Why we Vote

One question that has plagued me for some years, and to which I have yet to receive an adequate answer, is that involving why people vote the way that they do. When Barack Obama was running for election, people treated him like a rock star, packing stadiums to listen to him speak. He visited Europe and in countries like Germany was treated to large crowds and standing ovations. What changed in the intervening years? How did he go from being our savior to being just another politician?

The President inherited a financial disaster, an economic system teetering on the brink of collapse and managed to drag us all back from the unthinkable. Under his leadership the housing market eventually slowed and almost stopped its free-fall, and the stock market soared. Instead of losing hundred of thousands of jobs each month, job growth accelerated, albeit at a slow pace.

Today, people vacillate, pondering the weighty question of whether to vote for Obama, or for Romney. To me, it appears that people were really not paying attention to the details of what Obama accomplished in four short years.

It took FDR 12 years and a World War to create the conditions for a strong middle class and an economic miracle.

Obama has had less than four years to accomplish an inordinately complex task, and people are complaining that he did not do more.

FDR had a compliant Congress that was mostly in his favor, which helped him immensely in his task. He also had the enormous productivity gains that flowered from the war, bringing millions of women into the war effort and industry, crushing the unemployment problem leftover from the Depression.

Obama had an intransigent Congress that has done everything in their power to preclude him from implementing his agenda. In their own words, their task was to prevent an Obama second term.

Obama had a Supreme Court packed with Conservatives, another obstacle in his path. The American Care Act barely scraped through on a technicality. FDR, on the other hand, managed to pack the court in his favor.

What has any of this to do with the question of why we vote? Obama has an economic plan that includes improving the conditions for the Middle Class, putting them back to work on infrastructure projects, improving the environment, decreasing dependence on oil, protecting them from the acts of large corporations. In other words, he is fighting for the vast majority of the people in this country.

Romney, on the other hand, is only interested in protecting the interests of the wealthy and corporations. His plans would cause environmental degradation, financial hardship for the middle class in the form of austerity measures, a larger and vastly more costly military machine, and tax cuts for the idle rich. He also wants deregulation of the financial industry that caused our financial travails, deregulation of industry causing more pollution, unsafe machinery, unsafe working conditions, less medical coverage, less education, and more secrecy.

Given these two contrasts, why would anyone from the middle class choose to vote for Romney? What are they going to receive in return? How does giving more money to corporations and the wealthy improve their own lives, give their children health care or education, ensure that they are financially secure in old age? What possible reason can they have for voting for the wealthy? The truth of the matter is that the vast majority of people will never be wealthy – the idea that they will is a shell game, a lottery that they will never win.

It makes no sense for the average person to vote for the wealthy. What other possible reason can they have? Can it possibly be all about abortion or gun rights, neither of which will improve their lives. Does it really just come down to the fact that Romney is the white guy in the room?

 

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