I make the following declaration knowing full well that some of you are simply not going to agree with me; I like President Obama. What's not to like? He's polished, eloquent, intelligent, accomplished, comes from a tradition of activism among the poor and disenfranchised, and his life's journey makes a great narrative for those seeking to strive in an America of promise. And no, I don’t agree with every policy of his administration (his opposition to the use of enhanced interrogation techniques to elicit useful information from detained terror suspects comes immediately to mind). But despite the ridiculous accusations from [individuals who delude themselves into thinking they represent] mainstream and fringe-minded individuals who accuse Obama of being all but a spearhead for a Socialist fifth-column within the American government, some of us realize that he comes from an activist-tradition, and is trying his best to undo—within four years yet—circumstances which took more time than that to create. Quite simply, these economic woes were in place before his being voted into office by the American people, and despite the intellectual handicaps of many Americans who apparently suffer from short-term or selective memory issues, he cannot cross his arms and blink away these economic issues as fast as a genie obeying the will of her master; it took time to create this economic beast and it will take time to undo it.
That’s bit of open-minded reality I kept in mind as I watched the first GOP political debate of the 2010 presidential elections campaign, hosted by CNN. As I watched and listened to the various stances the candidates took on the various issues, most of the debate was more Obama-bashing than substantive counter-ideas for how to fix the ailing economy. As I listened, I also kept in mind that many of the anti-Obama policies that the candidates railed against tend to magically become adopted by Republicans whenever a Republican-controlled administration takes the White House, such as the decision to take military action against Libya, as its own military engages in a brutal offensive against rebel insurgents seeking to topple the regime of longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi (granted, I agree that this action should not have been taken considering there are other instances of equally brutal government suppressions of dissent/popular uprising ongoing elsewhere in the Arab World). So ignoring how (for example) “interventionist” policies suddenly morph into “American interests” whenever there is a change in party control, I continued to watch the debates.
As I continued to listen, I was waiting to hear something fresh from conservatives [who at least gave lip service to the notion of] wanting to take America in a “new” direction. I heard Minnesota Congresswoman and Tea Party favorite Michelle Bachmann’s assertion that the government spends too much (now tell me something I don’t know), as well as her pledge to repeal the Obama-sponsored health care bill should she become president.
I also heard the always insightful Ron Paul’s revelation that the U.S. hasn’t developed any new jobs in the last decade to keep up with population growth.
There was Republican front-runner and former Massachusetts Mitt Romney touting his contributions to the example of the economic Shangi-La that is his home state.
And then there were more of the usual political truth-stretching, reality distortions, and outright lies you would find with most Republican (or Democratic) candidate debates (see analysis of debate points from Monday night's debate at factcheck.org. http://www.factcheck.org/2011/06/gop-new-hampshire-debate/).
And as I continued to watch, I found myself imagining that these Republican [and the inevitable Democratic] candidates running for the White House would actually be idea candidates who the American people would actually look forward to voting for simply because they are serving the people. I imagined them actually not flip-flopping on issues come election time, serving the people and not special interests, and actually being influenced by the will of the people, and not Big Money. I fantasized about how narrow-minded social-political ideologies would not be the basis for how they would govern, but rather focus on what people needed. I actually thought about how I would love for politicians to embrace and talk about ideas and policies based on truth, not beliefs. And I considered how much they could accomplish if they focused less on political posturing for the benefit of political advantage, or their libidos for the sake of their egos.
So in lieu of embracing a fantasy dream about how politics and candidates should behave, I took the time to look into where the various (and presumed) candidates stand on various issues of importance, and put them into the perspective of who’s actually presidential material.
Probably the most presidential material among the 7 from Monday night’s debate. He’s polished, experienced, but vulnerable on his propensity to change his stance on various issues. For example, in 2002 on the issue of abortion he endorsed the use of RU-486, the so-called “morning after” abortion pill. Furthermore, as governor of Massachusetts, he was vocal in his position on preserving a woman’s right to abort. Currently, he’s taken the traditional conservative stance against a woman’s right to abort her child (as well as it—and the death penalty—should be illegal if one is to promote himself as being “pro-life”).
