Friday, November 5, 2010

I voted for Obama and I do not regret it.... and this is why

It bothers me when people say they regret voting for Obama or expect me to regret my vote. Why would I regret it? I didn't vote for him because I expected him to transform the country or the world or because I bought the media hype. I voted for him because I appreciated most of his policies and his reasoned approach to politics.

When people say they regret voting for him because of what he's done while in office, I ask them why they voted for him in the first place, because he's pretty much only done what he said he was going to do. Did you listen to his policies when he was running?

There's also a lot of empty rhetoric against him now, just as there was a lot of empty rhetoric for him when he was running. Some people say he hasn't gotten anything done. The other half shake their heads in despair and say they can't believe how much damage he's done during the time he's been in office. Which is it?

Here are some things he HAS done. There are a couple I dislike, but most I support.

- The Recovery Act/ Stimulus
Spending government money to stimulate spending, investment, and job creation during an economic recession in order to prevent a depression. People who dislike government spending can blame this on Obama, but this was a House and Senate initiative that between the House and Senate only a grand total of three Republicans voted against. Obama signed into law what was, unfortunately, apparently a needed initiative for our time. You can read a breakdown of the areas that the stimulus spending went to on the wikipedia page. Some of that is flat spending and some of it is planned to recoup itself over time, and so it will take a few years to truly estimate how much was spent and how much good it did.

- Wall Street Bailout
Are we a thriving economy at the moment? No. However, we haven't continued to spiral down. Our major Wall Street Corporations didn't fail. Economic and financial investment reform is on the table. Accountability is important and being talked about. I think Obama struck the balance between saving from crisis and simultaneously demanding change in a flawed system.When people criticize this one I point them to the fact that this bailout is effectively being paid back. I recently listened to an NPR report on it and other analysis also point to over half of the bailout money already having been returned. That is huge.

- Automotive Industry Bailout. 
This is the most frustrating of the bailouts for me, because these automotive companies were failing, sometimes companies should be allowed to fail because they suck, and lets face it, most American cars suck. This may be true, but the failure of several huge companies at once in an already floundering economy could have been devastating. As it is, again the companies did not fail and they were forced to restructure before being provided with bailout money. It's my hope that this was ultimately a good thing for our economy and that it will drive US automakers to creativity, sustainability, and quality. We'll see. Like I said, this is one I was quite skeptical about.

Ended the Iraq war and refocused the Afganistan war
I believe that foreign policy is where the President has the most power, since in most other areas the legislature is just as much if not more responsible for things than the President. Obama set out a time-table for the exit of Iraq and shifted the focus to Afghanistan, instituting a troop-surge. I have always been uneasy about the war in Iraq and was aghast that we pulled our focus and troops away from Aghanistan. I'm glad that Bush pushed the Iraq war through to a more peaceful ending, I'm glad Obama finished it out, and I'm very glad that Obama isn't so anti-war that he's unwilling to fight where it's needed. He was also willing to respect Bush enough to recognize his best general and move him to Afghanistan in the hopes that similar results will happen there. There's still work to be done in Afghanistan. It seems Obama has been strategic and fair there.

Reasonable Diplomacy
Obama has been an international head of state that chooses dialogue and doesn't exacerbate tensions. He's talked to Iran, worked with Russia, intentionally reached out the Muslim community, etc. Obama was a bit of a symbol to the world, though it wasn't particularly due to himself but just what he stood for on an international scale. Does that mean all political tensions are solved? No, of course not. But dialogue and and talk DOES help at times, and I think Obama has done a marvelous job of attempting to be reasonable and calm on this front, show respect for other cultures, countries, heads of state, etc.

Ordered the closure of Guatanamo Bay
Obama signed the order to close Guatanamo Bay and ended the US policy on torture. There's more to do here, but he's headed the right direction. His push is for openness and agreement with the Geneva policies on prisoner treatment. Yay.

Proposed, Modified, and Signed the Health Care Bill
Yeah, a lot of people HATE this, but I think a lot of people also have no idea what the bill actually contains. I hope for more change, but this is a start. At least when the policy is fully implemented kids can stay on their parent's insurance longer, you can't be dropped for preexisting conditions, lifetime coverage limits are eliminated and annual limits are restricted. He hasn't created a government funded health care system that everyone was so afraid of - instead he attempts to regulate and provide accountability for the employer funded system (and provided a tax credit for small businesses to help provide coverage for workers). Now I'm just advocating creating a more competitive, informed environment between insurance companies and consumers. I think there is much more to be done, but I don't want to undo the progress that has been made.

Refused to support Israel when they acted aggressively... and encouraged both sides of the Palestinian conflict to begin peace talks again. Our unequivocal support of Israel was never a good thing. Support, yes, but not unequivocal support.

