GUEST COMMENTARY
Get Out and Vote
by Joan May, San Miguel County Commissioner
Sep 10, 2012 | 1367 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print

Most polls show that the 2012 presidential election is in a statistical tie with only three or four percent of voters still undecided.

Colorado is one of just a handful of states that will decide this election. As President Obama said recently, “As goes Colorado, so will go the election.”

So please, get registered, get informed, and vote.  

With the introduction of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision that allows unlimited spending by anonymous entities, and with each candidate hoping to raise a billion dollars, the individual citizen can feel pretty hopeless about how one person might possibly make a difference.

But all that money is spent for one thing and one thing only: to get you – and every other election-eligible American – to vote. In swing states like Colorado every vote really does matter.

And whom you vote for really does matter, too; to you and your family personally, to the country and to the planet.

This election is about the economy. According to a recent Wall Street Journal opinion poll, Obama outperforms Romney in every category except stewardship of the economy. How each candidate plans to solve our economic woes is how voters will make their choice.

Why hasn’t President Obama done more to improve the economy? Democratic presidents historically (since Truman) have a better record of job creation than Republicans. Including Obama. He has not yet been able to repair the deep economic damage of the Bush years, though. Obama’s biggest flaw economically is that he has not been more forceful in pushing his ideas through the intentionally obstructionist congress.

Obama’s plan, if he can get it past Congress, is to pump money into the true job-creating sectors while improving our failing roads, schools, pipes, bridges, the electric grid and renewable energy projects.

The Romney/Ryan economic plan is for big tax cuts that benefit the wealthiest Americans at the expense of programs for the poorest.  In San Miguel County almost ten percent of our citizens receive Medicaid or CHP+ (Colorado’s Child Health Plan).  Two hundred households (not individuals) in San Miguel County receive food stamps. Many of these recipients receive aid because of hard economic times and external circumstances, including mental illness, neglect or abuse. Our county average for this sort of aid is lower than the country’s, which is closer to 12 percent of all Americans.

Are you willing to slash Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and Temporary Aid for Needy Families and other forms of aid so that the wealthiest Americans can pay less in taxes?

According to Nobel Laureate Paul Krugman the Ryan-proposed tax cuts will further increase the national deficit by about two and a half trillion dollars.  Tax breaks for the so-called “job creators” continue, yet they don’t seem to help budge unemployment numbers.

Ryan’s budget promises to partially mitigate that deficit increase, by passing the burden of social programs to cash-strapped states. His plan would exacerbate a deficit increase by raising the defense budget, already five times higher than the next five highest countries’ defense budgets combined.  

If we truly care about economic improvement, isn’t it time we try something besides the trickle down theory?

There are other important issues besides the economy, such as women’s rights.  Paul Ryan especially, and the Republican current platform would put women’s issues back at least two generations by intervening in personal decisions about women’s health. I thought this was the party that wanted less government intervention.

Gay rights? The Romney/Ryan team is clearly in favor of sanctioned discrimination through opposition to same sex marriage. Some day even they will understand that who marries whom should be of no concern to government.

Environment? Well, at least Obama is willing to call global climate change a real and threatening problem that he says he will focus on, in his second term. In my mind, climate and the economy are closely linked. Look at the costs of climate change we’re incurring already: drought relief, high crop prices, fire fighting, and hurricane and tsunami repairs.

Mitt Romney’s recently released energy plan does not even mention climate change. He does indulge big oil and gas companies, under the guise of lessening our dependence on foreign oil – also an Obama goal – but he does so by offering environmental regulation rollbacks that don’t go far enough as is.

Health care?  Ending the Iraq war? Education? Osama Bin Laden? You know.

General likeability and trustworthiness? That’s up to you to decide.

Another twist in this year’s election is a focused voter-registration suppression effort. The easiest way to check or change your voter registration or to register to vote in Colorado is at www.govotecolorado.com. Here you can also sign up for a mail-in or absentee ballot. The deadline to register in time for the general election is October 9.

And then just vote.

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