‘A good rule’ for voting my values

‘A good rule’ for voting my values November 6, 2012

“You and I are blessed to live in a country where we are born equal no matter what we look like on the outside, where we grow up, or who our parents are. A good rule is to treat others the way you hope they will treat you.”

That is a good rule. A golden rule, even. And the previous sentence may be more aspirational than strictly descriptive, but it’s a lovely expression of the American dream.

Those lines are from President Barack Obama’s letter replying to Sophia Bailey Klugh, age 10. Sophia had written to the president to invite him to dinner and to ask how she should deal with getting teased at school because of her parents.

I voted this morning to re-elect President Obama because of letters like this — because Obama was capable of writing such a letter, because he wanted to write such a letter, because the values expressed in that letter are reflected in the president’s words and deeds and life, and because it is clear from his policies and statements and priorities that those values are who he really is and who we can expect him to continue to be.

I’m proud of the vote I cast this morning. And I know that 20 years from now, when Sophia Bailey Klugh is 30, I’ll be able to still be proud of that vote.

* * * * * * * * *

Jon Chait: “Barack Obama Is a Great President. Yes, Great.”

Obama’s résumé of accomplishments is broad and deep, running the gamut from economic to social to foreign policy. The general thrust of his reforms, especially in economic policy, has been a combination of politically radical and ideologically moderate. The combination has confused liberals into thinking of Obamaism as a series of sad half-measures, and conservatives to deem it socialism, but the truth is neither. Obama’s agenda has generally hewed to the consensus of mainstream economists and policy experts. What makes the agenda radical is that, historically, vast realms of policy had been shaped by special interests for their own benefit. Plans to rationalize those things, to write laws that make sense, molder on think-tank shelves for years, even generations. They are often boring. But then Obama, in a frenetic burst of activity, made many of them happen all at once.

Bipartisan panels of economists had long urged Medicare to reform its payment methods to curb perverse incentives by hospitals and doctors to run up costs as high as possible; Obama overcame fierce resistance in Congress in order to craft, as part of Obamacare, a revolution in paying for quality rather than quantity. He eliminated billions of dollars in useless subsidies to banks funneling (at no risk) government loans to college students. By dangling federal public-education grants, Obama unleashed a wave of public-school reform, over the objections of the most recalcitrant elements of the teachers union movement. And he forced Wall Street to accept financial regulations that, while weaker than ideal, were far tougher than anybody considered possible to get through Congress.

It is noteworthy that four of the best decisions that Obama made during his presidency ran against the advice of much of his own administration. Numerous Democrats in Congress and the White House urged him to throw in the towel on health-care reform, but he was one of very few voices in his administration determined to see it through. Many of his own advisers, both economists steeped in free-market models and advisers anxious about a bailout-weary public, argued against his decision to extend credit to, and restructure, the auto industry. On Libya, Obama’s staff presented him with options either to posture ineffectually or do nothing; he alone forced them to draw up an option that would prevent a massacre. And Obama overruled some cautious advisers and decided to kill Osama bin Laden.

Michael Bloomberg: “A Vote for a President Who Will Lead on Climate Change

We need leadership from the White House – and over the past four years, President Barack Obama has taken major steps to reduce our carbon consumption, including setting higher fuel-efficiency standards for cars and trucks. His administration also has adopted tighter controls on mercury emissions, which will help to close the dirtiest coal power plants … which are estimated to kill 13,000 Americans a year.

Mitt Romney, too, has a history of tackling climate change. As governor of Massachusetts, he signed on to a regional cap-and-trade plan designed to reduce carbon emissions 10 percent below 1990 levels. “The benefits (of that plan) will be long-lasting and enormous – benefits to our health, our economy, our quality of life, our very landscape. These are actions we can and must take now, if we are to have `no regrets’ when we transfer our temporary stewardship of this Earth to the next generation,” he wrote at the time.

He couldn’t have been more right. But since then, he has reversed course, abandoning the very cap-and-trade program he once supported. This issue is too important. We need determined leadership at the national level to move the nation and the world forward.

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  • J_

    Oh and more concretely: No, that’s been cleared:

    “Documents declassified in the 1980s revealed that while he was living in Paris, his living expenses were paid by the Nazis,but papers released by the British Public Record Office in 1999 showed that this had been accounted for by MI5 investigators when establishing Wodehouse’s innocence; the money was, in fact, Wodehouse’s legitimate earnings, including an advance from his Spanish publisher, but had to be channelled via the German Central Bank.”

    Honestly, nevermind what MI5 has said: Wodehouse has the imprimatur of Stephen Fry, which is all the endorsement *I* need.

  • J_

    Yeah except that ‘purity’ is a canard. So is ‘considering the needs of vulnerable fellow citizens.’

    YOU have decided that you’re willing to tolerate a few innocent bombed Pashtuns every week or two because you want your neighbor with the sore back to get free naproxen. That’s the calculus of values YOU have made. So maybe a little less loose talk about who is throwing who under whose bus, mmmkay?

  • J_

    *We work with the reality that we have, while trying to make it better. *

    Yes. Gary Johnson 2012.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     I’d have a lot more respect for the Libertarians and the Greens if they’d quite wasting their time with their doomed, pointless grandstanding Presidential campaigns and tried running people for spots they might actually be able to WIN.  Bernie Sanders is an independent, and he’s been in the House for 2 decades now, and regularly out-Liberals the Democrats.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Hey, hey.  Bush, Gore, AND all the news media tried to act like the only difference between those two was the color of their ties.  Then Bush got ‘elected’ and spent eight years brutally disabusing us all of THAT delusion.

    And that’s why I expect to be voting a straight Democratic ticket for the next few elections- the GOP has proven to me that they can’t be trusted with political power, and I prefer harm-reduction to ‘making a statement’.

  • EllieMurasaki

    Hold that thought two or four years; I’ll be old enough to run for state legislature in a couple months. I’m not sure I’d be a good candidate, and no way do I live in an area willing to elect anyone progressive enough to call themselves Green Party (we are a blue state because upstate is blue and that’s where all the population is), but I’m increasingly certain I’m going to try.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     Go for it, and good luck!

  • EllieMurasaki


  •  That would be lovely. But also would likely require a constitutional amendment.

    So it’ll be awhile. But yes, that would be something I support.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    I honestly don’t know what I’d do if I was a citizen in a system without preferential voting. I’m sympathetic to both sides. The only thing I’m confident about is the need to transform to a more democratic electoral system–which, yeah, would take a long time. But I hope enough people work on and don’t give up. It’s a huge deal.