It’s been a long and sometimes grueling process, one that has caused even the most enthusiastic of politifiles (yes, I just made that up) to want to tear their hair out. But today it all comes to an end (we hope). The 2012 election, which really started more than a year-and-a-half ago, culminates tonight with the official vote tallies to determine who our national and local leaders will be; who will be our next president, our next members of Congress, and who will be San Diego’s next mayor.
Not to sound melodramatic, but it’s a battle for the very soul of our country and our city. This election in almost every way represents a choice between two very different visions of our future. Here are some final thoughts on the presidential election and two of the most important local races.
President of the United States: Mitt Romney vs. Barack Obama
On the one hand we have a candidate about whom the Washington Post editorial board opened their editorial last week saying “Through all the flip-flops, there has been one consistency in the campaign of Republican Presidential nominee, Mitt Romney: a contempt for the electorate.” (Emphasis added)
Mitt Romney has repeatedly, deliberately, and unashamedly lied to American voters throughout his campaign. He lied about his position on the auto industry bailout, and he lied and said that President Obama did exactly what he instructed he should do. Romney said the private sector should have bailed GM and Chrysler out, not the federal government, ignoring the fact that there was no private sector money—none—and without government intervention the two auto makers would have disappeared.
Most recently he lied about Chrysler shipping jobs from Ohio to China. Lied, and was called out on it by both Chrysler and GM (who had no dog in the fight), and yet continued to try to mislead voters in Ohio who surely know better.
He’s lied about Obama’s record, repeatedly and unashamedly. He excoriated Obama for going on an “apology tour” throughout the Middle East, a claim that is simply ridiculous on its face. He has lied and said that Obama has been no friend to Israel. That comes as news to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, whose editorial board plainly and matter of factly said that “Obama is good for Israel.” Benjamin Netanyahu must not have gotten that memo.
Romney won’t tell us exactly how his tax plan works. Just trust me, he says. He won’t provide any of the details of his plan because he said he didn’t want Democrats to be able to use them against him. Trust me, he says. He’ll tell us after the election. But when confronted by the non-partisan Tax Policy Center who discovered that it was simply not possible to close enough loopholes to make his plan work without raising taxes on the middle class, he decried that organization as overly partisan. He then pointed to six “studies” that supported him. Only those “studies” were a handful of blog posts and a Wall St. Journal op-ed, including one that sort of made Romney’s plan work, but only after completely redefining what constitutes the middle class.
Romney lambasted Obama for planning to withdraw troops from Afghanistan by 2014, and then said he would follow the exact same plan. He also seems bound and determined to begin a war with Iran.
Romney touted the health care plan he instituted in Massachusetts as a model for the nation, then ran away from it as far and as fast as he could. He lied and said that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) cuts Medicare. It doesn’t, and has actually increased Medicare benefits to seniors. He lied and said that the Obama administration got rid of work requirements in welfare, earning a “Pants on Fire” rating from even the right leaning Politifact.
Romney lied and said that Obama didn’t sign any free trade agreements, but he must have missed the free trade agreements signed with Columbia, Panama, and South Korea. The lies continue on and on and on. He says one thing in private in front of fellow plutocrats, telling wealthy campaign donors that 47% of Americans “will never take personal responsibility and care for their lives,” so why should he care about them? He then turns around and insists that “I care about the 100 percent.” Which Mitt Romney should we believe?
The first thing President Obama did when he took office was sign the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, guaranteeing equal pay for equal work. Mitt Romney does not support it and would not have signed it. Or maybe he would have. He won’t say. Barack Obama ended DOMA, Romney would reinstate it. Barack Obama ended “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” in the military. Mitt Romney wants it reinstated. Barack Obama is for the DREAM Act and for comprehensive immigration reform. Mitt Romney is for “self deportation.”
Obama acted to reform the federal student loan program, making college more affordable for everyone. Mitt Romney believes that student loans should only be made available through the big banks and at a considerable extra cost, putting a college education out of reach for millions. Obama believes in a middle out strategy to building our economy, while Romney is utterly and completely devout to trickle down economics.
Obama is pro-choice. Romney was pro-choice before he was anti-abortion.
One candidate—Mitt Romney—has been fundamentally dishonest with the American people throughout his entire campaign for President. President Obama has done nothing but level with us. We have no idea what kind of President Romney would be because his positions change with the wind. He has no principles; he has no core. He cannot be trusted.
We know exactly what kind of President Barack Obama is: A very, very good one.
52nd Congressional District: Brian Bilbray vs. Scott Peters
Should Brian Bilbray be re-elected because he supports cancer research? Scott Peters supports cancer research too, but Peters hasn’t voted to kill funding that makes that research possible.
By now you’ve all seen the ads, one in particular where Bilbray’s daughter, Briana, implores San Diegans to vote for her dad because of the work he’s done supporting cancer research. She seems like a very lovely girl, and her plight is absolutely heartbreaking. If your heart doesn’t sink when she tells the camera that she has terminal cancer, then you’re not human. And I think it’s safe to say that we all—each and every one of us—hope and pray that she somehow manages to beat her disease.
