Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Why I'm Voting For Barack Obama

 Ah.  Election season. 

Not my favorite time of year, mostly because it brings out a lot of tension in people.  Facebook has been so full of political talk by friends both conservative and liberal.  I think the old adage "Never talk politics or religion" is apropos.  I've seen a lot of heated talk from both sides, and to be honest, I'm getting weary of it (although I do admit to taking part in it from time to time).

I'm home with Jonah for the week (yea!) before my next gig, and one thing that's been nice about being home is that I haven't been on Facebook as much nor have I watched the news or read the newspaper as often as I regularly do.  As a rule, I very much like to keep informed about news and politics, and for once, I'm a bit behind the curve because I am concentrating on other things.  Quite frankly...it's been nice.

But next week when I am back in Utah for my next show, I intend to get back on the news and politics bandwagon, as is my normal custom.  But this mini-vacation from politics has been kind of nice.

Don't get me wrong.  I'm still somewhat informed on political issues.  I have been following the story about Mitt Romney and the leaked video where he essentially calls 47% of Americans a bunch of entitled freeloaders (my word, not his) playing the victim card who aren't going to vote for him anyway, so he's not worrying about them.

I actually get his point, and like everything else, context is important.  My guess is what Romney meant was that there are 47% of Americans who aren't going to vote for him anyway because his policies don't appeal to them, so he's only worried about those undecided voters that will help him win this election.

And yet...

I think the real test of a man's character is what he says or does when he thinks no one is listening or watching.  In his own words, Romney says that those 47 per cent of Americans who don't pay income tax will automatically support President Obama because they "believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it".

He goes on to say, "My job is is not to worry about those people. I'll never convince them they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives." 

"There are 47 percent who are with [President Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.  And they will vote for this president no matter what."

You can read the full story here and here.

First off, I think Romney is making assumptions that may not even be correct.  Second, this just kind of reiterates something that I have thought about Mitt Romney for a long time: I just don't feel he even really understands what it is like to be lower- or middle-class.  It's not his fault.  He was born into wealth and became wealthier, and so that is the only life he knows.  But as his critics espouse, I do think that makes him somewhat out-of-touch with the average American, and statements like the ones said in this recent video don't do much to allay that perception.

My biggest problem with Mitt Romney, however, is that I just don't really know what he stands for.  In my view, he seems like someone who will say whatever needs to be said to get elected.  I feel like he says whatever he feels the group he is speaking to wants to hear.  Certainly all politicians do that to an extent, but I feel like Romney isn't terribly honest.  Ambitious, yes.  Honest, no. 

I don't even necessarily think Mitt Romney is a bad person; I just think he really wants something (in this case, the presidency), and will go after it at the expense of actually stating up front what he actually believes.  Again, I suppose all politicians do this to some extent, but Romney just seems more interested in winning the presidency than in the people who will elect him.

I consider myself a social liberal, but a fiscal moderate.  I actually think both parties have done a lousy job at handling the country's money.  I don't believe the government is the answer to all problems, and government bureaucracy often creates more problems than good.  On the other hand, government does some things very well, and I certainly think it has an important place in our society. 

While it's been slow going, I do believe the economy is getting better, and I feel like if Obama is able to implement more of his measures, the country will recover eventually, but it will take time.  I think a lot of the policies that were in play during the Bush administration got us into this mess in the first place, and I think a Romney administration will only bring more of the same policies that caused a lot of our economic troubles.

That being said, I think both parties have been irresponsible stewards of our country's finances, and both parties have borrowed from funds that were not really theirs to borrow.  No matter who is our next president, we have a long economic road ahead of us - one from which we may never fully recover.

I think a lot of people voted for Barack Obama with the illusion that he was going to wave a magic wand and get us out of the messes we found ourselves in after the Bush administration left office.  I was never under that illusion.  If it took at least eight years to make the mess, one can't expect it to get all cleaned up in just four.

