10/28/2002

 

Why I generally vote Democratic

 

The election is just a little over a week away. If you read my columns you wonít be surprised that I tend to vote Democratic. Actually I would have voted for Ralph Nader because I believe his message is true, but I anticipated the effect his candidacy, and his experience, while valuable, doesnít fit the job.

 

But to those of you who are divided about who to vote for, and for those who scratch their head about why people vote Democratic, it doesnít hurt to review the reasons.

 

For one thing, for working people, Democrats are the logical choice. It is usually they who are more supportive of a whole range of related issues. On tax issues they tend to favor a rate curve that gives working people more of a break. On corporate welfare they tend to be more reluctant to give mega-industries your hard earned money. On a whole range of consumer issues they tend to side with consumers, whether itís how aggressively meat plants are inspected, or how much truth in food labeling is required, or how cautious the government is in allowing use of insecticides with questionable health effects.

 

Of course we can find lots of good and bad examples of policy from both major parties. Iím talking about the effects on balance here.

 

On issues directly related to work Democrats are more worker friendly. For instance the length of unemployment benefits when the economy turns down and hard working people need a way to hang on while they rebuild their lives, and most of the push for benefits such as the portability of health insurance between jobs.

 

Anything one does in life has a trade-off. Some regulations can become burdensome. So the thing to do is fine tune them and make them work, not throw them out and, say, let some industry off the hook on pollution. Some things require tax money, but most of these things we end up paying for one way or another anyway.

 

For instance, if we donít find ways to make housing affordable we end up with more people on the street. They get sick and, since they canít afford a doctor, go to the emergency room. Since we havenít bitten the bullet of universal health-care yet the county hospitals have to absorb these emergency room visits, pass the cost on to insurers, and all of our rates go up.

 

At least when these things are dealt with in a relatively coherent way, through housing and health-care programs, the expenses can be better managed. They can also then be paid for by taxes collected on a progressive curve, instead of by expenses we all get hit with (like higher insurance rates) which are harder for middle and lower income people to absorb, and which end up being a regressive way of paying for these things.

 

This preference for a progressive tax system (the greater your income the higher a percentage you pay) is not self-serving. There are plenty of Democrats in both upper and lower incomes. I suppose my computer work puts me a little above average, and my taxes reflect that. Thatís as it should be.

 

On the other hand conservative politicians, even when well intentioned and thinking that pro-corporate policies will create jobs, are all too quick to support corporate-driven legislation that ends up, in practice, to be corporate welfare, or tax loop-holes, or the thousand and one other little bureaucratic advantages that those who can afford corporate lobbyists can get, most of which somehow or other end up being paid for by average working folk.

 

Of course there are always exceptions to any voting pattern. Sometimes the candidate from another party is just much better qualified. But in general, working people, the environment, and a host of other issues would be better off under Democratic policies.