What’s Most Important In This Election?

The other night, Paul and I were arguing about the election. I am still undecided. Paul was trying to convince me to vote for Obama.

Why I’m Undecided

I am totally opposed to Obama’s plans for taxes and healthcare. If they get passed, I think it will be disastrous for the country. On both of these issues, I prefer McCain’s plans.

But when it comes to “social” issues, I think Obama will be a better president. He will nominate left-leaning judges to courts that are likely to hear cases on gay marriage and other issues that are important to me. Beyond the judge thing, I think Obama has the opportunity to permanently change public opinion on these matters.

Paul’s Argument

Paul makes an interesting, if cynical, argument. He says a) social issues are more important anyway; and b) major policy proposals have little chance of passage. He uses Bush as an example: Bush claimed to be fiscally conservative yet his administration has been marked by huge budget deficits, profligate spending, a collapsing currency, and inflation.

This is a smart argument because it plays on my cynicism about the Federal Government. But even if it is logically coherent, I’m not sure it’s empirically plausible. There are numerous recent examples of presidents affecting major policy changes: Bush tax cuts, Iraq War, NAFTA, and several examples from the Reagan administration.

So when I’m thinking about who to vote for, I’m assuming there’s a reasonable chance that his policy proposals will become law. And so I have to decide what’s more important to me: healthcare and taxes or social issues?


4 Responses to What’s Most Important In This Election?

  1. Neil says:

    well, where are you registered to vote? 😉

    i think that’s a hard decision for you – and for many americans – to make if your two categories are split like that between the candidates. for me, obama better represents both my economic and social convictions.

    you did, however, not mention what for me is the biggest issue in this election – as it was in 2004 – and as i believe it is for many americans: the war.

    don’t know how you feel about it, but for me the war has been both a strategic disaster as well as a financial one – think about how much we spend on the war in one month versus how much is spent in a year or even ten years on some little social service agency.

    that the war was also not justified and possibily was carried out for faked and forged reasons makes it even more disastrous. mccain’s resolve to continue this war – military reality or america’s economic situation, be damned – makes him unfit for office in my opinion. i personally believed that clinton had the best strategy of the three for ending the war in an effective and strategic manner, but obama for me is by far our second best option on this critical matter.

  2. willrwright says:

    I’m registered in North Carolina… so my vote might actually count!

    I completely agree with you on the Iraq war. I don’t really see it as the most important issue of the election, though. Maybe I’m crazy but I don’t think the Iraq policy will be that different under Obama. I think there’s consensus now that the surge is working and that we can’t leave until Iraq has a stable government.

    This does raise what I think is a fundamental difference between the candidates: their view of what the US’ role in the world should be. I think Obama views the United States as an over-extended empire (which I agree with). McCain’s worldview is more closely aligned to Bush’s.

    For the record, I think Bush was an unmitigated disaster as a president.

  3. Dave says:


    Get it together man!

    What I’m trying to dechipher is how you can be against tax cuts for 95% of Americans. As in only those making > 250M will see an increase. And let’s be honest those that make 250+ will have the money to pay some hot shot accountant to allow them to pay less tax than you pay while you’re a student.

    The healthcare I would agree with you that Mccain is closer to you, but neither one of these plans is going through. The status quo will remain, just like social security, and the same goes for immigration. Congress is not set up to pass these types of leglislation, and they never will be passed until it becomes an actual emergency and then they may do something to stave off bankrupting the country for another couple years.

  4. Ryan says:

    Dave Will is exactly correct on about the tax issues. Take a look at the numbers. The tax cuts will bankrupt small businesses, and when individuals have reduced spending power small businesses will again suffer from a lack of consumer spending. Also, the government makes more money when there are tax cuts as capital is more fluid. Plus, it’s not a “tax cut” for 95% of the people. Since 40% of Americans do not pay any income tax, its a simple wealth redistribution. While many support such welfare policies, packaging it as a “tax cut” as the future President Obama has done is simply dishonest.

    I think we are on the verge of the most expansionist government in the history of the nation, or at least since FDR. This will be the liberal oppossite of the Bush years. Also, Will, while you favor “activist” judges for their social rulings, remember they will also bring their activisim to economic issues as well.

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