Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Socialism, Obama...my two cents

My post yesterday started up quite a conversation in the comments on whether or not Obama is a socialist.

First off, I'd like to thank FreedomFirst and Mama Smurf for speaking their views on the issues, and not on the personal (and mostly unfounded) attacks on Obama. I'm pleased that you knew you could be open and honest here, all the while knowing I'm an Obama supporter.

You both agreed that you think Obama's a socialist. I have a few things to say in response to that.

First off, this is exactly the kind of debate I love having about politics because I believe that the balance theory applies. We need people on both sides of the fence to continue fighting for what they believe in order to (hopefully) find a balance between capitalism and socialism. A lifelong Republican near and dear to my heart and I used to have these sort of debates a lot - about what should or shouldn't be the government's responsibility. That's interesting. That's debatable, even. And that debate, I believe, should go on throughout America's existence because, depending on our times, our greatest challenges, our strength, the balance will shift. Because of those dynamics, it will never be a constant answer. We will never find one harmonious balance, but the goal should be to get as close to it as possible, be wary of the changes that throws things out of balance, and adjust accordingly.

Having loud voices on both sides of this debate makes that possible.

Most of us are probably more centrist than those that disagree with us would probably believe.

I surprise conservatives - and they surprise me - pleasantly when we find those issues where we completely agree. And our humanity should allow us to explore the whole person, and not just one part.

Having said that, however, I've placed my feet firmly in the left camp because, more often than not, their views align closer (particularly on those issues most important to me) than the right. So I play my part accordingly.

Some people (not all - and certainly not any Obama detractor that is taking the time to read this) don't give me credit for that. They think that I just take everything I hear and see from any left-leaning liberal rag and espouse it as fact. That's just not true. Democrats do things that annoy me all the time. I'm just not as public about it - it's sort of like a family feud. I prefer to whisper to those closest to me, rather than shout it to the world.

I appreciate any time any "conservative," "Republican" - whatever label you want to slap on someone opposite of me - takes the time to explain to me their views. And doesn't resort to name-calling. I've had some really fantastic discussions that way. Sure, I spout off about those that scream Obama's an "Arab" or claims they don't know who Barack Obama is (hello?!? Where have you been the last year?), but when it comes to one-on-one, I try to take into account the whole person - not just one label.

Somewhere in my drafts there's a post about labeling. I may have to finish that one someday.

Sorry - digressed there for a moment.

I do, however, feel the need to explain more about Obama's "socialist" programs and views. Or, at least, how I understand them and why I support them.

Bush - as even you conservatives know - is not a fiscal conservative. Bush is lucky the Republican party still exists for all the ways he's skewered it. Even most Republicans I know, even those that supported Iraq, think he's done a shoddy job, and none of them would call him a fiscal conservative. He spent money like - well, like he could afford a 56 trillion dollar deficit.

So I can certainly respect and appreciate anyone's fear that Obama's proposed spending won't help matters. But even most economics agree that McCain's won't help either. We're going to have to spend some money. It's unavoidable.

What the question should be about is how we're going to spend it, and what we will spend it on.

McCain has given me no reassurance that he will spend it any wiser than Bush has. His health care plan scares the crap out of me. And people way smarter than me have confirmed I have reason to be scared.

The way that I understand it, he'll tax our health insurance, but give us a $5,000 tax credit. Well, when health insurance costs average $12,000, that means the remaining $7,000 will be taxed. It reminds me of the useless vouchers in the NCLB program: if my neighborhood school fails, then they'll give me a $4,000 voucher for a private school - where the average annual tuition is $12,000. Doesn't help. Given that education and medical costs are two of the top three reasons for bankruptcy (with divorce being the third), these create very big problems for the average American family (where the median income is now less than $50,000).

And as much as McCain likes to say that Obama will somehow federalize health care, it's just not true. Did McCain see any of the debates between Obama and Clinton? This was their main difference, and they exhausted it over 18 debates! Clinton wanted universal health care (as did Edwards). Obama did not. Clinton called him out time and time again for not supporting universal health care. All Obama wants to do is simply offer the federal health care option to all Americans. No one will be forced or mandated to take it.

