Why We Voted for Barack Obama

Yesterday my husband and I decided to send an email to our friends and family exlaining why we support Barack Obama. I thought I would share it with you too:

 

As you know, we have been ardently advocating for Barack Obama to win the presidential election on November 4th. This campaign has been so divisive and polarizing, that we thought rather than focusing on the negativity, we’d go back to the issues and share with you our reasons behind our support for Obama.  We have both done a tremendous amount of reading, listening, watching, thinking and debating to bring us to these opinions and hope that you will find that what we say is based on research and not on lofty ideals. Here goes:

 

Health Care

You probably know that health care is vitally important to us as Tracy was diagnosed with cancer last year, so we have spent a great deal of time researching this issue.  The biggest reason we believe in Barack Obama on the health care issue is that he gets it. His mother had to fight with insurance companies in the last months of her battle against cancer, because they didn’t want to pay for her “pre-existing condition.” Obama understands the frustrations and fears we all have for dealing with a capitalistic health care system that forgets about the people it is meant to serve. He is not for universal, socialistic health care as many claim. His plan is to improve the quality of the industry, make our records electronic to reduce errors, and provide health care insurance to the 47 million Americans who are currently without it. If you have insurance and doctors that you like – he says, great – keep them. But if you don’t have a means to health care insurance, he wants to expand the federal system that congressmen and federal employees use (or something like it) for those in need. The state of Massachusetts has a similar model that has been extremely successful, despite some obvious growing pains. We see no benefit to McCain’s plan, and in fact the U.S. Chamber of Congress agrees. He proposes a $5,000 tax credit per family to buy our own health care and not have to get it through our jobs. Not tying health care to jobs is a wonderful idea, but his approach fails. The average family has about $12,000 a year in health care bills mostly paid by their companies and through tax breaks. With McCain’s plan we not only lose money, but by deregulating the industry, we run the risk of coverage problems due to pre-existing conditions.

Women’s Issues

Right now activists in South Dakota are teeing up the issue of abortion so that if John McCain is elected, he can appoint a conservative justice to replace one of the close to retirement liberals on the bench and overturn Roe v. Wade. We always hear comments like “this will never happen” or “even if it does who cares – we’ll never go back to pre-1970s where women were dying from trying to give themselves abortions because the medical community wouldn’t help them.” They are wrong. In South Dakota, for example, there is one facility in the entire state that currently provides abortions. Planned Parenthood flies doctors in from other states, because the doctors in South Dakota are afraid of what would happen to them if they did the procedures. Women with at-risk pregnancies are terrified to talk to their doctors about them, because of the persecution they might face. One doctor spoke in an interview about a woman who drove for hours to get to the clinic and came in very ill – the apparatus she used to attempt to terminate her own pregnancy broke off inside her. If Roe v. Wade is overturned, the decision to keep abortions would be left up to each individual state, and most states are more in line with South Dakota than you think. We are one vote away, and the appeals to keep the restrictive amendment alive in South Dakota have now been supported by a federal appellate court (filled with right-wing, ideologue judges appointed by George W. Bush). This issue is on a straight path to the Supreme Court.

In terms of women’s issues in general, we have to speak negatively about John McCain’s selection of Sarah Palin—there’s no other way to present this point. To present a woman who clearly has no substantive knowledge or experience to the American people as a viable candidate for Vice President is a slap in the face to all of us. He wanted to court the Hillary votes, so he found a woman to put on his ticket. Even better, he found a right-wing ideologue woman for the ticket to also court the right-wing base of the party. There are countless brilliant and talented Republican women that McCain could have chosen, but he instead chose a pretty face with no abilities. He and Palin together have set back the movement for women’s equality.

Unbiased, Science Based Agencies

One of the most egregious things Bush has done in his eight years is put ideologues in agencies like the FDA, EPA, HHS, and every other letter you can think of. Rather than make decisions for our health, and the health of our planet, they disregard scientific evidence to promote their own agendas. There have been countless instances where the EPA with the help of Dick Cheney and the White House disregarded or hid away evidence that would make our air less polluted or keep an endangered species from going extinct, because the business and oil lobbies didn’t want to make changes and possibly lose money. Sarah Palin has participated in these kinds of actions. Refusing to admit that global warming is caused by humans, she and her staff in Alaska have distorted data to fight to keep polar bears off the endangered species list.  As the polar ice caps continue to melt, the polar bears have less and less ground to sit on and many are downing and/or starving. It’s heart-wrenching. We need a new administration that will clear out the right-wing ideologues and bring back scientists who will not distort information to further their political goals. Barack Obama has proven to be an honest communicator who encourages open discourse from both sides of the aisle and will continue to do so as president.
 

Federal Judiciary and the Department of Justice

One of the most important responsibilities awaiting our next President involves the appointment of federal judges.  There are likely to be multiple appointments to the Supreme Court over the next four years.  Certainly, Justice Stevens’ lengthy tenure will end, and Justice Ginsberg is also nearing retirement.  That is, at least two of the four liberal judges, who vote in the tradition of supporting the rights of Americans, will be replaced.  John McCain has pledged to appoint “strict constructionist” judges, who interpret the Constitution and don’t “legislate from the bench.”  The problem with this approach is that the Constitution is not a particularly specific document, nor was it intended to be.  One cannot simply feed information into the black judge’s box, and a Constitutionally sound answer come out the other end.  In effect, strict constructionism is a myth, and really means “judges who support conservative positions” like Justices Scalia, Thomas, Alito, and Chief Justice Roberts.

