24 October 2012

Just Vote, Yo

I rarely discuss politics on this blog. I'm not sure why because I feel very strongly about many things. I guess I've designated this space as a "family" space and I've reserved politics and work and religion (somewhat) to other areas of my life. But you know what? If this is a family space, I should be discussing politics here. Nate and I openly discuss our beliefs at the dinner table. And some day, I hope that our kids join in and challenge us.

If you know me (and even if you don't), you won't be surprised to know that I *early) voted for Barack Obama.

By posting why I chose to vote to Obama, I don't expect to change anyone's mind or convince anyone to vote for him. Rather, I'd like to explain why I voted for Obama. Although I can never imagine myself voting for a Republican, I don't vote along party lines. For me, it's the economy, stupid.*

There's a relatively easy way to explain why the government must provide programs like welfare, Medicaid, Medicare and other "drains" on the system: Income distribution. The income distribution in this country is far from equitable. Rather, wealth is concentrated to the top 1% of Americans (remember the Occupy Movement?). By collecting taxes, the government is able to provide a safety net for those who are less fortunate.

That's one reason I don't support Mitt Romney - he doesn't account for inequitable wealth distribution. If wealth was distributed more evenly (and I'm not even advocating for equally), many of these programs would disappear because they simply wouldn't be needed.

I also get nervous when politicians say they'll cut taxes. Taxes pay for social programs, sure, but they also ensure that we drink clean water, that our sewage doesn't run down the street, that our kids have access to education, that our roads are safe, that we can rely on emergency services. Simply put, taxes help us live relatively charmed lives. That's not to say that the system is perfect. But, damn, I'm glad I can turn on the faucet when I'm thirsty and that my son can attend a quality neighborhood school. Even in this country these things aren't guaranteed.

And, lest we forget, taxes pay for the military. I am a pacifist at heart, but if American politicians want to be the "protector" of the world, they should be prepared to pay the price tag. And so should the people who voted them into office. Unless we dramatically shift our priorities from "protector" of other countries to the "protector" of our fellow Americans, military spending isn't going to decrease any time soon.

This is not an argument to support higher taxes or an expanded military presence in the world. But I will support a candidate who is practical about these things. A candidate who understands that some Americans don't have it as good as the top 1% and is ready to support programs that assist the less fortunate. Does that mean that taxes might go up. Yep, it sure does.

No matter if you agree with me or not, I do think it's important that you VOTE. But don't just vote, yo. Think about why you support a particular candidate and then exercise that awesome power you have.

*OK, OK, it's not just the economy. I support things like gay marriage and women's right to choose as well.


Ann Wyse said...

I think it's pretty important to talk about politics, too. And too often, I'm really shy about it. I think it boils down to the fact that American politics feel really either/or . Instead of *discussing* issues, I end up feeling like I'm picking/defending a person/party.

Anyway, I'm really glad you wrote about your beliefs. Much admiration from here!

Sara Struckman said...

Agreed. Politics are a joke. The campaigns are a joke. There's so much spin it makes my head worse. The debates were despicable. But in this case, the lesser of two evils certainly holds true. Since I'm given the choice, I choose Obama.