I’m not usually a big fan of online endorsements. For most pundits, it is pretty clear who they are going to vote for by reading their blogs. Endorsements also don’t change the outcome of the election. No one is going to have their mind changed by tomorrow because of what I write here. However, I do have a few thoughts that I want to share about why I will be voting for President Obama on November 6.
I am a foreign policy voter. Not many people say that. In my view, presidents have a lot of sway over foreign policy by acting as the chief statesman for the U.S. In today’s world, presidents also make major calls about going to war, what regimes to support, authorizing covert action, picking foreign policy personnel, and signing treaties (until the senate ratifies them). In 2008, I also voted for Obama because I thought Senator John McCain was too hawkish and erratic. Picking Sarah Palin, who knew very little about foreign affairs in a world where the vice-president is a crucial decision maker for foreign policy, also scared me.
In terms of foreign policy Obama has a lot of accomplishments. He brought to a close the War in Iraq and is continuing to drawdown troops in Afghanistan. He signed the START Treaty with Russia. Osama Bin Laden is dead and (though not by the hands of the U.S.) Moamar Ghadaffi is no longer living. The U.S. participated in more multilateral efforts through the U.N. and NATO than under George W. Bush. U.S. The administration continues to use cautionary diplomacy on Iran, I do think that Iran is blustering more than people will admit. Overall, I would say the U.S. image abroad is much better than under the previous administration.
With that in mind, Obama has disappointed me on a number of occasions regarding foreign policy. The number of drones has increased in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The U.S. plans to put more troops in the Pacific to curb China’s influence, which is not necessary. Guantanamo Bay is still open as detention center. Let’s also remember that the President also only called for the ouster of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt at the last minute. The administration continues to add sanctions to Iran and I’m not convinced that military action is not completely off the table. Finally, the handling of the Benghazi attack was not that impressive and there were some lower-level administrative failures that should not have occurred.
Despite the disappointments, I’m still voting for Obama because I think he has done a very good job on foreign policy. I’m also not that supportive of Mitt Romney’s worldview. Romney strikes me as someone who will move away from multilateral engagements and could be convinced to be a hawk on Iran or any issue by his advisers. The two parties have a great separation on how U.S. power should be used around the world and the Democratic Party is much more in line with my philosophy.
Finally, Obama and I match on domestic policy. While the Affordable Care Act was not perfect, and I would have liked to see a Medicaid for all system, that just was not possible at the time the bill was passed. Obama also supports gay marriage, increased contraception for all, higher taxes for increased social services, and he did a good job at making sure the financial system did not collapse when he came into office in 2009.
In the end, most endorsements of candidates come down to ideology. I consider myself to be a typical American liberal. I support a cooperative foreign policy working within the international system, equal opportunity for all, a strong social safety net and more public services, and policies that save the environment. I do not consider myself to be a deficit hawk (although I do care about it and think some structural reforms are needed). However, I do not think we will be Greece tomorrow. I also like pragmatic leaders who understand that the political system is complicated and that policymaking is a messy process with a lot of compromise. I did not get everything that I wanted from the President for the last four years, but I knew that the way Washington works I wasn’t going to. I don’t expect miracles if he is re-elected, but for the direction of the country, I think Obama is the best choice.