Why I've Chosen To Vote No On Senator O

OK, in an earlier post I kidded about revealing my choice for president, but this time I'm serious. There's a lot of emotion out there, but there are also rational reasons to support either candidate. What follows is a summary of why I can't throw my support behind Barack Obama, which has nothing to do with fears over him being a "closet Muslim," his being black, or any other of the scare-hype that collects around every presidential candidate. Basically I want to offer rational thoughts and invite rational commentary, agree or disagree. This isn't the place to accuse Obama of being the Antichrist or to insult Sarah Palin's intelligence, etc.
In fact, I have to say I'm drawn to Senator Obama's intellect and his ability (rare among politicians in this sound-byte world) to try and move the conversation to a higher level. In short, apart from his positions I find a lot to like, and I hope to see more leaders who are "wired" like he is rise to national politics. That said, here's why he didn't get my vote:
1. The Economy
It's not news to anyone that we're entering a period of prolonged economic recession, and every credible economic source I've read indicates that this recession will be long (probably a few years at least) and somewhat painful. More painful than anything this generation has had to go through yet (though previous generations have). But history tells us that the powerful US economy, driven by free market capitalism, will recover... unless it's thwarted by ill-conceived government intervention. An increasing body of research (take this article from UCLA researchers for example) is showing that foolish New Deal government policies are why the Great Depression of the 1930's lasted as long as it did. Had Roosevelt not moved so aggressively to nationalize economic solutions, the economy would have recovered much more quickly.
Which brings me to today's economic slowdown/recession. Basic democratic capitalist theory as well as history both seem to suggest that the last thing we should do is expand the size of the government and use political power to change the flow of the economy. Senator Obama's vision for massive entitlement expansion (like universal taxpayer-funded health care) and his publicly standing by his desire to use government power to "redistribute the wealth" are exactly the types of government intervention I think will worsen and prolong this recession. And I find it curious that he's still enthusiastically advocating these wealth redistribution policies at a time when the economy's wealth generating mechanisms are spluttering.
I have to say I appreciate the fact that Senator Obama seems to be stating what he's for in forthright terms. That's a breath of fresh air and I genuinely appreciate, and give him credit for it. But I see the economic question completely differently than he does, and I think history substantiates my view over his. So with respect I disagree with him, and I think an Obama presidency will both prolong and intensify the current economic crisis.
2. The Value of Life
People are tired of debating abortion. So am I. That's the way it always is with the great moral questions of the day. People were tired of William Wilberforce and his Clapham Group debating the African slave trade. People get tired of talking about racism. But I'm glad King & the civil rights crusaders didn't quit doing so, aren't you?
The most interesting thing to me about abortion in this election actually isn't Senator Obama's position (I'll get there in a moment). What's interesting to me is a trend among younger pro-life Christians to actively support pro-choice candidates this year, in an effort to prove that they're not "single-issue voters." What I appreciate about these folks is that they're forcing us to ask some larger questions, and not over-simplify. For example, we care about the value of an unborn baby (as we should), but what about the value of the homeless guy under the Morrison Bridge, or the value of the 12-year-old kid in North Portland who never knew his father? In some ways these Christians are asking their fellow pro-lifers if we've lived consistently with our human-life-valuing convictions. I, for one, don't think we have. No, let me be more specific: I don't think I have, and this is one area in which God has been opening my eyes and changing my attitude in the past few years. I welcome these questions, and I consider myself indebted to those who are asking them.
But I don't think the answer is to de-value one group (the not-yet-born) in order to value another (say, the poor through government entitlements). The answer is push for the value of all people - to take pro-life thinking all the way to its logical conclusions. We are now seeing the results of a view of life that de-values human dignity: recently Baroness Warnock, described as England's "leading moral philosopher," made a public case that elderly people suffering from dementia and other expensive-to-treat medical conditions have a duty to die and get out of the rest of our way. She went so far as to hope soon that some British doctors would be "licensed to put people down." This Orwellian stuff is not make believe, it's simply a human-life-devaluing worldview taken to logical ends. (It's also the result of a nationalized health care system wherein costly health care must be rationed, so governments decide who gets treatment and who doesn't. Yet another reason to re-think nationalization as a solution to our health care problems).
It's this larger view of life that should be the subject of conversation, which is why I welcome questions about valuing all human life. But applied to abortion, I believe the debate should center on the true extremes, such as when a pregnancy seriously threatens a mother's life (which does happen occasionally). Instead this thinly veiled excuse has been used to abort over 1 million babies in America every year, and well over 90% of these abortions are not motivated by concern for the mother's life or health. If we're truly concerned about valuing all human life we'd be discussing how to greatly reduce that 90%+ figure: strengthening parental notification laws, talking to women about post-abortion trauma, having them view 3D ultrasound images of their babies (pictured left) which statistically reduces abortion as moms decide to carry to term, and supporting Pregnancy Resource Centers which bend over backwards to make the non-abortion options more viable for women.
And this is where I again trip over Senator Obama a bit. His Senate voting record, the enthusiastic support he enjoys from groups like the National Abortion Rights Action League and Planned Parenthood (hardly moderate voices on this topic), and his promise to sign the Freedom of Choice Act as his first action after being sworn into the Oval Office all seem to suggest that an Obama presidency would be just what the strong abortion rights lobby would wish for. And while I respect pro-life Christians who support Senator Obama, I don't think he's advocating for a position that will enhance the value of all human life any more than "single-issue" pro-life people are.
3. Executive Experience
Obama's star has risen meteorically fast largely because his supporters say he has the "it" factor. I actually agree: he does. He has more natural charisma than any politician I've seen in a long time. Neither of the Bushes do particularly well in the public spotlight, and Clinton was more of a sweet talker. But Obama seems to actually inspire people. Big difference.
Problem is that fast-rising star has propelled a young & inexperienced man to the fore. He's the youngest and least experienced presidential candidate from either party in recent memory, and that has an enthusiasm-tempering effect on me as a voter. His repeated insistence on meeting with Iranian leaders without preconditions and his repeated opposition to the Iraq troop surge even when everyone else was admitting it worked are just two examples of what sounds to me like naive optimism from a guy who hasn't done this yet. In some ways I think Obama is too smart and talented - and has too much faith in his own intellect. That needs to be tempered by real life executive experience. In a world where we're looking at a nuclear Iran, Islamo-fascist terrorism, the potency of an aggressive communist China, and a newly muscle-flexing Russia, I want someone who's got a better handle on the world scene.
Does all this mean I'm a staunch McCain supporter? Not really. He'll get my vote because I think he better fits the bill, but I'm not overly enthusiastic about him. Which reminds me, I have some thoughts on how we respond to the election results, regardless of whether or not "our guy" wins. But I'll save those for later.
Happy voting! And thank God we live in a country where leaders are limited, and power changes hands from administration to administration without bloodshed. America really is an amazing place.


