Take a Stroll... with Rob Delaney - A Voter's Guide
In 1996 I voted for Bob Dole. I was 19, didn't follow politics, and had heard that Republicans advocated small government and Democrats advocated large government. I didn't care for authority much at that age, so that was enough for me.
Whom I’ve Voted For in Every Presidential Election and Why, in Exhaustive Detail:
In 1996 I voted for Bob Dole. I was 19, didn’t follow politics, and had heard that Republicans advocated small government and Democrats advocated large government. I didn’t care for authority much at that age, so that was enough for me. I also knew that Bob Dole was a wounded combat veteran and I thought that it would be a good idea to have a guy who knew the cost of war in charge of the most fearsome military on the planet. Plus he invented pineapples and bananas.
In 2000 I voted for Ralph Nader. While I wanted Al Gore to win, I’d done my homework in the preceding four years and learned a fair amount, including how the Electoral College worked. I had soured on the United States two-party system and believed them both to be poisoned by corporate money and special interests. I knew that I could vote for Nader, a guy with whom I agreed with on most issues, and when Al Gore swept New York that’d be fine with me, since he was greatly preferable to George W. Bush, who was bad at things like “talking” or “making sense.”
In 2004 I voted for John Kerry. George W. Bush had demonstrated that he was not merely another side of the filthy Republican/Democrat coin, but was, rather, a uniquely terrible President, who knowingly lied the country into a war that killed thousands of Americans and 100,000 Iraqis, give or take a few tens of thousands, because death tolls are difficult to accurately measure when they’re that high. We may rest assured that many, many more than 100,000 were raped or maimed or psychologically destroyed. Not because of Bush’s tactics, but because those casualties are tacit in war. When you tell your army to invade a country, you goddamn well better understand that you’re personally authorizing rape and torture as well, and you better do a cost-benefit analysis to determine whether or not your war is “worth” it. This war was not. When I look at George W. Bush’s face and the faces of those in his cabinet, I see blood. I voted for John Kerry because, although I lived in California and could’ve voted for a sea lion and Kerry still would’ve taken the state, I wanted to be able to look at the guy who defeated Bush and say “I put ink on a ballot that helped that happen.” I wasn’t passionate about Kerry (one should never be passionate about a multi-millionaire career politician, which is what all viable candidates are) but his record was vastly superior to Bush’s, and he would have done a better job even if he sat motionless in a beanbag chair on the White House lawn.
In 2008 I voted for Ralph Nader again. This will upset some people, and that’s fantastic. Please channel your angry energy into the outlet you feel will effect the most change. In the Democratic Primary, however, I voted for Barack Obama. But get this! I would’ve voted for John Edwards had he not already bowed out. The reason for my decision was that he had a better health care plan than Hilary Clinton or Obama. In fact, Clinton and Obama liked it so much they copied it for their campaigns! Thank the good Lord he deprived me of that opportunity. It is popular (and appropriate) to denounce Edwards now for his mind-shattering and mythic hubris, but at the time we didn’t know that he was secretly stinking, suppurating human garbage with a hot, gooey center or selfishness that could implode stars.
1. I placed so much stock in Edwards’ health plan because I am unable to shake the belief that there is anything more important to our nation’s future than A. access to affordable healthcare and B. education. Make it easier for your citizens to be healthy and smart and they will save you in ways you have yet to imagine. Make it difficult and your nation will swirl history’s toilet on its way to hell. When a person spends energy worrying about access to affordable healthcare they don’t have the energy to dream up the next Google. I’m sorry that this is a newsflash to some of you, but we are born dying and will each of us have “problems” that need medical intervention; it is not something to be ashamed of or afraid to experience. It is a condition of being alive and I am shocked that ANYONE WITH A HUMAN BODY would place obstacles in the way of their brothers and sisters getting a pill or a procedure that could help them.
The same goes for education. When your citizens’ minds aren’t stimulated by an excellent education, they don’t have the tools to think up the next life-saving vaccine. A country that doesn’t invest in education cannot claim for one second to be interested in its future. There are plenty of words to describe politicians who don’t make their constituents’ health and education their top priority, but for now I’ll let you pick one somewhere on the spectrum between “misguided” and “evil.” I will insist you tack on the word “shortsighted” as well.
2. I thought it was important for me to say that I would’ve voted for John Edwards since we now know that his presidency would’ve been a disaster. Had his personal misdeeds, which are legion, come to light while he was president, he would’ve been rightfully impeached and hopefully shot out of a cannon into the sun. He’s a bad guy, is what I’m saying. Are we clear? I’m saying that I, Rob Delaney, would’ve voted for a man who would’ve caused terrible problems for the country. I would’ve been responsible for electing a guy who would have had a negative effect on the country, no matter how great his healthcare plan was. You can say that I didn’t know of his wrongdoings, and you’d be correct, but jeez, I’d still feel pretty bad.
