Thursday, July 26, 2012

How to Vote

Everybody seems to agonize over the elections. It’s really much simpler than people seem to think.

First, turn off the TV and radio, and close the newspapers. They just tell you what the candidates are doing and saying. That really doesn’t matter. They'll do or say anything to get elected. They're like little kids before Christmas. Of course, the media want you to think it matters because that’s how they sell advertising. But really, it comes down to just two questions:
  1. What does the candidate want to do?
  2. How effective will he be in doing it?
In other words, does he have good ideas, and is he likely to get them acted on? (I’m using “he” here for the current presidential contest, but this works for any candidate.)

So the results can be summed up in this table:
Effectiveness good bad
dynamo 3 0
dork 2 1

Obviously your best option is someone who can get good ideas acted on. Someone who can get bad ideas executed is the worst possibility. If neither candidate can get anything done, you’re still better off with one who has good ideas. In short, just look them up in the table and vote for the candidate with the highest score.

Now, how does this apply to the current presidential race? First lets look at the ideas department.

Romney, like pretty much all Republicans, wants to get government (welfare, police, firefighters, teachers, etc.) off the backs of corporations and rich people. Those corporations and rich people will then make sure that everyone who’s worthy will be able to get a job, and that all products will be safe and environment-friendly.

Obama, like pretty much all Democrats, thinks government should protect the public by providing services and regulating businesses so even the underprivileged have a viable lifestyle, and so we don't screw up the planet too much. You can decide for yourself which are good or bad ideas.

And effectiveness? Of course, there are degrees between dynamo and dork, but lets pretend we can view everything in the extreme. (Isn’t that part of the fun of politics?)

Obama has faced very stiff opposition, and yet was able to pass the Affordable Care Act, target and kill Osama bin Laden and other al Qaeda leaders, get rid of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, and accomplish various other progressive measures. On the other hand, he has not been able to get rid of the Bush-era Tax Cuts for the wealthy, he gave up on the single-payer/public option for health care, and he has not exactly turned the economy around.

Stunningly, Romney has been very effective at accomplishing the exact opposite of what he now proposes. At Bain, he destroyed jobs, and as Governor of Massachusetts, he instituted near universal health coverage with mandatory insurance, raised revenue, upheld abortion rights (for a while, anyway), supported some gun control, and endorsed same-sex unions (for a while anyway, and not including marriage.) So does this make him a very effective flip-flopper, or a very ineffective conservative? Hard to say.

Of course, it’s almost impossible for anyone to be really effective given the partisanship of Washington. (That’s the other part of the fun of politics.) So it comes down to a choice between two marginally effective candidates. Pick the one whose ideas suck less.

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