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The How and Why I Am Voting For President

One person's method reasoning for voting as they do.

Well, the insufferably long campaign season is coming to an end and we will soon be able to exercise our privilege to select our next leader. It would be naive to think politics were never ugly or shallow or pandering or misleading or anti-intellectual in decades past, but it sure seems like this year has exhibited those traits in spades.

Is it because the Citizens United ruling poured unspeakable amounts of untraceable money into campaigns? It couldn’t have helped the situation.

Is it because the electorate...you and me...get taken in by things like “You didn’t build that” or “Binders full of women” as though these things are actual, substantive points against one candidate or another? Or are they nothing more than turns of phrase twisted for political advantage to push our tribal buttons and to dupe a credulous public? Sadly; many do seem ready to take marching orders from organizations that care little about the facts and more about their political fortunes. You would think that, with the non-stop streams of information that bombard us, we would show signs of being more informed about the issues, the cogent facts, history, evidence and the opinions of [actual, non-political] experts. Alas; it would appear that we have somehow confused and conflated “opinion” with “journalism”. It is well known that we, as a species, seek that which affirms what we already believe and shun that does not. ...and it does not bode well for us as a nation that this election season has pushed those instincts into overdrive.

Phrases like “socialist”, “job creators”, “war on women”, “war on religion”, “apology tour” and the rest are all just stinging white noise that benefits partisan actors but benefits the general public not one iota.

Back in 2008, I voted for Barack Obama for a number of reasons. Forward in my thinking was that I couldn’t possibly allow the likes of Sarah Palin...someone whose theology believes that we are in the biblical end-times...that close to nuclear launch codes. (Statistically, McCain stood something like a 1 in 3 chance of dying in office). Next in mind was that McCain...someone that I might have supported years earlier...fell under the influence of more and more extreme factions of his party. Come the 2008 election he seemed willing to say anything to any voting bloc. This resulted in the final Hail Mary of unleashing Ms. Palin on an unsuspecting public hoping to appease the evangelical crowds. It seemed the complete and final destruction of a good political career.

As for the Obama ticket; there is no question that there was a lot of Kool-Aid surrounding the young candidate that could string whole sentences together. It made me happy to think I wouldn’t have to feel ashamed when our president interacted with other world leaders. (Remember when Bush and Blair would speak back-to-back? ...like both versions of Charlie from “Flowers For Algernon”)  Expectations were inexplicably high for Obama. I don’t think his rhetoric was any more over-reaching than any other candidates. It is politics after all. Nobody will get elected with “Things are bad and I promise to try to not let it get worse.” Still; the euphoria was unprecedented in my lifetime amongst a large group of Americans after the last election. For myself; I figured that if our economic plane was in a nosedive, I would be perfectly relieved [if not happy] to return to level flight for a while. To date we have some growth, the markets and my 401k have rebounded, housing prices are increasing. Job growth has been tepid, but 1) economists initially underestimated the scale of the crisis and 2) the economist-backed bills promoted by the White House were thwarted by an intransigent GOP at every opportunity.

I, just beginning to understand the depth of the financial chasm before us, had a more realistic goal for the next presidential term. If we didn’t implode and relive the 1930’s, I would consider it a success. I felt the financial hole that we were tumbling into would take longer than four years to fill. On the whole, I got exactly what I bargained for from an Obama presidency and am thankful for it. We all had TV-side seats as we watched the economic equivalent of making sausage. We all held our noses as we poured gobs of money that we didn’t have into bailing out the very same banks whose hubris and unbridled risk-taking were key factors in our economic woes. [Why we didn’t have more strings attached...like lifetime bans from banking for boards of directors...I’ll never know] We did this (and other things) because economists...the real experts in the field...said the consequences would be far worse if we didn’t bail them out.

This last example...economists showing us the unvarnished options of “bad” and “unspeakably bad”...is why I will be voting for Obama again. I am a scientist and have a great appreciation for evidence. I like to think that I also have a better than average [but not infallible] ability to distinguish good evidence from bad evidence from bull-hooey. I know that things are bad now and it is very tempting, with our smart-phone, iPad and Twitter attention spans, to seek change for change’s sake. But we mustn’t lose sight that there is actually evidence and there are actual experts that can inform us as to which policies actually have a chance of addressing our economic woes.

