September 18, 2008

i have a crush on barack obama.

for the last six years (since i was legally able to vote), i've prided myself on being an independent. i thought that by saying i was an independent, that meant people would think that i was into researching the candidates and their platforms, that i was issue driven, that i would make informed decisions. but yesterday, after being pummeled by a few of my colleagues about why i am voting for barack obama, i realized that i was really letting myself down. i'm not voting for obama because i have a crush on him, although that was a pretty catchy tune, and i'm not voting for him because i think that, "if you vote republican when you're twenty, you're heartless and if you vote democrat when you're thirty you have no brain," as my colleague (who interrupted me every time i started a sentence) told me yesterday. so i thought i'd more deeply research some issues that were important to me. (note: i tried to look at non-bias sources, no blogs, and organizations that were non-partisan and i sourced the website whenever possible). i don't write this to try to start fights. i did my own research for my own self so i could make my own decisions. that being said, i welcome all constructive criticism.

going back to school in the next few years to get my phd is something i'd really like to do, so education, especially higher education, is a key issue for me. i'm 24, and if our next president gets reelected for another term, there's a chance i could have a child in school by then (eek). i was recently accepted into the new york city teaching fellowship for this school year. i did not accept the position, but my heart is still in education & learning, and i would like to be an educator in the future.

john mccain's education policy website states that parents should choose the schools that their children go to, although he wants to keep "no child left behind" and believes that, "we can no longer accept low standards for some students and high standards for others." those two statements seem somewhat hypocritical to me. students are trapped in failing schools? but every school should be kept to the same standards? obama's website on education issues seems a little more specific. he wants to make math & science education a priority. i like that idea. he has plans to address the dropout crisis, expand afterschool activities, support college outreach, support esl learners. they both, thankfully, have very good plans to recruit and prepare future teachers, especially in high-need areas.

we all pay taxes, so valuable important. and wow. i think this issue is probably the hardest to get a word in edgewise with mccain supporters. they all seem to think that mccain is obviously going to give the most tax cuts because, being a republican, he favors less government control and less of a need for taxes. the washington post put out a great article from the tax policy center (a joint project of the urban institute and brookings, which, yes, is slightly left of center, but that doesn't mean they skewed the numbers) about the amount of tax decrease and increase in relation to family income. mccain is giving the biggest tax decrease to the wealthy, which, as he defines it, makes more than $2.87 million. explain to me how that is fair? obama favors a tax increase for anyone making more than about $600k (a demographic that is strongly democratic anyway), with the biggest tax cuts (up to 5.5% decrease, larger than any percentage of mccain's tax cuts) to the lower middle class (and a total decrease for 80% of americans) other issues i care about within the economy: promotion of fair trade and phasing out of free trade (obama's website: "will fight for a trade policy that opens up foreign markets to support good american jobs.... will use trade agreements to spread good labor and environmental standards around the world and stand firm against agreements like the Central American Free Trade Agreement that fail to live up to those important benchmarks.... will also pressure the World Trade Organization to enforce trade agreements and stop countries from continuing unfair government subsidies to foreign exporters and nontariff barriers on U.S. exports").

more on the current economic situation:
while looking for reliable news sources (the ap, the guardian, npr), i stumbled upon a few articles stating that "neither candidate has led senate committees overseeing finance, so their legislative achievements are limited." this morning on npr: "obama says while the fallout of the mortgage mess is just now coming to a head on wall street, people on lots of other streets have been struggling for a long time." yes, it's true. and i can see myself in the future wanting to be more fiscally conservative and advocating a more deregulated economy. however, i believe this needs to stop. it seems to me that mccain just wants to step back and continue advocating deregulation, a policy that would allow our current situation to continue. it was pretty hard to find issues relating to our current situation on mccain's website. obama's website is just as hard to sort through in terms of finding out his stand on immediate issues. an article in the guardian from tuesday (9/16/2008) states that obama is calling for stronger capital requirements for complex financial institutions such as mortgage-backed securities and that obama would "streamline" the u.s. regulatory framework to try and crack down on the securities market manipulation. according to the article, mccain's economic plan, "relies largely on making permanent George Bush's first-term tax cuts, cutting corporate and other taxes, and on eliminating congressional "earmark" spending that totals about 1% of the u.s. budget." even the guardian is biased.

