Sunday, August 12, 2012

Why it is Morally Wrong to Vote for Paul Ryan

I believe that Paul Ryan's political views are deeply immoral. Because of this I will cast my vote against Mitt Romney and his VP this November. I guess this makes me a values voter of a short; albeit a liberal one. 

Of course anyone who knows me or this blog knows that I was always going to vote Obama in 2012. So this post is not really about me, it's about the role that morality does, and should, play in our voting choices.

Many Americans have long held to the troubling position that our personal values and moral concerns should be separated from how we vote and who we vote for. This has never really been the case. If we are honest with ourselves, then we know that we cannot vote against our conscience, against what we think matters. Furthermore, why on earth would we wish do so? Why would we leave our convictions outside the voting booth.

The right wing has understood this for a long time. The left has but slowly and recently become aware of it. But this November the choice of values is sharp and clear.

Mitt Romney has chosen Wisconsin Republican Paul Ryan for his running mate. Ryan is best know as the author of the Ryan Budget. This budget deprives the poor of medicaid and food stamps, the elderly of medicare and social security, and in general cuts funding to all forms of aid for poor and middle class Americans, apparently for the sole purpose of giving more tax cuts to the super wealthy.

As Robert Reich explains,

Ryan’s views are crystallized in the budget he produced for House Republicans last March as chairman of the House Budget committee. That budget would cut $3.3 trillion from low-income programs over the next decade. The biggest cuts would be in Medicaid, which provides healthcare for the nation’s poor – forcing states to drop coverage for an estimated 14 million to 28 million low-income people, according to the non-partisan Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. 
Ryan’s budget would also reduce food stamps for poor families by 17 percent ($135 billion) over the decade, leading to a significant increase in hunger – particularly among children. It would also reduce housing assistance, job training, and Pell grants for college tuition. 
In all, 62 percent of the budget cuts proposed by Ryan would come from low-income programs. 
The Ryan plan would also turn Medicare into vouchers whose value won’t possibly keep up with rising health-care costs – thereby shifting those costs on to seniors.
At the same time, Ryan would provide a substantial tax cut to the very rich – who are already taking home an almost unprecedented share of the nation’s total income. Today’s 400 richest Americans have more wealth than the bottom 150 million of us put together.

We are , then, presented, first and foremost, with a choice of what we want government to be. Should government work to improve the lives of its citizens, to provide for our basic needs, to help build community, to educate, enlighten, and strengthen civil society, or should government be used as a tool to aid and abet the wealthy few as they hoard more and more of the economic pie?

If you appreciate government roads, public parks, libraries, and rules and regulations that protect you from shady business practices, if you think education is a right and that our schools should be well funded, if you think the elderly are entitled to basic health care, and the unemployed and starving help for their basic needs, then you must vote against Paul Ryan.

Ryan sees the government as a tool to be crafted for the good of rich men like himself. If we stand against that, if we really think government ought to be used to help all people and build a strong and healthy society, then we are morally obligated to cast a vote against Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney this election day.

Should someone be inclined to believe Ryan's claim that his goal is to reduce the deficit, the New Yorker Magazine quickly kills that myth:

Ryan was a reliable Republican vote for policies that were key in causing enormous federal budget deficits: sweeping tax cuts, a costly prescription-drug entitlement for Medicare, two wars, the multibillion-dollar bank-bailout legislation known as TARP. In all, five trillion dollars was added to the national debt

In other words, Ryan's budget has nothing to do with reducing the deficit. It would not do so in any case. The best way to reduce the deficit would be large cuts to military spending and big tax hikes on the super wealthy. Ryan directly opposes both. His real goal, therefore, is crystal clear: helping the filthy rick hoard even more wealth.

The role of government, however,  is not the only value forced to the forefront by the Ryan pick.

If we believe that women have the right to determine their own reproductive choices, if we believe that they are fully equal with and entitled to the same dignity as men, then we cannot, in good conscience, vote for Paul Ryan. Mr. Ryan is steadfastly for that set of policies and positions that some call "the war on women." If Ryan had his way employers would be free to refuse women coverage for their birth control on the flimsy and bogus grounds of "religious freedom," and states could force women to have trans-vaginal ultrasounds.

Finally, Paul Ryan is a poster boy for those who refuse to see gays and lesbians as equal to those who are straight. Not only does Ryan oppose same-sex marriage, he opposes allowing gay people to adopt, voted to keep "Don't ask, Don't tell," and refused to support anti-hate crime legislation. Those of us who support our homosexual fellows and their full equal rights and dignity must oppose this man.

There are other issues that are just as morally disturbing: From his "A" NRA rating on guns - which in light of recent shootings in Colorado and in Ryan's home State of Wisconsin, is particularly perverse -, to his desire to arrest women who have abortions; from his desire to repeal "Obama-Care," to his strong support for Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker's destruction of that State's unions, there is scarcely any position held by this Social Darwinist that does not demand that we respond by stating our moral convictions with our vote.

The choice is clear. If you believe government should ensure a fair playing field and a basic standard of living for all, if you believe gay and lesbian people and the love they have for each other should be respected, if you believe that women are human beings with full dignity who have every right to control their reproductive faculties, then you are morally obligated to vote against the Romney/Ryan ticket, and, therefore, to vote for Obama,

If, on the other, hand you are going to vote for Romney and Ryan, then admit to your moral positions. When you vote for them, you vote for a government that exists to make the richer richer at the expense of every one else. A vote for this GOP ticket is a vote that says that women are not really equal to men, that gays and lesbians are sinful and bad, and that people do not have a right to health care, social security, or basic aid when they fall upon hard times.

That is the choice. It is a moral decision.

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GOP Je$us

I really wish I would have thought of something this clever and telling! But alas, I discovered it only recently. Well reading an article on Social Darwinist Romney VP pick Paul Ryan at Mother Jones Magazine, I learned of GOP Je$us. The basic premise of this clever satire is this: what if Jesus were - instead of a non-violent, anti-greed, inclusive preacher - actually like the right wing of the GOP who claim they follow him. I give you, the GOP Je$us and his Tea-Party Gospel, via his Facebook page:

The Me-Attitudes

  • Blessed are the rich, the reign of this world is ours
  • . The rich rule the world, and the rest suffer and die, often in misery. Do not let this be you my brothers! Easier to use your riches to genetically engineer very small camels that can fit through the needle's eye…

  • Blessed are the violent and the invincible, the proud and the powerful, the domineering and oppressive
  • . We can have it all! And let our status of power be the proof that we are deserving of the fruits of the labor of the middle class and poor…

  • Blessed are those who show no mercy.
  •  No mercy to the poor, to women and children, the elderly and the homeless, victims, outcasts, enemies, refugees, the hungry, the undocumented, the unborn, those on death row, those who are different, those we don’t like. And of course, those who happen to be in the way of what we want…

  • Blessed are the warmakers.
  •  Yea I say unto you, if we were not making war, we could not be said to be making much. That is what China is for! Lo, the Lord looked at China and said "Let it be the worlds factory floor," and it was good…


Compare the Me-attitudes of GOP Je$us to the Beatitudes of Jesus of Nazareth, then take a look at the real Jesus' teachings about wealth. The stark contrast between Jesus and the GOP Je$us satire is well done. This brings the heart of the matter home powerfully. One cannot follow the economic philosophy of the right wing and at the same time follow Jesus. The two are irreconcilable and fundamentally opposed.

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