Tag Archives: voting

Hope and Change

24 Jan

Obama saw Brown’s victory as a mirror-image of his own: “The same thing that swept Scott Brown into office swept me into office. People are angry, and they’re frustrated, not just because of what’s happened in the last year or two years, but what’s happened over the last eight years.”
It seems the secret to getting elected, especially if you want to capture my generation’s vote (which numerically is often necessary if we’re voting at all) is convincing us that you will change what’s come before and what is there now.

How many people do we elect who convince us that they’re going to change things, only to have them not change things, before we become skeptical again and stop caring and voting?

The Least of Three Evils (for MA voters)

13 Jan

In Massachusetts, a state where gay marriage is legal, the representatives of the state ought to believe that gay marriage being legal is a good thing, right? Joe Kennedy is sort of for gay marriage, but only in that the government shouldn’t really have a say and that churches ought to be allowed to decide for themselves. Scott Brown believes marriage is between a man and a woman.

Viewed through this lens Martha Coakley is the only viable candidate. But Martha reeks of standard party-line politician, and I hate the party system. Nearly everything she says seems like it was pulled from the “how to be a democrat 2010” handbook. Maybe she believes it all, but it all reads and seems like it’s just politics. It seems like she says things because they are the-things-you-say-to-get-people-who-believe-what-I-believe-to-vote-for-you, and not because they are her true beliefs.

Aside from gay marriage, what I want from my government is the, well, the governance, that will lead us to a humane world. Everyone wants a humane world. We’re human beings. We ought to have a humane world. That said, the three areas which I think are most important for a humane world – Health Care, Education, and the Environment – are all poorly represented by these three would-be-representatives.

Joe Kennedy is by far the most realistic candidate of the three. His website shows that he’s familiar with bills currently under review by the legislature, and that he understands what the job he’s applying for actually is: he’ll be reading a lot of complicated bills written in legalese. He’ll be writing other bills, filing bills, and voting on bills. That’s it. Promises like

“Martha will fight to ensure that people with disabilities have equal access to housing, education, health care, and employment opportunities”

or

“I believe we ought to strengthen our border enforcement and institute an employment verification system with penalties for companies that hire illegal immigrants (Scott)”

are un-detailed statements of large scope essentially beyond anything that a senator can actually do and they do little to convince me that Scott or Martha are actually aware of what the job is (odd for Scott, who is already a state senator). Joe Kennedy is, at least from the impressions he’s given, trustworthy. He makes his share of un-detailed statements of large scope too, like “I believe we must promote free trade and peace” (who doesn’t?) but he also includes detailed ideas about what bills he’s going to write and file, and how he’s going to vote on current ones. Unfortunately he seems to be wrong about Health Care, and claims to be against both income and sales taxes, which sounds nice but does beg the question of where he expects the government to get any money at all. China?

Like Joe, Scott is also wrong about Health Care. Both of them vehemently oppose the current Health Care bill (although only Joe claims to have actually read it) but neither of them provide any workable alternatives. The bottom line is that we absolutely have to change our Health Care system. It’s awful. It’s inhumane and utterly embarrassing that a country claiming to be civilized doesn’t provide healthcare to all of its residents. While Martha is at least vowing to support the reform the Obama Administration is hoping to pass, she doesn’t seem to be aware that it doesn’t go nearly far enough and that while changing what we have is extremely important (so important that we must change it even if it’s only for the sake of change), changing it into something which treats health care as the humane right that it is is even more important.

None of them seem to understand this.

Martha is also weak on education, seemingly pleased with the foundation of “No Child Left Behind” stating that it just needs “several reforms” in order to “deliver the changes students deserve.” This is, of course, ridiculous. Joe thinks we should abolish “No Child Left Behind” as well as the Federal Department of Education and instead let each state innovate their own educational systems. It might work… it might not, but at least it’s an acknowledgement that our education system is in need of truly radical reform, something neither of the other two candidates seem to know. Scott is politically vague about education, saying he is “passionate about improving the quality of our public schools” (who isn’t?) and that he “support(s) choice through charter schools, as well as the MCAS exam as a graduation requirement.” Goodie. Let’s first give them a “choice” about which type of school to go to but then continue using standardized tests as a way to determine the education level of our citizens regardless of which school they chose. Great plan.

Nothing short of a complete redesign of our educational system is good enough. We need a system which acknowledges that each individual student has different interests, different ways of learning, and different levels of understanding which develop at different rates. Anything less is inhumane.

None of them seem to understand this.

