Tuesday is Election Day.
For those of you who didn’t vote early — Tuesday, November 6th becomes your last chance to vote in this year’s election.
I live and vote in Nevada, which is considered a “swing state.” This year Nevada residents have the added motivation of casting ballots that could actually make a difference in the presidential election. But even those who reside in less-competitive states should vote, as the ballots cast in other races (especially House and Senate races) will go a long way towards determining the direction of our country.
Here are my endorsements:
U.S. PRESIDENT: BARACK OBAMA / U.S. VICE PRESIDENT: JOSEPH BIDEN
During his first term, President Obama governed from the political center — much to the chagrin of (we) progressives who hoped for a transformational leader. At key moments — particularly when Democrats controlled both houses of Congress during his first two years — the President pretty much abandoned the fight for real change — including pushing for nationalized health care, disengagement from foreign conflicts, increased federal oversight of Wall Street, expanding environmental protections, and a determination to champion causes that require a political street fight. To his credit, the stimulous stopped the bleeding and turned what might have been a catastrophie around after years of gross negligence on virtually every federal matter, reversing the steps which led to the economic meltdown of 2008 (though he still hasn’t gone nearly far enough). But frankly, I still don’t trust the Obama Administration to advance the liberal agenda. He’s clearly enjoying he perks of the office and governs as a moderate — and anyone who thinks otherwise is simply a fool who has not looked at the record. But the alternative to a second Obama term is far worse than the current gridlock.
Conversely, a possible Romney Administration would likely be a replay of the period of decline during the later Bush years, when government totally abandoned its responsibilities and let major corporations and financial institutions trample roughshod over the working class, generating a false bubble boom, thus revealing the utter failure of “trickle-down economics.” There’s nothing to indicate a President Romney would “create jobs” as he so claims, unless he’s talking about continuing to incentivize outsourcing to other nations, while our nation’s middle and lower classes struggle. Romney’s positions on foreign policy are not only grossly naive, but utterly frightening — as was revealed in his meandering deer-in-the-headlights flop during the third presidential debate. Then, there’s his 1950-era social policies and the prospects of a Romney Administration picking perhaps two Supreme Court justices, which would be heavily influenced by the far-right, led by the neanderthal types like Focus on the Family. Romney is not necessarily an evil man, but those who would lead his Administration are very much bad people — from the neo-conservative chicken-hawk war-mongers who bang the drums of conflict abroad so their buddies in the killing business can get wealthy, to the super-rich on Wall Street who want to self-regulate and let “market forces police themselves.” Romney’s vision of America is terrifying prospect, unless you happen to be a well-connected White male making in excess of $250,000-a-year with no conscious.
All things considered, President Obama gets my mixed endorsement and vote.
NEVADA — U.S. SENATE: NO ENDORSEMENT
The race between incumbent Sen. Dean Heller (R) and Rep. Shelley Berkley (D) poses a tough dilemma. On one hand as a proud liberal — purely by the issues — I prefer that the U.S. Senate remain in Democratic control. Trouble is, Democrat leadership in the Senate has been ATROCIOUS. From the downright awful Harry Reid to Barbara Boxer to Diane Feinstein to the multitude of milquetoast phony liberals who hold leadership positions in the Senate, they are all an embarrassment to real progressive politics. These Democrats are little more than “Republican Lite” when it comes to economic and foreign policy. I would prefer to see 100 Bernie Sanders (I-VT) occupy the U.S. Senate, but that’s not going to happen. There’s nothing compelling about Rep. Berkley that would indicate she’d be any different than any of those horrible legislators who desperately need to be replaced in the U.S. Senate. Then, there are Rep. Berkley’s ethics violations currently being investigated which are a concern (question — did she really take a trip to Italy on the taxpayer dime and charge $55,000 to the treasury?). It also troubles me that Rep. Berkley has been making a lot money these past few years buying up foreclosed homes in Nevada. There’s nothing wrong with making money for good old-fashioned hard work, but it strikes me as bad form to be profiting from the misery of a lot of her fellow Nevadans. As for a few litmus-test issues — to her credit, she’s been a staunch proponent of legalizing online gambling and poker. But then, so has her opponent in this race — Sen. Dean Heller. One litmus tipping point that keeps me off the “Berkley for Senate” bandwagon is her rabidly one-sided views in the Middle East, for which she’s been given a 100 score by AIPAC. There’s no way I can support such a candidate. I prefer to see a more open dialogue with all parties (the Senate has a powerful role in foreign policy) and the prospect of a Sen. Berkley sitting on the Foreign Relations Committee is troublesome. Even thought I’ve met him and very much like him personally, I can’t pull the lever for Sen. Heller for obvious reasons. So, with some regret — I hereby withhold my endorsement of either major candidate in this race.
NEVADA — 4TH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT: JOHN OCEGUERA (DEMOCRAT)
This is a new congressional seat. But the same area of representation has been filled with incompetent leadership for years, in large part because neither party seems to be able to hold it from one election to the next, thus stripping away any possibility of accumulating much-needed seniority when it comes to gaining powerful committee assignments. Jon Porter (R) was an horrific congressman (he was violently anti-online poker and gambling, until the casino industry kicked him in the ass and he did an about-face). Next, the utterly repulsive do-nothing Democrat Dina Titus, a Georgia transplant, essentially stunk up the office for two years before she was booted out in the predictable electoral backlash of 2010, when Republicans enjoyed a landslide victory in many House races. Now, Rep. Joe Heck seems to enjoy the advantage of being a relatively popular incumbent, especially for what’s considered as a swing district. I’ve seen much worse within the Republican Party than Heck, so I’m not strongly opposed to his candidacy. However, John Oceguera is the Speaker of the Nevada Assembly and certainly has the pedigree to be an effective leader in Congress. He appears to be one of the more progressive candidates running anywhere in Nevada (which despite its reputation is actually a pretty conservative, libertarian-leaning state), which is perhaps one reason he’s down in the polls by ten points. I admire candidates who stick to their principles and don’t head for the political center during the election cycle, and this display of courage wins Oceaguera my endorsement in this election. He’s unlikely to win anything other than a respectable finish, which might lead to a repeat run in the future.
OTHER RACES: NO ENDORSEMENTS
There are dozens of other races listed on the ballot — for state assembly, state senate, the courts, and other races. I tend to pass on these races because I do not know the candidates (or in many cases) the specific issues relevant to the race. I’m appalled that many of these races are partisan contests (where officials must designate themselves as Republicans or Democrats, even though the position has little to do with partisanship), and many voters simply vote a “straight-party” ticket. That strikes me as a lazy, almost criminal abdication of civic responsibility. Just as I encourage citizens who do not follow politics to STAY HOME and DO NOT VOTE — by the same measure of consistency, I apply those same standards to my own voting. If I know nothing about a race, I will not pull a lever for any of the candidates. I encourage you to do the same and pass on these elections, which are too often decided by partisanship or the ethnicity of last names. [SEE FOOTNOTE BELOW]
November 5, 2012
FOOTNOTE: In past elections, I have voted for many third-party candidates purely as a protest to the two-party system. I have done so in races when I knew little about the candidates or the race. As a matter of principle, voting “third party” does serve a noble purpose, which is to erode the lock of corruption that the two major parties have on the political process Hence, I encourage third-party voting if you have that opportunity and agree that more voices and points of view need to be represented in positions of leadership.