Mitch said...

Sheesh, Matt. Why didn't I read this on Saturday? I spent all day on Sunday coming to the same conclusion.

For me, the fourth strike against Obama was the fact that Congress is already controlled by the Democratic party. It makes me nervous when we have both Congress and the White House controlled by the same party. I was nervous about it during President "W" Bush's first term, and I think we're seeing some of the fallout from those years today.

Like you, I'm not terribly thrilled with McCain as President, and I particularly don't like his stance on the war, but on the whole, I think he's a better choice than Obama.

Doesn't matter anyway - I'm pretty sure Obama's going to take it.

elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Great thoughts. I have been openly in support of McCain, not because I think he was a great choice as the Republican nominee, but rather because of one reason.

Life of the unborn child. Like you, I am simply pro-life, whether it be underneath a bridge, on the battle field, at the end of a feeding tube or in a prison cell. My heart has broken in a thousand different ways since yesterday, but mainly because I feel that I didn't do enough for the children.

Send Amy my love. I miss seeing her blogland.


Matt Guerino said...

Thanks for the comment Elaine. Obama has talked about reducing the need for abortion throughout the campaign - looks like we'll get an opportunity to see whether he's willing to work with pro-life folks to actually make that happen. President Clinton talked of keeping abortion "rare" for 8 years wthout much action to back those words up. Which Obama will we see on life issues? The uniter who's willing to compromise? Or the senator who earned 100% pro-choice ratings from NARAL? I suppose time will tell starting in January.

Chin up my friend - there's still thousands of ways to help all needy children, born and unborn!

Tim KC6QLV said...

AS Ronald Reagan Preached back in the day, ADOPT A CHILD/ NOT ABORT!! Adoption is the answer!!!

Give a couple who are not able to produce children on their own the right to adopt a child. I think thats what Americans should stride for Adoption programs.
Tim :)

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