As for the environment, here’s Martha:

“I support common-sense environment policy that will help to reduce pollution and preserve our precious open spaces. I realize that without action now, future generations will be left to clean up the mess we leave.”

Here’s Scott:

“Our planet is in trouble. I believe protecting our environment must be a priority, not only for today but for future generations.”

No, I’m sorry, that’s backwards. The first quote is Scott, not Martha, she’s the second quote. Point is they sound basically interchangeable.

Give Joe points for being different at least:

“I would consider myself an Environmentalist and I am a strong advocate of green initiatives… The Greatest Polluter in America is the US Government.”

I kid (a bit) about the similarity of Scott and Martha here but give Martha credit for at least being thorough and detailed and stating that “climate change is one of the most pressing moral issues of our time.” I’m not sure it’s a moral issue, but it’s certainly pressing. The only thing Scott’s website provides are vague promises and beliefs about the environment and his site doesn’t mention even once global warming or the climate crisis (neither does Joe’s) although I know from the debate that he’s not convinced it’s entirely caused by our actions. Scott says

“I support reasonable and appropriate development of alternative energy sources such as wind, solar, nuclear, geothermal and improved hydroelectric facilities”

as if there’s someone who doesn’t. Way to say nothing. I support the sky being blue. I support wheels being round.

Look, we can’t have a humane world if the planet our world is on is sick. It’s really more important than anything else. It doesn’t matter how well educated we are, how healthy, how safe, how peaceful, how anything, if our planet is sick.

None of them seem to understand this, though Martha comes out as the strongest of the three here if only because she’ll support the progress that the Obama Adminstration is trying to make in this regard.

So I’m genuinely stumped here. I have no idea which of these three represent the least of the three evils. I’ve read and heard that a lot of people are voting for Scott simply because he opposes the current party that’s in power. This is true, he does, but he represents the other party. Checks and balances aren’t supposed to work the way the party system works. If you really want to elect someone who is going to ensure that one party isn’t in control, vote for Joe. But is that even a good reason to vote? If I truly don’t want any of these people to represent me, shouldn’t I not vote for them? Isn’t that how a democracy is supposed to work? Votes are our way of saying “yes, I agree with you. You represent me.” Isn’t there more to you than just “I oppose large government” or “I oppose the currently-in-power party”?

How about “I support a humane world with an effective government”? I’d vote for the one who could back that up with details about how they’re going to do it.

Endorsement

3 Nov

I voted.

If you’ve known me for a while, you know that’s unusual. So why did I vote? I didn’t vote because there’s a candidate I fully agree with (don’t know that there ever will be… unless it’s me). I didn’t vote because I think my vote will count any more than it would have in the previous elections. There’s no candidate who is as strong on education as I’d prefer. There’s no candidate who really has a good health care plan. So why did I vote? I voted because there’s a candidate that I would like to see in the white house.

The world is, oh, let’s say going through a tough time right now. Whoever becomes the next president is going to have their hands full doing a job that I can’t really understand anyone wanting. America, and more importantly humanity as a whole, will be better off if the next president has a more nuanced (realistic) view of things than the current one. Things are more complex than good free people (America) and bad terrorists. Everything is connected. The climate crisis affects foreign policy, which affects the economy, which affects education, etc. The president (who ultimately doesn’t have that much power unless he (or she) can work with people who disagree with each other and get them to agree on policies that they actually implement) is going to have to inspire cooperation on a massive and complex scale. He (or she) is going to have to inspire not only politicians to do this, but the rest of us as well.

Ignoring things that don’t exist (like race or presidential experience) and looking at what’s real, like how well a long campaign has been run, how humane a candidate seems, how his (or her) inspired followers behave, how many inspired followers he or she has… it seems to me that there’s only one good choice. Barack Obama has been consistently even tempered, consistently eloquent (mostly… we’ll forget about some boring debates), and (I think this is the most significant thing) consistently inspiring. He has gotten more people like me, people who didn’t care about politics, people who think the government is a shambles, people who think their vote doesn’t really count, people who used to not vote, to care. He’s gotten us to care and to vote. He’s gotten people to hope that despite the state of the world, we can work to make it better. He’s gotten me to hope that he can actually take this job and work with people who vehemently disagree with him, and people who fear him, and get something positive done in cooperation with those people.

I don’t know if Barack Obama can actually do that or not, but I think it’s worth finding out. Also, and this is unconfirmed hearsay (I’m colorblind, so I can’t really tell) but he’s apparently “black.” If true, this is not relevant to anything.