Wednesday, November 07, 2012

That Vote Wasn't Just For Me

And lo, there was much hand-wringing.

Sure, there would have much hand-wringing from the left if the election had gone the other way, but it probably wouldn’t have been along the lines of “I fear for the future of our country,” which I saw quite a lot of on Facebook this morning and which might be the hand-wringingest thing a person can say, ranking just ahead of “But what about the children?”

In any event, Barack Obama is in for four more years. I consider this good news for the country, though I also hope that one of the first things the President does is take a long hard look at his first term and rethink anything he did that flew in the face of progressive ideals: the use of drones, the indefinite detention segments of the NDAA, and our continued presence in Afghanistan, to name a few. Killing civilians in the most backward-ass region of the world does nothing to keep America safe, so since there’s no need to cater to the hawks at this point, let’s get our troops out of there and conduct the hunt for al-Qaeda on the sly.

Aside from those areas where Obama slid too far to the right for my tastes, I supported him for a number of reasons. When the early returns showed Romney with a slight lead last night, I steeled myself for a Republican victory and realized that no matter what happened, I’d probably be fine. As it happens, I can write somewhat engaging and persuasive advertising copy, which, believe it or not, is a marketable skill no matter who’s President. Plus, I figured there’s always going to be a need for comedy, so a Romney win last night would have resulted in some incredulous blog entries but not much hand-wringing on my part.


What I also realized is that my vote for Obama was not just a vote for me and my situation. It was a vote for women, a vote for gay Americans, a vote for anyone on the wrong side of the gap between rich and poor--a gap that seemed likely to grow under the supply-side policies of another Republican administration. Over the course of this interminable campaign I grew increasingly weary of voters obsessing over people who are worse off than they are. “Drug-test welfare recipients!” “I saw a person using food stamps while talking on a cell phone!” “Obama phones!”

The implication is that the complainer’s tax dollars are being (a) used for something the complainer doesn’t approve of, (b) used by someone the complainer doesn’t like, or (c) stolen out of the complainer’s pocket. Rarely, if ever, do we hear such a complainer rant about hundreds of millions of dollars in subsidies to profitable oil companies, or the $500 billion thrown away in Afghanistan. No, the complaints are always directed at those who are already struggling.

My vote for Obama was a vote for empathy.

I caught part of a conversation on Facebook this morning in which one Romney supporter noted that “Same-sex marriage won’t create jobs!” The original poster’s calm response: “Neither will opposing it.” You know what does create jobs? Demand. I might have spent most of my time in Steve Schmutte’s Intro to Economics class drawing Dr Zap cartoons, but I did pick up on the fact that you can produce all the goods and services you want, but if people don’t have the money to purchase them, your investment has not been a wise one.

In a time of recession, there’s not much the private sector can do the stimulate the economy. Fortunately, the government can fill that role nicely. I’m not talking about the big overreaching government that Fox News has conditioned people to fear (except when it’s reaching into your bedroom), but about the government as it was originally intended. The one comprised of We the People. That government still exists, but it’s only going to work if elected officials start answering to their constituents and not whomever offers the biggest money-stuffed briefcase.

My vote for Obama was a vote for the idea that no one has a corner on being American. Rich or poor, male or female, gay or straight, religious or not--we’re all in this together. A philosopher by the name of J. Christ once said that “Whatever you do for the least of my brothers, you do for me.” I would add this corollary: “Whatever you do for the least of Americans, you do for America.”

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