If you’re not upset that I voted for Edwards in the primary, you must’ve changed your opinion of me based on one or more of the other people I’ve voted for over the years. Republican, Green, Democrat, and Independent? Who do I think I am, Ohio? I told you who I’ve voted for over the years because I wanted to lay bare my thought process and show some things that I would change if I had a time machine. I wanted to show evidence of a person who believed one thing, gathered evidence, and then changed his mind. I wanted to do something that most politicians refuse to do, i.e. show some humility/teachability. Also, as a comedian and writer who frequently makes political jokes, people often ask me what I personally believe. And I thought it might be valuable to look into one concerned citizen’s open and evolving mind, not because my beliefs are more valid than anyone else’s, but because if this country is to survive, which history suggests it will, a more nuanced approach to our problems will be required.
Also, people on the Internet tell me every day to “stick to the jokes, pal” and I wanted to outline why I will do no such thing, and why you shouldn’t either. If in fact I should “stick to the jokes” since I’m a comedian, that would suggest that politics should be left to politicians. And we know that many politicians (like large numbers of those who make up the United States Congress, for example) are very, very bad at politics. They quite literally NEED my help. And your help. And since we live in a Democratic republic, I will continue to share my opinion whenever I feel like it. And please feel free to disagree with me. Jesus, I hope you do, because there are many things I don’t know and many things I’m surely wrong about. I am a comedian. But a comedian’s opinion matters in the United States of America, as does a pipefitter’s, a truck driver’s, and a heart surgeon’s. So if you ask me to keep my opinion to myself, I will find you, and I will fart on you, aggressively.
At the end of 2012, barring seismic changes to the political landscape, I will vote for Barack Obama. As I stated above, I didn’t vote for Obama in the 2008 election. There’s a cult of personality around him that is silly and distracting; he’s a politician through and through. But while I won’t run to the ballot box to vote on Election Day, I will walk there purposefully. I will do this for two reasons: 1. I believe Obama would nominate better Supreme Court Justices than any of the prospective Republican presidential candidates, and 2. I want the Affordable Care Act guarded and seen through to completion by the guy responsible for it, because there is no more fundamental building block to our nation’s future than the health of its citizens. It’s not perfect, but it is vastly superior to what we had, which was insurance companies denying coverage to your 32-year-old sister because she had a cyst on an ovary when she was 21.
I am as passionate about these two issues as Marcus Bachmann is about curing homosexuality, and for the following reasons:
The Supreme Court is rotten. They are working feverishly to consolidate wealth and power in that “top one percent” you hear about on the news. Recent decisions in favor of Wal-Mart, AT&T, Janus, and more—not to mention Citizens United—enshrine power in the largest of corporations and methodically strip you of your Constitutional rights. Obama, as shown by his devotion to getting the Affordable Care Act passed and his efforts to have revenues increased as part of the recent debt deal is possessed of both occasional flashes of humanity and the pragmatism necessary to appoint Supreme Court Justices. He’s not perfect and he’s not “clean.” He smells like cash and he’s very good for big business. They know it and they will be rewarding him with campaign donations to shatter records in the coming year. I’m sure it’s “fun” for his opponents to paint him as anti-business, but it is lazy, and we will see that fallacy torpedoed in the coming year as his campaign war chest is filled and refilled by the largest corporations planet Earth has ever seen.
What motivates me to write this is that I care about the future of the United States of America and I care about her citizens, whether they voted for Obama or McCain. Hell, I care about the people who voted for Bush in 2004. One big lie the media and the government pushes on us is that we’re different from each other. Fuck that. The lady in Pennsylvania who voted for McCain hugs her kid with the same love the guy in North Carolina who voted for Obama hugs his. What do we all want? Health, safety, and the tools to prosper. You can customize this basic list with an ideological doo-dad or two, but that’s the essence.
Since it wouldn’t be realistic for me to drive around the country hugging everyone and telling them I care about them, the least I can do is raise my voice and put pen to paper in an effort to help get them medicine to ease the pain and inflammation from their arthritis or the inhaler they need for their asthma. And P.S.! The Affordable Care Act doesn’t get you your health care for free. It gives you the RIGHT to pay a monthly premium for health insurance. That’s what it does! If you’re a politician and you oppose it, don’t you dare, DON’T YOU DARE suggest its repeal without suggesting a superior plan that will allow people who want health insurance to pay for it with their own earnings, earnings which, when taxed, pay your massive, enviable salary (which, as we well know, comes with a benefits package that includes the best insurance in the land for them and their family.)
When you take a person, in this case an American, and you break them down to their base elements, you’ve got their body and their brain. If you’re given the opportunity to govern these people, you try, with every waking moment to strengthen these elements if you want your nation to have a future that’s worth a damn. There will be nothing else if you don’t attend to these basic raw materials, which are being ignored by too many in Washington, D.C. Health care and education aren’t sexy, but America runs on Americans. Make them strong. If you’ve been given the honor to hold a position of true responsibility in this country—which is traveling down a tough patch of road—this is your job, before any other. Right now, if the country is a car, our government is detailing the trim, tinting the windows and fighting over what color fuzzy dice to hang off the rearview mirror. But they are not putting gas in the tank. I don’t see how they expect it to go anywhere.
As I said earlier, my beliefs aren’t more important than anyone else’s. I just thought that in the current climate it might be useful to see how the mind of one American voter who pledges allegiance to no political party and is not a majority shareholder in a media conglomerate works. Thank you for indulging me.
Previously - Look Deep Into My Eye