I had planned to spend my evening drinking a beer or two and nervously watching the election returns. But I live in California, so in fact, the Presidential election was called before I even put my kids to bed. Therefore, I've decided to spend my evening drinking a beer or two and writing a rare political post- and nervously watching the election returns for my local and state elections and waiting to hear Obama's acceptance speech.
I won't lie- I'm happy with the result. As I explained to Pumpkin as we watched the election returns after dinner, Barack Obama was the candidate I voted for.
But I also explained to her that Mitt Romney is a good man, a lot of good people voted for him, and they, for the most part, had respectable reasons for doing so. (I exclude the Truthers and other closet- or not so closet- racists from that.)
And as I tweeted not long after the election was called for Obama, I'm actually disappointed that the Republican party is going the way it is. I am moderate on most fiscal issues, leaning a little left or a little right issue by issue. Overall, I probably lean a little left. I am, however, quite liberal on the "social" issues- gay rights, women's rights, etc. And I am firmly in the "I believe in science" camp, wanting us to address climate change instead of arguing over whether it is happening, and just wanting us in general to use the available evidence to make policy decisions and not try to make up alternate realities when we don't like the one we've got.
On the fiscal issue and other core government policy issues, like immigration and health care (and yes, I think that is a core government policy), I'd like a credible opposition. I want people who come at these issues from different baseline beliefs about the role of government to bring their best ideas forward, and I want us to debate those ideas and find the best combination to solve the problems we face.
But none of that can happen if one party is more concerned with who I sleep with and what happens after that. It can't happen if one party is more concerned about how to keep certain groups of people from voting than with how to craft policies that will appeal to those groups. And frankly, it can't happen if we are stuck in this place where the partisan game and obstructing the opposition is more important than solving our country's problems. (Yes, I believe both parties have been guilty of that last one, and actually think we are in a negative feedback loop on that, similar to how people react to one car gridlocking with more gridlocking. But Republicans, you're the ones in opposition now, so it falls to you to stop this madness.)
So, while I'm happy that "my side" won this time, I hope that the other side takes a step back, regroups, and finds a way forward that doesn't require all of its nominees to pander to the furthest right wing. I hope it finds a way to be a credible option for me in the future, and doesn't instead double down on its current course.
I hope that because I think we have some big issues to solve in the near future, and I think that some of them are not ones that have an obvious partisan home. I'll make no secret of the fact that I'm thrilled that this election victory means that we keep our place on the path to reforming health care, not just because I think expanding health care coverage is the moral thing to do, but because I think that untethering health care from employment is the smart thing to do. I have written before about how I toy with the idea of going out on my own as a consultant and/or trying to start my own company. One of the things holding me back is the risk that presents, not to my income (which I could manage), but to my family's health care coverage. I do not think I am alone in making that calculation. Why is this not a job creation issue? If we reframe it in that way, could we get sharp minds on both sides of the political divide working on how to make it financially feasible to extend coverage to everyone, regardless of their employment status? Because that is what we need.
The other issue I'd like to see bipartisan brainstorming on is immigration. Again, this is both a moral and pragmatic, economic issue to me. On the moral side, I think that the situation we've created with undocumented immigrants on the low end of the wage scale is reprehensible. On the economic side, I think that the mess we have at the higher end of the wage scale is a competitive disadvantage for our country. We are turning away people who could be job creators, and there are other countries with great quality of life that are happy to welcome them. I do not pretend that finding a fair and lasting solution to these problems will be easy. That is why I want all sorts of people thinking about how to solve them.
And I think this bipartisan brainstorming should be applied to all issues. For instance, I understand and respect the deep and unwavering opposition to abortion that many "values voters" have. I, clearly, view that issue quite differently than they do. But we have common ground. I, too, would like to see the number of abortions in this country plummet. I don't know anyone who doesn't. Let's accept the reality that abortion will remain legal for the time being, and instead of trying to chip away at that work to make it irrelevant. There's research on what reduces abortions. We could work together to figure out how to use that to bring our abortion rate down.
In short, I want us recognize that we disagree on many things, but look for what we can agree on, and use that to find our way to solutions to the issues that matter to all of us. I want an opposition that is more about presenting opposing ideas than about just opposing the other side. I know that this is a pipe dream in our current environment. But it doesn't have to be. I really, truly, hope that the Republicans decide to be that opposition. Who knows- if they do that, in four years, I might find myself in the opposition. Or I might even find myself voting for a Republican. And that would be just fine with me.
Congrats President Obama! You said "I am moderate on most fiscal issues, leaning a little left or a little right issue by issue." I'd love to hear more specifics on the fiscal issues - I don't think our society gives them enough air time.ReplyDelete
Ha! I don't like writing political posts, because they have the potential to blow up into nasty comment-fests, and I can't do much about that during the day. So I doubt I'll be writing full posts about political issues anytime soon. But I'll give you an example of a fiscal issue I lean right on: I'm pro-free trade and globalization. But I also think we need a solid safety net to help people whose jobs disappear and better retraining programs, which in our current political climate in which the Republicans are so enamored with Randian philosophy is a left-leaning idea.Delete
We do have some of that-- there's money that you can get for retraining if your job has been outsourced.Delete
The problem with retraining is that we're not 100% sure that it works and if it works, when does it work. It would be great if they would fund more randomized experiments and other kinds of program evaluation on these types of programs so we could figure out what works.
