I was recently asked why I am not voting for Mitt Romney. I did not answer at the time, but I think the question deserves an answer. I am a registered Republican, and I have not had a change of heart on any major topic, but I can not bear to vote Republican this time around, and I really do not want to explain to anyone who is enthusiastically supporting the current Republican ticket how poor of a decision I think that is.
So, why am I not going to vote Republican this time around?
There are some very few decisions that should be made simply because you are supporting your side. In fact, other then OSU football [http://thequad.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/09/19/the-geography-of-college-football-fans-and-realignment-chaos/], I can’t think of anything else, but I am sure there are a couple. I don’t think politics are one of them. I won’t support the Republican candidate just because he is a Republican, and I think of myself as a Republican – I have to be able to support the candidate.
Though I have almost always voted for the Republican Candidate, I did not officially join the Republican Party, until I wanted to vote for John McCain over George Bush, junior. This was the McCain of the ‘Straight-Talk Express’ era, not the McCain of the Palin era. (Though, he got my vote then, too.)
I say almost, because I voted for Perot, and I could not bring myself to vote for Bush a second time, so skipped it.
When I was growing up, and my Father was being a Republican, the Republican party was business-oriented, environmentally progressive, fiscally responsible, socially moderate party that was committed to a strong national defense. Conservative does not mean right wing nut-job; conservative means cautious about making unwarranted changes. I am still that brand of conservative. But where has that Republican party gone? [http://bangordailynews.com/2012/08/29/politics/gop-platform-shifts-party-even-farther-right/] Heck, there is even an XKCD comic about it. [http://xkcd.com/1127/]
Mitt Romney has held both sides of every major issue at one point or another. If someone’s position on every issue is whichever is most politically expedient at the moment, then I don’t think their position is evolving, I think they are saying whatever it takes to get what they want. IE, they are lying, intentionally and obviously. I will not cast a vote to elect an obvious liar to the most powerful political office in the world. [http://www.businessinsider.com/14-bald-faced-mitt-romney-flip-flops-that-were-dug-up-by-john-mccain-2012-1?op=1]
I believe that everyone should have right to believe in whatever god they want to. In fact, I believe every religion in the world is equally valid. Which is to say, as an atheist, I think they are all equally invalid… but I will argue and fight for your right to believe in whatever you want. And I equally resist anyone’s attempt to force their beliefs onto me, or my family.
I also think that most people who have a religion have no idea how offensive some of their ideas and practices are. Imagine how you would feel if ‘In Buddha we trust’ were on the money you have to use, or if your children had to pledge ‘One Nation, under Allah’ every day, or if someone in charge wanted to post the Sixteen Confucian Commandments as guiding principles in your courthouse?
Over the course of my lifetime, the Republican party has become more and more the party of pandering to the Christian right. [http://www.theocracywatch.org/taking_over.htm] Its become harder and harder for me to ignore this. The influence of the Church over politics has gone from a debated issue in the Republican party in 1996 [http://www.nytimes.com/1994/06/27/us/christians-pull-gop-right-its-leaders-argue-over-holding-center.html?pagewanted=all&src=pm] to all but the official party line, now.
Its an artifact of American World War 2 history that employers have a role in providing health insurance – its not that way in most of the world. [http://ricochet.com/intel/Why-and-how-was-health-insurance-so-tightly-tied-to-employment] But that is the way we do it, and attempts to change that in the past have not been too successful. The direct result of that reality is that my options are to get insurance through my employer, or not have insurance at all, because purchasing individual insurance policies is ridiculously expensive.
But I don’t think that should mean that my employer gets any say at all in how I should be able to deal with my healthcare. I especially don’t believe that an employer should get to enforce his religious beliefs on my healthcare. This means that I strongly oppose the Blunt Ammendment, [http://www.nwlc.org/resource/blunt-amendment-takes-away-access-critical-health-insurance-coverage-millions-americans] and any politician who supports it, including, yes, you guessed it, Mitt Romney.
And I really don’t think much of people who do not. While the Republican party has not specifically come out against Science, Reason, Evolution, or Global Warming, you can pretty much assume that any person who is arguing against any of those ideas is a Republican. This is just one more area of disillusionment that I am having with the Republican Party.
For example, look at some of the people that the Republicans have put on the House Congressional Committee on Science, Space and Technology, which helps shape the course of billions of dollars of related funding:
Georgia Rep. Paul Broun: believes evolution, embryology and the Big Bang theory are "lies straight from the pit of hell" meant to convince people that they do not need a savior. [http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/republican-congressman-says-evolution-is-lie-from-hell-8202896.html]
Missouri Rep. Todd Akin: believes that women can elect biologically shut down pregnancy in the case of “legitimate” rape. [http://www.cnn.com/2012/08/23/opinion/martonosi-akin-science/index.html]
These folks are the ones that Republicans have put in a position to determine the long-term scientific progress of our country.
I was too young to vote for the Equal Rights Amendment, but even as a youngster, I knew that something bad had happened when the ERA failed. I asked my father how anyone could be voting against the ERA, and he brought up the example that if the ERA passed, then there could no longer be separate restrooms for men and women. This was the first example I remember of anyone using FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) to cause someone to vote against their own interests. The most recent example of supporting discrimination against women is opposition to the Fair Pay Act [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lilly_Ledbetter_Fair_Pay_Act_of_2009] which is opposed by most Republicans, including Mitt Romney.