The great majority of economists are much more closely aligned with Obama and some of the Romney/Ryan claims just don’t add up (not that every Obama number is 100% unimpeachable). Take, for instance, the Romney/Ryan plan to reduce taxes, close loopholes and increase military spending. The campaign is doing everything it can to avoid saying the mathematically unavoidable. The wealthy are far less affected by the closing of loopholes than the middle class. Hence, the plan benefits the wealthy. Now I have no problem with wealth and I promote seeking wealth through the free market, but trickle down economics has been debunked. Tax cuts do have some positive effect on job growth, but the context and scale proposed by the red ticket is nowhere near that as when tax reforms elicited significant growth at other times in history (i.e. with JFK). There is no reason to think that Romney’s reforms could be effective at creating the unprecedented growth promised. As an economic plan, economists, for the most part, think it stinks on ice.

Hence, I can’t vote for Romney on economic issues.

Then there is the whole social policy thing. Religious conservatism has tried to infiltrate politics for a long while (witness getting “Under God” into the Pledge and “In God We Trust” on currency in the 1950’s). In the 1960’s, Barry Goldwater saw the direction things were going and presciently warned us with:

“Mark my word, if and when these preachers get control of the [Republican] party, and they're sure trying to do so, it's going to be a terrible damn problem. Frankly, these people frighten me. Politics and governing demand compromise. But these Christians believe they are acting in the name of God, so they can't and won't compromise. I know, I've tried to deal with them.”

It is well-argued that it was with Reagan that the formal courting of the evangelical crowd started and so began the clear association with conservative religious beliefs with the Republican party. This is why we now seem to see the most ill-informed and primitive statements come from  lawmakers with ‘R’s in front of their name (i.e.  Akin, Broun and Murdock).

Let’s take gay-marriage as a prototypical “family values” issue that is now owned by the GOP. The evidence is overwhelming that gender preference is based in biology. It is not a choice and it is not a result of societal pressure. “Gay” is to “straight” as “left-handed” is to “right-handed”. People of both ilk exist. If legislation that would deny left-handed individuals the rights to marriage, hospital visitation and inheritance makes you recoil, then denying those rights to gays should do the same. Romney/Ryan would proudly and unabashedly treat gays differently.

Hence, I can’t vote for Romney on moral grounds.

Let’s not ignore that Romney has held held most positions on most topics of import. I actually think he would be a fairly moderate leader given his history as governor where he invented the health-care reforms that he vehemently opposes now. More than any candidate; I don’t know if I have ever seen a candidate that has so transparently pandered to various voting blocs with so little disregard for personal consistency. He just seems so sullied by the political process that I don’t actually know where the true Mitt sits.

As far as Veeps go; Biden is sort of a non-actor for me. Paul Ryan, on the other hand, was specifically chosen to bring Tea Party creds to the ticket and the GOP economic plan. What book has had the most influence on Ryan and his policies?  Ayn Rand’s “Atlas Shrugged”...a work of fiction.

As a scientist, I have considered how I make decisions. I have also contemplated how the scientific method works to arrive at truths that are out of reach of other intellectual endeavors. I feel that eliminating wrong answers is as [or more] important that finding the one right answer. Eliminating that wrong answer may not give the the final result, but it gets you closer to the truth. I see Romney/Ryan as offering a number of objectively wrong answers.

Hence I will be voting for Obama/Biden.