If Barack Obama is elected, he will not nominate “activist judges,” as McCain claims.  Rather, he will nominate reasoned and qualified members of the Court, who will continue in the rights-based tradition of the Earl Warren era.  Basic rights guaranteed by the Constitution, including Roe v. Wade, which guarantees a fundamental minimum which every state must reach in its abortion laws, will continue to be the law of the land.  Freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and the rights of citizens to protection from overzealous measures in the post 9-11 era will also confront the Courts in the years ahead.  Obama is an attorney and former law professor who understands the Constitution, judicial temperament and the American rights tradition.  He is far better positioned than McCain, who has an overly simplistic litmus test view of the judicial nominating process, to select the federal judiciary.  This applies not only to the Supreme Court, but also to the lower federal courts, where cases first arise, and are likely to determine the law in the short term, until an issue percolates to the Supreme Court.

Finally, the Department of Justice needs to be rid of the partisan political hacks appointed during the Bush Administration.  Under Alberto Gonzalez, DOJ deteriorated to an ancillary arm of the Vice-President and his legal advisor, David Addington.  Integrity was not a strong point of the agency during the past eight years, and a commitment to political agenda outweighed any commitment to justice.  Barack Obama will appoint an Attorney General with character.  He will appoint someone like the well-qualified Jamie Gorelick, who will rely on career DOJ lawyers, as opposed to the political hacks who currently populate the agency.

 
Economy

We are in the throws of one of the most serious economic crises in U.S. history.  The creation of new derivatives has led to a near-economic collapse.  Serious times call for serious measures, and Barack Obama’s plan provides the forward movement necessary to rebuild the economy.  Tax cuts—the preferred solution for McCain and his supply-side colleagues—are, at most a short-term panacea to the present woes.  In fact, there is little indication that across-the-board tax cuts will even provide a band-aid.  McCain’s theory is that providing breaks to major corporations and the wealthiest individuals will stimulate growth.  This has long been discredited as a theory, and will only increase the federal deficit.

As Joe Biden and Obama have both pointed out, tough times call for sacrifices.  That means taking patriotic actions, like paying taxes, although Governor Palin would disagree.  That means that those at the top end of the spectrum, the very ones who  McCain would reward with tax cuts, need to pay their fair share, to build the economy from the roots.  The big corporations are concerned (and rightly so) with building shareholder equity.  Tax cuts will prop up corporate products, not the broader economy.

The Obama plan will focus on providing tax relief to the (broadly-defined) middle-class, that is, those earning less than $250,000 per year.  Those individuals, who are largely the most affected by the current crises, will pay less taxes, giving them money to input into the economy, and to resolve the current issues that are squeezing credit, and leading to home foreclosures.  But, patriotic Americans paying taxes will also help fund investments—investments in the manufacturing, technology and energy sectors that will create jobs, rather than merely rewarding financial institutions engaging in ever more creative and attenuated means of moving money around without benefitting Americans.  Moreover, investment in technology infrastructure will allow America to ‘catch up” with Europe in 4G and broadband technology.  This will also lead to efficiencies in the economy.  Mr. McCain’s plan lacks anything beyond cutting taxes.  Tough times call for a thoughtful plan, executed by the top economic and financial experts, as well as tough oversight of the securities markets.  McCain’s utter inability to assist in the bail-out package typifies the danger of entrusting the economy to someone with his lack of economic strategy, and Palin lacks the ability to think in a nuanced and strategic manner.  Rather than the tired strategies that have virtually bankrupted our society, it is time to return to the halcyon days of the Clinton economic strategies, which created a huge budget surplus that President Bush and his lackluster economic team promptly destroyed.  As Obama says, the question is not whether you are better off now than four years ago—most of us know the answer to that one—but whether we will be better off in four years with a McCain administration or one directed by Obama.  We believe the choice is clear.

Foreign Policy

McCain’s foreign policy is very similar to that of President Bush.  In his world view, America has an almost messianic mission to drive democracy throughout the world, whether the people want it or not.  Rather than engaging in realpolitik and dealing pragmatically with other countries, McCain would bluster and posture, and then attack.  But, he has not articulated a coherent plan that would serve as a blueprint for ending the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, nor has he articulated a plan for easing tensions with Russia or Iran, nor has he presented a vision for improving global trade and relations with China or any of the other emerging countries.  Further, McCain is viewed throughout the world as a continuation of the Bush years, and not likely to encourage increased confidence in America as an ally.

Obama, conversely, is pledged to end the costly and seemingly unending war in Iraq responsibly, and to put resources into the real fight, against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan.  This will only increase American security at home, and allocate the military in an effective manner.  Obama has also pledged to work in a firm and direct manner with President Ahmedinejad and the Iranians in ending the nuclear threat in the Middle East.  Contrary to the rhetoric, Obama is a strong supporter of Israel, and is far more likely to encourage stability in the region than the erratic and reckless McCain.  Finally, Obama will work towards a fair trade agreement with China, as well as encouraging human rights with the Chinese government, whereas McCain lacks the sophistication to engage in this subtle diplomacy.  In short, Obama will pursue a nuanced and strong foreign policy, where McCain’s questionable judgment and erratic decision-making may well fail at the first sign of a test.

In short, we believe that Barack Obama is the right man for the job and should be the next President of the United States. Let us know your thoughts and if you have any questions/issues. We'd love to discuss.

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