If McCain or Obama wants me…
Now that the preliminaries are over (and it went on much too long, longer than the line I waited in to vote against Hillary in the Democratic primary), we can now get down to the main event: experience and age vs. youth and passion; Republican vs. Democrat; McCain vs. Obama.
Normally I leave the political commentary to other bloggers, such as my friends Paul Levinson and Scalzi at Whatever (I realize that they blog about topics other than politics, and frankly that makes them more sane than the talking heads that only blog politico). But I hit the sweet spot of the profile of swing voters (voted Republican in the last several elections, but generally dissatisfied with the current administration so I could be convinced to vote Dem; and yeah, I’m a Texan, and yeah, we get to vote in whichever primary we choose) .
So if McCain or Obama wants me and my vote, they can answer my major concerns, which probably reflect many of the swing voter concerns. My hot buttons are the Patriot Act, Trust/Experience, Energy, Healthcare and Running Mate (which is more important in this election than in most). Where I quote what the candidates have done, I’ve tried to only use fact vs. “something heard or read on the Internet”.
- The so-called Patriot Act
- There is not a larger blemish on what our nation stands for than the Patriot Act. It is misrepresented by supporters and opponents alike, and used in the media and even literature as a beacon for the “V for Vendetta” lifestyle. But it still takes away privacy of US Citizens under the blanket of “security from terrorism”.
- Both candidates voted “Yes” to reauthorize the Patriot Act in March 2006.
- Question for both: how will you modify or rescind the Patriot Act so that the Government can fulfill the conflicting roles of keeping the country safe while not impinging on people’s privacy?
- Gasoline at $4 a gallon is patently ridiculous. Since there are really no indicators as to why oil prices are so high, one assumes market manipulation is taking place. The talking heads tell us that the main reason for high oil prices is that developing nations specifically China and India are ramping their consumption. While I am certain both of these countries and other developing nations are using more fuel than they used to, this is a fact that we have known was coming for many years, and it seems logical that OPEC and the oil companies have held supply in check while demand has risen. Good business for them, sucks for the rest of us.
- The costs of alternative energy (solar, wind, nuclear) remain prohibitive, with few government incentives. All of these solutions have been around for a long time (I was installing solar panels in college in the early ’80s) but have either been deemed to expensive (solar, wind) or too dangerous and political (nuke).
- Question for both: will you put in place Federal incentives for alternative energy, similar to what California and other states have done? If not, what is your proposal to encourage alternative energy in the face of rising oil prices?
- Question for both: what action will you take to halt and reverse the climb in oil prices? What action will you take to control oil market manipulation?
- Running Mate
- Sorry, but if Obama picks Hillary for VP, I’m automatically with McCain. Bill as husband of the VP would be a chaotic force that would distract any President from his job.
- Question for Obama: who will you pick that will bolster you lack of experience? You will be one of the youngest candidates elected to a first term (Teddy Roosevelt was 42 years, 10 months; John F. Kennedy was 43 years, 7 months; both had experiences in the military which may have made up for their youth)
- Question for McCain: who will you pick that will balance you advanced age? Even though you released your health records (1000+ pages?), you will be the oldest candidate ever elected to a first term.
- To me, this is a simple one. Thus far, almost every healthcare plan presented in the United States has had two problems: the math doesn’t work and it can get past congress.
- Question for both: what other programs in the Federal Budget are you going to reallocate funds from to improve health care coverage? Does the math actually work (i.e., if you say you are going to spot all Americans x dollars for healthcare, and there are y Americans to be covered, where are you getting x times y dollars? Simple math, eh?)
- Question for both: what is your strategy for getting your health care plan past Congress?
- This is the difficult one, and the most subjective category.
- From a negative perspective, the candidates can be seen as a junior Senator with no foreign policy experience vs. a Washington “old boy” who will continue what the current administration is doing here and abroad.
- Can I trust Obama not to “change” everything?
- Can I trust McCain not to keep everything the same?
- My wife tells me she does not trust Obama because of his audacity (good name for a book). He believes he can talk with Cuban leaders and forge a new relationship with that country, where his predecesors did or could not. Is this audacity, arrogance or a new beginning?
- Race will be a topic of trust; I trust both candidates to stay away from it. Last time I checked, Obama was half white and half black, yet he is continuously called the first African American candidate. People of mixed heritage are Americans; we are all mutts of some sort, with a few “pure breds” mixed in. If this topic appears on either side, it will be a trust issue for me.
There are many other questions and points that could be brought up (how will you end the war in Iraq while maintaining a semblance of order in the region? how will you work with the numerous leftist Latin American governments? how will you turn the governmental morasses that are FEMA and DHS into agencies that can actually respond to the people they are supposed to support). But these are my main thinking points, points I will be watching for on the gazillion debates that will surely happen.
When one of these candidates is done with their first term in office, I will be 50 and my kids will both be in their 20’s. The world could be a better place or an apocolyptic disaster, but it will probably be somewhere in between. My family has traveled a lot out of the country, and the main question which will tell the tale in four years is: do we still want to live in the United States? Will the quality of life be what it should be, or will it be better somewhere else? How will our country look after four years under the supervision of one of these two men?