Thursday, January 03, 2008

Undecided

In light of the Iowa Caucuses happening today, I thought it might be a good day to post my dismay at the large array of Republican candidates, from which I have to choose one person on a day not too far from this one.

Ai yi.

So far I have it narrowed down to three candidates (in no particular order).

1) Romney
2) McCain
3) Huckabee

Let me detail (briefly!) what I'm thinking about each of them. Subject to revision, of course. :)

Romney

Things I like:

1) Lots of experience running things, and turning major problems around. If we ever needed someone to turn a financial disaster around, it is now!
2) Pro-family and pro-life rhetoric. I know many people say this is all just a front to get votes, but I think to be fair we have to admit that he might truly be a "convert" to the cause. He IS Mormon, after all, and most Mormons are definitely pro-family.
3) He says exactly what I'm thinking about illegal immigration.

Reservations:
1) He supports embryonic stem cell research on frozen IVF "extras". He also supports abortions in the cases of rape, incest, or life of the mother. While I understand that this second policy is politic and it may be impossible to hold anything else and be a viable candidate, I still find the logical inconsistency troubling.
2) I have concerns about the way he ran Massachusetts, particularly in the realm of healthcare. To be fair, he was working with a democratic legislature. Still, he claims their health system as something he is "proud of" and I'm not at all sure that I want the rest of the nation to follow a system of that sort. Sarah, want to weigh in on this one?

McCain

Things I like:

1) He really does seem to have a pretty solid conservative track record, particularly with fiscal responsibility.
2) He's not going to leave the Iraqis hanging. While I do very much wish that we were not still in Iraq, I'm a firm believer in the philosophy that we broke it and now we own it. McCain seems to have a clear idea of morality in the situation.
3) He's against torture in all forms, even the "grey areas". I'm pretty sure that I want our nation to be a leader in warfare ethics, not one that tries to weasel out of responsibilities because the base isn't on our soil.
4) His ideas on healthcare seem pretty reasonable.

Reservations:
1) He doesn't like Evangelicals much, and I'm not entirely sure how I feel about that (and his current pandering to them!) Still, he does seem to agree with most Christian moral principles.
2) I think his theories of how to solve the current illegal immigration problems are just nuts. Not to mention completely unfair to everyone who didn't break the law.
3) Like Romney, he supports embryonic stem cell research on frozen IVF "extras", and abortions in the "big three" exceptions.

Huckabee

Things I like:

1) He is a Christian. While I'm certainly not one that advocates a theocracy, I do appreciate the fact that a Baptist minister is most likely going to act in ways which I believe to be morally and ethically correct.
2) Pro-life position, even in the case of IVF babies. I can't pin him down on abortion in the "big three" cases, though. Anyone know what he believes on that?
3) The fair tax. I know it won't ever happen, but I can dream, right?

Reservations:
1) I keep hearing that Huckabee is a "populist". And I can't figure out what that means, but I know that Edwards is one and I can't stand Edwards. So this makes me nervous. Can someone explain this to me in more detail? And why I should or shouldn't be nervous?
2) I can't pin down his fiscal record. Everything I read seems contradictory. Is this guy a raving, spending, liberal in republican clothing? Or did he do the best he could with a democratic legislature?
3) His theories on healthcare seem mainly to be "prevent, prevent, prevent". Perhaps there is more to his idea than this, but what I'm hearing sounds way too simplistic.
3) Is a Baptist minister from the south even remotely electable? I get the feeling that the nation may just be totally finished with anyone who sounds anything like our current president.
I think I have two main problems. One is knowing which issues should be deal-breakers for me. Is the IVF issue big enough to change my vote? Should it be? The other (related) is deciding how much "electibility" should play into my vote. I want to vote my conscience, but I also don't want to indirectly elect someone far more out of line with my beliefs, simply because I voted for someone who had no chance of beating him/her.

I'd love some conversation on this topic. Just remember to keep it respectful, eh?

12 comments:

Elena said...

I was planning to vote for Romney until the other day, when I stumbled upon this video.

http://youtube.com/watch?v=NY6UTnS6Z-A&feature=related

There are videos of similar confrontations with all the candidates. Some of the candidates were in favor of medical marijuana, some of them against it, but they all could honorably explain their positions while looking human suffering in the eye. Except Romney. (Who obviously has never experienced extreme nausea if he thinks that there are plenty of treatment options available, or that a pill that takes 2 hours to work is a remotely sensible delivery system.)

The slime factor just passed my threshold.

As for the "big three" abortion exceptions, I'm very much against abortion in cases of rape and incest, but what about the life of the mother? I really think that a chemical abortion is the most ethical treatment in the horrific situation of an ectopic pregnancy. I know that many pro-lifers believe that the doctor should remove the fallopian tube, and simply allow that baby to suffocate, but I don't see how this benefits the baby.

