Friday, October 19, 2012

Presidential Election thoughts from an undecided voter

Posted this on my Facebook this morning; a spirited discussion followed, so if you're friends with me there, do go check it out.

After watching the latest debate and getting a lot of helpful info from all of you, here are the scrawled and still woefully less informed than I’d like (by my own fault) impressions of an undecided voter:

I think President Obama has accomplished more over the past four years than I was giving him credit for, particularly in terms of efforts to end war and to advance equal rights across gender and other lines. I’d still like to know more about how he handled the Detroit situation, because my main concern with him is that after a term in office, he hasn’t really done much to help our economy. Moreover my concern with President Obama is that he doesn’t give an impression that he feels like he needs to do more or that he will make an effort to work much harder than he has. I don’t think his first term was a complete failure, but if he considered it a huge success, I’m disappointed. I also don’t like how quickly he seems to go to the “well I wanted to do this, but the Republicans wouldn’t let me” card, because it tells me he will use that as an excuse rather than move to the middle and find compromise Bill Clinton style. I feel like President Obama has something of an unearned cockiness and I’d be concerned he’d be willing to stick to business as usual rather than push to do better. I line up with him on social issues 100%, but I don’t want to vote simply based on that because I think there is much more at stake in this election.

Having lived in a state where he was governor, I know Mitt Romney is a smart, capable guy who could potentially do a good job as President, but he hasn’t really demonstrated that to me, at least not in his recent public actions or in this most recent debate. He keeps saying he has plans to fix the economy, and he’s a guy with the intelligence and background to do it, but I felt like every time he was pressed for details on what that plan was, he ducked the question (and if he’s already said what said plan is, I apologize); the part of the debate where President Obama noted that Governor Romney’s plans would cost trillions of dollars and Governor Romney didn’t give a particularly eloquent counterargument concerned me. I also worry about Governor Romney’s awkwardness as a public speaker and his gaffes; yes, I do think they matter given what a large stage he’ll be on. I didn’t care about the whole “binders” thing (feels like a mountain out of a molehill), but it did strike me when he said he helped the women in his employ by (I’m paraphrasing) giving them hours that allowed them to pick up their kids from school and how (I’m simplifying) one of his gun control solutions is that people who have kids should get married to provide a more stable home.

At the end of the day, as noted, I line up with the President on social issues; I feel like Governor Romney should/could have a better grasp on economic issues, but I’m waiting for him to demonstrate it in full. The kicker for me will likely be foreign policy, since as I’ve said in the past, that’s the one area where I feel like if it gets mishandled the most people die.

If the election were today, admittedly I would vote for President Obama, but more because of a “devil you know” stance than anything else. I’m not blown away by either candidate (though both have their strong points). Ultimately, I hope one candidate does actually inspire to vote for them because I believe in them, not because they’re the lesser of two evils (strong word, probably unnecessary), but the clock is winding down.

Regardless of where my vote goes, I’m glad this election has encouraged me to at least try to be more active in the process and discourse, and more than anything, I am grateful to all of you who have shared your knowledge and opinions with me; I encourage you to keep doing so.