I will do my best to be brief.
I am voting today. But I am not voting for President Obama. I urge everyone else not to vote for him as well. I will do my best to explain why.
He has failed to bring “change” to the White House, or much of the executive government over which he presides. And he did promise change. Increased transparency, a return to higher moral ground, justice for the most vulnerable among us.
The President of the United States is responsible first and foremost for two things: the security of the country and the just execution of its laws. I do not think many of the President’s policies abroad make the country more secure. And I do think that in all too many instances the President’s administration has continued a tradition of pernicious double-standards when it comes to carrying out the will of the people as articulated by Congress.
In dealing with the economic crisis, the administration was exceedingly plutocratic in its approach and priorities. A whole host of other issues were never addressed. In particular, the country continues to develop unsustainably, even in spite of an economic reset which left the door open for a different way forward. We cannot let the perfect be the enemy of the good. But neither can we can’t let the good, or the not-as-bad, be the enemy of the better.
On health care I am glad the President, and Democrats in Congress, pushed much needed reforms as hard, and for as long, as was necessary in order to pass them. My brother has juvenile (Type 1) diabetes. Pre-existing conditions and staying on your parent’s health insurance plan until you 26 are not talking points: they are two issues central to how he will move forward with his own life.
But on too many other issues, the President does not represent my views, at least not publically, though perhaps as some suggest, and others hope, he does share them in private.
And where it concerns matters that he has direct control over, such as foreign policy and the execution of the drug war, as well as other questions of maintaining the peace, there is more than a little daylight between his positions and mine. In fact, it at times feels as though we are complete worlds apart. From promising to go to war with Iran, to already having engaged in an unauthorized one in Libya, the President has demonstrated that he doesn’t regard the separation of powers, or his responsibility to the other two branches of government, in the same way that I do.
He does not view torture by rendition, or its more innocuous title of “rendition-lite”, in the same way that I do. Nor does he view the precisely targeted use of lethal force to kill alleged “bad guys” and innocents alike, quite as tragically, and horrifically, as I do.
The President and I do not see eye to eye, based on his actions, rather than his words, on what constitutes “due process,” or, for that matter, what American citizens are guaranteed under the Constitution he is sworn to uphold, or, for that matter, what other human beings are owed as fellow inhabits of this planet, as living, breathing, individual beings.
A vote for President Obama would communicate that these differences between he and I don’t exist, or that they don’t matter. When all the votes are counted, the one with my name on it will not also read: “but I didn’t really want to.” The official record will not show that I find policies X, Y, and Z to be abhorrent, and that my vote for Obama is really a vote against Romney.
The record will only show that a certain number of people support Obama, and therefore approve of the job he would do, rather than any of his rivals, and the jobs that they would do.
But I do not approve of the job he has done. And I do not approve of the job he maintains he will continue to do. And I do not want to go forward down this road anymore. That is why I cannot in good conscience vote for the President, or recommend that anyone else does.