The Election: Why I’m Happy and Sad

Like most things in life, this election is bittersweet.

I’m happy Obama won.

I’m sad that so many of my friends and family members are, well, not so happy.

I’m happy that so many people across this country have brighter hopes for America and for the future.

I’m sad for those who think that the end is near.

I’m happy that McCain conceded graciously.

I’m sad to longer see Tina Fey’s impersonations of Sarah Palin.

I’m happy that (as of now) “Yes” on Proposition 8 in California won (and that similar initiatives passed in Arizona and Florida).

I’m sad that this issue has been so divisive among members of the Church and others, especially in California.

(I’m really sad about my liberal friends who think this is a fairly straightforward civil rights issue.* And I’m saddened when I think of further turmoil concerning this issue.)

I’m happy that the Utah County Democrats put together such a fine group of candidates this year.

I’m sad that a majority of my fellow citizens in Utah County are still mindlessly voting straight-Republican — not realizing how much better matched the Utah County Democrats are for their values.

I’m happy that the Democrats did not achieve their filibuster-proof majority of 60 senators.

I’m sad that Utahns decided to disgrace the U.S. House of Representatives by electing a hyper-conservative who wants to house illegal immigrants in prison tents (Jason Chaffetz).

(And that Alaskans would elect a convicted felon to the U.S. Senate.)

I’m happy that this crazy guy only received 3% of the popular vote for Utah governor.

I’m sad that there are 22,157 people roaming the streets of Utah who voted for him.

I’m happy that many people who prayed that Obama wouldn’t be president, will be praying for him now that he will be president.

I’m sad that some people would rather fantasize about his assassination.

And I’m definitely happy the election is over.

*I do think that an argument can be made for gay marriage. But the equality argument is a fallacious bludgeon that creates a straw man out of opponents to gay marriage. At any rate, the issue is more nuanced than mere equality vs. discrimination. Unless of course you are in favor of cousins and siblings marrying. And groups of 3 or more. And single people having the same benefits as married people (somehow). If not, then you are in favor of discrimination in terms of what groups (not individuals) can marry.

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35 Responses

  1. I’m not going to touch Prop. 8 right now; I’m still obsessively refreshing that CNN page, and I’m still deeply torn about the whole thing. But: Incredible that Jason Chaffetz was elected–I’d forgotten about him since leaving Utah, but I remember being shocked by some of the radio ads I heard. Also, I’m hoping most of the 3% who cast their votes for Superdell were joking.

  2. Alaskans have reelected a convicted felon. Wow!

  3. I’m happy McCain didn’t win. I’m sad that Obama didn’t prove as unifying a candidate as I think he might’ve chosen to become. At one point, Utahns were hoping he might come even more to the center and challenge our one-party status in the federal election. Now many of them still fear what his presidency will lead to. However, I still hope that Obama will gain greater trust among moderates and conservatives and take up the responsibility of representing the American people as a whole.

    I’m depressed about the Jarvis campaign. For me, the Mitt Romney post card we received a few days ago epitomizes the apparent futility of trying to fight the corruption of the republican party in Utah. Jarvis was obviously the better candidate and we did the best we could (literally, reaching out to everyone in the district) to help voters see this, but I feel he lost because so many of them still chose to vote in ignorance. If only they knew the thought, sacrifice and the motivations that went into the Jarvis campaign. This has been quite the learning experience for me about the meaning of a vote.

  4. I’m happy and sad for many of the same reasons as you, Dennis, but perhaps opposite reasons on certain key points. :) My only question for you is this: do you consider it possible to vote Republican without being mindless? It seems to me that an increasing number of people think you can only have thought about the issues intelligently if you vote for at least one Democrat. I’m not saying Republicans are always right (well, correct anyway, they are right), but sometimes I get the impression that the problem goes both ways. Utah Republicans tend to view Democrats as social deviants no matter what they do and Utah Democrats tend to view Republicans as mindless voter-drones, never considering that an intelligent person might not come to all the same conclusions they do.

  5. Adam,

    It certainly is possible to vote Republican without being mindless. Perhaps even straight-Republican. I’m not at all trying to suggest that thinking = Democrat. The problem certainly can go the other way.

    But, from my experience, here in Utah County, many voters know next to nothing about many of the candidates and simply hit the Republican button. Honestly, there is no way in the world that Jason Chaffetz matches the values of Utah voters better than Bennion Spencer. Especially not to the extent of the victory he won. If I were to go around my neighborhood and ask people why they voted the way they did for state and local candidates — I guarantee I would get some really stupid answers.