Professionally, that's one reason I really like the Obama administration. Behind the scenes there is a LOT of evidence-based policy going on. They're keeping up on the latest developments in economics and they're implementing things that have been shown to work. Republican or Democrat, that's the best I can ask for from anyone.
Yes, it is clear even from where I sit as a hiring manager that some of our retraining programs aren't working that well. But I am convinced we could figure out what DOES work if we really wanted to.Delete
I agree about the evidenced-based policy making. It is a good thing.
Yes, I don't really care for partisan politics as they call it. While I'm passionate about my own social and political philosophical ideals, mostly I think that the substantial issues we face (as you point out) are nonpartisan They are problems, we need to address them, let's talk about different ways of doing it, grounded in evidence, experience, and creativity. That's what I want, but I end up voting partisan because the anti-science, anti-gay, anti-women stuff freaks me out so much.Delete
Yes, the best legislation happens when both parties work together and are forced to see the flaws in each side and fix them. I really hope congress is willing to work this time around.ReplyDelete
Well said. (Also, I shared on Facebook, but for some reason the preview includes text from the first comment, rather than your actual entry. FYI.)ReplyDelete
I vote for Cloud..ReplyDelete
All kidding aside, I did not see the Republican side presenting any solutions, just opposition and roadblocks. They have a win at all cost mentality but really fail to provide alternative solutions or new ideas.
Oh, no way I'd ever get elected for a political office! And no way I'd ever run....Delete
That's our problem, really, we need to get back to booting the people who want office and making the sensible people who don't want it so much take office. I'm pretty sure that's how it worked "better" in the past .. ;)Delete
It was interesting that most of today's NPR coverage on the drive home seemed to be channeling just these sentiments today. I hope we can get some bipartisan solution-making these next four years-- we're going to need it.ReplyDelete
Cloud, I just started reading your blog over the last few days. I really like it--as a female grad student finishing up my PhD and wanting kids and a satisfying-but-flexible career, you're the best "online role model" that I have in terms of where I'd like to see my life in 10-15 years. Thanks for writing. And I completely agree with this post!ReplyDelete
Thanks! I had a tough day today, so it was nice to read this. It cheered me up!Delete
Like you, I am generally fiscally slightly left/slightly right depending on the issue, and generally socially left. (Interestingly, on a global scale, our "left" is still on the right end as the Europeans see it, according to a few colleagues.) I might be more rightish on some economic values but overall, it balances out in the end. As a result, I don't feel the need to strongly identify with a party, I feel the need for us to get things done.ReplyDelete
Aside from the really obvious things, one of the more frustrating things about the election cycle was seeing the worst of people and politicians: endless bickering instead of true dialogue about the issues that plague us. And it's more than past time we really dug deep into these things. Dialogue and new ideas will never come from poisoned wells.
The partisanship and the mudslinging that both parties were guilty of (oh so very much) buried any possible forward movement, and probably moved us backwards in many ways.
Here's hoping the vitriol dies down and they get to work. I don't know how many more of these cycles we can take.
I'm very disheartened and pessimistic about the state of politics in the US. (Usually I'm pretty optimistic about everything.) I want exactly what you wrote, Cloud. EXACTLY THAT! And I think that most US citizens do too.ReplyDelete
But I don't have faith we will get there. Like @Revanche, I think that the past four years of butting heads and the horribly negative campaigning of this year's elections have buried forward movement.
If you aren't going to run for president, maybe you could at least force each politician in the country to read this post!
I've often wondered how they justify their gridlocking to themselves. I suspect they think they are doing the right thing because the other side is sooo wrong/evil. Which is sad.Delete
Oh, but to be optimistic: My lovely state of Maryland passed Question 6, which is the same-sex marriage referendum! It was close, but same sex couples can legally marry in Maryland! Out of all the election results, I am happiest about that one! It gives me hope...ReplyDelete
Hooray for same sex marriage! I realized after I wrote this post that I've got a bit of the "values voter" in me, too. It is just that my values are different than those people usually mean when they use that phrase.Delete
I'm ideologically pretty far left, but in terms of policy, I agree with pretty much everything you've said - because I'm pragmatic, and I think our president is too. But we've lost people on the right that are able to make an argument for pragmatism, negotiation, and compromise. They're getting kicked out of office (and I do think the vast amount of money filtering in through anonymous 501c4 donations are causing this).ReplyDelete
But regardless of the cause, we need two strong, viable parties to make things happen. And I really hope we have that with our next congress.
The loss of the moderates is sad to see. I, too, hope that our next congress is better. We'll see.Delete