I think one of the biggest problems to our country's progress is the constant gridlock in Congress.  It seems that if one party proposes an idea, the other party will shoot it down simply because it came from the opposite party.  There is too much polarization and partisanship and not enough working together.  I'm not sure how to solve that problem, but it seems that the parties are much more interested in power than in helping the people they supposedly represent.  The biggest factor that prevents us from progress is that I think both parties want similar things, but don't agree on the methods for how to accomplish those goals. 

Certainly I would assume that both parties want the economy to recover, for example, but neither can agree on the way to accomplish that.  And one of the reasons I voted for Barack Obama the first time around was his diplomacy and willingness to work with both sides, but that has also turned out to be a weakness in that sometimes that diplomacy prevents him from finding ways to unite the parties to a common cause.

I believe there are good people in both of the major political parties, and I believe there are a lot of good people in some of the parties that, unfortunately, are less viable choices.There are things about Mitt Romney that I find disappointing. Likewise, there are things about Barack Obama that have disappointed me. 

The political leaders of this country are flawed individuals. Some are good flawed men, and some, unfortunately, are self-serving flawed men. I have many conservative friends and many liberal friends, and I love them both. Granted, I do not always agree with some of my friends' opinions, but I respect their right to believe what they believe and their right to voice their opinions even when I disagree with those opinions and when those opinions frustrate me.

As far as the two major parties are concerned, I think there are many instances when they actually want the same thing, but disagree greatly on what it takes to get there. I certainly don't think either party is perfect, and there are times when both parties do things the greatly frustrate me. Nor do I think any president is perfect, nor do I expect them to be.

We all have different perspectives on the issues that face our country, and we all have different assumptions on what needs to happen to solve (or at least lessen) our problems, and we will often disagree on what is required. I don't think the election of either of the two major candidates is going to destroy our country. Our country has weathered many challenges and difficulties; we have had hard times and trials that may have even seemed insurmountable at the time; but we have always come through. We have always prevailed. Some roads have been far rougher than others, but neither of these candidates will destroy this country no matter how much the fear mongering hyperbole would have you believe it.

Certainly these two candidates have very different visions of what is best for this country, and depending on your perspective, one candidate will lead you on a more desirable path that adheres to your point of view.

As for me, there is no question that the vision of Barack Obama and the Democratic Party most closely aligns with my own vision and point-of-view. Perfect? No. Without challenges? No. But the way I see life and this country and how I view my fellow citizens, my own perspective and way of thinking convinces me that re-electing Barack Obama is the choice that most aligns with my personal beliefs.

And I know that many of my conservative friends think that's crazy and that President Obama will take us in an undesirable or even disastrous direction, just as I feel a Mitt Romney presidency would take us in a direction that I don't wish to go. And that's fine if people disagree with me or can't comprehend why I feel the way I do. But is IS how I feel. When I look at Barack Obama and the Democratic Party's policies and belief system (with some exceptions, of course), they align much more closely to my own than Mitt Romney's and the Republican Party's as they currently stand.

But I think one of the great things about this country is that we do have so many great people with different opinions about how to succeed and make this country better. I would never cut off friendship with anyone just for having a different opinion than I have, and actually I enjoy hearing opinions that are diametrically opposed to my own (even if they sometimes drive me crazy) just because it gives me another point-of-view to consider and keeps me more well-rounded. I love and respect so many of my friends, whether we share the same opinions or not, and I am glad they have the same privilege I have of casting their vote in whatever way they deem fit to help make this country better according to their own perspectives and beliefs. As for me, I'm voting to re-elect Barack Obama, and here is why:
I actually think Obama understands me better than Mitt Romney does.  Obama is rich, too, but he didn't come from that, and I don't think he has forgotten his hardscrabble days or struggles, and I find him more relatable than Mitt Romney.
I think Obama has a genuine desire to help all Americans, not just the ones who are like him.  I don't sense that from Mitt.  Again, it's not necessarily Mitt Romney's fault, but I do feel like he's in his own bubble and doesn't fully understand the plight of the average American.  He seems more interested in helping corporations and rich people than in helping people like me.
I, frankly, don't relate to a lot of the stances of the Republican party, in general.  While I do relate to their need to be fiscally responsible, it's hard to take them seriously when they spent trillions of dollars on a war that I always felt was unnecessary and which we rushed into without exploring all diplomatic channels.  It's hard to take the extremists of the party seriously with all their "pro-life" talk when they seem to be most apt to go to war or are unwilling to compromise on gun control at all.  It's hard to take their cries of "keep the government out of my life" when they are so willing to use the government to prevent people like Jonah and me from marrying or control a woman's decision regarding unwanted pregnancies.  I feel like some Republicans feel they have the market on religion and patriotism, and I don't think that's true, and it only makes them look like hypocrites.  I feel (and this is just my perception) that the most extreme elements of Republicanism (which, unfortunately, seems to be the face of the Republican party lately) are more interested in money than they are in helping people.