I myself am in a political race running for the aldermanic seat in Geneva’s 1st Ward. One might think that I should be more cautious about writing on subjects like this. After all, there might be some anti-Obama voters in my ward that might not vote for me now (not that national and local politics overlap too much). My campaign manager has, in no uncertain terms, told me “don’t become a politician yet. Write what you believe and feel strongly about.”. I hope I am being true to that. Will it help me or hurt me? We’ll find out next April.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Karen Schneider October 26, 2012 at 09:52 PM
Mike, Thank you for sharing your logical and elonquently stated position. While I will readily admit that your opinions closely mirror mine, should you have stated support for another candidate with the same logic, clarity and candor, my respect for you and your opinion would not have been diminished. I hope that we discover in April that I am not in the minority.
Arthur Stern October 27, 2012 at 12:31 AM
Mr B: This country is 16 trillion dollars in debt, borrowing 4 billion every day, has 23 million people out of work, family net worth is down 30%, median family income is down, 47 million are on food stamps, we're paying more for health insurance (Obamacare was supposed to decrease premiums), the economy is growing at an anemic 2% and you think Obama should be re-elected. 3 times in the past 50 years presidents have decreased federal income taxes (Kennedy in the 60's, Reagan in the 80's, and Bush 10 years ago) and in each case there has been a marked increase in economic growth, job growth, and resultant marked increases in tax revenues. Mr. Obama is going to allow taxes to increase as all the Bush tax rates expire and has added more taxes from Obamacare. Google taxmaggedon. Romney wants to decrease taxes to everybody to get the same results that have worked before. I'm a physician and the biggest reason I can't wait to vote against Obama is Obamacare. It will cost 2.7 trillion (current estimate, sure to skyrocket), taxes medical device makers, has already been used to restrict religious freedom, and institutes a rationing board - the Independent Payment Advisory Board. Some time soon unelected government functionaries will be able to tell citizens which medical treatments they can and can't get. Finally, watch Brett Baier's report on Benghazi this weekend - the president was criminally incompetent in his handling of this disaster that cost 4 American lives. Art Stern
G.Ryan October 27, 2012 at 12:52 AM
I agree Dr. Stern. I am a nurse and understand the implications with this ObamaCare. There is no reason or rationale for it. Our healthcare is one of the best in the world. It needs however, tort reform and then costs can decrease. Obama is a disgrace and I cannot wait to see the smirk on his face when he gets his walking papers from us Americans.
carl October 27, 2012 at 04:15 AM
Just yesterday I asked my wife, gee, I wonder who Mike Bruno is voting for, and why? Thanks for the insight into the machinations that went into your decision.
Mike Bruno October 27, 2012 at 12:28 PM
@Arthur Stern The statistics you cite are indeed unsettling and I wouldn't contest much of it. We could quibble about how tax decreases helped at times in the past and whether they would or wouldn't help today. The fact remains that the great majority of economists say the Romney/Ryan plan would not work as well as the Obama plan (and would be counterproductive in some areas). Economics is not necessarily intuitive. The fact that most of us can balance a checkbook does not mean we have insights into macroeconomics. I look to experts for answers. I am surprised that so many can disregard the general opinion of the population that has actual expertise on these matters. As far as Obamacare/Romneycare goes, I'm not happy with it either. Something massive needs to be done. Prior to the economic collapse [and maybe still] health-care was the single greatest contributor to personal bankruptcy...and most of those HAD health insurance. A huge part of the complication is the bizarre relationship health care has with employment in the U.S.. We should definitely unburden businesses from the delivery of health care. (It would also diffuse the red-herring religious freedom argument). The rest of the industrialized world has moved to a single-payer system for a reason. The challenge is how to best leverage market forces AND provide universal health care.
Mike Bruno October 27, 2012 at 12:38 PM
@G.Ryan You say our healthcare is the best in the world. How so? It certainly has its virtues, but is it the cheapest? No. We spend twice a much as other nations. Does the U.S. have the best health outcomes? No. Other nations with universal care have better overall health. Is it the most broadly available? No. Like I said; there is a reason that every other industrialized nation has gone to universal health care. There are tons of problems. You and I probably agree that the litigious nature of society contributes. Consumers whine to get expensive MRI and such just because they want it and doctors do it so they don't get sued. Pay-per-service also incentivizes providers to do more and unnecessary procedures. The final compromise (while offering some really nice things) is still a muddled mess that, to my mind, doesn't satisfy either side.
