Monday, November 5, 2012

Vox Votes 2012: Mister, we could use a man like George Herbert Walker Bush again!

My two favorite modern day political heroes faced off in the 1992 election. I didn't know it then, but America couldn't lose. The incumbent was a moderate, Eisenhower-Republican, CIA director, distinguished WWII veteran, champion of immigration, civil rights and clean air. The challenger was a brilliant lawyer and egalitarian centrist; a pragmatic Democrat who consistently shunned divisive policies in favor of compromise and collaboration. It's no wonder that rivals George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton would eventually form one of the most genuine and famous friendships in this era of hateful, polarizing politics- together, both former presidents are still preaching Third Way principles that reinforce tolerance, individual responsibility and synthetic government.

George H.W. Bush never possessed Ronald Reagan's gifts as a communicator, but I believed in Bush's "kinder, gentler" vision for the United States and his "thousand points of light." Bush consistently put the health of our country ahead of his own political ambition. And never more so than his decision to turn against his party and sign a bill increasing marginal taxes in 1991. As Generation X creeps into middle age, the myth of Ronald Reagan becomes more beloved, pronounced and misunderstood, as if the 1980s were some sort of American Utopia. But Reagan's legacy of nation building through tax cuts and defense spending left his successor with a deficit of over $200 billion. Bush had notoriously promised "no new taxes" on the campaign trail, a proclamation that would cost him re-election after the budget package was approved. Still, in my eyes, Bush was to be commended for going back on his word and turning against right-wing radicals.

There was an even bigger boiling point burning through the GOP than Bush's decision to align with Democratic senators. Reagan actively courted the religious right during his presidency, and his relationship with evangelicals was essentially the infancy of the Tea Party movement. Jimmy Carter was also an evangelical Christian, but never let his faith dictate policy. Ironically, Reagan rarely attended church but recognized the political strength of the "moral majority." It fell in line with his mission to co-opt patriotism, resulting in Reagan's wrongful interpretation of Bruce Springsteen's "Born in the USA." Now, part of Reagan's charm was to downplay his own intelligence but it was truly an odd and frightening feeling to realize, at nine years old, that I might be smarter than the President (not to mention, Barry Windham & Mike Rotundo). I didn't know then that Reagan and his advisors never bothered to listen to the lyrics.

Our parents may have been "Reagan Democrats" but please don't try and stick a label on me. I'm not a Clinton Republican, RINO, Libertarian or even a real-life Will McAvoy. I have no party. Better yet, I'm too young to have ever been invited. See, I am a Barry Goldwater-Richard Nixon-Gerry Ford-George Herbert Walker-Bush-John McCain in 2000-Republican, proud that my party authored the Nixon Doctrine and Civil Rights Acts of 1957 and 1960, established the Environmental Protection Agency, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. But my political breed was slowly murdered over two decades. The death blow, curiously enough, came from 2008 John McCain, in a desperate attempt to climb the polls, when he plucked Sara Palin from obscurity and gave the Tea Party national prominence. Palin, Rick Santorum/Perry, Mike Huckabee and Michelle Bachmann make the strongly ideological George W. Bush look liberal by comparison. Extremists, armed only with scripture, hell-bent on toppling science as well as the "evil federal government" that promptly came to their aid after the hurricane.

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Fast forward to Tuesday. I am an independent voter from the most important swing state. They say I decide elections. I flirted with Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson after some internet questionnaire matched his views with mine, and I even considered writing in David Lee Roth, General Zod, Mark from Norton Furniture, or my father (who makes a compelling case for socializing medicine). Did I consider Mitt R-money? Yes, I did. In fact, had Mitt tabbed Chris Christie over poisonous Paul Ryan and not privately and foolishly misjudged 47% of the electorate, he may have earned my vote. After all, President Obama extended the Bush tax cuts, escalated two unnecessary wars, and snuck through a mandate on health insurance that I strongly oppose. Obama's harshest critics call him a communist, which is especially ignorant when you consider his administration bent over backwards to appease Wall Street. Hope and change, hardly. Barrack is a Rockefeller-Republican, and his first four years have been an extension of W's second term.

Still, just like I wrote four years ago, this column marks my formal endorsement of the Obama/Biden ticket. Despite pathetic attempts by neo-cons to paint BarryO as a terrorist, President Obama has consistently displayed a desire for bi-partisanship. ObamaCare was basically a replica of Romney's Massachusetts health reform plan and the JOBS Act was a GOP creation. And, as a hard-working, tax-paying, God-fearing citizen who was professionally affected by the near-collapse of our economy in the fall of '08, I can confidently state that the POTUS has helped stabilize the private financial sector. Truthfully, I'm inclined to believe that Mitt, who proved to be a thoughtful challenger and strong debater, could do the same. But the once-sensible Governor has shamelessly traded in his lifelong convictions for political gain. And, as long as the Supreme Court is at stake and the Tea Party keeps brewing, this old-school Republican and fiscal conservative will continue to vote for Democrats devoted to preserving our social freedoms.

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Tomorrow's Play:
Barack Obama (-230) over Mitt Romney, 4 dimes
Season: 2-3 (+2 dimes)