Romney has also been on record as having been more liberal on the issue of gay rights back in the mid 1990s (he favored gays serving openly in the military and being able to work with the Boy Scouts of America). So despite his political likeability, he can be seen as a typical politician who changes position with the wind (but in his defense, you show me a politician who doesn’t change his/her stance on issues, I will show you an alien, a unicorn, and a ghost).
Current Republican frontrunner and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney
Romney is a staunch supporter near-unrestricted gun ownership for qualified Americans (he does support rigorous background checks and automatic weapons ban when it comes to ownership. Personally, I wouldn’t feel safe in a house without a gun).
On foreign policy, Romney asserts that Americans should stand up to Muslim extremism and terrorism abroad. He believes that we can best protect America by first using economic sanctions on terrorist states first, but would not be averse to using military options if all else fails in protecting American interests.
On the economy, he supports the Bush era tax cuts and would make them permanent if he were president, but believes the flat tax (which many conservatives favor) is unfair and that the Fair-Tax would encourage illegal trading of goods. In addition, Romney believes that government waste is the biggest problem facing the economy in 2012 and that we should make drastic cuts for special programs and ultimately fixing the deficit. Sensible advice, which makes far more sense than promoting the fantasy of tax cuts as being a panacea for what ails American economically.
On health care, Romney believes that states should decide about health care and that the Obama health care plan is illegal and unconstitutionally illegal and is bad for the American people. I take serious personal fault with this stance, especially after having gone years without affordable health care. So apparently, my “constitutional rights” are more important than the ability to maintain my good health? I beg to differ, and I’ll wager that many others Americans in similar situations would agree. But he has faced a much criticism for endorsing a similar government run health care bill on the state level while he was governor, which he continues to. He has a solid record of being a business man as well as having executive level public office experience. Overall, the most moderate and likable candidate on the GOP’s rooster of candidates who could probably pull off a modicum of favorable policies under optimal political conditions.
The darling of the Tea Party, the ubiquitous Mrs. Palin seems for the moment, to be more content with promoting the Tea Party’s interpretation of what constitutes positive “change” by gallivanting all over the country and robbing headlines through speeches and personal appearances. And given her much documented gaffes verbal missteps—and there have been many—she could hardly be considered a conservative ideologue. Dan Quayle in a skirt comes to mind. For those reasons alone, I’m hardly at a loss for words in trying to understand Sarah Palin’s appeal among some of the American electorate.
Former Alaska Governor Sara Palin. Leadership material?
On gay marriage, Palin supported Alaska being among the first state to in the country (ok, among the fringes—pun intended—of the country) to pass a constitutional ban on gay marriage. In fact, her first veto as governor of Alaska blocked a bill which would have barred granting state benefits to partners within same-sex partnerships. But more recently, she stated that she would support a ballot measure overturning the standing state Supreme Court decision that mandates benefits for domestic partners of state employees.
However, Palin is on record as being in favor of as supporting federal legislation banning gay marriage. It’s funny how Palin and the Tea Party asserts that there is too much government…up until its an issue that they support. While protecting the traditional American family is a laudable goal, does it really require legislation when so many social factors as well as individual choices are causing its implosion anyway (and yes, I do believe that the Founding Father could not have even imagined that marriage between two people of the same sex would or could have been an eventual issue when they were crafting the Constitution, and should not be a legal issue…at least it was conceived that blacks could have been considered citizens).
On abortion, she adopts the typical conservative paradox of being against abortion, but being pro death penalty. She believes that abortion rights should be left up to the individual states.
Being a hunter, she does support gun ownerships rights.
On foreign policy, her lack of experience holds her legitimacy to the level of opinion on certain issues, such as her assertion that
dictators who hate America…hate what we stand for, with our freedoms, our democracy, our tolerance, our respect for women’s rights. Ah Mrs. Palin, if it were only that simple an explanation.
On the economy, she has displayed a crippling lack of substance and/or depth. Its hard, outside of Tea Party-favored rhetoric to pinpoint what or how she would improve the economy.
On her experience, the fact that she resigned from her position of governor of the state of Alaska speaks volumes. The presidency is a different level of pressure, and if the executiveship of the least populated state proves overwhelming…
Does America really need someone in the White House who believes in the legitimacy of medical care death panels? Who’s to say that she wouldn’t believe that the Cold War with Russia were not still ongoing? After all, she can see it from her front door.
To Be Continued...