Throughout my book, Five Short Blasts, and throughout this blog, until now, I have remained non-partisan. I am an independent and have voted for Republicans, Democrats and even 3rd party candidates in various elections. My book is written from a non-partisan perspective because both major parties have been on the same side (the wrong side) of the key issues raised in my book – the issues of immigration and trade. Both have supported high rates of immigration and both have been strident supporters of free trade. All has been to the detriment of most Americans, and the evidence of this mounts with each passing day.
But as the evidence mounts, I have detected some shifts. To their credit, Republicans (at least the right wing of the party) have been a bulwark against illegal immigration and have fought off attempts at “immigration reform,” a euphemism for amnesty and “guest workers.” It’s an example of how voter outrage can trump the influence of coporate lobbyists who would like nothing more than to throw open the borders completely to a storm surge of cheap labor. More recently, even the Democrats seem to see the wisdom of insisting upon enforcement and controlling the border before any new immigration initiatives can be considered. Unfortunately, both parties still favor extremely high rates of legal immigration. So, at this point, it’s difficult to see any real difference between McCain and Obama on this issue.
When it comes to trade policy, however, the difference is night and day. On June 10th, in a speech before the National Federation of Independent Business, McCain said the following:
When new trading partners can sell in our market, and American companies can sell in theirs, the gains are great and lasting. The strength of the American economy offers a better life to every society we trade with, and the good comes back to us in many ways — in better jobs, higher wages, and lower prices.
Only someone who is completely out of touch with the economy or someone who has no problem lying to the electorate would dare to suggest to Americans with a straight face that free trade has created “better jobs” and “higher wages.” By contrast, Obama has expressed concern about the effects of free trade and has spoken in favor of inclusion of environmental and labor standards in any new agreements, enforcement of existing agreements, and even renegotiation of NAFTA (the North American Free Trade Agreement).
While none of these actions alone would be sufficient to make significant inroads in reversing our trade deficit, Obama at least demonstrates an understanding of the role our trade policies have had in the demise of our economy. He clearly seems inclined to take meaningful action as needed to restore a balance to our trade equation, unlike McCain who seems to be one more free trade cheerleader, reading from the script of his corporate sponsors. While Obama may not have voiced support for tariffs to address our trade imbalance (perhaps wisely, although they’re clearly needed), he is definitely more inclined than McCain to adopt them.
Back on the subject of immigration, I’m not quite as concerned as perhaps I should be about Obama’s expressed willingness to increase immigration in an effort to unite families (as he has pledged). Since he has also pledged to take up the challenges of climate change and breaking our dependence on foreign oil, I think that he will soon recognize that his immigration goals would have to take a back seat if any meaningful progress is to be made on the climate change and energy issues. He is a very smart man and one doesn’t need a lot of smarts to see that the first step in addressing these problems is shutting off the fuel to the fire – the rampant rates of immigration that are driving population growth, energy consumption and carbon emissions.
I also like his positions on the issues of the Iraq war and fiscal responsibility. America is headed in the wrong direction on too many fronts, and it’s definitely time for a change.
For these reasons I now deem it appropriate to cast my support for Barack Obama.
Perhaps on St. Patty’s Day, after he’s elected president, we can make him an honorary Irish-American and dub him “Brock O’Bomough!”