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Vito

HELP ME GET LEARNED PLEASE.

11 posts in this topic

Okay - so I know the presidential election is coming up on Tuesday and it might seem like it's a bit late to try and stick my head into politics. That may be the case, but I still want to start following things more closely and would like to be able to hold my own in a political conversation.

I visited a friend this weekend with two other buddies of mine, and all three are staunch libertarians who are pretty well versed in politics. I contributed very little to the conversation, and it made me realize I don't know much or where I stand on a lot of things.

I've seen large pieces of some of the presidential debates and have read a few articles here and there. This is as far as I generally go, however. I've decided that I'm voting for Obama. I can't generally say that I believe in everything he stands for or that I trust him with the economy more than Romney; I just really don't like Mitt. He seems extremely flakey on all of his positions (constantly jumping around), and overall, he just seems like a pompous ass. I never get a genuine feel from him. Plus, I really don't agree with him on any social issue, which almost makes me default to the left.

I feel like I hear so many things from the media and from my friends that I have no idea what to believe. These are the kind of things I hear:

- very few people liked Bush and he was awful..then I had one friend that randomly said Bush did a bunch of good shit that people won't see until years down the road.

- my libertarian friends just always basically shit on everything each candidate says and have a general distaste for our current system

- the economy has gone to shit since Obama and he's been completely awful for these four years.

- it's not Obama's fault - he inherited a terrible situation

- my once Democrat recently turned Republican for no reason father randomly quotes Fox news all the time and shits on Obama/Democrats

- the list goes on....I'm sure you all hear things similar to this.

I ended up taking that "I side with" quiz to see where I really stand. Gary Johnson was my highest percentage, followed by Jill Stein, followed by Obama. This intrigued me, as I knew Johnson was the Libertarian candidate (which my best friend is always spewing about). I decided to check out his website...and a lot of of the stuff seemed completely crazy/radical to me. He wants to abolish the IRS, the department of education, etc. I guess these things would be more understandable if accompanied by an explanation, but they weren't.

That basically leads me to the point of this thread. Can anyone link me to articles, news sites, etc., that explain and analyze things in a relatively unbiased manner? I have no idea where to go. Some things I want to learn:

- Why was Bush considered to be so bad by so many? I've learned briefly in school about the Bush tax cuts, but that's as far as it goes.

- A real analysis of Obama's first term. It's always so hard to judge this because if people say he did bad and they support him, they point to the fact that he basically couldn't do anything because of all the Republicans holding positions that wouldn't let him, etc.

- An in-depth look at the economic plans of Republicans (Romney), Democrats (Obama), and Libertarians (Johnson).

- Libertarian stuff intrigues me and seems interesting...could these radical ideas even work? When I saw an explanation from Johnson about why he wanted to break up the Department of Education, it kind of made sense (he cited how government loans for school are actually driving prices up). I'd like explanations to policies like this.

- more that I'm forgetting at this point in time

HELP ME NOT BE DUMB ANYMORE.

TLDR: I'm finding it increasingly harder to stay informed with so many differing strong opinions flying at me every which way. Help me learn about the Bush era, the current Presidential race, and how they all intertwine (in unbiased way).

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there are few enough unbiased, interesting sources on politics itself. the better focus for you would be on policies; see where your interests and concerns lie before committing to a candidate or party. and the only place to get dependable information on policies (or issues, as they're sometimes known, but it's the same thing), is through academic literature on the corresponding areas. for instance, if you have questions on the viability of green energy, i'd read up in, say, Scientific American rather than some political journal. my recommendation would be to start with the Economist, Foreign Affairs, and a combination of papers of record like The New York Times and above all the CBO (Congressional Budget Office), a meticulously unbiased research division of Congress responsible for assessing the economic impact of bills and ensuring the reliability of numbers in the political sphere; when different sides bring different numbers to the same topic, the CBO settles it more often than not. i personally supplement these sources with some foreign papers, notably The Independent and The Guardian (both from the UK), and while both are certainly left-of-center papers they both take their long-term reporting seriously. in addition, resources like SourceWatch are very handy if you read something that sounds a bit too skewed; it's always helpful to know who's signing the checks.

read, read, read.

[separate from that, a few choice words:

Libertarianism is an increasingly infectious intellectual scourge among people our age; pseudo-intellectuals looking to justify checking out from engagement in our very real societal problems by proposing insane, abstract ideas that will never be implemented because the institutions they undercut are too effective and valuable in the real world. i bet if you'd asked your libertarian friends why we should get rid of the IRS, or Department of Energy, or Department of Education, or why (as most libertarians would have) we should implement a flat tax, they couldn't tell you. it just sounds radical and bombastic enough to get people's attention. libertarians (also known, in a particular form, as Paultards after their living Saint Ron) are never seriously a part of discussions on policy because their ideas are patently unworkable or destructive, usually both. if you do some research and discover that you're on the "right" side of the political spectrum, that's all well and good, but libertarianism is truly intellectually vacant and has virtually no applicability to modern society. so keep that in mind.]