Certainly, I think the Democratic party sometimes helps people too much, and thus enables the abusers of the system to take advantage of welfare and the like.  And, yes, Democrats do too often throw money at problems to try and fix them, and that's not good either.

But I am more interested in people than in financial wealth, and in spite of all the lambasting of Barack Obama's "You didn't build this" speech, I do believe that none of us gets where we are on our own.  We had great teachers or mentors that educated us or we borrowed money from a bank to start a business or someone helped us get an opportunity.  Obama often uses the mantra, "We're all in this together," and I agree with that philosophy, and that is not something that resonates with me when I listen to Mitt Romney or the Republican party, who, by the way, don't seem all that excited by their candidate in the first place, so that's not a real booming endorsement, either.

I don't see that Mitt Romney has many solutions, either.  I feel like his only talking point is whatever it takes to repeal "Obamacare" or that Obama's policies regarding the economy aren't working, and even though he says he has a plan to fix things like health care and the economy, he never seems to share it with us other than to say Obama's policies aren't working.  I at least feel like Obama has a plan, whether you believe it's working or not.  Romney's only plan seems to be to get Obama out of office without any concrete solutions.

I don't think either party believes abortion is the best solution, but I don't think the government has any right to tell a woman what she can and can't do with her body.  I also believe that comprehensive sex education is key to educating young people so that unwanted pregnancies don't happen in the first place, yet Republicans in my own state of Utah are certainly against that.

I believe in marriage equality, and I am grateful Barack Obama is the first standing president to come out in favor of same-sex marriage.  
I believe in the strength and power of unions, and I belong to a union myself - one that has helped me achieve better pay, better working conditions, greater opportunities, and good health insurance and retirement benefits.  The Democratic Party and Barack Obama seem to be on my side with protecting unions.  Certainly unions have their problems and weaknesses, too, but I support them overall.

I believe in protecting the environment and that as stewards of this planet we all share, we should do our best to protect it and find ways to become less dependent on oil and gas.  I also believe in climate change and believe that we as humans do affect our atmosphere by what we pollute it with.
I do believe in universal health care and applaud Barack Obama's efforts to help give the citizens of this country better and more affordable health care.  If anything, I don't feel the Affordable Health Care Act goes far enough, but much of that is due to Republican obstructionism and compromise.  
Having lived in a country with government-run health care, I can say that while there were challenges and problems as well, there were many great benefits to universal health care.  And I think if health care is affordable, more people will be willing to go to the doctor for preventative health measures and thus avoid the financial headaches that come with diseases that could have been prevented in the first place.  Again, I believe in the adage, "We're in this together."  I am perfectly willing to pay higher taxes if it means my fellow man can be treated medically without worrying if they are going to lose their home due to astronomical medical bills.  I find it absurd that we are one of the greatest industrial nations with the most expensive health care.
I believe in programs like Social Security and Medicare.  Without them, my own mother would be up a creek without a paddle.  
I am grateful for unemployment benefits, especially in my field of work, where jobs can be sporadic.  I am grateful that the taxes I pay provide me with such benefits as firemen and policemen to protect me.  Government does do some things well.

Defense is understandable, but I also believe in greater gun control, and think that some of these assault weapons that are so easy to come by are ridiculous.

And, yes, I believe grants and loans to help those who can't afford college.  I think a good education for today's youth is good for all of us in the long run.  After all, these are the people who will be running the country when I'm old and decrepit.

