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Posts Tagged ‘rights’

In the morning, I will be voting for Barack Obama.

I won’t go over all the specific policies and reasons why, if you read this blog you already know them.

But there are two things I’d like to bring up. This won’t be a particularly well written piece because its late and I’m tired, but I want to toss it out there before the polls open.

First, the issue of foreign policy and civil liberties. This is where I think the strongest case against Obama can be made, and so I’d like to take a brief second to refute it somewhat. Obama’s record in this area has been dismal, but I do not think this is a reason to vote against him. Mitt Romney would be far, far worse.

Obama’s policy towards Iran has been about as measured and calm as can be expected. Were Mitt Romney president right now, I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that we would be in a full scale war with Iran.

While he has not held anyone accountable for the US torture regime, Barack Obama has ended it. Mitt Romney would not only re-instate it, but expand it! When asked if he considered water boarding torture, he indicated that he did not, and that he would seek to increase the list of techniques used by interrogators. Barack Obama attempted to close Guantanamo Bay and hold actual trials for detainees, but was stymied by congress. Mitt Romney wants to double Guantanamo. You may not like Obama’s record on these issues, but Mitt Romney would be so much worse. If you truly think there is no difference between them on these issues, you’re fooling yourself.

Secondly, and more importantly, I will be voting for Barack Obama because we absolutely must take a stand against the GOP of the past four years. If they win, it will be an affirmation of their tactics. It will show that the public is accepting of putting party before country. It will vindicate the strategy of rank, baseless obstructionism. The GOP has not been even remotely interested in actual governing, except where they see an opportunity to score partisan points. From day one, their primary goal has been to make Barack Obama a one term president. If Mitt Romney wins, they will have been proven right. We will be telling them that their irresponsible, reprehensible strategy was correct, effective, and acceptable.

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The Gravel Kraken yesterday called out Rachel Maddow for trying to force Rand Paul into a gotcha quote, and defended his controversial views. Rand Paul seems to believe that the civil rights act was a mistake because it infringes upon business owners’ right to be racist assholes. Thats fine, and no I don’t think this proves Rand Paul is himself a racist asshole, but I strongly disagree with him. So I should explain why.

It is simply not the case that everyone can exercise their freedom all the time, because your freedom may infringe upon mine. My freedom to walk safely to work would be infringed upon by your freedom to drive your car in any way you see fit, and so we’ve limited your freedom with traffic lights and speed limits, and mine with crosswalks. Your freedom to dispose of toxic waste in your back yard infringes upon my freedom to have clean water from my well, and so neither of us are allowed to dispose of toxic waste in our back yards, even though this infringes upon our property rights. Similarly, the fine particulate emissions from your car will drift onto my property and pollute it, and so you are violating my property rights. But we recognize the importance of both my property rights and yours (the operation of your car) so we limit pollution to an amount above zero by enforcing emissions standards, thus protecting your right to drive while limiting to an acceptable level the impact on me.

If we want to live in an equal society, then everyone’s rights ought to be protected. That will involve tradeoffs. In some cases, yes, my freedom will by necessity be reduced in order for yours to be preserved. It just isn’t the case that we can both exercise all our rights and freedoms all of the time, because we will infringe upon one another (this is especially true in cities, hence you often see stronger regulations than in rural areas). But both of our rights and freedoms are equally important, and so it becomes neccesary for us, as a society, to decide where the line between our rights ought to be drawn. We do that through government with things like traffic laws, environmental regulations, and the civil rights act.

Now to be fair, I suppose its possible that Rand Paul may agree with that (though I would be surprised), and simply believes that in the case of the CRA we drew the line too far to one side. That’s a reasonable disagreement, and an important discussion to have. If we are going to draw these lines (and I believe we must if we want to have an equal society) we need to be able to discuss them honestly and in good faith.

But there’s precious little of that these days.

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