  6. Dennis,

    You’re probably right about the answers you’d get. I’ve never lived in Utah county. Also, I’m glad to read your response. Personally, I’m tired of embattled Utah Democrats poking their fingers in the eyes of Republicans just because they are in the majority. I’m not suggesting that you were doing that. Everything about your post and response to my question shows that you’re more mature than that. But it often seems like the pot calling the kettle black to me.

    Incidentally, I had no idea prior to the election that Dell Schanze was even running. I thought it was hilarious when I found out. I can’t imagine what goes on in that head of his. His statements on the site you linked to are unbelievable.

    Here’s a saying for your consideration. You’ve probably heard it before:

    “If you’re 20 years old and not a Democrat, you don’t have a heart. If you’re 40 years old and not a Republican, you don’t have a brain.”

    I don’t know who coined that, and I’m not sure if it illustrates a problem, exacerbates a problem, or simply comments on a problem, but I thought I’d put it down. This isn’t my philosophy, by the way.

  7. Oh, yeah, one more thing.

    I know it’s semantics, but:

    “I’m happy that many people who prayed that Obama wouldn’t be president, will now be praying for him now that he is president.”

    He’s not president yet. And I am among that number that makes you happy as per this comment.

  8. If, God forbid, Obama were assasinated, the Rodney King riots would look like a 3rd grade birthday party. How can anyone fantasize about that?

  9. Adam,

    Thanks for your thoughts. I actually don’t even consider myself a Democrat. I’m fairly moderate myself, but I have been upset in the past about how Utah Democrats have been more divisive rather than trying to reach out more to moderates and moderate-conservatives. I was pleased to see the Utah County Democrats do that this year.

    Regarding your quote, there might be something to what you’re saying. Not that I agree. Still, I wish people were more willing to be flexible with their political preferences (in terms of time and place) — right here (Provo) and now I definitely lean more Democrat. But that could certainly change. Who knows, maybe in 2012 I’ll be rooting for Mitt Romney if he runs, depending on how things go. For me, a lot of times balance is a key factor in my decisions (which is why I’m glad the Democrats didn’t reach a filibuster proof majority).

    Also, thanks for your correction about Obama not yet being president. I made a slight correction to my post.

  10. David,

    Well, you can still fantasize without thinking about those kinds of consequences …

  11. I am really really sad that so many people can’t see past the propoganda and see Obama for what he really is: a socialist and a marxist. Yep I’m serious. I’m sickened that so many people think wealth redistribution is at all moral, at all the solution to our problems. I’m sickened that people actually WANT to give the government more power than it has already usurped.

  12. Jeff,

    So, if people can’t see past the propaganda, then how is it that they can have a moral judgment on wealth distribution and government power? If the former is true (not being able to see past the propaganda), then the latter probably is not. They would not even know about Obama’s positions regarding wealth distribution and government power. If the latter is true (that people think moral distribution is moral and want to give the government more power), then the former probably is not. People do see Obama for what he is.

    Now, I of course am having a little fun with you. Socialist and Marxist are rather relative terms, and it is hardly fair to pick on Obama as being the socialist and the Marxist. Virtually every politician (Republican and Democrat) is at least semi-socialist. I don’t hear many politicians wanting to get rid of public schools, for example. I realize that you have your own views on this, Jeff, that are more thoroughly capitalist. Still, I don’t see why your commentary has all that much relevance towards Obama. You’re acting as if a “new socialist regime” has been carved out and the country is ready for despair. But how is Obama any different than Bill Clinton in this regard? I just think it’s funny that people act like Obama’s wanting to let the Bush tax cuts expire is a sudden bold new move. This simply puts the tax cuts back to what they were in Clinton’s days. Now, that might not be a good thing — but it’s hardly a bold new socialist agenda.

  13. He’s not any different from Clinton, except I think he has an even stronger and even more naive belief in socialist principles.

    You are right that public schools are socialist. That is why I voted for Baldwin, who wanted to end all federal funding and regulation for public education.

    And letting Bush’s tax cuts expire isn’t socialism I refer to… it is universal health care, expanding public education, subsidies for the heating and cooling bills for the elderly, all that jazz and more.

