In the fifth edition of the political column FULL STOP progressive NYC based TV host and journalist Jim Morrison discusses parallels between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, answering the question nobody dares to think about – What if Romney actually wins? Oh, there is something about hurricane Sandy too.
What is your hurricane Sandy survivor story?
By some weird coincidence I booked a trip to San Francisco to help a friend move to NYC…I flew out Saturday, literally the last day of in cancelled flights. When the storm hit I started to feel really guilty that I wasn’t in my city, despite most people being jealous I wasn’t there. There’s this thing about New York and New Yorkers in times of crisis. Something I haven’t felt anywhere else…at least to the same extent. It’s a feeling of “we’re all in this together” and when shit hits the fan people really DO look out for each other. In many places when order breaks down the looting begins and it feels far more dangerous. In NYC I’ve seen delis (stores) with broken windows where nothing is stolen. I’m not saying there’s no crime or even looting in New York, only that there is a palpable difference. A place that when disaster strikes it feels more like a community than every man for himself.
Will the spot-on performance of Barack Obama change the electoral forecast in his favor?
I would like to think so. “Unfortunately” none of the states hit is a swing state. Obama was already going to take New York and New Jersey. Notwithstanding, I think the visual of Obama handling the crisis and garnering effusive praise from republican celebrity governor Chris Christie can only help. As well it should.
Some people claim Obama and Romney are not that different. Are they blind, deaf and living in a hole in the ground?
This is a really important question and something I’ve touched on on my show on the episode about third parties and how the two major American parties have so often failed us. One answer to this question is “well it depends on what state you live in.” If you live in New York or California your vote is worth less than if you live in Florida or Ohio, ie a swing state. Indeed the same could be said for Texas or Wyoming, at the other end of the spectrum. It’s clear who’s going to win those states and the candidates barely bother showing up and talking to those voters. In those states (I live in one: New York) the argument that there isn’t a lot of difference between the two has more meaning: because your vote for a third party whose positions might be much more in line with yours could be just as meaningful a choice. A choice to give, for example, the Green Party more access to matching funds, participation in the process and visibility. Because on many many issues like Afghanistan, drones strikes, Middle East policy, even (albeit to a lesser extent) Wall Street regulation there isn’t all that much difference in the grand scheme of things.
Ok. Now that that’s out of the way. Disregard everything I just said, well at least if you live in a swing state where your vote really really will have meaning and power. Because there are important differences between Romney and Obama. Start with the Supreme Court. Four justices are older than 70. So it’s likely the next President will appoint two (one four sure)…and possibly more. The people that Romney, without doubt, would appoint would set us back at least a generation in so many areas, especially Lgbt civil rights. Romney would appoint justices like Antonin Scalia (he said exactly that) who has said things like criminalizing homosexual sodomy is “not a problem.” Then there’s health care. Sure, maybe you’re for a single payer system like me. Maybe you think, also like me, that the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”) is just a shot in the arm to the corporate health care system. The reality is, notwithstanding all that, Romney would repeal it and replace it with nothing. And despite it not being the ideal solution, it will cover more people and hopefully when the exchanges are set up in each state, we will have more affordable options. A step in the right direction however small is better than no step at all, or even a step backwards. So: if you live in a swing state, think long and hard about the choice you make because it WILL have direct consequences on people’s lives.
What are we going to lose if Mitt Romney is elected next president of the United States?
Like I said: any hope of progress on civil rights for the next 30 years due to the right wing retrograde literalist appointments he’ll make to the Supreme Court. He will attempt to repeal the affordable care act, but won’t be able to do that unilaterally as it would require a congressional vote. If he acts as promised he will essentially defund every government program except for military spending which amazingly he has promised to increase. He has little interest or understanding of foreign policy so we will lose any voices of reason, nuance or diplomacy we now have and get a cadre of bush administration people running the show. Remember how great that was? Yeah, I thought so. We all those people are now working for the Romney campaign so expect their installation upon his inauguration. Scary. Very scary.
Is anything getting better?
New York is getting better. Slowly. As I write this on a train speeding east my city still has no power below midtown. Many many thousands of people don’t have heat. Food is scarce. But as usual New Yorkers are dealing with an awful situation and pulling through. I’m confident that by the time you read this it will be better than the moment I write. Because that’s New York. And oh, Mayor Bloomberg is getting better: He endorsed Obama for President.