Sarah Marie said...

Ahh, the "Hawkeye Cauci." :) OK, the new laws for the Mass healthcare system are idiotic. The recent changes - manditory health insurance for everyone in the state by this month - have been advertised all over TV, radio, etc. for the past year. Nathan and I sit here and laugh at the government ads, because - regarding individuals - they're all but saying, "We really hope some wealthy individuals will sign up for our government healthcare plan, because we need them to pay the higher rates so we can offer lower rates to poorer people." And obviously, wealthy people are usually wealthy because they have jobs, and the majority of jobs provide healthcare, soooo... hello people, communism doesn't work. I'm sure the plan's success also depends on having a lot of young, healthy people sign up. And government money is paying for it in part, which means our tax money. And finally, people who don't comply with the mandatory health insurance law get fined, and those fines go to help fund mass health. That said, I know Romney has said that those who can afford health insurance should get it rather than relying on charity or others to pay their expenses, and that is a sentiment I surely agree with. I'm just not convinced the government plan will work... we'll see. (more info here, among other places: http://www.progressivestates.org/journalists/532/mass-health-care-plan-proves-costly-to-individual-citizens)

BTW, it's not just health insurance that's a little crazy in this state; Massachusetts mandates the car insurance rates here, meaning we don't have the benefits of competition and our auto insurance rates are some of the highest in the nation.

I also find Romney's campaign ads borderline offensive - since when is attacking other candidates a mature way to run a campaign? Tell us what *you* stand for, Mitt, and don't settle for simply bashing your competition.

Re: your question about populism, as I understand it it's just the 'power corrupts' principle; people who are for the people and don't want government - or big businesses, as the case may be (and this is more the case with liberal populists, like Edwards) - to be too powerful. Huckabee may be drawing a 'populist v. politician' distinction for himself, i.e. identifying himself with the common people a bit? I really like Huckabee for a lot of things, but I don't think his record shows real tax breaks actually happening, and I don't think he'll ever get elected. He just doesn't have the experience, particularly in the realm of foreign policy...? Okay, let's just say it: he seems a bit clueless.

McCain is just... McCain. Don't think he'll get elected - hasn't America been over this one before? Not to mention that 40-some% of people polled said they would not vote for a 72-year-old.

Obviously, I'm conflicted about the candidates too. I do think Romney is the only candidate who can hope to campaign against Obama, and I think some GOPers will throw their weight behind him for that reason. And with the Supreme Court vacancies, there are four or five + a million other reasons to really want a Republican in office again. (This is just my opinion.)

In any case, I'm not sure how much it all matters. At this point, were I a betting woman, I'd be putting it all on Obama for a big victory.

But what do I know about politics?!

Sarah

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Elena, I agree that Romney didn't handle that well. On the other hand, that was a clearly set-up question with no good way to answer it. What would you have said?

About abortion in the case of the mother's life: you bring up an interesting point about ectopic pregnancies. I think you are probably right that a chemical abortion might be the correct choice in such a situation - when it is a clear case of one death or two deaths. What is less clear, however, are the cases when it is one death or *possibly* two deaths. There are too many stories of Christian women who defy their doctors, delay chemotherapy (for example), carry their babies to term, and survive cancer anyway. I think maybe a distinction should be made between babies which are implanted viably and those that are not. What do you think?

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Sarah, I think your "40% wouldn't vote for someone over 70" number is interesting, in light of the fact that McCain is the only Republican candidate who comes out on top in polls pitting Republican candidates against Hillary or Obama. That gives me pause. And while I know that McCain has lost before, I guess I'm not sure that the country is so against him this time. If we are, why are his polling numbers so high???

The insurance problems in Massachusetts do make me wonder about Romney. I wonder if he's just leaving his business sense at the door when he wins a political office? It is strange, because he's done so well in the business world.

Why do you think Huckabee seems clueless? I've watched three debates now and he seems to be quite in command of whatever question he receives, including those on foreign policy. And really, no one but a Congressman on a foreign policy committee has foreign policy experience, anyway. It isn't really a pre-requisite - a good president just needs to know his limitations and get a really good cabinet around him. So I guess I'm not ready to write off Huckabee yet.

Elena said...

How would I have handled the marijuana question? About like Ron Paul did. States should be free to regulate marijuana as they choose.

I'm firmly convinced that the only ethical way to oppose medical marijuana is to plead ignorance. This is the path that most of the candidates took. Unfortunately for Romney, he knew too much.

The mere mention of Marinol (synthetic THC) blows away all arguments that marijuana has no legitimate medical use. Marinol is simply a concentration of the most powerful psychotropic compound in marijuana. While it was developed for the purpose of animal studies on the effects of THC, since the 80s it has been prescribed for a number of medical conditions, mainly as an anti-nausea drug and appetite stimulant.

