Monday, October 20, 2008

Voting for Obama

Yes you should vote for Obama but you should also know what not to expect if he wins:

Obama has collected more than $600 million in campaign funds. In the last month he has collected more than ever before. As it appears that he may win the election, every one who has the resources to buy access to the highest levels of government, is putting money into the pot so that next year, or the year after, if they need something done for them, they can call the White House and say "remember me I gave a large amount of money to your campaign two years ago."

If you expect government to be cleaner than it has been, you will be disappointed. Our system still is run by money. Money talks; not citizens. Obama getting elected is not going to change that.

Obama has spoken frequently about his extended opposition to the Iraq war. But in the course of the it has become clear that he is not going to change the dominant attitude of the US government toward the rest of the world. Obama may well believe, as do most people, that the war in Iraq was and is a terrible mistake. But he does believe that it is good for the United States to act as if we were entitled to tell everyone else what to do.

Yes Obama talks more about diplomacy, about even talking to our enemies. But that is all a question of the mechanics of being the most powerful nation in the world. If you have any hope that our country will stop being the world's biggest bully, don't expect that change from Obama. There is no reason to think that he would willingly cede any US power to other allies, or to international organizations.

Some of us believe that what we need is radical change. That means for instance that we have health care for all but cut out the insurance companies which currently, according to some sources, are earning $350 billion from health insurance. We have to pay those $350 billion but do not get any health care for that money which is just there to enrich the insurance company. Radical change means a single payer health care system that cuts out the insurance companies altogether. Obama's health care plan leans heavily on the private insurance companies to pay for health care for most citizens.

Radical change in the economy would go beyond regulating financial institutions to keep them from producing periodic crises, like the current one, when the people have to make up for the losses of the so-called "financial experts." What we have at present more than one witty commentator has pointed out is “socialization of losses and privatization of gain.” Radical change in the economy would equalize incomes so that everybody has a decent life and the difference in income between the rich and the poor is lower than its current 400 to 1. Radical change would mean that everybody has health care and decent education not only the children of the rich. Radical change would take on the matter of awful jobs, of job safety, of boring jobs, of tyrannical supervisors. Radical change would mean that everybody is entitled to decent working conditions.

While Obama talks all the time about "change," he is not going to produce radical change. He will make the world safer for business as usual.

But as long as we will have business as usual, we might just as well get a good version of it. McCain is for war. The present wars have cost many lives of Americans and others and are continuing to do so. There is no sign that they are increasing security for anyone. The financial cost of these adventures is astronomical.

McCain is on the side of big business; he is for deregulation. Deregulation is what has gotten us into our present mess. Deregulation is part of a religious faith in what they choose to call "the free market." It is a religious faith because it is not supported by evidence, by science, let alone by common sense. It is a religious faith because it is unshakable in the face of contrary evidence. The present financial crisis does not shake the faith of the free marketeers in the benefits of the unregulated market because nothing will ever do that. But being so proof against contradictory evidence is the mark of a religious belief.

Like Bush, McCain does not believe in being reasonable, objective, looking the facts in the face. As his running mate he chose a woman who is, however energetic and positive, plain ignorant. McCain has no respect for intelligence, for knowing things. He goes on his hunches.

If you have a choice of doctors, one of whom tries to keep up with current medical research while the other goes on his hunches, which would you choose? The same applies to presidents. You want someone who tries to get as much relevant information on any topic as is available before making a choice. Running our government is a complicated and very difficult job. Any sensible person would try to get as much information and expert opinion as available. He would look for a running mate who knows a lot about government.

McCain did not do that.

Here are good reasons for voting for of Obama. His opponent is totally unacceptable. His opponent also is burdened by the colossal failure of eight years of Republican governance.

But Obama will not bring radical change to our economic system. He will not re-fashion our foreign policy to be less macho, less inspired by Rambo and more by ordinary standards of decent human behavior. Obama's picks for his team may not be quite as unfortunate as some of George Bush's choices. But the basic system of cronyism, of helping your friends that have helped you with campaign funds is going to remain with us. Politics will not be less corrupt.

Whoever you vote for—remember that the election may end up being fixed. It would not be the first time that we owe our president to crooked election officials.