But the truth is she’s one of the fortunate ones. Because of her father, because of who he is and the healthcare plan he’s afforded as a member of Congress, she’s had access to a level of care that most Americans can only dream of. Tragically it may not save her life in the end, but it’s given her a chance that millions of others would never have.
One would think that because of how personally the issue of health care has struck Mr. Bilbray, he of all people would understand how important access is; that healthcare has become more of a luxury than a right in this country. One would think that he would be a staunch supporter of Obamacare, a revamping of our healthcare system that provides access to health coverage to 30 million Americans that otherwise wouldn’t have it.
Briana Bilbray is 25 years old. Under the old system before Obamacare became law, she would not be eligible to be covered under her father’s health plan. What would she have done then? What if he weren’t a member of Congress guaranteed health care for life, and he lost that plan along with his job just like millions of others have? How would he pay for his daughter’s care then? What chance would she have then?
Instead, Mr. Bilbray has voted 33 times to repeal Obamacare and return his own daughter’s fate into the hands of the insurance companies who make healthcare decisions based on their own bottom line. How long would it have taken before she was kicked off of his health plan because she’s cost the carrier too much money? That was our system before Obamacare; that was how healthcare decisions were made. The Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) made that illegal (it was already immoral).
Brian Bilbray has also voted (twice) to turn Medicare into a voucher program for those of us under the age of 55, and he supports privatizing Social Security. And that’s the difference between Scott Peters and Brian Bilbray: it’s the difference between “you’re on your own” policies and a “we’re all in this together” ideology. We’re not all of us exceptionally well off, and we don’t all of us have the resources to spend our golden years in care free bliss without worries about how the electric bill is going to get paid or how the doctor and prescription medications are going to be paid for.
Scott Peters wants to make sure that we all have access to the same kind of care that Briana Bilbray has had. By Brian Bilbray’s reckoning, he has his, and if you don’t have yours it’s your problem. Those are the policies he’s explicitly supported. That’s not supposition. That’s recorded, historical fact.
That kind of hypocrisy should be enough to push this election in Peters’ direction.
Mayor of San Diego: Carl DeMaio vs. Bob Filner
It’s really simple: One candidate wants to turn the wheel over to the private, moneyed interests, the other wants government and the elected representatives who run it to work for the people who sent them there in the first place.
If you thought Mitt Romney was the “King of Outsourcing,” just wait ‘til Carl DeMaio gets his hands on the mayor’s office. DeMaio made his millions teaching government agencies how to privatize, and then started a separate business teaching private contractors how to rake in their own millions off of that privatization. In Carl DeMaio’s world, the private sector is always better than the public sector, and government services should be contracted out to the lowest bidder. Managed competition is one thing, but what happens when the playing field gets tilted heavily in favor of the private sector? Who gets held accountable when the services provided are grossly inadequate? The contractors are getting paid regardless. At least an agency run by a governing body is directly accountable to the taxpayers.
And then comes the recent revelations uncovered by KPBS’ I-Newsource Investigations. It appears that Doug Manchester, the billionaire developer and new owner of the UT-San Diego, has a vested, personal financial interested in seeing DeMaio elected Mayor.
Long story short, it appears that Mr. DeMaio has been having an ongoing series of secret meetings with Manchester, transparency be damned. Manchester has been DeMaio’s biggest benefactor since he moved here from Washington, D.C., 10 years ago.
As of last March, the Mayor of San Diego is afforded unprecedented powers to award city contracts to private contractors of up to $30 million. And then comes the revelations that DeMaio is quietly working to move City Hall into a proposed waterfront project at the Navy Broadway complex, a $1.2 billion development project owned by none other than Doug Manchester. Manchester needs tenants for his massive project, and has floated the idea of renting that space to San Diego for use as its new City Hall to replace the 50 year old building on C St. that is literally falling apart. Getting the city to commit would attract new investors, taking some of the financial pressure off of Manchester.
Jerry Sanders had a plan to build a new City Hall, which would save the city tens of millions of dollars over the next 20 years. That plan got backburnered when Sanders decided he couldn’t raise enough money to put the matter on the ballot and promote it to the voters, according to a KPBS report.
Carl DeMaio was the biggest opponent of the new City Hall project. And not coincidentally, DeMaio included the Navy Broadway complex in his 86 page “Pathway to Prosperity” as an important part of San Diego’s future economic development.
According to that same KPBS report on the Navy Broadway complex, DeMaio said that he opposes the new City Hall because “it’s not the right priority for San Diego.” He said he wants to downsize city government and renegotiate the current leases the city has spread all over the Downtown area.
But at a meeting in July of the Downtown Business Partnership attended by DeMaio and fellow city councilmember Todd Gloria, DeMaio told the gathering that the city should consider relocating to Manchester’s Navy Broadway development once it’s finished.
This is who Carl DeMaio is. Like Mitt Romney, he constantly talks out of both sides of his mouth. And Doug Manchester has a direct financial interest in seeing Carl DeMaio elected, since he’d be pulling the strings. It’s all very sordid and convoluted, but the bottom line is that Carl DeMaio’s idea of public service is promoting the financial interests of his backers at the public’s expense.
Today’s election will shape the future of our city and our country for decades to come. Every vote counts. So whoever you decide to support, please, just vote!
Follow Andy on Twitter at @AndyCohenSD