Oh, And One More Thing…Or Two…

Yes, yes, I said no more politics till after the election, but that just goes to show you the pitfalls of making promises you may be unable to keep.  But I didn’t actually make a promise, not like, um, a politician.

The weekend is upon us.  Next Tuesday a goodly portion of the citizens of this country will step into voting booths and choose…the next four to six years of leadership.

I have written about why I will not vote for Mitt Romney.  “Mitten” as he is affectionately known by those in Massachussetts glad to see him no longer governor, is not my idea of a president.  To reiterate what I wrote in that piece, my chief problem with him is that he is an advocate for a failed fiscal policy.  Trickle down economics did not work, has not worked, will not work, so it seems ludicrous—no, stupid—to assume it would work just because it’s Romney and not Reagan.

But have Obama’s policies done much better?

If you’re one of those still un- or under-employed, you probably don’t think so. All you have on your mind is “Where are the jobs?!?”  (Interestingly, Romney this week started talking about the unemployed who are not usually counted by the national labor board, a subject I’ve complained about in the past—actual unemployment is much higher than the number cited monthly, much higher, and always has been.  Do I think Romney has twigged to a deeper truth and might do something about it?  No.  It’s a tactic.  Someone whispered in his ear “Hey, boss, if we talk about these people we can make Obama look really bad.”  It’s bullshit coming from him.)  But for a lot of people who either were at risk for losing their jobs or have found employment in the slowly growing economy, no, things aren’t as bad or worse than they were.  Romney is citing the fact that this month’s unemployment went up—from 7.8% to 7.9%, which is higher than when Obama took office.  This is spin, of course, because Obama took office just when the real toll of the Bush recession (and why they keep calling it that, I don’t know, it was a depression and still it, because of all those folks Romney just discovered) was washing ashore.  It was over 10%, we must not forget, and has dropped.

Now, the thing a lot of people are bitching about is how slowly the recovery is happening.  They overlook the fact that recovery is happening and is expected to continue steadily for the next four years (so much so that Romney has been taking advance credit for jobs that would be created no matter who wins next Tuesday).  It is frankly better in the long-run for this to happen slowly rather than do something to superheat it and blow up a new bubble that will burst in 10 or 15 years, but that doesn’t matter much to people who can’t find work. Fair enough.  But that begs the question as to why these same folks might vote for someone who has sided with policies that will only hurt them more.

More?  The GOP as it currently exists is anti-union, anti-minimum wage, and anti-fiscal regulation.  If you work for a living any one of these runs counter to your best interests, but we have a trifecta here of antagonism toward the working class and a good chunk of the middle class.  Every state that has adopted Right To Work as law and busted the unions has seen standards of living go down.  Wages go down.  Quality of working conditions go down.  As for minimum wage laws, they barely raise the quality of life for hundreds of thousands of people in the first place—eliminate it and you drive those people even further down.  Those who have never worked for minimum wage may not realize that this is not for students anymore, but a lot of families are trying to get by on minimum wage.

As for the demand to deregulate the financial sector further, pardon my directness, but just how stupid are you?  It was deregulation that allowed the practices of the banks which caused the 2008 meltdown.  So now you want to go back to those circumstances?  Capitalism is a wonderful thing if you put a harness on it and control it, but left to “the Market” it is a ravening beast that could care less about Bob Cratchitt and Tiny Tim.

So given all this, just why in hell would anyone vote for these people?  It beggars the imagination.

But—politics is like sex: when you get right down to it, it’s just a matter of what turns you on, what appeals. It’s a limbic system thing, and generally makes no sense.

Which in that regard makes Romney ideal.

Not many people have talked about his religion through the campaign, which for the most part I approve.  Religion ought to have no part in this.

But that’s not the same as saying it doesn’t play on people’s minds, that it isn’t a consideration.  Sure, it bothered me when Jimmy Carter made a deal out of his evangelicalism.  Every time some politico mouths off about “putting god back in [fill in the blank]” I cringe.*

In this case, I will remark on Romney’s religion as an aspect of his character.  He has campaigned diligently with unexpected agility.  He’s told a lot of half-truths, some outright lies, fabricated some stuff out of whole cloth.

And apparently believes every word of it.

He’s a Mormon.  As such, he must be facile at accepting nonsense as truth.  (Disclaimer: my parents were Mormons, I am more than passing familiar with Mormonism.  While never one myself, I’ve had many a conversation with visiting teachers.  I’ve read the two principle books—yes, there are two of them, The Book of Mormon and A Pearl of Great Price—and I considered joining, so allow me to claim I know a little something about it.)  We have the documentation, the history, and can weigh the claims of Mormonism.  This isn’t some ancient thing of which most of the pertinent texts are missing and the civilization that invented it lies in ruins over which archaeologists must pore to reconstruct.  It’s a recent advent.  It is very much like Scientology in many ways.

It is a compendium of the improbable, the fantastic, and the patently false.  In order to believe it, one must be willing to suspend all credulity, divorce it from critical thinking, and pretend the world is different from what it clearly is.  One must ignore evidence, be willing to cut off friends and family who dare to speak ill of Joe Smith and Brigham, accept a cosmogeny created virtually from whole cloth by a man fleeing New York ahead of creditors and charges for fraud.  It is so obviously bullshit, that it is the perfect mirror of the mindset of a politician willing to front for things he or she might never accept outside of the arena.

I will therefore also not vote for Romney because he is so utterly gullible.


So am I gleefully and whole-heartedly casting my vote for Obama?  I will vote for him because I do not want a GOP-dominated government.  But it is far from whole-hearted.  He has disappointed me in many things, but I can’t in clear conscience vote my choice and risk seeing Romney win.

(In case you hadn’t noticed, this is a very partisan post—not so much partisan for anyone as against.)

I’d like to vote for Jill Stein.  Not so much because I agree with everything she touts, but because she’s so utterly despised by all the folks I despise.  She would be a refreshing change.

Look, under ordinary circumstances, the two parties we have dominating our politics are not really that different from each other.  These are not ordinary circumstances but the divide is over things that are normally at the margins.  If you want to fix the core, both parties need to be overhauled completely.

We need a viable third party, one not funded by corporate money or tied to the people with the biggest mouths.

But until someone like Jill Stein can garner better than the paltry percentage she does, most of us see our choices forced.

So this coming Tuesday I’m voting against Mitt Romney…and against just about every Republican candidate on the slate, because they are all of them espousing nonsense in my opinion.  They’re not even good Libertarians, not that I’d particularly want them to be, but that way they’d at least keep their opinions about peoples’ private lives out of the public arena.

But come 2016 I’d love to see a viable third option.



* Let me explain.  It’s not god per se that I object to (how can I when I don’t believe he exists?) but the fact—the fact—that all this sanctimony is pretty much, in this context, Show.  Nothing but an act to parade piety in front of people and mask the fact that serious problem solving is not going on.  Putting god back in city hall will not stop the corruption.  Putting prayer back in school will not fix your failing educational system.  The public lip-service to a religiosity especially not embraced by the political actions of the people demanding it the most is a massive distraction.   Many of the same people most vociferously demanding this nonsense wouldn’t know “christian spirit” if it visited them on Christmas Eve.  What it really is, to be clear, is a song-and-dance to make their opponents appear curmudgeonly, evil, and on the wrong “side.”  I’m tired of people professing their christian values from one side of their mouths and then defending the death penalty out of the other.  Hypocrisy is a poor way to advocate for your country.


Published by Mark Tiedemann