Mike Bruno October 27, 2012 at 12:41 PM
And isn't that the most pressing question on everyone's mind? ..."I wonder what Mike Bruno is thinking right now." :-)
Julie October 27, 2012 at 12:53 PM
The most pressing ? on everyone's mind should be why we let 4 Americans die on our watch. Why isn't anyone thinking about this and why is most of the media downplaying this? Those poor souls in Libya asked their own country for help and they were denied. In fact, it came out yesterday that our military was ready to get in there and they were told to stand down by the people who are supposed to protect us. Two heroes, who actually believe in America, went against those orders because it was morally wrong...and now they are dead. Why? So Mr. Prez and Hillary didn't have to admit that yet another terrorist attack, NOT an act of terror, was commited against us. Shame, shame, shame on the cover-up. This is going to be another Watergate...just watch. Who would vote for such incompetence??? Not me!
Fun with Numbers October 27, 2012 at 05:19 PM
Gary Becker, Nobel laureate James Buchanan, Nobel laureate Robert Lucas, Nobel laureate Robert Mundell, Nobel laureate Edward Prescott, Nobel laureate Myron Scholes, Nobel laureate Six Nobel Laureates and nearly 700 other Economists with street cred in the field have publicly signed on to support R&R. http://economistsforromney.com/
Justin Eggar October 27, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Well now I'm curious. Mike - if there are indeed 700+ well known economists that have supported Romney's fiscal mechanism... is it possible that one of the bigger misrepresentations in the campaign has been that the Romney tax system wouldn't work? I have a feeling that a response might include "in the scheme of things, 700 people isn't a large enough sample to take seriously". But isn't it? The opinion of far fewer economists has been touted by the Democratic reason for why the economy wouldn't work under Romney.
Mike Bruno October 27, 2012 at 06:58 PM
@Fun and @Justin, In a quick scan and bit of research a handful of names from the website, it seems that there isn't much of vetting process to get on the list. It seems that, if you work in a department of economics, you can sign the petition (from my sample anyway). If Fun With Numbers is really understands how number can be abused, he/she would also recognize that touting 700 as impressive in and of itself is...by itself...fun with numbers. Even if we presume everyone on the list has economic bona-fides, that number means *nothing without some sort of context. I can only speculate as to how many thousands have similar credentials. Much more informative are polls/surveys by reputable organizations that limit surveys to the most credentialed individuals. Here is an article that links to a number of studies. http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-07-23/the-u-s-economic-policy-debate-is-a-sham.html
Fun with Numbers October 27, 2012 at 07:35 PM
Mike - your wrote "The great majority of economists are much more closely aligned with Obama" Please share the data supporting your claim about the "majority of economists." While it may be true that the Economists who publicly support R&R may do so free of charge, I think a more meaningful measurement would be the quality of the research contributed to advance the body of knowledge by these supporters. Their working papers are here http://www.ssrn.com/ern/index.html and their Nobels are here http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/economics/laureates/
Mike Bruno October 27, 2012 at 10:59 PM
OK. I labored through at least 15 of the most recent Nobel winners and found only two that tangentially disagree with Obama. In the process I found vocal critics of R/R policies (Paul Krugman most well known) and another that was an Obama cabinet pick. To start with your questioning my statement; I would suggest you follow the links in the bloomberg article that I linked earlier. Then there is http://www.economist.com/node/21564175. There is a very small poll by CNN that favors Romney, but the population size and the rate of response make it more confusing than useful.
Kathy October 28, 2012 at 01:15 AM
Any president who would disregard the rights of an American citizen and have him and his son assassinated without due process is not the president for me. Not only that, he should be tried for his crimes! Also, his violations of the constitution are unconscionable. Libya is just the icing on the cake with this arrogant president. Don't even get me started on his lack of ability to accomplish anything with regard to improving our economy. That's worthy of a book. Time for a change Mike Bruno.
