I have a lot of thoughts about the upcoming elections, so I'm going to use the blog to say some of the things that aren't in the form of Divrei Torah.
We seem to be going through two different elections. In one election, President Obama is out to destroy the American way of life. He has sympathy for terrorists and is ashamed of our country. He hates Israel. Mitt Romney, in this election, hopes to be president so he can help himself and his rich friends pay almost nothing in taxes. He would rather persecute working people, and he belongs to a suspicious religion that is some kind of cult.
The other election is about different approaches to the problems of millions of people without work, personal wealth still wiped out from the housing crash, the high costs of medical care, the relevance of religious principle to public policies, etc. There are profound differences of principle about this, and also different practical approaches.
It would be hard enough to sort out the real election, even if the ridiculous one were not in the way. While more of the vitriol is coming from the right, and it is better funded there, liberals are not immune.
I think it's imperative to find some antidotes. One thing is that we should all watch both President Obama's and Governor Romney's acceptance speeches this week and next, and listen for both substance and principles. There will be bashing -- and even more from Biden and Ryan, though we should try to watch those too. But the two speeches will be illuminating.
Another antidote is to get to the actual policy proposals as much as possible, and spend as little time watching the cable news horserace coverage. During the last couple days, I've been trolling for as much as I can find about Medicare, which is shaping up as one of the major differences. Here are some things I've found:
report from the Federal Government's Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services about savings achieved or achievable for seniors and the government by the Affordable Care Act -- I take this as something like an Obama campaign document
Versions of the "Ryan Plan" for Medicare:
- Ryan-Wyden Plan outlined by Rep. Ryan and Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) last year
- Ryan-Rivlin Plan (Alice Rivlin is a former Democratic budget official)
Gov. Romney's campaign page about Medicare
testimony from Kavita Patel of the Brookings Institution (liberal think tank) before a House subcommittee this summer on using innovation to reduce Medicare payments to doctors
testimony from Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute (conservative think thank) before a House subcommittee this summer critiquing the Independent Payment Advisory Board for Medicare
There is a lot of tachlis (practical, bottom-line material) in these, and also some good articulations of principle about responsibility, community, and liberty. You'll be surprised perhaps, because a lot of this does not correspond to the caricatures in the silly election.
I'm looking these days for more material on the ethics of medical care, for senior citizens and for all of us, from Jewish sources and others such as the Catholic bishops of the U.S.
Isn't that much better?