This means that I support the rights of gays to serve openly in the military, and for them to marry. I do not think that it should even be open for debate. Obama has supported this position, Romney has opposed it. I think very poorly of anyone who thinks that its OK to discriminate against people for any reason. Bigotry is Bigotry.
I do not believe that Corporations are People, and I believe that money corrupts politicians and the political process. The Citizens’ United supreme court decision [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Citizens_United_v._Federal_Election_Commission] has allowed unlimited contributions to corrupt the political process even more than it had been. I think this, combined with the rise of the super-rich in America will eventually doom the country. I don’t want the 16 richest people in the world to be able to pick the people we can choose from for president, and I don’t want a president that is beholden to them once they are elected. Obama at least tried for a while to resist super-pac money, but eventually had to play the game.
And almost everywhere that we have elected Republican majorities in state government, they have immediately set to eliminating unions and the rights for state worker’s to participate in collective bargaining. The Republican party that I want to be a part of is the one that used to support the middle class. [http://uppitywis.org/blogarticle/setting-it-straight-gop-gave-wisconsin-public-workers-union-barg] It seems that now, the only way that the Republican party can come up with to support the middle class is to arrange to give more money to the wealthy. This leads to:
Pardon my French, but even George Bush Senior knew this back in the 1980s. He called it “Voodoo Economics” – the idea that giving more money to the rich, and corporations would automatically help the middle class. Instead, we have a small group of ultra-rich people controlling more and more of the wealth of the nation, and a middle class that is getting poorer and poorer by comparison. And the Non-Partisan Congressional Research Department agrees: [http://graphics8.nytimes.com/news/business/0915taxesandeconomy.pdf]
But I also know that every Republican since before I was able to vote has run on a platform of Smaller Government, but has actually implemented dramatically larger government. [http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-08-30/commentary/33487577_1_paul-delegates-republican-party-ron-paul , http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/11183-the-republican-small-government-fraud]
I also think that “Smaller” is a loaded term. When I think smaller government, I think that I want less government intrusion in my life. I want less of a ‘big-brother’ or ‘nanny’ government. But the Republicans, while stating they are for smaller government, have no issue with micromanaging peoples sex lives, marriage rights, and requiring medically unnecessary procedures for women.
I think its fairly clear that its wrong to intimidate voters to get them to vote a given way. Whether its intimidation at the polls, or threats to their person or lively hood. It appears that a powerful portion of the Republican party disagrees. [http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/americas/united-states/121018/mitt-romney-tells-employers-make-it-very-clear-to-employees-how-to-vote] Mitt Romney has recently come out in favor of employers telling their workers how to vote, and a large number of them have gone and made it very clear that workers’ jobs will be lost if they don’t vote for Romney. That really sickens me.
So that means that voter registration drives are good. That means that initiatives to get people to the polls are good. That means extended voting hours, alternate voting options, and more polling locations are good. It also means that efforts to restrict voting are by definition suspect. It cannot be an accident that in every swing state controlled by Republicans, draconian efforts have been undertaken to make it harder for democratic-leaning voters to participate. [http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2012-09-07/republicans-losing-election-law-war-as-campaign-ramps-up.html] Heck, we’ve even taken to prosecuting teachers for performing voter registration initiatives with their students. [http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/state-regional/cerabino-civics-teacher-tried-to-register-kids-to-/nLzD2/]
The republican party platform specifically states that a woman who is made pregnant by being raped by her father should be forced by the government to have the baby, and a woman who wants to get pregnant by In-Vitro Fertilization must not be allowed. [http://mommyish.com/pregnancy-health/republican-party-platform-personhood-ivf-336/] And Romney has specifically said that he is for overturning Roe v. Wade – though I admit he has also said the opposite.
And lets face it, the Republicans, which have been of late ruled by the far right, have been in bull-overdrive. Birthers, claims that Obama is a Muslem, a Socialist, the ‘Liberal’ media conspiracy, Fox News, etc.
That one sorta speaks for itself. He’s even gone so far as to suggest it was because of modesty over how much money that they give to the Mormon Church (after having previously bragged about it) to turn it into a religious issue.
It’s my impression that the Republicans in power have willingly fought against the good of the country for the sole purpose of gaining power, and forcing out Obama. While the country is in a major recession, the Republicans are saying things like “my number one priority is making sure president Obama’s a one-term president.” [http://www.slate.com/blogs/weigel/2012/09/25/mitch_mcconnell_and_the_one_term_president.html] They have sacrificed what used to be Republican ideals to get political power. Heck, Obamacare was originally a Republican free-market proposal to counter the health-care reform championed by Clinton.
OK, so I have spent too much time on this, and also not enough to turn it into any sort of a persuasive argument, but the election is almost here, and I am done. I hope this explains why I am voting for Obama, and not Romney. If this makes me a RINO, or a ‘Reagan Democrat’, or a traitor, so be it. But I don’t feel that my positions have changed at all, but the Republicans have gone places that I don’t want to, and I cannot in good conscious support them this time around. I hope they will come back to the center, and I could be proud to be a Republican again.
(Note, edited to remove references to individuals, at their request.)