Monday, November 28, 2011

The 2012 Presidential Election: A Blogger's Take

As some of you may know, there’s an election of some kind occurring in the near future. Incumbent Democrat Barack Obama is going for reelection, while the Republican party vies with itself to claim the position for themselves. Lots and lots of GOP candidates are competing for the vaunted title of “Not Obama,” but one thing unites them all--they each want my vote!

A note, first, about Obama: I like him. Had I known more about him in the last election, I probably would have voted for him; as it was, I voted for president the very same day I returned from a two-year church mission in Ukraine, where I was pretty removed from American political discussion and pretty uninformed about the whole "presidential race" thing. He had a lot of big ideas, and many were controversial (especially after being blown out of proportion in both sides by a heavily polarized nation...but that’s a fight for the comments section of more popular blogs). He had charisma, appeal, likeability...he just wasn’t able to get anything done. He’s an intellectual and an academic, an orator and a public figure; he’s just not an executive. I still like Obama, for all the reasons I listed above. But it may be time to consider a change in leadership.

In typical blogger fashion, I will now expound at you my personal thought process, condensed into a little bite-size article. I'll talk about the major GOP candidates (at least, the major ones right now; these guys wax and wane like the moon), give some background, offer my personal pros and cons, and finish with a picture indicating whether I would, in the event of this candidate winning the Republican nomination, vote for him or President Obama.

Enough pretense: on to the main event!


Michele Bachmann

Brief overview of the candidate:

Michele Bachmann (not to be confused with the band “Bachmann Turner Overdrive,” which was, at one time, actually popular with American youth) is a Congresswoman from Minnesota. She is a member of the Tea Party and founding member of Tea Party Caucus. She is a Conservative Christian, and her beliefs about politics are described as "Dominionist"--in other words, that the US should be governed by a conservative christian understanding of the law. She's notable for her well-honed sense of humor, constantly making understated puns like this one where she riffs on the whole “John Wayne”--”John Wayne Gacy” name similarity.

Psych! She’s just nuts.

Why I would vote for them:
The burgeoning feminist in me likes the idea of a politically active, strong willed woman as president. The fact that she’s both of those things and yet still neither Sarah Palin nor Hilary Clinton makes her all the more appealing to me.

Why I wouldn’t vote for them:
The aforementioned nuttiness. Also, I can’t stand the Tea Party.

And the verdict is...




Summing up
When the only reasons why I would vote for a candidate are abstract and vague, and the reasons why I wouldn’t vote for them are concrete and distinct to that particular individual, I don’t feel like I should vote for them. Also, when the choice is between a level-headed former professor who needs to step up his game a little, and an ill-informed Tea Party dominionist, I’ll go with the level head.


Rick Perry

Brief overview on the candidate
Like the pheonix from the flame, George W. Bush has been reborn in the form of Rick Perry, a strongly conservative Texas governor running for president (though I have heard tell that the two are not on good terms--citation needed, of course). He’s notable for his no-nonsense views on the death penalty, and...good heavens, is that putting it lightly. Of course, Perry may be a bit of a non-issue at this point, as he had a fairly self-destructive lapse of memory in a recent debate.

Why I would vote for them:
Perry’s been in the politics game for a long time, and has actually been pretty successful in helping keep Texas’ head bobbing above the floodwaters of economic ruin. He’s been governor for the past twelve years or so and chairman of the Republican Governors Association since 2008, so he has experience being a leader and making executive decisions. Plus, after the whole “Oops” thing, I kind of feel bad for the guy. I mean, who hasn’t had a moment like that?

Why I wouldn’t vote for them:
For crying out loud, did you see the part where I compared him to George W. Bush?

And the verdict is...



Summing up
Perry’s executive strengths trump Obama’s weaknesses, that’s for sure; but Obama’s beliefs and general platform jive much more with me, and in the end, I would feel more comfortable with Obama doing what I would like and struggling, than with Perry doing what I wouldn’t like and succeeding.