    (as a side note, I do believe in free markets, but I’m not convinced I consider myself a capitalist, though I usually side with them in debates. I see capitalism as relying on instrumental egoism and I don’t agree with that. I don’t believe in the “profit motive” as the end-all solution to everything, nor do I believe that people are fundamentally self-interested. I do believe that we ought, as a community, contribute to the poor, collectively educate our children, etc. I just don’t believe government mandate is the way to do it, especially on a federal level)

  14. And, Dennis, I would have had much the same reaction had McCain been elected. He’s a socialist too.

  15. Jeff Thayne,

    A bit presumptive to think that as a BYU undergraduate you know more about the economy than economists, political philosophers, and political scientists who have repeatedly demonstrated the absurdity of labeling Obama a socialist, no?

  16. You pretty much nailed exactly how I’m feeling today.

    Ugh. Chaffetz.

  17. Speaking of Prop 8, I was heartened by the Church’s statement today.

    This statement will not be satisfactory to most No on Prop 8 supporters, but I hope that this kind of attitude helps to act against the notion that the Church is a bigoted and persecutory monster on the issue. (I acknowledge that certain members may be.)

  18. Patrick,

    Actually, I don’t know anybody who’s denying that Obama is a socialist. Most economists are agreed that wealth redistribution by taxation is fundamentally a socialist endeavor. They just also think it’s a good idea, and that’s where I disagree. Also, it is by definition socialist to have the government compete on the market by offering goods subsidized by tax money.

    Socialism: “Any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods” (Merriam Webster)

    Show me an economist who claims Obama’s policies are not socialist (particularly universal health care, graduated income tax, government welfare, etc.).

    Also, isn’t presumptuous for you to believe that just because I’m an undergraduate I haven’t researched my opinions?

  19. Heres an even better definition from Merriam-Webster:

    State Socialism: “An economic system with limited socialist characteristics that is effected by gradual state action and typically includes public ownership of major industries and remedial measures to benefit the working class.”

  20. Show me an economist who claims Obama’s policies are not socialist

    Um, ok. Here’s a quote by Mark Thomas, professor of economics at the University of Oregon:

    During a radio interview today, I was asked whether Obama’s tax plan was socialism. My first response was to laugh.

    You can read more here.

    One of the most insightful essays I’ve read on the issue can be found here. It’s written by John Holbo, a political philosopher at the University of Singapore.

    And then there’s the fact that The Economist and The Financial Times both endorsed Obama.

    I never claimed you hadn’t researched your opinions. It’s just hard to take a 20-something year old running around crying “socialist, socialist!” seriously when economists with graduate degrees and real world market experience contradict your silly claims.

  21. Explain to me why my undergraduate status is relevant…

    Are you saying I can’t have an opinion… even a researched opinion, until I have some PhDs and gray hair? Let’s argue on fact, not on ad hominen.

    Just because The Economist and the Financial Times endorsed Obama doesn’t mean is isn’t socialist. In fact, it is almost more evidence that he is socialist, considering the number of economists in our country who openly embrace socialism. “The Economist endorsed Obama, and therefore he is not socialist” is a logical fallacy to the utmost.

    And explain to me how Obama’s policies don’t meet the criterion put forward by the Merriam-Webster dictionary?

    Don’t respond with “you don’t have the credentials to have a dissenting opinion, but these guys do”. Respond with facts about how Obama does not fit the definition provided by the dictionary and legal theorists.

    Now, you can claim that Obama’s socialism isn’t a bad thing, but the truth of the matter is that he is a socialist by the definition of the word.

  22. Yes, I suggest you get a little further into your schooling (a PhD would be great) before you make such sweeping generalizations about economic policy.

    I’m chalking up your use of merriam-webster to define a contested word like socialism to your undergraduate status. I hope that by the time you have a year or two of graduate school under your belt, you will cite more relevant sources (i.e. actual economists) in making your argument.

    I’m not interested in debating whether or not Obama is a socialist. I just found it a little bit funny that you were continuing to play the “Obama is a socialist” card when economists and others have discredited such a view.

    I tried to point you to a few helpful links on the subject, whcih you apparently ignored. Might I suggest that as a student, you take the time to evaluate and consider viewpoints that contradict and challenge your own established worldview before making public conclusions?

  23. In other words, I can’t disagree with an economist until I have a PhD and gray hair. I’m sorry, but I don’t buy it for a second. Let’s leave academic status out of the issue, because accreditation means little. I get the sense you are just trying to intimidate me into silence. It’s kind of patronizing and condescending.

    I have evaluated other’s opinions and I believe them to be wrong, based upon my extensive reading and studies of the issue.

    And by the way, nothing in those links you sent actually addressed exactly why Obama’s policies are not socialistic. I have economists on my side too.

  24. Dennis:

    You have done a great job of providing a forum for the election. This has been my favorite place to come for discussion. I have been skeptical about Obama. But I think he has incredible potential. I support him as he takes on this huge task. The country is in good hands.

