November 7, 2008

I was asked who I supported in the 2008 election.

I'd been educating some friends via emails on polling methods and the electoral college and whom I thought would emerge as the next President, and by how much for most of the 2008 election cycle. Yes, right back through the primaries. I had tried to remain as neutral as possible, knowing my small audience was a center left to left group. I took the occasional opportunity to try to tilt their perception but that was not the main point of the exercise. They were quite engaged for the first time this cycle. No doubt inspired by vague messages of hope and change.

In any case, in the last days, one of my friends sent a reply to one of my electoral college updates asking who I was backing. Not who I thought was going to win, but which candidate I'd prefer to win. Perhaps he already knew the answer and was just calling me out. But I'd answered honestly, while still trying to remain as unpartisan as I could. In fact I put on more neutral hat than I was comfortable with.

I've included my response below, and it heartens me to say that out of my audience of 3, I know that over the last year I've been able to move at least the one who asked the question to a soft right and at least one other slightly closer to the middle. I'll take that as a success.

My candidate has long since left the race. I don't like either of these guys.

Obama, despite all the hope and change hype is really only going to change the fact that there's never been a black President. He's an old-school Illinois style politician. He's going to be too much of a back-room dealer. I'm worried about his tax policy, his energy policy an his possible agenda. More tax is scary. Socialized medicine is scarier. Inexperience is a concern.

McCain is a squish, not a maverick. He's uninspiring and his focus is not economic enough. He's also made backroom deals which helped earn him the maverick label (by the same press that now questions it by the way). But those backroom deals have often betrayed his principals. He doesn't have an over-arching vision other than on oil drilling, which honestly I think comes from Palin.Overall I see the election as a lesser of two evils. Not that either man is evil, just that I am looking at who would do the least damage until 2012. There will be a stronger field next cycle. I'm quite surprised at how the primaries turned out. I think both parties nominated one of their hardest to elect candidate. Clinton would have beaten McCain in a cakewalk (I'm no fan of hers either though). And a Romney or Huckabee would have done far better against Obama than McCain.Based largely on the ability to obstruct socialized health care in the US, I'd have to say I'd back McCain. It's not that the citizens shouldn't have health care, but right now given the unfunded liability of Medicare and Medicade of $55 trillion [added NOTE: I'm not sure if that number is spot on] it's just not feasible. Adding more national debt burden instead of some creative new approach is national suicide.Secondly, it makes sense to drill domestic oil, natural gas and to work on clean coal as the US has a massive amount of untapped resources in the latter two and a good amount of oil reserves that could last for years. Contrary to the Obama opiate that they cannot drill their way out of dependence on foreign oil, they can. What they can't drill their way out of is dependence on oil period. Not only would all of those energy resources plus nuclear energy provide domestic jobs, create a huge tax revenue for government (in the trillions over the next decades), they would also help with the current account deficit (trade imbalance) quite substantially, and a lot of that money would no longer go to hostile regimes such as Chavez in Venezuela or the U.A.E. I think that sort of domestic security is worth more than 'liberating Iraq'.Thirdly, I don't think the idea of supermajority Democratic rule in the House Senate and Executive is safe right now. A lot of new regulation and unintended consequences could result. A Presidential veto could thwart over-the-top legislation (the Fairness Doctrine for example). Having Obama at the helm and all Democrat oars in the water worries me. Government, particularly US government, is designed to have checks and balances. The Republicans who got it all back in 1994 after campaigning about change, really didn't fulfil much after the first 3-5 years. They became what they railed against, and in many cases, worse (e.g. Ted Stevens). Split government works better and keeps the parties more honest.Lastly, I go back to connecting the dots for the housing meltdown - social engineering goals (by Clinton) create legislation that forced unsafe lending, underwritten by government sponsored enterprises (GSEs) and punished banks who did not comply, causing banks to lend very unwisely. These were Democrat priorities, and Democrat legislation. Yet Bush (2003) and McCain (2005) who BOTH warned against this outcome are being blamed for it. The failure's not Obama's fault, but he's benefited from it and went along with what was happening.Would McCain be a great President? No. Would he added to the national deficit? Most likely Yes. Both of those are no different than what an Obama presidency would offer. What he can do that Obama can't or won't, is act as a brake on a potential runaway Congress. To be fair, welfare and a lot of other socialized programs have existed for decades (50 years in some cases). Are there still poor people? Has affirmative action really worked? Has education in inner cities improved enough? No. Throwing more money at it won't solve the problems just like it hasn't done so to date. What's needed are new approaches. Something like government partnering more with companies to provide something similar to the GI Bill (i.e. get a scholarship in exchange for a 3 year commitment to a company upon graduation). And similar partnership approaches on social security and health care. Neither candidate offers those type of solutions. Obama's change is more of the same Democratic playbook from the New Deal or Great Society days of the 1930's or 1960's. They didn't work then, and they won't work now. McCain's playbook, while uninspiring and without any real vision or overall direction is at least steering away from re-distribution of wealth. It didn't work in Russia. It's clearly being improved upon in China, and it still acts as a giant anchor on the economies of countries like France, Germany and Italy even today. Why on earth would it work in the here and now of the United States with such a dismal track record?One thing is for sure though. No matter who wins, they have four years to prove me wrong, but in 2012, I'm going to lay 90% odds I'll be looking at wanting to unseat the incumbent.So who do I think would make a good President? On the Republican side, Bobby Jindal or Newt Gingrich top my list, maybe a Tim Pawlenty or even, with some more seasoning, Sarah Palin. On the Democratic side Bob Conley or Zell Miller (both of whom have no shot at being on the ticket) or (with some additional seasoning) Vernon Jones of Georgia (by the way, also a black man, so it's not a racism thing).Okay. I'm done.

Just FYI, acording to the 'always reliable' (gag) Wikipedia;

Vernon Jones considers himself to be a conservative Democrat supporting limited government, fiscal responsibility, and a strong, active military. Jones has been critical of the National Democratic Party for being too liberal, and says he is more in touch with most Georgians than either major party. considers Jones a "Moderate Libertarian Conservative."

Michael Cone, Conley's primary opponent, criticized Conley by saying he is too conservative, that "We've nominated a Republican in a Democratic primary." Conley was a Republican but left the party due to frustration over immigration, trade, and the Iraq War. Some have compared him to Republican Congressman Ron Paul. Indeed, Conley voted for Paul in South Carolina's presidential primary.

While I'd pick a Republican over a Democrat 99.9 times out of 100, remember my audience and don't hold those comments against me.

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