Seeing Things From the Other Side

If you look at the polls, about 50 percent of the country want Obama reelected, and about 50 percent want Romney to replace him. Can half of the American people be so grievously wrong?

I have quite a few conservative friends who, believe it or not, intend to vote for Obama this November. In law school, we require that our students be able to argue both sides of a case. That inspired me to try to formulate the strongest cases for Obama’s reelection, and see what the best counter-arguments are from Ricochet.

1. The Economy — Yes, the economy is in bad shape. But the recession, which is the worst since the Great Depression, did not start on Obama’s watch. Continuing the policies of the Bush Administration, Obama took swift action to bolster the financial system and to prevent the collapse of firms that would have provoked a cascade throughout the economy. The worst thing would have been to have done nothing. The trendline is clear — the economy is improving; it is only Obama’s bad luck that the recession was so deep that it has taken three years to climb out of the hole.

2. Obamacare — Yes, Obamacare costs a lot of money and involves a large increase in the size of government. But no one thinks that the health care market works efficiently. The American people certainly do not want to have a free-market approach; they clearly reject efforts to cut back on Medicare and Medicaid. Our system cannot sit halfway between a free market and the government-run systems that most of the rest of the western world uses.

All scarce goods, like health care, must be rationed. Do we allow the markets to ration to it or do we use a different system, because there are certain things about health care (we cannot predict when we will need it or how much we will need; everyone should have access to a minimum amount) that make it imperfectly regulated by supply and demand? Obamacare just moves us toward the same system that our European and Asian peers have long used.

3. Foreign Affairs — The United States has overstretched itself for the last 10 years. We are still the indispensable nation, but we have to align means and ends. Right now, because of the economic crisis, the nation’s means cannot achieve the messianic ends set by the last administration. A realist would argue that the United States should focus on the major industrial regions of the world (Asia and Europe) by allying with different states to maintain a balance of power, and keep its hegemony in its own region (the Western Hemisphere). In the Middle East, which is important for its oil, we should husband resources by allowing our allies to do the heavy lifting.

Oh, and if he hasn’t repeated it enough — Obama got Osama.