This week has been busier than I thought (with law school and what-not), so I’m a bit behind, but as promised, I’m going to explain why I’m still undecided, as viewed through the lens of social, economic and foreign policy. I’ve got an outline due in a few hours, so I’ll start with a relatively easy one – social policy.
Purely from the standpoint of “Who do you agree with?” on social policy, I prefer President Obama pretty much hands down. On issues like gay marriage, abortion, drug policy, etc., I think the government has no place. People should be allowed to do what they want with and to their own bodies, as long as it doesn’t interfere with other people’s rights.
With that said, mere agreement is not neccesarily enough to sway my vote. The President doesn’t, and in my view shouldn’t, have that much to do with policy in those matters (with one notable exception). Overturning DOMA* will take either an act of Congress or a ruling from the Supreme Court. The vast majority of social policy is dictated either by the States or by the Congress through legislation.
I will, however, give the President a lot of credit for the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell – that was a law that was both stupid from a standpoint of military policy and unjust from a standpoint of equal rights, and the repeal was long past due. While Congress actually instituted the ban, clearly the support of the President and the SECDEF was crucial in its passage – the bully pulpit is still alive and well.
For the most part, thought, the President’s social views really only comes in through judicial nominations – and I’m not convinced that an un-elected judiciary is the best place to be making policy like that. I’m still new on law school, so have not landed firmly in a “textualist” “originalist” or “living Constitution” camp, but my inclination is that the words of laws should be more than wind – judges should be not allowed to substitute their own judgment for the legislature, except where the law passed is clearly in violation of higher law (Federal, Constitution, etc.)
So social policy comes down for Obama, but I’m not quite sure exactly how much weight to give it. I had a lengthy debate with the Elder Fox about economic policy yesterday, and my views on that aren’t nearly so definite, so hopefully I’ll have a post up about that a little later today.