I am going to start of with some points of agreement we may all have across the political divide. These points of agreement strongly suggest that we should re-elect President Obama. First, I agree with Representative Paul Ryan that "The greatest of all responsibilities is that of the strong to protect the weak." Ryan also said that "The truest measure of any society is how it treats those who cannot defend or care for themselves." Does anyone doubt that Obama's policies will protect the weak better than Romney's?
Second, Governor Romney in a fundraiser in San Diego recently said that the current administration has put American on "a pathway to become like Europe ... It’s even possible we could be on a pathway to become California." Europe and California are doing quite well, so that's a good path to be on. Romney would perhaps put us on a path to be like one or more of the many third world countries with laissez-faire capitalism and right-wing dictatorships that conservatives admire so greatly, but all of which are mired in high poverty and low life expectancy.
Romney is so hungry for office that he has abandoned whatever values he has and is running against his own legacy—health care reform—as well as his reputation as a moderate. He cannot possibly "win" this fight. Indeed he really wins if he does not become President on a platform making him beholden to people determined to destroy what he has achieved. I doubt he wants that and neither do I.
I take Ryan at his word in wanting to have the strong help the weak. Of course, that means protecting programs like Social Security and Medicare that have done a lot to reduce poverty among the elderly. Ryan would turn these programs into vouchers (Medicare) and 401(k) type plans (Social Security) for those under 55. Of course we have all been told (falsely) since 1980 that these programs are doomed. Apparently Ryan believes the only way to save them is to destroy them. Not so—relatively minor adjustments would do the job. Comparing a program's cash on hand to its future liabilities while ignoring its future revenues is demagoguery of the worst kind designed to create hysteria. A person dedicated to having the strong take care of the weak would propose moderate tax increases on higher wage earners to close the gap.
Our decision here won't make much difference in the presidential race. California's electroal votes seem predestined to go to Obama. But perhaps we can ask those we know elsewhere who they are voting for and why and what they think it will achieve. The real issues are not our anger about the economy or even about the wasteful and destructive foreign wars we are trapped in but rather the philosophy our new leaders will have on the issues framed by Ryan and Romney themselves. How should the strong behave toward the weak? What should we admire more—European democracies and the diversity of California or Latin American right-wing dictatorships and the monoculture of Utah? Our President is our face to the rest of the world and the face of our future. We need to keep that in mind as we cast our votes.
More to follow soon on the down-ticket contests.