Now, some people will think of health care and education as entitlement programs. Whether you think of that term as a bad or a good thing, I believe that our government does have a responsibility to keep American citizens healthy and offer the best education possible. As many healthy, educated Americans we can have, the greater our country can be. Educated children grow up to be smart, creative, productive members of society that can create jobs and new industries for our future. That's a good thing. Less people able to work due to health problems is not a good thing, either. While I don't think they're necessarily drains on our system or anything like that, I believe that healthier Americans are more productive, which in turn leads to a stronger America.

I think Obama has better plans to help us with that. Plain and simple.

The war: I don't believe that because McCain was a prisoner of war means he can lead one. If you recall, he brought up two failures as a leader in the last debate. He couldn't get anyone to listen to him when it came to Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae, and he certainly didn't help matters when it came to the bailout program. I don't see him as an effective leader in these very serious times. (Not to mention, I found it quite condescending that he said most of us probably hadn't heard of Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae until two weeks ago. He's assuming we don't pay attention.)

I also believe Obama can practice diplomacy better than McCain. McCain, again, just doesn't seem to be very effective in his communication. Beyond the condescension, he also seems to get irritated very easily. I've seen Obama debate numerous times now, and his ability to keep his calm - yet still able to communicate - is incredibly impressive to me. While I'm sick of hearing them go back and forth (as I heard Clinton and Obama go back and forth) on whether or not Obama should be willing to talk to foreign leaders without pre-conditions, I do agree that Obama should leave that option on the table.

I do believe that these are scary times. I do believe that we are vulnerable to attacks from a large number of groups and countries even. I do not think we have the resources right now to fight more wars than we're already fighting.

I also believe that Obama, if he cannot absolutely stop the fighting in Iraq, will at least get rid of the Blackwaters of Iraq and devote more of our resources to our actual troops! I also believe that we should be heading out very very soon. While he may have gotten the figures wrong, according to FactCheck, Obama was right that the Iraqi government has a surplus. And we have a 56 trillion dollar deficit. I find something fundamentally wrong with that. McCain has not convinced me that he will be as vigilant, or as effective.

Simply put, I don't find McCain to be an effective leader at all. He lost on the Freddie Mac/Fannie Mae bill, his campaign finance reform is a joke (as evidenced by all the PACs out there), he already lost a chance at the presidency 8 years ago...there's nothing in his 30-year political career that tells me he's a leader, let alone the leader of the free world.

I respect his service, of course. But I don't respect the major turn-around he's done from the man he was four years ago. Heck, I even quoted him four years ago! And then he started getting ready to run, and his positions on Iraq, on terror, on Bush, on social conservatism (as evidenced by his VP pick), heck even on lobbyists (anyone remember that story on that lobbyist?), they all switched. And while I respect his service, I don't believe in him.

I don't believe that he can make all the changes he says he's going to make, regardless of the bailout, as he stated in the last debate. Totally unrealistic.

I appreciated that Obama at least prioritized, but the fact is, no one can say for sure what will change because no one quite knows what the situation will be four months from now. I hope that Obama says that on Wed.

Do I know absolutely in my heart that Obama will be the president I want him to be? Of course not. But he's given me enough evidence in this past year that says he's worth that leap of faith.

No, neither of them are perfect. Neither of them are completely truthful (and that does get on my nerves - but again, I only speak about it "in the family"), but let's face it: what kind of person would want this job? Particularly in these times.

I know, I completely strayed off my point about 'socialism.' I guess what I'm trying to say is, if that makes me a socialist, then so be it.

