Why I voted for Barack Obama

From a series of email sent between myself and members of my extended family in the days leading up to Election Day:

Something I’ve forgotten to mention for the past couple days: on Thursday of last week, I made a trip to my local early voting place – the courthouse – and voted for Barack Obama. (I also voted for NC gubernatorial candidate Walter Dalton, NC Lieutenant Governor candidate Linda Coleman, and U.S. Congressional candidate Elisabeth Motsinger, running for the 5th district – all of whom are Democrats.)

Though early voting turnouts have shown Obama leading by as much as 15% over Romney in NC, it is not likely Obama will win our home state – liberals tend to vote early. And though Obama did win our state in 2008 – the first time a Democratic presidential candidate had since Carter in 1976 – and though there have been times in the current race when the candidates were polling close enough to each other for NC to be considered a possible swing state, the Obama campaign publicly conceded the state last week, saying they would no long campaign here, and the NY Times has Romney with an 82% chance of winning this state. But, mom, we can always hope.

I would have had no problem voting for a Republican. In the early primaries, I was very much hoping Gary Johnson would be able to go all the way, though I never thought he actually would (he is still running, though, as a Libertarian, though I don’t think he has moved any higher than singe-digit percentages in any state, not even his home state of New Mexico, where he was a popular two-term governor). I considered voting for him anyway, but with the chips down, I just couldn’t come around to what would amount to wasting my vote, in this most important of elections. And truth be told, I don’t think a Libertarian is what we need right now.

So I am writing to tell you this. I’ve been meaning to respond to your email about your political views with my own, but I keep getting overwhelmed with the scope of what I want to say – a common caveat for a writer, someone asks you an important question and you become so wrapped-up in its import that everything you want to say builds up into a daunting mass of data, until you short-circuit yourself and end up paralyzed by your own ambition. And so, I am sending you all the link to an article I read today, one that most accurately and succinctly expresses my own feelings on this election and why I voted for Obama, sentiments which mirror the article’s author’s. The author is Charles Pierce, whose politics blog is a favorite of mine. He is currently the political journalist for Esquire magazine, and if you’ve read anything about politics in that magazine you’ve already read him. He tends to have a more liberal bent, at least in this election, though he seems quite balanced, fair-minded, and honest in his assessments, and I would have no problem picturing him supporting a Republican if one were to materialize who was a worthy candidate for, well, anything. He also voted early – in his home state of Massachusetts, where Romney served a term as governor – and in this article expresses why he voted for Obama. Though in different words, he echoes the sentiment I have felt since more or less the beginning of the election, which is that the only thing worse that Obama being re-elected president would be Romney being elected president. I realized the other day – when Britt [my girlfriend of 2+ years] and I were talking about the essentially tied nature of the race as it currently stands – the I was genuinely afraid of a Romney victory. For the first time in my life, I was actually afraid of what would happen if Romney won. Now, granted, this is the first election I’ve really paid close attention to, but I think a lot of people are feeling that way. Perhaps it is naivete on my part, but I really worry about what would happen, what further damage would be done to an already injured country, particularly in regard to civil rights, if Romney is elected. Romney’s own positions – when anyone can pin him to any specifics – are troubling enough, but they are only half of the equation, and are actually the less troubling half. The worst thing about Romney is the party he represents, and the crazy fringe policy that has become mainstream with the advent of the Tea Party and the Republican takeover of Congress in 2010. These are the people who are truly dangerous. They’ve always been there, but the difference is they used to be relegated to the edges of polite society, and were barely ever listened to, never mind heeded. Now they are the norm, they have become mainstream, and they have dragged the entire party sharply and inexorably to the right, and for the worse. Romney, as he has shown during the at times vicious primary battle, has no problem abdicating the more moderate policies he held as governor and bowing to the zealotry of the fringes in order to placate them. Britt is, if anything, more worried than I am. She’s naturally very concerned about women’s reproductive rights. I can only hope that if Romney is elected, he will return to the moderate policy positions he held when he was governor of Massachusetts.

Anyway, the article is here:

[This is a link to a post on The Politics Blog by Charlie Pierce, Esquire magazine’s political correspondent, and a highly illuminating article.]


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