Herman Cain

Brief overview on the candidate
Herman Cain, the former CEO of Godfather pizza (1986-1996), is a businessman and media figure. According to Wikipedia, he was at one time a civilian ballistics mathematician for the Navy, which just sounds impressive. He has lots of experience with the business world, especially as an executive. He’s especially notable in this election for his “9-9-9” tax plan, which, I will be honest, sounds like a pizza deal (not unlike Domino’s “2x Tuesday” coupon). Note: he’s also notable for the fact that this tax plan doesn’t make sense.

Oh, and hey! He gropes women.

Lastly, and this is important because if he goes on to be the GOP candidate he’d be running against Barack Obama, yes, he’s black--though from what I can tell, this is surprisingly more of a non-issue than I would have thought.

Wait a minute...a black candidate...named Cain...who’s big push is called 9-9-9...turn that upside down, and...crazy Evangelicals, are you thinking what I’m thinking?

Why I would vote for them:
Though it doesn’t stand up to analysis, the “9-9-9” plan shows initiative and a penchant for thinking outside the box. Also, his experience in the business world could be a valuable asset in getting the economy going again.

Why I wouldn’t vote for them:
When Cain proposed the 9-9-9 plan, he didn’t provide enough information for people to really understand it. When asked to provide said information, he...didn’t. Now he keeps going back and forth on it, at times even calling it the 9-1-9 plan (or something like that). It was a clever experiment, but the scientific method states that, if a hypothesis is no good, you should toss it out and move on to the next one, not linger on it and rework the data until it appears to be good.

This worries me.

Though not as much as the whole “Uzbeki-beki-beki-stan” thing worries (and annoys) me. Also--and this is probably just a personal thing--I don’t tend to like people who grope other people, at least without consent.

And the verdict is...




Summing up
Considering how ardently Cain clings to an obviously flawed tax reform, and his desire to be playfully ignorant of world affairs, I’ll go with Antichrist #1, thank you very much.


Newt Gingrich

Brief overview on the candidate
Gingrich is old, white, wealthy, established, has been a prominent member of Congress for decades, and conservative. Yes, that’s right, he’s the Nega Obama.

Gingrich has been a key member of the Republican party for decades, serving in Congress since the late seventies. He was the House Minority Whip from 1989 to 1995 and the Speaker of the House from 1995 to 1999. He was even Time magazine’s Man of the Year in 1994. He worked closely with noted Democrat Bill Clinton, who was of course the president at that time. In 1997, things went down hill a bit when he was disciplined for ethical wrongdoing by the House to the tune of $300,000. He resigned from his post in Congress in 1998, and has since been a political commentator/advisor/moneybags.

You may notice something interesting here: all the big issues in his career stopped happening in the nineties. Gingrich campaigning to be the GOP presidential candidate to oppose a first-term Democrat president could have made sense if he were competing with Bob Dole to oust Bill Clinton, but for crying out loud, the man’s an anachronism now.

Why I would vote for them:
With thirty years of experience in, and a brief thirteen year respite from, the political arena, he knows and plays the Washington game pretty well.

Why I wouldn’t vote for them:
With thirty years of experience in, and a brief thirteen year respite from, the political arena, he knows and plays the Washington game pretty well.

And the verdict is...



Summing up
Don’t get me wrong, I think Gingrich is a savvy politician. He’s what I call a “safe bet candidate,” meaning that if he were elected, I couldn’t picture him actually driving the country into ruin (*cough* Herman Cain *cough*). For me, though, Gingrich is waaay too “status-quo.” I like to see things shaken up a bit, and like I said earlier (and will say again), one of the appeals of the more fringe candidates is their creativity and willingness to go outside the norm. I can’t picture Mr. “I-had-$300,00-lying-around-in-case-of-congressional-ethics-discipline” stepping too far outside the lines...at least for the nation’s benefit.


Ron Paul

Brief overview on the candidate
I’ll make this brief, as I think Ron Paul gets talked about a lot and it’s probably pretty clear from the get-go where I’m going with this one. Ron Paul is a Congressman from Texas. He’s been in and out of Congress since the seventies. He’s got very strong beliefs about foreign and economic policy, and is quite Libertarian in his views. He’s also seen as the spiritual godfather of the Tea Party movement.

He’s another one of those guys that I like in theory, but not in practice. In theory, he sees that things are pretty messed up and that a lot of change needs to be implemented to get things going again. In practice, his ideas seem to be based on the notion that over the centuries our country has strayed too far from our founding document--that’s right, the Articles of Confederation.

