I am continuously baffled though, by how others like some of the other candidates. I think there is a lot to like in most of the candidates. Obama and Kucinich particularly seem appealing both to me and on from a broader approach. I’ll say this—each candidate has at least a few things good about them, even if the rest of their proposed policies are nothing short of lunacy. Three experiences to illustrate.
First with regards to Romney. Like Romney, I happen to be an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In school one day, a classmate of mine asked me what I thought about Romney. I said something like this—“he seems like a nice guy, and has some sensible policies, but largely I think he’s a populist idiot, I wouldn’t vote for him with a 10 foot pole.”
This surprised my friend. He thought because Romney is LDS, as am I, I’d support him. I sputtered some poorly worded response about voting for issues not people. What I should have said is this—“how the heck does his religion matter apart from his policies?” Voting for someone based simply on what religion they belong to, apart from their policy positions, is just as bad as voting for someone because they’re white. Religious persuasion can convey positions—religious people generally oppose abortion, but that is really about where it stops. Here’s an example of a policy generally advocated by those most loudly touting moral values (i.e. the republicans): they seem to want to get into any war they can regardless of the human or financial costs to America or others. How’s that for turning the other cheek?
Next an experience I had with a Giuliani supporter. I was talking politics with a friend and he asked me what I thought of Giuliani. I said that I thought he was a one-note politician (security is that note) who would sacrifice anything (life, liberty, pursuit of happiness) for that one note. I may have also said, “he’s the devil’s candidate.”
Another classmate of mine, who I deeply respect as a brilliant person, said “I’m a Giuliani supporter.” This floored me, what could anyone as smart as this woman see in Giuliani that would overcome his being about as shallow as a puddle? Later I asked her. She said he had reduced crime in NYC drastically and seemed to handle the 9-11 emergency well. When I pointed out that crime fell drastically in the 90s everywhere about the same amount as NYC, it was immaterial to her. I asked her what she thought of his record of giving expansive powers to law enforcement, and I wondered what powers he’d give to government agencies if elected. She thought it was good that the criminals are caught, and if the police have to get a little dirty doing it, that was alright with her. I wondered to myself if she’d have supported the Gestapo.
How could someone so brilliant believe such drivel about “protecting America?” I’m not talking about someone who is brilliant in a way not related to politics, I’m in law school. I sincerely hope her support of the destruction of liberties is made in ignorant trust of the government, not from knowing but ignoring history and reason.
Lastly with Hillary Clinton. I’m still technically a resident of New York. More accurately I’m a resident of nowhere, and I probably won’t be for some time, but Hillary is our senator. My wife and I were over at some friends house for dinner and politics came up. Our friends both said they endorsed Hillary. She has a lot to offer, so I asked what it was about her they liked. Their response? Not anything about her experience (which I think she overstates), nothing about sensible policies, nothing about her competently run campaign. They said, “we think its time for a woman to be president.”
What??! When pressed about her policies they mumbled something about universal healthcare and looked eager to change subjects. Because these are great people, whom we really like, I obliged. Had it been a classmate, coworker, single friend, or relative I would have asked the obvious question: is it really wise to choose a candidate to be leader of the free world on the basis of gender alone? Obama would be the first non-white president, why not vote for him? I don’t think I have to repeat how insane it is to choose a candidate on anything other than positions and voting record.
So why do I support Ron Paul when I disagree with many of his policies? First because I agree with him on the most important ones—being fiscally conservative, contracting the government, doing an about face on foreign policy, free trade with all, and giving federal power back to the states. There are many more examples. Second because even when I disagree I see valid logic behind his policies. I support some kind of amnesty for illegal immigrants. He wants to stop illegal immigration, throw the illegals out, then vastly increase the amount of legal immigrants we are willing to take. His point is this: when our system favors allowing people willing to break the law into our country over those willing to wait and hope for a legal means of entry we’re getting the wrong kind of people. His reasoning makes sense. Lastly, I support him because he’s smart on his own. He doesn’t have a cadre of advisors and yes-men approving what he says, dumbing issues down for him, and giving him statements and positions. Many of the other candidates do, and I feel if they don’t have the capacity, or haven’t taken the time, to learn the issues thoroughly for themselves, their positions aren’t their own.
My point is this: very few seem to care enough to really look at the issues. Many explanations could be had for this. The rational voter theory—that people in aggregate vote rationally because the yahoos cancel each other out—can not possibly be true in an election with as much issue-obscuring media hype as a presidential election. As a side note, do we really need the constant self-fulfilling polls all the time? What do I care that 40% of republicans in America want to vote in a lunatic? He’s still a lunatic and I’m not voting for him.
They don’t have enough time or interest, they don’t think the president’s decision impact them enough to care, or if they’re cynical and regard all candidates basically the same so it doesn’t matter. They may be right on the 3rd point, I see Edwards, Clinton, Romney, Giuliani, McCain & others as more of the same. But they don’t have to be right, if everyone looked at positions and records rather than faces, sound bites, and polls I think real change—people like Kucinich, Obama, or Paul—might happen.
PS – **** you Frank! (strong language warning)