Edited by Blackstar

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most of the rest is self-explanatory.

Why was Bush considered to be so bad by so many? I've learned briefly in school about the Bush tax cuts, but that's as far as it goes.

well, 2 misguided wars started, trillions in debt added for the sake of a tax cut for the already wealthy, slashes to regulations that led to the banking collapse, disregard for core tenets of justice like habeas corpus and due process along with widespread warrant-less wiretaps on millions of innocent people, on and on and on. when measured on total negative impact on the country Bush, truly, was one of the worst presidents in American history. and the reasons are right there for anyone to see; i've only scratched the surface with a quick list of some of the big ones. his real "legacy" is far more broad and corrosive.

A real analysis of Obama's first term. It's always so hard to judge this because if people say he did bad and they support him, they point to the fact that he basically couldn't do anything because of all the Republicans holding positions that wouldn't let him, etc.

much of Obama's first term, unlike Bush's, has been reactive; when Obama entered office the economy was in free-fall*, and we were facing the loss of entire industries (banking, automotive, etc.) due to the collapse which began during the Bush years. Obama's pro-active measures are dominated by his healthcare bill, which doesn't fully kick in until next year (a politically idiotic move, if premised soundly in policy terms) but which gave immediate guarantees for those most in need of coverage by forcing insurance companies to cover those with preexisting conditions and putting heavy restrictions on insurance companies to prevent them from kicking people with costly conditions off of the rolls. it's very difficult to sum up all the various things he's done (whether you think them right or wrong) in a few sentences, but i'd recommend that as you're finding areas of policy you're interested in, try looking up what Obama has done on them to see if you agree or not with the steps taken in the last 4 years.

An in-depth look at the economic plans of Republicans (Romney), Democrats (Obama), and Libertarians (Johnson).

the election is tomorrow, and i have a feeling that to give a real in-depth analysis of each of their plans would leave me still writing until well after the votes are counted.

Libertarian stuff intrigues me and seems interesting...could these radical ideas even work? When I saw an explanation from Johnson about why he wanted to break up the Department of Education, it kind of made sense (he cited how government loans for school are actually driving prices up). I'd like explanations to policies like this.

no.

HELP ME NOT BE DUMB ANYMORE.

figure out what you care about, and keep an open mind to explanations on how different parties or perspectives would address it. that's the best advice i can give, until you get the basic framework of American politics down. by that time you'll more than likely be a jaded motherfucker, so this introductory period is very important.

* more information on jobs figures can be found here.

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- Why was Bush considered to be so bad by so many? I've learned briefly in school about the Bush tax cuts, but that's as far as it goes.

To put it very briefly, he increased federal spending that didn't invest in our infrastructure while at the same time cutting federal receipts. So he recklessly spent money that didn't go towards furthering our economy after reducing taxes.

That alone is bad enough. When you consider that tens of thousands of people aren't alive right now who probably would have been had Bush been a better human being, it starts looking pretty bleak.

- A real analysis of Obama's first term. It's always so hard to judge this because if people say he did bad and they support him, they point to the fact that he basically couldn't do anything because of all the Republicans holding positions that wouldn't let him, etc.

I don't know how to sum this one up as fast as Bush's terms. I suppose I would say that Obama's problem isn't his ideas but his execution. The Democratic Party as a whole screwed up the enormous advantage they had from the 2008 landslide election and allowed themselves to be pushed around due to infighting and idiotic political worries.

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I've decided that I'm voting for Obama. I can't generally say that I trust him with the economy more than Romney; I just really don't like Mitt.
good choice. However, why can't you say that? What about Romney makes you trust him with the economy at all?

Seriously.

I keep hearing people say shit like "well, he's a businessman!" as if that somehow justifies anything.

He's a silver spoon baby who would have been filthy fucking rich no matter what he did. So what?

I'm not going to get into it and you said you want to learned yourself. So read this article DK posted

I wish everyone understood the significance of Michael Bloomberg and The Economist endorsing Obama on Thursday. Business is abandoning the businessman. Bloomberg's reasons are great and The Economist does not favor a heavy government and has never loved Obama (I read both publication The Economist & Bloomberg Businessweek), yet they can't endorse R-money.

http://www.politicus...orse-obama.html

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All of the above posts are solid - if you're looking for a quick-and-dirty fix, think of it this way: fringe political parties are fringe because their policies are so radical/destructive that people don't take them seriously (hence, Blackstar's point about the Libertarian party).

