Here we are, with one week to go before the election. Several bloggers that I read regularly have called on the other opinion-spouters in this business to state who they're voting for, so readers can know where they're writing from. Since I talk about the politics of health care and drug industry (in between lab stories and bizarre patents, that is) I think I should go ahead and turn over my cards. The point of a blog is to have an opinion, after all, which opinion is expressed both in what I choose to write about and overtly within the writing itself.
So it shouldn't come as a surprise to regular readers that I will be casting my vote for President Bush next week. I'm not exactly going to be whistling as I walk into the booth, though, because Bush has done several things that would, under other circumstances, be deal-breakers for me. The limits on federal funding for embryonic stem cell research are one example. Since the issue turned into a political football it's been distorted past recognition, but while recognizing that embryonic stem cells are not going to suddenly send people leaping out of wheelchairs, and realizing that private money can (and is) funding such research, I still dislike the limits that the Bush administration has proposed. I understand their reasons, but I disagree with them and I worry about the precedent that they set.
Another problem has been the administration's wobbly attitude toward free trade. I don't like seeing tariffs anywhere on much of anything, so the steel and textile actions of the last few years don't sit well with me. I think that free trade is the closest we come to getting something for nothing in this world, and I worry every time someone messes with it for political advantage. (If I thought that Sen. Kerry would be any better, my decision to vote for Bush would be that much harder.)
Next we come to the nominal subject of this blog, pharmaceutical research. As you'd expect, Sen. Kerry's constant hammering on the drug companies make it next to impossible for me to consider voting for him. His proposals would significantly raise my chances of being tossed out into the street, unable to make a living at my chosen trade. And given the state of the industry, those odds are already quite large enough, thanks. I recognize that some of Kerry's statements are just campaign rhetoric, and that a Republican-controlled Congress would be unlikely to act on many of his plans. But it seems foolhardy to vote for someone on the assumption that he doesn't really mean what he says.
So under other circumstances, I'd be back to my situation in 1992. I was disappointed in Bush(41), did not trust Clinton (remember, I'm from Arkansas), and considered Ross Perot to be dangerously unstable. I took an awful long time in the voting booth, and finally cast a protest vote for the Libertarians, which required a bit of nose-holding even then. Ah, those 1990s. But this much too serious a year for protest votes. It would take a truly un-Libertarian amount of coercion to get me to vote for them this year.
My personal worries are about continued pharmaceutical employment, but the biggest issue in this election is foreign policy. And I simply cannot trust Senator Kerry's instincts in that area. I have disagreements with some of the things that the Bush administration has done and how it's done them, but those are nothing compared to the ones I can see having with a Kerry presidency. I believe that he, as well as many of his supporters, are living with a view of the world that correlates rather weakly with reality. And yes, I well realize that they believe the same thing about people like me.
There you have it. I'm not necessarily trying to bring anyone around to my point of view, since I don't think there's much convincing left to do at this late date. But now you know where I'm coming from, and can adjust your dials accordingly.