I believe in equal pay for women.  I believe in amnesty for illegal immigrants born in this country and believe that if an immigrant works with the government to be legal and pays taxes and contributes to our society, we should consider giving them citizenship.  After all, so many of these people do some of the jobs no one else wants to do just to give themselves and their families a better life.  

I believe the wealthy get too many tax breaks while the middle- and lower-classes struggle.  I don't believe in "trickle-down" economics.
I think Barack Obama is more concerned with diplomatic relations with our foreign neighbors than Mitt Romney is and is more liable to keep us out of unnecessary wars.  I also think Mitt Romney hasn't always shown very good judgment.  I have more confidence in Obama than I do Romney.

It's clear to me that as far as my core values and beliefs are concerned, Barack Obama most closely aligns with them than Mitt Romney does.
And finally, Barack Obama is just a cool, compelling, charismatic guy.  Mitt Romney is stiff, stodgy, and kind of boring.

Vote for who you believe will lead the country in a direction you desire, but as for me, "Barack, I've got your back."


Dean Scott said...

I agree with your assessment.

LCannon said...

Thank you

Trev said...

Is that your mother? That's a great picture.

Gay LDS Actor said...

No, Trev. That's just a stock photo of some random lady. But my real mother is a cute-looking lady. :-)

INSIDE said...

I disagree. BUT—I am so happy to hear someone who has thought through their reason for voting for a particular candidate. I have to many friends who vote for x because he is cool.

So while I disagree whole heartedly, thank you for having real reasons to vote for Pres. Obama and taking the time to know why.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Inside.

I, too, have friends on both sides of the aisle who don't seem to have solid, well-thought-out reasons for why they oppose or support a specific candidate, and that's frustrating to me at times. I don't care who people vote for (...well, I do. ;-) ), but I do want them to be informed and know that they support or oppose somebody for valid reasons.

I don't know if I am successful in doing that myself, but I sure try to be as informed as I can, and hopefully vote for candidates who support the things I believe in.

I'm much more likely to listen to someone who's voting for someone whose politics I disagree with as long as they seem informed about the issues and have intelligent reasons for wanting to vote for them.

People who have shallow or superficial reasons for voting for a candidate (even one I support) do not impress me as much.

Thanks for your thoughts. I greatly appreciate them.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

I don't know if you ever read Wheat and Tares, but you might find this post interesting.

I guess it won't let me put the actual link, so Wheatandtares.org and it is the Obama vs. Romney, A Mormon Dilemma

I do enjoy you writing style and thoughts. I went back through your first month of posts, just to get a sense of where you started. Several years is a lot to try to get through, but if you ever have the time or inclination, it might be nice to know which posts you think are most important in getting to know and understand you and your life. :-)

Thanks for great perspectives!

Gay LDS Actor said...

Hey, Julia,

I do read Wheat and Tares occasionally. I'll check out the post.

I'm glad you enjoy my writing style and what I have to say. That means a lot. Sometimes I feel like I'm just blathering on, never sure if anything I'm saying resonates with anyone; so I always enjoy reading comments from people who tell me that at least something is meaningful to them.

You're right, several years is a lot to get through. In going back through some of my posts, I am amazed by how long ago it feels since I started this blog. Those first posts seem like a lifetime ago.

Here are some posts that are especially meaningful to me and perhaps show who I am and what I believe.

God's Love

Why I Believe In God

Excommunication (or UP and Away)

Feeling Such Pride

Different, But Not Less

I'm Not A Mormon (But I Am)

Ripple Effect

Just What I Needed Just When I Needed It

This Anti-Gay Culture Has To Stop

This Rolling Stone

Opening The Door

The Long Way Around

Oh, Say What Is Truth? - New Perspectives On Mormonism From An Excommunicated Member

Feeling The Spirit Of Love

Pure Love 

The Happiest Place On Earth

If you don't feel like reading them all, I still recommend the first five or six. I think those ones best typify me. (Hopefully, those links all work)

Thanks for reading.

Julia - Finding My Way Softly said...

Thank you for the list. I have enjoyed getting to know you. I think it would be great to have it as a permanent part of your layout so that others can find, and go through it at leisure.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Julia. That is a good idea.