Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Election and perspective

It turns out that needing Virginia was not ironic for Obama.  He needed it.

By area, it looks like most of the country voted for Romney.  But acreage doesn't vote, people do.  When it comes down to it, more electoral votes went blue, and that's what matters in the long run.  In fact, 270 electoral votes are needed to win, and though the raw percentages show a pretty close race, the electoral count falls heavily in favor of Obama: 303 to Romney's 206.

It's interesting to look at the example of Virginia's polling map.  According to the map, it looks like Romney should've owned Virginia outright - it's a sea of red with a few blue speckles.  But where Obama won were mostly the population centers, and he took them by large margins, close to 70-30 in some places.  Where Romney won he tended to win by small margins.  He could've chipped away Obama's lead if Virginia had had two fewer population centers.  Alas, it is not so.

As with Virginia, so with the nation.  It appears to me that the largely rural parts of the country went mostly Republican, but it was the most populous states that voted for Obama - the most densely populated states with the largest numbers of electoral votes.  Historically racially tense parts of the country, the Old South and more sparsely populated western states like Wyoming and Kansas, landed squarely in Romney's court.  But places like Kansas and Wyoming bring a total of only 9 electoral votes, whereas the single win of California's 55 votes utterly wipes out such ephemeral victories and several more besides.

Ironically, Romney's own gubernatorial stomping grounds of Massachusetts went strongly toward Obama.  Massachusetts' own 11 votes cancels out both Kansas and Wyoming.

I'd like to take a moment to look at the tags of "liberal" and "conservative."  I think these are misleading.

"Liberal" implies that the person at whom the moniker is targeted is liberal with the government's power.  Some might replace "power" with "money," charging that those people believe strongly in taxing the citizens and spending the money on assorted programs, especially if those programs redistribute that wealth to lower income individuals.

"Conservative," on the other hand, suggests that the person supports limiting the government's power, limiting how much tax it collects and most importantly limiting how much money it spends.  But what happens when we change the perspective on these labels?

The Conservatives tend to be pretty free and breezy - you could even say "liberal" with how much oversight businesses should have to experience.  They will shout that to do otherwise is to tread on the toes of the free market, to hobble the bargaining power of business, to interfere where interference is not necessary.  To that I say: 2008.  That's when many years of lax oversight caught up with the banking industry and set off a cascade of worldwide economic collapses and panics.  We're still not out of the woods.  Maybe a little conservatism in the offices - or at least peeking over the shoulders of those in the offices - might have prevented that?  Too late to know, now.  All we can do is pick up the pieces and try to prevent it happening again in the future.

The Liberals are pretty darned uptight about business and jobs.  They seem to expect that people cannot be expected to do what's best for themselves all the time.  You could even call them "conservative" in their expectations of how future behavior will develop.  It's downright pessimistic, to try to sock so much money into all those greedy mouths and scrabbling hands, to hand out so many loans.  Yes, we're under a crushing load of debt...but did the current Liberal In Chief spend all that money?  Actually, no.  $10.73 trillion of that debt was handed to him by the outogoing President, George W. Bush.  You can say that Obama has incurred more debt in less time and you'd be right - but the dollar isn't worth as much now, and the US's credit rating has slipped.  A lot of that can be attributed to the effects of the '08 financial crisis.  Obama had little, if anything, to do with that.

But the point behind the loans is that the US Government wants its money back at some point.  You're expected to pay that loan off, after you've used the money to get through school and get a good job, get out of physical therapy and back on your feet, whatever the crisis is.  And all of those people who don't do that are letting their government, and by extension every last one of us, their fellow citizens and taxpayers, down.

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