more than 46 million americans (including 8 million children) lack health insurance, so this is obviously a biggie. i know that hilary's campaign ragged on obama during the primaries for not having a strong enough or specific enough healthcare policy. i wanted to see how it's evolved since then. from the looks of obama's website: easy enrollment, low premiums, participant choice, good benefits. you can contribute money to a national plan if your employer does not offer it. my opinion: good plans. i know firsthand that the pharmaceutical market is corrupt. i'd also like to see some opinions/statements about that from obama. there's also a really good q&a sheet. an issue close to my heart: women's health. obama wants to make breast and cervical cancer exams more accessible.

john mccain wants to give a flat out tax credit of up to $5,000 for families to offset the cost of healthcare as well as having insurance carry from job to job (i like this idea, although i'm not sure how it would work--cobra is hard enough!). according to a new york times from may, and a recent article in time, not only is the credit insufficient, but mccain wants to healthcare to be taxable (so much for cutting taxes, i guess it had to come from somewhere). mccain is also in favor of cheaper drugs. this is a kind of scary thought as i am already skeptical of the pharmaceutical market as well as the scare currently going on in china with substituting chemicals instead of proteins in baby formula. we need to keep strict regulations on prescription drugs to ensure quality and i'm willing to pay slightly more for this. to end on a positive note: both obama & mccain have a healthcare plan and promise coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, children, and the elderly. way to be vague.

i obviously care about this. if ron paul were to have been elected, i would be out of a job as fast as he could dissolve the department of the interior. pros: both candidates believe in climate change!

mccain: emissions targets (+), advancing clean coal, encourage the market towards new technology (wind, water, hybrid, etc)
obama: fuel economy standards, hybrid cars, tax credits, use it or lose it on existing gas leases, swapping oil from the strategic petroleum reserve; which leads us into the next topic...

drilling on u.s. soil:
okay, so i have to admit that although i'm a geologist, i wasn't entirely sure what all of the pros and cons were to drilling on u.s. soil...

pros: could lower the price of fuel; lessen our dependence on foreign oil; done correctly, it would not harm endangered areas or the environment; would boost the economy (esp. in alaska); would create jobs
cons: it would take the focus off of our consumption, our real problem; wildlife refuges could be damaged by humans; drilling may not be fruitful; it could take years before oil would be refined and ready to use; if we didn't use it now, it could be used when we've exhausted other supplies
references: wikipedia, audobon, artic nat'l wildlife refuge, outside magazine

the candidates: obviously, after listening to palin's acceptance speech as the vp nominee, "drill more oil" you know the mccain ticket is for drilling for oil on u.s. soil. my colleagues will be surprised to know that obama is also fro the promotion of responsible domestic production of oil and natural gas. he has plans for his administration to begin establishing a process to begin researching in several potential oil-bearing formations. but he is not a one-issue man and knows that it will take other environmental policies (see above) to gain our independence from foreign oil.

“Here is the truth: fighting a war without end will not force the Iraqis to take responsibility for their own future. And fighting in a war without end will not make the American people safer.
So when I am Commander-in-Chief, I will set a new goal on day one: I will end this war. Not because politics compels it. Not because our troops cannot bear the burden- as heavy as it is. But because it is the right thing to do for our national security, and it will ultimately make us safer.”
—Barack Obama

if you actually read obama's website (you can tell me that i should read your candidate's website, but you won't read mine?), you'll see that obama doesn't want to pull all of the troops out at once. he doesn't want to leave them stranded and he doesn't want to continue putting our troops and our citizens at home in danger. and i am still confused about one thing... what about afganistan?

right, bush f-ed up. not saying clinton paved an awesome road for him (nobody's perfect). mccain was in favor of the surge from the very beginning (i think), and i think it has helped. but i want to know where it ends. i want to know when my friends are going to stop dying. i want to know why i still don't feel safer. i want to know why we can't get our act together to help victims of katrina, but we can send more and more troops to the middle east. i don't understand how mccain wants to deregulate our own economy, but start regulating others? can someone answer my questions?

so, yes, i think i will hope for obama. i think that a change is a good idea, but i'm not voting for him just because he says change. he does have qualities of a good leader, well-spoken, charismatic, "one of us," but now at least i can say that i'm voting for him because i researched his issues. obviously, these aren't ALL the issues... but i had to start somewhere. and i have to say, my head hurts a little bit from reading all these webpages. it took me over a day of nearly constant focus on research. i know h recieved more than one message from me ready to burn my eyeballs! i hope ya'll will catch any mistakes i may have made and fight me where i'm weak. i think i'm ready to take it now. ( :


emily posner said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
emily posner said...

what about women's rights? :)

yeah, i couldn't resist. especially, "But Palin doesn't hate women; she just doesn't care about them."