of Crash Easley's administration. Overall, he's the best candidate. Here's hoping he can get over the 5% mark so NC's ridiculous ballot access laws don't decertify the Libertarians again.

There you have it. My prediction is that Obama will hold on to win by the skin of his teeth, and Price, Hagan, and McCrory will win the other races. Of course, the Presidential election will be decided on Monday night when the Steelers come to Washington for the 'Skins' last home game before the election. So considering that I voted for Obama, do I sacrifice my fanhood and root for the Steelers? Or do I root for the 'Skins, knowing that a victory guarantees a McCain win?

Fuck it. Go 'Skins.


Matthew B. Novak said...

And yes, I recognize Obama cast many of the same votes. I'll get to the difference in a second.

I didn't see the explanation...

Mike said...

As Ben can tell you, as early as last weekend (when it came up in Nashville), I was planning to vote for Barr, seeing as my only major difference with him is foreign policy - but ultimately, like you, I decided it's too major a difference. Since these "who I'm voting for" posts seem to be in vogue, I plan to throw one up after I go vote tomorrow.

"My wish was for a candidate who understood the limits of the presidency and campaigned accordingly." This, unfortunately, will never happen. People want a president who campaigns about what he can and will do, as opposed to what, constitutionally and realistically, he simply can't. But then again, maybe I'm wrong, since I'm not sure the reverse has ever actually been tried.

Lawson sounds like a libertarian in Republican's clothing. Which is cool. Too bad that, according to you, he doesn't stand a chance in hell of winning.

Do not forget that the 'Skins lost in 2004, and Bush still won the White House. In other words, I'm thinking the rules were thus thrown out the window. Go Skins!

My "Word Verification" has "bray" in it. Tell Dani. :)

Jeff said...

Matt - oversight on my part. The difference is that McCain agrees with all those votes (I think they voted the same way on them, save the bankruptcy bill which Obama voted against), while Lawson doesn't agree with some of them. Thus, there's no improvement going from Obama to McCain, whereas there is significant improvement on those issues from Price to Lawson.

Matthew B. Novak said...

That makes perfect sense to me - kind of like my Obama on abortion thing. I might disagree with him, but if the other option isn't really going to do anything, then that disagreement doesn't hurt him much.

Miguel said...

I actually found it a bit surprising that you'd even consider Barr.

For me, I'm not too thrilled about him, and it's not because of his stances. Barr would make me nervous, because mostly of his horrendous stances in the past. He talks a good game, but so do a lot of other people.

But he's no Harry Browne, and I'm afraid the only reason he won the nomination was that he was just a name that the LP could throw in their at a misguided attempt to brute force themselves into mainstream relevancy.

Ron Paul is not on the ballot, and given my celebrity candidate issues with Barr, will end up in me simply not voting.

I'm curious as to what specific problems you have with Barr or RP's foreign policy, though. Personally I feel referring it as isolationism is a bit of a misconception.

Jeff said...


Barr's website proposes that we draw back our troop presence overseas and concentrate on what he calls "defense." Fighting only wars of necessity is a good thing, but military bases overseas serve more than a military purpose. They are like embassies, letting people in other countries come into contact with Americans and learn about us. Without some sort of positive contact, stereotypes and prejudices form easily. (Incidentally, this is why cases like the Okinawa rape case a few years ago are so harmful.) Anyway, the fact that he doesn't understand this makes me wonder if he understands strategic military involvement at all. All wars are not created equal, and a humanitarian military effort in concert with a broad international alliance actually helps our standing in the world.

Anyway, I just don't think that a superpower has the option of pulling back from the world. We need to pick our battles better, but I think Barr and Paul's "not my problem" strategy hurts us. We can't appear as warmongers, sure, but appearing callous is almost as bad.

Also, Barr's got his head so far up his ass on immigration that he's licking his gall bladder. Anyone who opposes birthright citizenship doesn't understand the issue, methinks.

Mike said...

Having lived on a foreign military base, I couldn't agree with you more Jeff. Took the words right out of my mouth. In addition, in terms of "wars of necessity", foreign military bases give us much quicker jumping-off points should such an event occur. Two key parts of strong national defense are forming alliances and strategic positioning, both of which are fundamental aspects of foreign military bases.