Did not intervene in the oil spill
This perhaps isn't something he has DONE, but I find it quite important considering the immense pressure on him to DO something and show he was more active than Bush was in Katrina. The oil spill was a private mistake by a private company. It needed to be stopped and cleaned up and the government did offer help where it was needed, but it is not the role of the President to take over BP's operations on the issue. That would have been a breach of power and control. Instead he made sure they were doing their best to stop the spill and clean up the damage, and didn't roll in and take over. He took some flack for not doing enough, and I was proud that he didn't bow to it.

Appointed Kagan and Sotomayer to the Supreme Court
I liked Sotomayer and liked Kagan a lot less, but neither of them were awful appointments. I also don't think either of them appears to be a pure, unthinking liberal who judges based on old party politics. We'll see.

Took on Somali Pirates
In a sweet Hollywood-like move, Navy SEALS took out the pirates holding a US captain and began increased patrols in Somali waters. That's the kind of international activity that the world can appreciate.

Signed Credit Card Reform
Needed. Credit cards have been scarily unregulated. New reforms institute accountability and laws on disclosure to credit car users that should help with credit card debt problems.

Defended the right to build an Islamic Center near Ground Zero
I abosolutely thought Obama's words on the Center were called for and appropriate. Islamophobia has been getting out of hand and people were calling for an infringement on constitutional rights, and Obama publically opposed such an infringement. It's a civil rights issue.

Tax Credits to First Time Homebuyers
If you're stimulating the economy and dealing with a floundering housing market, why not encourage home-buying? Of five couples in our community group, three bought homes under this tax credit.

Attempted to push forward embryonic stem cell research
Dislike. I'm not down with this one, and disagree with Obama's position on abortion and stem-cell research. However, he was stopped in his tracks by a court case, which I believe is still in play, which is awesome. Hey, cord blood stem cell research is an awesome option ... lets go for that instead of embryonic stell cell research.

“Cash for clunkers” 
This program offered vouchers to trade in fuel inefficient, polluting old cars for new cars; stimulates auto sales.

And a few more: 
Attractive tax write-offs for those who buy hybrid automobiles
Ended media “blackout” on war casualties; reporting full information
Ended previous policy of awarding no-bid defense contracts

So there we go. I disagreed with him a few times, where I pretty much knew I would. I have appreciated most of his foreign policy moves. I have appreciated his calm, reasoned approach, and have appreciated how often his financial moves are actually very business-friendly instead of anti-business.

No, I don't regret voting for Barack Obama.


Jaimie said...

Love this post. I tweeted it!

Alida said...

Thanks for this post!!

joey armstrong said...

i love your reasonable approach. you obviously know your politics, and know who/what you are voting for (and you know that no politician is perfect - we put way too much pressure on one single person to be a perfect leader), and i really respect that. as a canadian not involved in american politics, but hearing a lot of really extreme views, its quite refreshing to hear a well-thought out view like yours! :)

Rach said...

I agree with you on many points, although I will probably always choose to vote for some who is a fiscal conservative (unfortunately you can't usually find a fiscal conservative who isn't also a social conservative). I hate some of the policies of insurance companies, but at the same time dislike many facets of the health care bill. You can stay on your parents' health insurance until you're 26 years old. SERIOUSLY? As a 22 year old who has been off her parents' insurance since I was 20, that makes me feel infantilized. Men and women can be drafted for war at age 18, but can't handle figuring out their own insurance woes until 8 years later? Ridiculous. Yes, that's minor in the grand scheme of things, but it still really bothers me because it furthers the idea that people in their 20s should feel free to be immature and act like teenagers. *steps off soapbox*

Kacie said...

By the way, Rach, do you follow Bob Ewoldt's blog? I know you guys didn't really know him well, but I think you guys totally agree on politics:

One of the two things I was most uneasy about with Obama was his fiscal opinions... I'm still figuring out where mine lie, and Isaac flat disagrees with him. A lot of the bailout stuff was different, though, since it wasn't just yearly spending but an attempt to respond to the crisis.

Like you said, it's often hard to find someone who is fiscally conservative and not too socially conservative....

on the insurance thing, even if it is a little lame to be on your parent's insurance that old, I like that they've made it allowable. It may as well be a choice for the family to make. And it is much more expensive to start an individual policy than it is to keep a child on a family plan...
I guess I think it allows more more family financial support for young people, and that's not all bad in a society that so emphasizes independance.

Rae said...

I disagree with your interpretation of several points, but I think the public opinion swing is hilariously stupid. Seriously people, what did you expect? And it is always easier to regret once you "get what you want" because you can never know what the other outcome would have been in reality. So you have my full support in not regretting your decision. ;-)

Jaimie said...

Rach - You were probably also married at a young age and you're on your husband's health care? Not all of us get married in our early 20s. Most people don't, actually. And sometimes it's hard to find a job just out of college that gives you better (or as good as) health care as your parents'.

(It's just as lame to be on your parent's health care as your partner's. Which is to say it isn't lame. It's health care. There's no lame way to get it.)

Jaimie said...

Addendum: I earn my own health care through my employer, but I'm glad the government is offering options for the changing culture. (A culture changing in awesome ways, I think.)

Charlotte said...

Kacie, Kacie, Kacie......