As a two-faced, twin-sided Gemini independent -- prone by genetics and astrological proclivity to decision anxiety (astrologers say my Libra moon compounds my dissonance) -- this election represents a whopper of adjudication. Save for foreign policy -- a subject on which, in Monday's third and, thankfully, final debate, CEO Romney, in an adroit M & A maneuver, suddenly appropriated every palatable position the president had heretofore advocated -- the differences between the two candidates are clear.
After all, Mr. Romney is white (actually, the whitest candidate in U.S. history; perhaps the last remaining truly white person on planet earth), while Mr. Obama is black (well, technically, half-black, but who's checking). I really don't care about a candidate's skin color. I enjoy both chocolate and vanilla ice cream.
However, 95 percent of my friends are liberal Democrats. Fifty percent of them think Occupy Wall Street didn't go far enough. At least 10 percent want to wage outright jihad on the GOP (Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock, in particular). If I vote for Romney, how can I ever expect to be invited over to their tony, LEED-certified homes for vegan brie, gluten-free crackers, organic wine, and radical chic lectures about the evil 1 percent?
Then again, if I vote for Obama, there goes my invitation to speak at L.A.'s formerly all-male Jonathan Club.
However, if I vote for Mr. Romney, I will alienate my six Mexican-American relatives, and their 273 next-of-kin. On the other hand, I have a place to crash at the formerly polygamist community of the late Miles Park Romney in Colonia Juarez, Mexico, should I be chased across the border.
All that said, on a very practical, serious, and personal note, if I vote for Barack Obama, I will saddle myself with at least a 20 percent increase in taxes on my capital gains, interest, and dividends. For a Forbes and HuffPo blogger, er, "contributor," who lives near the poverty line -- save for prescient stock market investments in Apple and Lululemon (let's forget about my sorry investments in Citigroup and Caterpillar) - this will be a major hit, as I strive to raise funds for my first house since the one I made out of wooden blocks at age five.
In the past, like any true bodhisattva, I've delayed my passage to the other shore of Swiss bank accounts and private car elevators for more altruistic concerns like gay rights and higher CAFÉ standards. I took Democratic pounding on my tax return as the price for being a good 'n guilty, self-abnegating social liberal.
However, this election season it suddenly dawned on me that the primary beneficiaries of Democratic largesse -- via food stamps, Medicaid, unemployment insurance, and other forms of entitlement I have never once applied for, let alone enjoyed, despite several years living below the poverty line -- don't give a Boehner's arse about my welfare, even though, on average, I make less net income than many of them do per year. Moreover, I donate a lot of my free time to raising their educational, and, thus, economic well-being. Yet, they don't sacrifice their interests for mine. So, why am I shooting myself in the right foot every election because the Democrats and I happen to agree that it's okay for Heather to have two mommies?
On the other hand, if Romney is elected, my free-spirited eco lifestyle might be severely compromised. After all, many Republicans have this un-conservative tendency to scrimp on environmental protection in the interest of job growth (and because they believe the insane canard that global warming is not happening, as they stroll around in shorts and tees during an unnaturally warm Minnesota winter).
Romney says he will do as much in pushing for more energy development on public lands. This means that a vote for Mr. Romney enables oil and natural gas workers in Alaska, Canada, Montana, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and off the coast of Virginia to get higher pay, while I ingest their downstream "externalities" (read: air and water pollution). Moreover, as he puts job growth above old growth, how can I be sure that Mr. Romney will protect the wilderness areas where I frolic, let alone the beaches, lakes and rivers where I swim?
On the other hand, if I vote for the business-bashing Obama, this economy might be stuck in first gear for years to come (as corporate chieftains refuse to hire out of spite). In addition, when the economy is stuck in first gear, my side gigs at Monk Media and Monk Space suffer. A look at this week's plummeting stock market suggests that investors might already be pricing in an Obama surprise. And that would be a disaster not only for my stock portfolio, but also for the investors who finance films shot at Monk Space. Less discretionary income in stock portfolios, less of "the wealth effect" that comes from rising stock prices, less likely that Mom and Dad will fork over discretionary dinhero to fund son Adam's Masters thesis film from nearby AFI.
Then again, Republicans have this tendency of late -- despite the isolationist impulses of the party's early stalwarts -- to embroil America in large and expansive wars abroad. I still have not forgiven Bush and his cronies -- including the assiduously scrubbed and rehabilitated Condoleezza Rice -- for their outrageous lies about Iraq and its nonexistent weapons of mass destruction, and the patently immoral insinuation that Saddam Hussein had some connection to 9/11. I distinctly remember Dubya saying after 9/11 that we would fight a "quiet war" to defeat Al Qaeda. We would not announce our intentions. We would use superior intelligence and special forces.
