Sunday, February 10, 2008

Should Mormons Consider Voting for Obama?

The short answer is yes. But to consider voting for someone and actually voting for someone is not the same thing. An old friend has given some thought as to why it would be good to vote for Barack Obama. I thought I would deal with some of the points he makes here.

I will start with some general observations about Obama. His tone is different than any politician currently on the national stage. Obama has an ability to connect with people who disagree with him. Case in point: me, I am considering voting for Obama. McCain, despite being the heir apparent of my party, is very much a cranky old man. His attacks on Mitt Romney infuriated me. But, I do agree with McCain on one core issue: the war in Iraq.

If anyone looks for coverage on Iraq in the newspapers, it probably won't be there. The old adage - if it bleeds, it leads - is true. Now that American casualties have dropped dramatically, the war is no longer on the front page. I have several friends here at A&M who are Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans. One told me that the media does not get it. He said they don't understand the good or the bad that is happening on the ground. (Here is one website that has real reporting.) President Bush has already started drawing down the troop levels in Iraq. If the situation on the ground continues to improve militarily and politically, Iraq may not be that big of an issue come November. If that is the case, I will be more open to the Obama campaign.

Part of me also considers the delicious irony of a narrow Republican win (or dare I say, loss) in Utah. My problem with Republicans has been that they aren't really conservative any more. They presided over insane spending increases, from No Child Left Behind, to Medicare part D, to earmarks. Republicans are not supposed to preside over the massive expansion of the welfare state. (The joke goes: What is the difference between Republicans and Democrats? Republicans will raise spending, but tell you they feel terrible about it.)

The Huckabee sham makes me want to send a statement that says Mormons won't tolerate anti-Mormon behavior from a leading candidate. If Huckabee is McCain's running mate, I am even more likely to vote Democrat. I do not trust the Huckster.

In regards to government spending, the war effort is not that expensive compared to all the entitlement programs. I love the idea of government only buying what it can pay for, just like the rest of the nation. The best solution is to cut spending, not raise taxes. People living in Manhattan get farm subsidies. Soon, 70% of all government spending will be on entitlements. Government largesse does not satisfy the Christian imperatave to care for the poor and needy. I would far rather the government get out of the way of individuals and businesses, so that real assistance could be given.

Now, regarding taxes: the argument that people who make over $250,000 a year should pay more taxes is hollow. The expansion of the economy depends on the success of small businesses. Entrepreneurs may make that kind of money, but it is because they are the ones who are willing to take the risks. If they are taxed more, job creation will slow. Cutting corporate and individual tax rates will have a profound impact on capital investment. Capital investment means new factories, new jobs, and higher wages as skilled workers are in higher demand. (Yes, I am in business school, so my vision is colored by that experience.)

Immigration is a big problem. I know there are people in the Church in Texas who are in this country illegally. The problem is the other illegal activity they engage in. Illegal immigrants are massive perpetrators of identity theft. This harms real people. Illegals lower wages in inner cities. If people are really concerned with poverty, how about finding ways to naturally increase wages like limiting the cheap, illegal workforce. Law enforcement works. After states have increased enforcement of immigration laws, many people are returning to their homes. There is nothing dehumanizing about that. I welcome immigration, just do it right.

Interestingly, on many of the issues I am concerned about, McCain is not really that different than Democrats. I didn't get in to man-made global warming, judges, free speech, taxes, closing Guantanamo (I say leave it open - if those terrorists enter the American judicial system, they will have the rights of the very citizens they want to kill), and class warfare, but McCain has long parroted Democrat talking points.

My conclusion is, I have no conclusion. I don't know who I will vote for in November. I am open to being persuaded. But I am not just interested in style. I want substance, also. Who wins the Democrat primaries matters: I will vote against Hillary in a heartbeat. Running mates matter: Romney on the McCain ticket will help him in my view. John "Maverick" McCain vs. Barack "Audacity of Hope" Obama would be an interesting race. Many campaigns are a race to the edges to shore up the base. For the first time in a long time it could be a race to the middle to grap as many moderates as possible.

1 comment:

WhiteEyebrows said...

I've been dealing with the same issue... who do I vote for now? Obama is an inspirational candidate, and he is the anti-Hillary, which makes him appealing to many conservatives. I spent a good deal of time on the issues pages of his website, and I can only count on one hand the number of things he is for that I am against. It has possibilities.

I think, though, if McCain asked Romney to Veep, I would vote for them. But since that's not happening (they appear to hate each other)... I'm not sure what I'm doing.