Monday, October 15, 2012

Obama, Election, Race, and Time to Duke It Out…

Disclaimer: If you are easily riled up and can’t think rationally instead of letting your emotions guide you, then stop reading now.

I had so much fun starting heated political discussion last time around (mostly between commenters) that I figured, “what the heck? Let’s do it again.”

After all, what is the subtitle of this blog?

My Voting Priorities
For those of you new to the blog since last time around, I vote on 2 primary issues.

  1. Economic policy
  2. Foreign policy

When it comes to economics, my general philosophy is that business (particularly small biz) is the primary driver of growth, innovation, and jobs. The best thing we can do (and having started 2 small businesses, I have a bit of experience here) is to make it as easy as possible for people to do that.

On Foreign Policy, I believe in American exceptionalism. I’ve traveled to about 60 countries, lived in 3 of them, and speak 3 foreign languages. In my experience, there is no country on the planet that is founded on ideals and beliefs to the extent that the US is. That doesn’t mean we can impose our will, but it does mean we look at things in a unique way and, I believe, it is the best way.

So, generally, I side with the Republicans (I’m registered as an Independent). I’m not in favor of their social stance. I’m pro-choice, fine with Gay Marriage, and I hate their cavalier attitude towards the environment (remember, I have solar panels, a composter, and am vegetarian.)

However, in my estimation, the two priority issues are necessary pre-conditions for the social environment I want to foster.

And, let’s be clear, the Republicans have done a lot to mess things up. They don’t get a pass.

Still, when I weigh the general approach of each party, that’s where I stand.

Assessing the Election
Ok, onto the election.

I live in Maryland, where it is 5-1 Democrats outnumbering GOP. Plus, a lot of Federal workers, so I live in a bubble and feel like I am surrounded by Pro-Obama people.

To get some balance, I call my cousin, Lee, who lives in Ohio. He tells me that the issue there is “jobs” and that’s why he thinks Romney has a chance.

My uncle in Texas had a different take. He breaks it down by the numbers.

  1. No one who voted for McCain is going to vote for Obama this time around. Let’s assume most of them still vote for Romney.
  2. Of the people who did vote for Obama, there are three camps.
    • Those who still believe that he is the man of Hope and Change
    • Those who don’t believe in him anymore, but can’t bring themselves to vote for Romney, so will vote for Obama anyway.
    • Those who don’t believe in him, can’t vote for Romney, and thus will not vote at all.

The big question is: how large is that third group?

My Unscientific Polling
Having been part of a poll the other day (we have a big issue in Maryland re: a new casino—I’m against it), I see (yet again) how easily the questions can be written so as to skew results.

I’m skeptical of the polls that we all see/hear about.

So, while I am not a formal pollster, I take the liberty of asking my circle of people whom I call on their birthday, etc. to get their take.

It may not be huge, but it’s a larger than average base.

The Surprises
Two things have surprised me among past Obama voters.

  1. the number of people who claim (at least now) that they are thinking about not voting. And this is from people I would expect to be likely voters.
  2. the number of people who admit to having gotten “caught up” in the Obama excitement

Yep, Here We Go…
Obviously, a sensitive topic, but what has really shocked me is the number of past Obama voters (good, solid liberals) who will say (either prompted or unprompted) that Obama’s race was a factor in their decision to vote FOR him.

As one said to me, “I was enamored with the idea that we would have an African-American president.”

Was it the ONLY reason?

Of course not, but there were more than a few who said that reverse racism was at play last time around and they got attacked here on the blog.

For me, race was never an issue. I just didn’t like Obama’s politics, but I have found this element of the election to be just fascinating.

Why Introduce the Race angle?
While I know there is a decent chance that it will start some passionate debate, I am hoping that it can be civil and allow us to better understand ourselves as a country in 2012.

A risk? Perhaps. We’ll see if civil discourse is indeed possible. I have faith in Americans (and those visiting my blog from other countries as well).

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