*edited to add* I deleted an anonymous comment earlier not just because they decided to post anonymously, but also because they made assumptions about how I've come to my conclusions which are just not accurate. I was accused of buying into the "change" mantra. That's not the case. And to make it clear to everyone, my own personal bias towards Obama has to do with the fact that he was raised by a single mother, and gets single motherhood. So my personal bias towards him versus McCain (and I do recognize the fact that my personal bias influences my political beliefs) is something very very personal to me. I've been lucky to find a community here of single mothers who help me through it, but I really really love the concept of having a president who understands me as a person. I've stated my other reasons here, and I just hope that people will think twice before assuming why anyone supports one candidate over another. I appreciate learning about why people choose one candidate and what personal experiences influence and affect that decision, but I think we all need to stay away from assuming we know until we've been so informed.


Mozi Esme said...

Thanks for taking the time to lay it all out there. I tend to be a conservative myself, but I'm not too excited with this election. Either way, I hope the next president pleasantly surprises us all.

Jen said...

Wonderful post, April. Very calm and clear.

Anonymous said...

I was trying to think about how to respond when I came across this post on feministing.com: http://www.feministing.com/archives/011603.html

The most relevant part to this discussion is quoted from Adam Serwer's article at the American Prospect (emphasis from feministing.com):

It's no wonder that the tone at McCain rallies remind Lewis of the bad old days. In recent months, conservatives have sounded increasingly retro with their attempts to paint Obama as a socialist or communist. In some ways, this accusation is typical far-right boilerplate. Obama certainly isn't the first Democrat running for president to be accused of communist sympathies. And as usual, the accusations are rarely linked to policy specifics. But the difference with Obama is that, in the eyes of the right, it's not just his political affiliation that implicates him as a socialist. It's his ethnic background.

The hysterical accusations of socialism from conservatives echo similar accusations leveled at black leaders in the past, as though the quest for racial parity were simply a left-wing plot. Obama may not actually be a socialist or communist, but his election would strike another powerful blow to the informal racial hierarchy that has existed in America since the 1960s, when it ceased being enforced by law. This hierarchy, which holds that whiteness is synonymous with American-ness, is one conservatives are now instinctively trying to preserve. Like black civil-rights activists of the 1960s, Obama symbolizes the destruction of a social order they see as fundamentally American, which is why terms like "socialism" are used to describe the threat.

The entire article is definitely worth a read.

I don't throw around the racism accusations lightly. In fact, it is a charge thrown around so frequently that I have, unfortunately, become cynical. However, during this election season I have found that when people level charges of socialism or that "we just don't know much about him" are specious and usually leveled at people who would not label themselves racist. It may be subconscious racism but it's racism nonetheless.

Suzie said...

Obama Obama Obama Goooooo Team!

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
April said...

I am deleting the anonymous comment because they chose to be anonymous and spout off a bunch of things that if you truly believe it, you will name yourself. I can't block anonymous comments without blocking comments from others who have the decency to leave a name at least. But to the anonymous commenter - get your own blog!

Anonymous said...

In complete agreement. I've watched McCain for the twelve years I have lived in his state and I am not impressed. I was at one time, but his time has passed. I also found it condescending that he assumed most of us had never heard of freddie or Fannie. It's sort of the same kind of condescending attitude I see from anonymous commenters, whether they mean to sound condescending or not. It's like, "Oh, you poor child, you just don't understand how it really is." I'm not just talking about here, I'm talking about elsewhere and in private emails I've had with other bloggers.

YES, I do know how it is and so do you. We've educated ourselves enough on Obama and I know I can admit that he is NOT perfect, but he is BETTER than the alternative. I've read you long enough to know that you definitely think things through as well.

It's like this: my very Mormon friend is voting for McCain because she feels she has to. I respect her opinion and I know there is nothing I'm going to do to change it. I never make her feel bad about it because she sees things differently than I do. I wish people would understand that.

Also, socialism is a buzz word, a relatively meaningless word used to incite fear into people, but what people don't already realize is that socialism is already alive and well in this country. It goes along with the whole balancing theme, I believe that you can't have just one economic system to be successful. Just as you can't have just one person controlling everything or one religion controlling everything. Extremes in anything are never any good, whether it's socialism, capitalism, or religion.

Anyway, I'm trying to put these thoughts together while working diligently on something else, so I hope everything came out right!

Anonymous said...

