Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Why Your Vote (For President) Doesn't Count As Much As Others

I went out and voted this morning, and I encourage everyone to do so because there are lots of things on the ballot, including election of local officials and those for congress, that are very important.  But the simple fact is if you do not live in one of the battleground states your vote for president doesn't matter a whole lot.  Yes I know that's not totally true as every state contributes to the electoral college total, and thus those votes do count, but  just one or two states will ultimately determine everything.

People have been saying for months that this election will really come down to the results from just 12 counties, with those in Ohio playing the biggest role (and so that total may be down to just a few).  That means that all those national polls the pundits have been talking about and how close they are don't matter either.  Which is why all the pundits who have been touting them are so far off.

In almost every scenario, Romney cannot win without taking Ohio, and so what people in Texas might say in a poll isn't really important as they are going red.  Obama can win without Ohio, but taking Ohio will make his path much easier, and that's why everyone talking about turmoil in Ohio may be off as well.  Obama may win without knowing the results in Ohio, but Romney almost certainly can't.

But, we again face the real possibility that Romney could win the popular vote, and lose the electoral college, as happened with Gore in 2000.  If that happens I can assure you the GOP will be outraged and calling for immediate change, although they were strangely silent on the issue just 12 years ago.  I've sort of gone back and forth on whether we should abolish the electoral college or not.

I understand the reason that it was put into the Constitution, but I'm not sure it's actually worked the way its supposed to, but if we want a truly "national" election then it would need to go.  But I also think there are lots of reasons for keeping it.

I currently live in New Mexico, a state that is strongly expected to be in Obama's camp (99.4% chance according to Nate Silver at fivethirthyeight), and we live just 45 minutes from Texas, which is where we get our local channels, which is solidly red.  So, we have had very little electioneering taking place because we are not being courted or fought over, the race is decided.  Prior to moving back to NM, we lived in Massachusetts for 8 years, another solidly blue state, so for the last three presidential elections we've been largely free of the worst of the campaigning, and I have to say that I'm glad for that.

I did cast my vote for Obama, although I have to say that I, like many others, have been disappointed in what Obama has done in his first term.  Not because he did too much, but because he didn't go far enough. The stimulus plan wasn't anywhere close to big enough and "Obamacare" (and I hate that phrase) did not give us nationalized health care as the Right would like to claim, it just made us all buy insurance from for-profit insurance companies, not really a great panacea.  For some reason when Democrats get into power, and this happened when they retook Congress as well, they lose any sense of being the victor and cave on everything that we hold to be important.  I don't know why we do it, but it happens every single time.

But, even though I was disappointed in Obama there was no way I could vote for Romney (nor any of the other candidates who ran this time for the nomination).  I lived in Massachusetts when Romney was governor  and have seen what he is like, and the fact that Obama holds at least an 18 point lead on Romney in Massachusetts should say something.

The pundits all say it's because Massachusetts is liberal, but let us not forget this is the state that elected him governor.  The reason he only served one term is that he knew he would not win if he ran for reelection, which would destroy his possibility of becoming president.  This election might be the first time that we have a presidential candidate who not only could lose his home state (Michigan) but also the state he was a politician in.  The way I see that is that the people who know him best don't want him around.

Here are my biggest problems and what I saw under his leadership in Massachusetts and in his campaigns.  First, he is an ethical eunuch.  He may have had ethics at some point, but they have been removed, and I'm only talking public ethics here as he seems like a moral person in his personal life, not counting the dog on the roof.  Second, and most importantly, is that I have no idea what Romney actually stands for.  The person who ran for governor of Massachusetts is not the same one who ran for the Senate just a few years before, nor is that governor the one who ran for president in 2007 and definitely not the same as in 2012, and the person in the primaries is different than the person in the general election.

Other than taxes on the rich, there is not a single issue that I have seen that he hasn't said totally contradictory things about at some point.  And even taxes on the rich might be up for debate because he says that he wants to remove tax loopholes, and the wealthy use those more than anyone else.  I do think in his core that he has firm convictions but I honestly don't know what they are because he won't say.

I don't know if his campaign persona is what advisers have given, or if it is something that he has taken on himself, but I would trust him a lot better if I truly knew where he was and what he believed.  I'm not even convinced like some that what he says when he thinks no one is listening, like his 47% comment, is who he is either, because it's just as likely he was still playing a part rather than his true feelings.  I just wish he would stop smirking and chuckling and be honest and open with us.  If he had actually done that I think he would have done a lot better than he has.

I expect that President Obama will win reelection, and I hope that he does, but I will be praying for healing, reconciliation and peace regardless, and praying that we might all finally understand, both left and right, that we are in this together, and that, as Benjamin Franklin famously said, we must all hang together or surely we shall all hang separately.

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