Unfortunately the South Park adage about choosing between a Douche and Turd is going to pretty much always be true, since you're taking the opinions of 330 million people and distilling them down to two extremely watered-down, bland choices. However, if I could impart one piece of advice, always remember what you personally stand for. In my opinion, voting for Romney would go against every fiber of my being because he does not support equal rights for all (specifically gays) - we can get into a whole ethical debate about the definitions of marriage, but in terms of legal and economic rights, at least make civil unions as respected by the government as marriages. IMHO, gay rights are our generation's civil rights struggle. Our grandchildren will be mocking us for treating them in a substandard manner. So Romney may in fact be a better "businessman" but I refuse to vote against my conscience to provide equal rights to every American. Vote for what you believe in, and figure out who aligns most with your beliefs.

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I actually disagree with that. I used to hold that conviction and it led to me being an irrational voter when I was a Christian. Today it leads to a huge segment of the population not even thinking politically because their minds are made up by abortion or gay marriage.

Now that I don't have any religious views, "Vote what you believe" could still negatively impact my vote, and others like me. If enough apparent Obama votes decide they're mad about Guantanamo still being open, drone strikes continuing in the Middle East and the government now being allowed to detain American citizens indefinitely... they could vote for Jil Stein. Those are legitimate grievances.

But voting for Stein would make it more likely that Romney would win (theoretically anyway. My presidential vote in Texas means nothing). And Romney not only doesn't share my convictions, I believe his economic policies would have a harmful effect on the entire planet.

Convictions weighed in pragmatism is probably how I would view it.

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I actually disagree with that. I used to hold that conviction and it led to me being an irrational voter when I was a Christian. Today it leads to a huge segment of the population not even thinking politically because their minds are made up by abortion or gay marriage.

Now that I don't have any religious views, "Vote what you believe" could still negatively impact my vote, and others like me. If enough apparent Obama votes decide they're mad about Guantanamo still being open, drone strikes continuing in the Middle East and the government now being allowed to detain American citizens indefinitely... they could vote for Jil Stein. Those are legitimate grievances.

But voting for Stein would make it more likely that Romney would win (theoretically anyway. My presidential vote in Texas means nothing). And Romney not only doesn't share my convictions, I believe his economic policies would have a harmful effect on the entire planet.

Convictions weighed in pragmatism is probably how I would view it.

Yeah but at the time it seemed like the right decision for you - what matters is that you made the best decision at that time in your life with the resources and faculties you have available. You can't fault yourself for "being Christian" at the time just as much as you'll look back when you're old and gray in your youthful atheist days. I'm not disagreeing that you're more informed and objective now than before, but give yourself a bit more credit.

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I've decided that I'm voting for Obama. I can't generally say that I trust him with the economy more than Romney; I just really don't like Mitt.
good choice. However, why can't you say that? What about Romney makes you trust him with the economy at all?

Seriously.

I keep hearing people say shit like "well, he's a businessman!" as if that somehow justifies anything.

He's a silver spoon baby who would have been filthy fucking rich no matter what he did. So what?

I'm not going to get into it and you said you want to learned yourself. So read this article DK posted

I wish everyone understood the significance of Michael Bloomberg and The Economist endorsing Obama on Thursday. Business is abandoning the businessman. Bloomberg's reasons are great and The Economist does not favor a heavy government and has never loved Obama (I read both publication The Economist & Bloomberg Businessweek), yet they can't endorse R-money.

http://www.politicus...orse-obama.html

I've read the article. I actually shared it on my facebook page after I read it when he posted it - I thought it was an interesting read.

My primary reason for not trusting Romney is that his entire economic plan seems to be centered around tax cuts. I would personally prefer lower taxes, but it was proven by the Bush Tax Cuts that lower taxes don't necessarily equate into more jobs. Plus, I fail to see how lowering the government's revenue substantially, while not really getting money from anywhere else, is going to do anything to help the budget (except make it worse). I've read countless articles saying that numbers for his plan 'just don't add up,' and I can't say I disagree.

Thanks to everyone for making this a really informative thread with some good discussion! This is why I love this place and wish it could be like it used to.

Edited by Vito

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Yeah but at the time it seemed like the right decision for you - what matters is that you made the best decision at that time in your life with the resources and faculties you have available. You can't fault yourself for "being Christian" at the time just as much as you'll look back when you're old and gray in your youthful atheist days. I'm not disagreeing that you're more informed and objective now than before, but give yourself a bit more credit.

My point wasn't that I was inferior before. A Christian can think critically and make a well-informed decision. My point was that you can do more with a vote and actually make an impact if you think critically and decide which candidate will bring about the most positive results.

Not saying social issues like gay marriage and abortion aren't important, but they shouldn't lock down your vote for a half century. If a Christian will only vote for pro-life candidates, they're going to be voting for the same party for a very, very long time and won't have any input into fiscal or foreign policy.

Again, it's pragmatism. I think people should figure out what issues they actually have a realistic chance of changing and which issues are the most pressing at the moment and causing the most suffering.

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