Why I would vote for them:
Free thinker, not afraid to stand up to the Republican party platform...he’s a troublemaker and a bit of a rebel, and that appeals to me.

Why I wouldn’t vote for them:
Liking a reformer is one thing. Liking his reforms is completely different. In Ron Paul’s case, I respect him as a person way more than I trust him as a politician.

And the verdict is...



Summing up
Some parts of Libertarianism intrigue me, but I’m afraid it’s more of an academic curiosity than an actual interest. I’m way too skittish about it to consider electing someone as fiery on the subject as Ron Paul. Also, “spiritual godfather of the Tea Party movement?” Talk about a turn off.


Jon Huntsman, Jr.

Brief overview on the candidate
Huntsman is Mormon Candidate for President (MCP) #1 on our list today. The son of wealthy caucasian male Jon Huntsman, Sr., this Jon Huntsman is a former governor of Utah and a former US ambassador to China--under the Obama administration!

Huntsman has been known to fall victim to the weighty Republican party platform, as have many of his fellow candidates, but what sets him apart is how he’s not afraid to differ with them.
First of all, there’s his famous tweet. Then, there’s his willingness to stand apart from his fellow candidates and refer to waterboarding as torture (as did Ron Paul, I should add). Finally, and perhaps this is something just for guys in my extremely particular context, he’s an LDS guy who was in a rock band and rides a motorcycle! He’s a Mormon who is cool!

Why I would vote for them:
Former governor of Utah--experience as an executive. Former ambassador to China--for some reason, it seems like having connections with the Chinese government would be important for the American president in our current world situation. Willingness to stand up for what he believes in--which just happens to be pro-intellectual. Worked with the Obama presidency and isn’t afraid to be a moderate Republican. Plus, he’s got the whole “He’s-LDS-and-I’m-LDS” thing that somehow works in his favor--in other words, I’m happy to associate myself with him

Why I wouldn’t vote for them:
Utah is a pretty conservative (*cough* understatement *cough*) state, and Huntsman’s time as governor was in the conservative mainstream. Prior to his big tweet, the only things I ever heard about him were when he quoted Republican party rhetoric. Also, and this probably isn’t really important, he’s not as presidential looking as some other candidates; Rick Perry looks like a tough cowboy, Herman Cain looks like an executive, Newt Gingrich and Ron Paul are established staples of Washington politics, and Mitt Romney is every stereotypical American president mashed up in one and given impeccable hair.

And the verdict is...



Summing up
Fwaaaa--? I’m not pointing at Obama!

I genuinely like Jon Huntsman a lot, which is something I can’t really say for...really, any of the other GOP candidates. It takes guts for someone trying to impress hard-line Republicans to say something like “Evolution happens,” or “Waterboarding? Yeah, that’s torture,” and yet not be Ron Paul. I love the idea of electing candidates, not parties, and Huntsman as a candidate appeals to me. The facts that win me over the most are that he drifts toward the middle, has worked with the Obama administration, has executive experience, has experience with China of all places, and he isn’t afraid to speak his mind.


Mitt Romney

Brief overview on the candidate
Okay, let’s be serious here, this is kinda the only one of these that really matters
Yeah, every other GOP candidate has their bewildering moment in the limelight (*cough* Herman Cain *cough*), but in the end, political commentators always compare them back to the Mittenator. In fact, his ads are no longer about Rick Perry or the Republican cadidate du jour; no, they’re already about Obama. And who, in turn, is Obama concentrating on? Why, the Mittster of course. So why are there still GOP debates? Why is this an issue?

It’s because no one really likes Mitt Romney

People acknowledge that he’s a good choice for President. They admit (adMitt?) that, apples to apples, he’s better suited for the job than his fellow Republicans. They believe he can go against Barack Obama and win. They just wish it was anyone but him.

Now, Romney is known best for having served as a Republican governor in traditionally-liberal Massachusetts. Prior to that, he was an entrepreneur, specializing in helping failing businesses show profit again. His claim to fame (or infamy, depending on who you ask) is being instrumental in creating a universal health care system for Massachusetts. Despite this fairly moderate (on the left-right political spectrum, that is) track record, Romney’s current rhetoric is by-the-books, down-the-line conservative talking points. He is the Republican party embodied, right down to his “sense” of “humor”.