However, many patients have reactions against the synthetic THC, and moreover most patients prefer inhaled marijuana (smoke is really dangerous, but you can also use a vaporizer) because it takes effect immediately, allowing patients to regulate their dosage. As soon as the nausea goes a way (usually about 2 or 3 inhalations) they simply stop. They don't have to get high. With the Marinol pill, on the other hand, if you can keep the pill down for the 2 hours it takes to start working, then you're suddenly doped for the rest of the day and there's nothing you can do about it.

As for the idea that there are lots of other, safer medications out there, I personally know what utter bullshit that is, having tried them all. For the most part, they simply don't work very well and they are extremely dangerous. Try comparing the warnings on the package insert for Reglan with the most dire warnings the DEA puts our to discourage marijuana use.

Marijuana is not safe, but it is safer than Reglan, and when it comes down to it, Reglan is safer than dehydration.

There actually is one really good drug out there for nausea. Zofran is extremely effective, with very few side effects. The only problem is that very few people can afford to spend upwards of $3,000/mo. on nausea medications.

I've been praying and praying for the development of an effective and affordable anti-nausea medication that does not damage the heart and liver.

It turns out that this sort of relief actually is available to cancer and AIDs patients. But we can't let them have it, because that would send the wrong message to kids.

Never mind that we recognize all sorts of legitimate uses for cocaine and sundry opiates--the sort of things that are really REALLY nasty when abused.

I don't know about you, but the only message I want to send kids is the truth. And the truth is that recreational dug use is a really, really bad idea, and that all sorts of things that have legitimate uses can utterly destroy your life when used improperly. But no kid is going to believe us when we tell them to "just say no" if we resort to lies just to make things simpler.

Elena said...

On abortion: that's a good distinction, Emily. In addition to women who wait on chemo for the baby, I also know a woman who went ahead and started chemo while pregnant, and there was a happy ending for both her and the baby.

Perhaps in situations like that the doctors and families should be free to weigh the risks to everyone and make treatment decisions that are going to inevitably be really dangerous to either the mother or the child or both. It may be ethically appropriate to give the mother life-saving treatment which ends up resulting in tbe death of the child, but in no case should they kill the child first?

Sarah Marie said...

Em, I'm stymied by the percentages that don't add up. The percentage I read was 42% - I went back and checked - of voters who claimed they wouldn't vote for a 72-year-old. I guess when you consider that not everyone being polled is making an educated decision, you end up with discrepancies? Anyway, I don't think America will put McCain in office, but I could well be wrong!

Hmm, it's hard to pin down what I think about Huckabee because I really go back and forth on that guy. Nathan, by the way, really likes Huckabee and will probably support him. I don't think Huck responds particularly well under questioning, which makes him *appear* 'clueless' at times even though he may well not be. I also know he's come under a good bit of attack from conservatives for being a liberal in conservative clothing - but since I think he's drawing on a base of *Christian* voters more than *Conservative* voters persay, this may not make a marked different in his campaign. I guess I'm not convinced I know where Huckabee stands yet. I'm hoping the debates tonight and tomorrow night can help me with that.

Of course, McCain may also be more liberal than he likes to appear - consider his anti-conservative voting record in opposing Bush's tax cuts, the McCain-Feingold campaign finance reform issue, and proposing blanket amnesty for illegal aliens. Hmm.

And I just have a generally bad feeling about Romney - how's that for being an intelligent, informed voter? :-)

So if I had to vote today, and if Mass mattered much in the primaries, I guess I might vote Huckabee. But in my mind there isn't a clear 'best choice' among the Republican candidates yet.

Sarah Marie said...

It's worth noting that with Romney's recent binge on criticizing Huck and McCain, he seems to be telling a lot of lies. For example, he's criticized Huckabee for tax increases, but from what I've read those increases were a) court ordered or b) voted on by the people for things like roads. Interestingly, Romney's claims that he didn't raise taxes are pretty questionable here in Mass, and a lot of people, particularly business owners, would violently disagree. And incidentally, if he's going to criticize Huckabee for taxes that improved the roads in Arkansas, someone should mention that the roads in Mass are A BIG MESS - absolutely the worst.

Linds said...

Just come join me on the dark side. :)

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Elena, I think you just converted me - at least on the question of medical marijuana. You bring up very good points, many of which I'd never thought about. Thank you!

Lindsay, you know the whole abortion thing? That's why I can't vote for Obama. I just can't, can't, can't vote for someone who doesn't oppose killing babies.

Rebecca said...

Vote for McCain. There's not a more electable Republican or one who values what you value more.

Emily (Laundry and Lullabies) said...

Rebecca, your profile doesn't have any information in it - who are you? Do I know you? :)

Why do you think McCain is the most electable Republican?