Nothing remotely like that happened. In their bold-faced incompetence, Team Bush largely gave up on finding 9/11 ringleader, Osama bin Head Case, and, instead, took us on a costly, deceitfully sold detour into Iraq. And this largely because of Lil' Bush's preordained desire to finish the hit job on Saddam that his own Gemini Dad failed to complete. To paraphrase Rahm Emmanuel, "never let a good crisis go to waste." I wish we Geminis weren't so dang inspirational.
I know that Mr. Romney, in his Monday night rejection of neoconservativism, promised that he will not wage unnecessary wars of occupation with American blood and treasure. He reassured us that he was a man of "peace" and restraint, who believes that we cannot "kill our way" to victory against homophobic, heroin-dealing, women-oppressing Islamo-wingnuts.
However, can I trust Mr. Romney when so many of his foreign policy advisors come from the same pool of neocon fanatics whose Iraq diversion and homeland security boondoggles helped put this country in its current dire financial straits? At least Mr. Obama is proposing long-overdue cuts in defense spending. Yes, I wish he would use that money to balance the budget, lower our deficit, and cut my bloody taxes, but at least he is trying to rein in a major deficit enabler.
The problem is that, even if Mr. Obama vowed on a stack of Korans to use defense cuts to balance the budget and cut the deficit, he couldn't get it done politically. With a sudden rush of funds from depleted defense appropriations, Obama's Congressional pals -- such as the freakishly face-lifted Nancy Pelosi and cadaverous Harry Reid -- would merely redirect the trillions in former defense spending into the largest pork fiesta that Congress has ever seen. "Oh," they would intone, with earnest countenances, "this sudden windfall was needed for infrastructure, teachers, firemen, cops, student loans, and more" -- ole! -- but we all know the truth: it would be one big Chicago-Machine-style payback.
So, I guess I am left with two grossly imperfect choices. On the one hand, an admirably self-effacing, personally generous, if publicly parsimonious, designated economic driver, whose private sector experience as a corporate downsizer is precisely what we need to streamline our initiative-sapping entitlement state, but whose etch-a-sketch views and robotic demeanor makes me wonder if he might secretly be our first cyborg-in-chief (adroitly engineered by neocon masterminds at a Heritage Foundation bunker near Santa Barbara).
On the other hand, we have an eco-friendly, too-cool-for-school Hawaiian, who displayed a singularly endearing Michael Corleone quality in quietly green-lighting the Seal Team 6 takeout of "The Pacer" while making jokes at a White House Correspondents dinner, yet the singularly distasteful tendency to believe that his smirky, dopey, demagogic persona will magically cure all that befalls this nation, here and abroad. If they were empirically evaluating their own interests, the one in six Americans currently living in poverty might not want to purchase Obama Hope-ium this time around.
Fortunately, there is a third way. Especially since I am currently registered to vote in California, where selecting a third party candidate has zero effect on the general election because Mr. Obama has the Gold-Digging, er, Golden, State safely in Harvey Weinstein's hands (the Weinstein's Company's "Seal Team Six: The Raid on Osama bin Laden" appears on the National Geographic Channel two days before the election).
Then again, every time I see the weirdly laconic and absurd Gary Johnson, it seems like the former New Mexico Governor has smoked too much ABQ ganja (try some of Heisenberg's blue meth, for cryin' out loud). Johnson would be a piss poor leader precisely because his affect is so darn, well, affect-less.
Nevertheless, his positions on most of the issues I care about are spot on: decreasing the size of government, withdrawing our troops from wars of occupation, and protecting the rights of property. Yeah, if taken too literally, some of his more strictly libertarian positions -- abolishing the IRS, for instance -- might be self-destructive for the nation. Nevertheless, he's got the right idea on the whole: tighten our belts, stop being the world's policeman, and get our own house in order first.
So, there you have it: a vote for Gary Johnson makes perfect sense and resolves my cognitive dissonance rather neatly.
Only one problem: Johnson is running on the Libertarian Party platform. This, on the un-coolness meter, is up there with believing that Ayn Rand is a great American writer.
I guess I have to flip a coin. Heads, it's the share-the-wealth, reluctantly pro-gay-marriage, demagogue. Tails, it's the shape-shifting, straight edge oxymoron known as "The Massachusetts Mormon."
To paraphrase Paul Simon, "Any way I look at it, I lose."
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