Sunday, October 26, 2008

I might support Obama but will never be an “Obama supporter”

There are various reasons to describe how people vote given in the political economy literature. A few are:
  1. You vote for who you think will be best for you.
  2. You vote for who you think will be best for the country.
  3. You vote for symbolic or expressive purposes.
  4. You vote for who you think is going to win.
  5. You vote for the candidate you identify with.
  6. You vote to be affiliated with others who vote for that person.
I’ve already said in this blog that I am largely indifferent between Obama and McCain on the first two points. Points 3 and 4 and 5 are pushing me toward Obama. It would be cool to vote for the first black president (as a fellow political economic thinking friend of mine who is similarly indifferent to voting pointed out), and I have long identified with Obama’s post-partisan rhetoric (though he basically abandons bipartisanship whenever it is expedient, which is basically always).

My problem, is point 6, which is actually the point I focus on in my current research. And on this point, I really really don’t want be associated with Obama supporters. And that is making me not want to vote for Obama. A recent New York Times column is a case in point which has the audacity to blame Republicans alone for being condescending and derisive. They probably are, but I’m rarely exposed to Republicans, or Republican media, so that doesn’t bother me as much. But I’m constantly exposed to the condescension and derision of “Obama supporters” and liberal newspapers (as measured by Groseclose and Milyo) who think that McCain supporters “cling to their guns and religion” or that Palin supporters are “frightening” and “delusional” and don’t give voters in Alaska any credit for overwhelmingly voting her into office, and assume that mistakes she gives during interviews are signs of incompetence, whereas the numerous mistakes and fabrications that Joe Biden makes are merely signs of eccentricity.

I agree that Palin is really bad at handling herself on the national stage. Unlike Obama, she hasn’t had 4 years doing nothing else but campaigning for president. But that doesn’t make her incompetent, and doesn’t make her unfit. Bloomberg gave probably the worst speech I ever heard for his inaugural but has proven to be a very well respected mayor. It’s fine to disagree with Palin’s policies, and it’s fine to disagree with her view on the world, but please, as Obama would advocate, do so with respect.
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