Justin Eggar October 28, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Mike, Politics being what they are, don't be offended if I don't put much time into a response on this. Let me just point out the reason that scientists do a double blind study in research. To guard against researcher bias, placebo effect, etc. we could all read the same article and likely come to a differing conclusion. For instance,that Economist article was really just a study done on how partisanship affects ones ability to be be objective (isn't it interesting how both sides think the other side doesn't have the data to back up what they're saying?). I simply don't agree with the mindset that because someone has something that we have a right to it. Growing up in a village there was a social phenomenon called "kere kere". When you said that to somebody, they had a societal requirement that they would have to give you what you asked for. For instance, "Justin, kere kere could I have $20 to go see a movie". This really exists in cultures. It bothers me that someone thinks that they are owed something for the mere fact that they exist (I'm talking about the US here). Existence, just like a numerical superiority (tyranny of the masses), shouldn't grant someone the right to another assets.
Mike Bruno October 28, 2012 at 09:51 PM
@Justin: Have I, in any way, intimated that everyone is entitled to everyone else's stuff?
Justin Eggar October 29, 2012 at 03:15 AM
Mike - the increased taxes (death tax, additional taxation on top earners, etc) is simply a redistribution of wealth. I can understand that we all want a well funded society that provides for our needs... But at some point it has extended beyond its purpose. A governments ability to take by force from its citizens does not mean it is morally acceptable for it to do so. On a side note, Obama likely needs to redo his estate plan. Since his wealth ballooned from $1.5m to $10m in the last four years as president... He will no longer be under his proposed limit for the estate tax. Kere kere could you pay for my healthcare?
Mike Bruno October 29, 2012 at 10:16 AM
@Justin: I thought that's where you were going with it. Well we, as a society, have selected any number of things where we [to use your focus-group tested term] redistribute wealth for everyone's benefit. Education, highways, defense, parks, street plowing are but a few. Taxpayers have been subsidizing healthcare for a long time. Tax deductions for individuals and corporations on healthcare expenditures and emergency room service for the uninsured are just a couple of ways that taxpayers are already on the hook for health care. There are two issues on the table. 1) do we, as a society, want everyone to have access to basic medical care? and 2) If so, what is the best way to affect that? Human nature (I suggest) says that we DO want our neighbors to have medical care if they need it. Given that every other industrialized nation offers it is consistent with my take on human nature. Going on that premise, we then need to figure out the best way to leverage market forces to guarantee universal basic care. What we have is a bloated, expensive, complicated mess (Obamacare or not) that hasn't worked well for our society. Single-payer/universal health care does not preclude private markets from playing a role.
Justin Eggar October 30, 2012 at 02:58 AM
I've always had muddled feelings on universal health care. On one hand yes, I would love for everyone to have equal access to health care. On the other hand... At what cost will we have it? Our government is so wasteful, I don't think that we can pull off what most industrialized nations do. We can't even manage to balance a budget before adding in healthcare... and with that in tow our potential for failure is even higher. We're all working hard to leave a legacy for our families... Repaying debt isn't a legacy I want to leave them with. On a side note, presidents aside, do you think the federal mandate is a better option than state?
Mike Bruno October 30, 2012 at 04:48 AM
@Justin: I think the mandate at the federal level makes sense here. While it makes sense a lot of time to put control at the local or state level; health care is a universal need and we all are biologically human. We don't treat psoriasis differently in South Carolina than we do in Hawaii. Moreover, Medicare and Medicaid (if I understand correctly) is a model of efficiency for federal programs in terms of percentage of dollars that reach the customer/patient. Then Obamacare improves on that by cracking down on overbilling and [eventually] will streamline record handling for better care and more huge cost savings. The feds actually have a lot of expertise in this area. As an aside; I have been tending to my elderly father at a new hospital for the past week. Try to catch a new facility up on 88 years of medical history through illegible faxes, oral history, memory and driving around to get historical medical images. What a nightmare! I can't wait for Health I.T.. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_information_technology) Aside #2: I am a huge market proponent and private industry is still the biggest player in universal health care. But there is no virtue of the private market that would lead it to providing universal care. If, as a society, we don't think people should lose their homes or retirement if they happen to get ill, then [IMO] government needs to be at the reigns.

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