Also, he’s MCP #2. However, unlike Jon Huntsman, I wouldn’t be nearly as willing to associate myself with Romney. That’s not a stab at his character--the man, as I’ve said, is a rock. No, it’s just that he doesn’t seem human. If someone wrote a book with him as a character, he would seem wooden and one-dimensional and would probably be dramatically altered in a rewrite. Jon Huntsman shows that Mormons can be interesting. Mitt Romney shows that Mormons can be Mormon.

Why I would vote for them:
He was a governor of Massachusetts, and therefore has executive experience. His track record is very appealing to me: from working hand in hand with democrats in Massachusetts to his many moderate reforms and policies, Romney as governor hit all the major bullet points on my “Who Wants to Be My President?” list. Which is why it’s so distasteful when...

Why I wouldn’t vote for them:
...his whole campaign this time around is spent trying to distance himself from all that.

Seriously, he created a bipartisan universal healthcare system that works, and he treats it like he’s George W. Bush dealing with the whole National Guard duty thing, or Barack Obama pretending he wasn’t born in Soviet Russia under the name Borak Obamovich.

And the verdict is...



Summing up
I honestly don’t know where I would go on this one. Like Rick Perry up above, Mitt Romney’s strengths are exactly the answers to Barack Obama’s weaknesses, but unlike Perry, Romney has proven that he’s willing to compromise and be a moderate. However, everything he’s said in his campaign deliberately tries to refute that very fact! To steal a quote from the movie The Ring, “It’s like you can draw a line through [his] life.” On one side, you have Governor Romney, who I’d love to have as a President. On the other, you have Presidential Candidate Romney, who I would shun in favor of President Obama any day of the week. If I voted for him, I don’t know who I’d be electing, and that worries me.


In conclusion...

The big day is fast approaching. Looking at this little list, I would say that Barack Obama would probably be wise not to allocate extra campaign funds towards convincing me to vote for him. It’s a little sad, though, that of all the candidates I have just gone through, there is only one that I would actually vote for outright.

Which leads me to the logical conclusion of this whole exercise...

Vote Huntsman!!!

3 comments:

  1. I'd like there to be a miracle for Huntsman in New Hampshire. But I think I lack requisite faith. I will however say that I was quite the fan of the devil dance link on the Cain section.

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  2. I go back and forth on Romney. I think the guy's a pretty firm conservative, but his track record shows he's willing to work with Democrats to get things done. But he's campaigning on "Obama always wrong rawr" despite their past policy agreements. But maybe that's just a political necessity to survive a very conservative primary. But who's to say that if elected he'd be able to govern as a moderate anyway? And what does his blatant weather-vaning say about him as a person? Is he unprincipled or just another politician, and is it really worse than what others do? Can his hair sustain its amazing robustness through four stressful years?

    I like Huntsman for the reasons you articulated, and because he's the candidate who's positioning himself as the Adult in the Room. I'd enjoy a Romney/Huntsman ticket just to hear the wild conspiracies fly.

    What I'd really like is if a candidate stepped forward who I trusted to take real steps toward securing civil liberties and all that business. Between TSA, cops whomping students, and warrantless wiretapping, I think that's the one area where Obama's done nothing to reverse course, and that more than anything disappoints me about him.

    Thing is, I don't trust the Republicans to do anything but make it worse. Except Ron Paul. He's the one guy who says what he believes, and I respect his stance on civil liberties. It's his whole policy of deliberately wrecking the economy in order to save it by giving the rich and powerful absolute free rein...well, to me that kinda negates the rest. So we're left with, "who's the least worst choice?" and I really don't know.

    I've been into Roman history podcasts so much that I find myself debating the merit sof a dual-consul system. What would Obama and Romney do if they alternated days in charge? Or imagine giving Ron Paul and Ralph Nader equal power - how much fun would that be?

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  3. PS the allegations against Mr. Cain have been blown outrageously out of proportion. There have been literally hundreds of females he has worked with that he never once even though about groping or making lewd comments to.

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