    Jeff:

    Actually the Economist’s endorsement carries a lot of weight. Readers of the Economist know that it is nothing close to a socialist publication. The unifying theme of their analysis is advocation of free markets. That endorsement did more for Obama’s economic credibility than any previous endorsements (in my opinion).

  25. I am happy and thankful that my candidate, Barack Obama, won.

    I am happy and thankful that Prop 8 won in California.

    It is not every election that my prayers are thusly answered.

    I am also please with this thoughtful site.

  26. Except the site doesn’t give me a second chance to correct typos.

  27. Leo,

    Interestingly, there is a compelling argument that Obama actually (indirectly) helped contribute to the passing of Proposition 8. His candidacy caused there to be a lot more African-Americans vote, who overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 8.

    Sorry you can’t correct your typos. If it were up to me, you could.

  28. Jeff,

    Just one little quibble for you. Even public school funding on a state and/or local level is still (semi) socialistic. It simply moves the socialist agent to the state level. Maybe that’s not as big an evil in your eyes, but it’s still (semi) socialism. Are you OK with this level of socialism? If so, why?

  29. I’m not happy with tax-funded education at all, but I’m much more happy about it on a local level than a national level, because there it is a beast more easily controlled.

  30. Dennis,

    Yes, historically black churches and the black community in general were big supporters of Prop 8. Hispanics, and to a lesser extent South Asians, also gave a boost to Prop 8. the Obama candidacy brought out the minority vote.

    I got a robo call reminding voters that Barack backed the traditional definition of marriage at the Saddleback Church candidate meeting.

  31. As a current graduate business student, I hear economists every day talk about how socialist Obama is. I also hear them talking about how socialist Bush has been recently. Nationalizing (or threatening to nationalize) banking, mortgages, insurance, car manufacture, utilities, etc. is not free market. The closest thing to eternal life is a government program.

    Government intervention with the free market started this whole financial crisis anyway. The damage the Community Reinvestment Act has done is incalculable. Banks were forced to give loans to people they knew would never be able to pay back. 75% of foreclosures are the subprime mortgages which only consist of 25% of all mortgages. Bush tried to go to Congress to reform Fannie and Freddie, but didn’t push hard enough against Chris Dodd and Barney Frank. (One reason McCain didn’t deserve to win was that he was unwilling to bring down those responsible for the financial meltdown.)

    I will be happy if that buffoon Al Franken does not become Senator Franken.

  32. The influence of the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA), which occurred mainly prior to the Bush years, is tiny, almost infinitesimal, compared to the rise of the shadow banking system with its CDO’s (collateralized debt obligations), CDS’s (credit default swaps), and SIV’s (structured investment vehicles). These financial vehicles were called weapons of financial mass destruction by Warren Buffet, and he was right.

    The credit default swap market was essentially unregulated and ballooned to $45 trillion (yes trillion with a “t”). This unregulated market didn’t exist two decades ago and became a huge bubble. Our economic crisis stems from the lack of government oversight.

    The CRA could never have brought down the world economy. It is the $45 trillion shadow banking system that threatens the whole world economy. Even Alan Greenspan has lost his faith in unregulated markets. We had this argument back in 1932 and seem to have forgotten the dangers of unregulated capitalism.

  33. Tony,

    I’m afraid I can’t contribute much to your comments (nor to Leo’s response).

    I will say, though, that I think that Al Franken is a very talented writer and comedian. But a senator? I have my doubts.

  34. I’ll give you the credit default swaps as a HUGE problem. These are the reason the Fed is bailing out these big companies. But it was the housing bubble that let the US – individuals and businesses – to expand their debt beyond all reason. The CRA had a lot to do with the housing bubble. When people are upside-down on their houses, spending collapses. 70% of the US economy is based on consumer spending. Even a modest cut back by consumers has bad implications for the economy. Spending like the last few years was only sustainable as long as home prices continued to rise. So now that people spend less, business on the verge of profitability will fall by the wayside.

    So yes. You are correct that CDSs are a bigger problem than the CRA by itself. But I still maintain that the CRA is a massive contributor to the current problems.

  35. Tony, you said that spending like the last few years was only sustainable with a continuing rise in home prices, but that seems backwards because home prices have been extremely over valued. They had to come down, and that was going to be painful for a lot of people.

    There are a lot of reasons why and a lot of places you can point a finger towards, but our economic issues were unavoidable. Too many people were making the wrong decisions.

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