I think the anonymous commenter was trying to validate his/her own choices by making you feel bad about yours. He/she had obviously thought out his/her personal opinion and was offended that you came up with something different in yours. That's what I think was very unfortunate about that comment (I saw it), because if he/she had a point to make, it was lost in the pointing out about how wrong you are to come to your conclusions.

I don't think the comment was offensive, per se, but it stung of the same condescending attitude that we see from McCain.

Kori said...

I love you. That's it.

Jeff and Charli Lee said...

It's all about balance. Hmmm, where have I heard that before?

Anonymous said...

Beautifully stated...April for President!

FreedomFirst said...

Well, I will have to say that McCain does sicken me. Whenever they brought up the subject in last week's debate about how to handle Bush's recent garbage disposal of our money, he would just go on and on about how "We are Americans, we can do this, we all have to sacrifice." Which is a TOTAL cop-out and refusal to accept ANY responsibility or admit that he will personally need to come up with a plan! I HATE HIM! Not to mention that HE is not one of the ones who will be "pulling together" and "making sacrifices." Bah! How much more blatantly could he say to us, "F&%# you"? What else are we supposed to sacrifice? We already don't have any money to spend because the government has spent it all for us; and now they've spent our great-grandkids' money as well! This isn't something we can grow a Victory Garden to fix!!!!!

So yes, McCain would suck. He's a great big fake. Which is why I won't vote for him.

On the other hand, I have heard that Obama will require mandatory vaccinations for health care qualification, something I am VERY much against. Also that health care WILL be mandatory for children, which I disagree with although I choose to have it for my own. I think government mandates should be very, very few and far between. I agree that McCain's health care plan is a slap in the face. It just shows how out-of-touch he is.

Also, what about the fact that Obama's economic advisor is one of the men who destroyed Fannie Mae? There is no good explanation for that. It shows either a lack of necessary caution, or a hidden agenda, on Obama's part. That's a big problem for me. It makes me wonder just what sort of plan these guys would devise to handle the bankruptcy of America.

FreedomFirst said...

Hmmm. I decided to visit Barack Obama's website and look up certain issues, and I was really surprised! The only thing I couldn't find an answer for was the vaccination issue. But it said that Franklin Raines is NOT one of his advisors, which surprised me since the person who told me that was a former classmate of Franklin Raines. I figured I could take that one to the bank. I guess not.

Meg said...

I lived in a country with national healthcare--Japan--and it was great. We're the only Westernized country without it. It's too bad this idea causes people to throw around the "S" word. Personally I'd wear that badge proudly rather than the badge of the corporate, crony capitalists.

Anonymous said...

I'm not well versed in politics at all. AT ALL. I sort of read things here and there, and then believe them. Then I read more over there, and I'm like "Hey wait! That's not what I heard earlier!!"

Kind of like FreedomFirst.

Also kind of like Obama's "Plan for Universal and Voluntary Citizen Service". Some person was like "Obama is going to make us all volunteer!" And I was like "No way. The very definition of the word 'volunteer' means you can't be forced. Duh, person" And then I read more, and it looks like some people (children) *will* be forced. I mean, I'm all for volunteering (I do it often) but don't MAKE me (or my child) volunteer! That's not the government's place.

That said, I'm not all up on McCain's tip by FAR. His arm scares me. Also? I hate when certain people vote based on one issue--and it seems like it's always people voting for the Republican because of the abortion issue. How can someone do that?! It's INSANE to me.

Let's just say, my parents never used to tell me who they voted for. I loved the intrigue. The big "secret"--and I like to follow that tradition. :)

Julie said...

Nicely put! I love it. As I was reading this, I was thinking that I want to send it to my dad because he keeps sending me anti-Obama emails. Thankfully I don't think he's going to vote for McCain, but his ONLY reason for not voting for Obama is because "he'll raise my taxes". UGH. Anyway... I loved your post here.

And I completely agree with you about McCain's statement claiming that most of us hadn't heard of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Does he think we all live under rocks?! WTF?! I think I first heard of those two in high school. Just because HE had never heard of them doesn't mean we haven't. :)