WhyBike Motorcycle Blog

Who should bikers vote for?

By James - 8/6/2008

While Obama has been attracting large audiences to see him talk, McCain this week decided to go to where the crowds are. His recent stop in Sturgis, South Dakota, during the Black Hills Classic motorcycle rally, made me wonder which nominee is best, strictly on biker issues.

Gas prices
With Obama’s recent reversal of his opposition to offshore drilling for petroleum and the possibility of tapping the strategic oil reserve, there is not a lot of difference between the overarching principles of each man’s energy policies. When you dig deeper you see that McCain is in favor of suspending the gas tax which can bring temporary relief to the cost of gas, although how that would affect the condition of our roads is less than desirable. It is also questionable whether gas prices would decline since they are market driven, and not based on the costs associated with production. If that was true gasoline in the Bay Area should be the cheapest in the nation with the close proximity of the Richmond refineries. Unfortunately we have some of the most expensive gas in the country. Obama is in favor of a windfall profits tax on oil companies. The legislation would include safeguards to prevent passing the tax on to consumers, although I am sure the oil companies can find ways around this. McCain wins this battle. McCain 1 – Obama 0

McCain and Obama on a motorcycle
Which candidate is better for bikers?
Emission regulations
Obama has hard numbers on record; an 80% reduction of carbon emissions by 2050 and CAFE standards that raise the average gas mileage for cars and trucks. McCain wants to reduce carbon emissions – but has a softer commitment – and possibly eliminate CAFE standards if a cap and trade system is implemented. CAFE standards are not that applicable to motorcycles, we get great mileage already but by restricting emissions manufacturers of motorcycles will have to build cleaner bikes. This could increase the purchase price of a motorcycle – by requiring catalytic converters and charcoal canisters – from $50 - $300. Another win for McCain. McCain 2 – Obama 0

Helmet laws
Both home states of each senator have lax helmet laws. Illinois has no helmet law and Arizona only requires helmets for persons under 18 years old. I have been unable to find voting records on matters of helmet laws for either lawmaker so this one is a push. McCain 2 – Obama 0

While McCain trumps Obama on motorcycle related issues, the scoring was based on the probability of raising the price of enjoying the freedom of the open road on our motorcycles. While these costs are not significant to me – an extra $300 on a new motorcycle and an extra $10 per tank – they are a measurable and can be a burden to many Americans. What we are unable to quantify is how much clean air is worth. How much has the quest for cheap oil cost us in defense funding and the lives of servicemen and women? How much will climate change cost us and our children? These are costs that we should also take into consideration before we vote. Oh yeah, and remember to keep your tires properly inflated for fuel savings and safety!



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  1. I guess I just don’t see the world the same way you do. On the issue of gas prices, we both know that Republicans are bought-and-paid-for by oil companies in specific and corporations in general … so if you think a Republican is going to bite the oil-company hand that feeds him, you’re nuts. For me, this issue is Obama 2, McCain 0. On the issue of fuel efficiency, well, one of the reasons I ride a bike is because it’s more efficient than a car. I’m retired Army, and I don’t like knowing that our soldiers are dying for foreign oil. Again, on this issue, Obama 2, McCain 0. Then there’s the final issue of helmet laws. I honestly don’t know anything about either candidate’s position on that topic – so I’ll score them both at zero.

    I liked your discussion about the “intangibles", though – clean air, the lives of servicemen overseas, etc. I honestly believe McCain will bring us more of the same. Because of his inexperience, Obama represents a risk, but as riders we understand risk – every time we get on a bike we take risks. This is a risk worth taking. After all, it’s about our freedom.

    Comment by Roger — 8/9/2008 @ 7:03 pm

  2. Roger,

    From one ex-Army to another… I guess you learned the Army way of critical thinking.

    First, and least important, the 1-0, 2-0, etc. was a running total. You got two 2-0’s in a row because nobody scored on the helmet issue… get it?

    Now, as for the issues: Let’s suspend our respective realities for a moment and make the assumption that the Republican party is uhhh… “bought-and-paid-for by oil companies in specific and corporations in general". Okay, now explain why that makes a new and targeted (read: unconstitutional) tax a good idea. Betchya can’t do it.

    Next, I’m sorry that you “know” that our soldiers are dying for foreign oil. I “know” no such thing. For ex-Army, I’m sorry to to see you cheapen their efforts to such an extent. Finally, if we suspend reality and assume for a moment that they ARE dying for foreign oil…. they would not have to if we had enough domestic oil for our energy demands. Domestic oil to which your Democrat heroes have blocked access for 30 years. Now who is to blame for all those deaths?

    I sure hope you were a standout soldier, because your political thinking is no better than most of those poltroons in the two houses of Congress.

    Comment by Paul — 8/11/2008 @ 8:47 am

  3. I agree 100% with Paul. Being a retired Army Chaplain and an avid biker of 45 years I’ve seen my share of politicians “doing the right thing” for everyone. The availability of gas was questioned in 1975 and the lines at the pump just boosted the greed in the oil companies. Congress attempted to “control” the price but as you know they (price) just went up.
    Being a Vietnam veteran, I can vouch for the “resource management” theory of leadership displayed by most politicians. The individual soldier is a “resource” in some military leaders’ minds and in the Congress. Hate to say it but oil is a minor concern when it comes to the Mid East. Corporate concerns are the cash cows over there. McDonalds, Pepsi, etc. Not to discount the construction contracts. As a soldier I was “in country” to defend the weak, and to develop a safer environment so that the natives could develop a governmental system of more liberty and OUR government could meet it’s objectives.
    More realistically speaking I was “over there” protecting and backing up my “buddies".
    Whether or not the ulterior motive of our Congress is to “get oil” is moot. I don’t question motives of low lives and pit vipers.

    Comment by Chappy — 8/11/2008 @ 5:29 pm

  4. As a longtime motorcycle rider I believe in preserving our freedom that so many have fought and died for. McCane and the Republicans don’t respect the Constitution. They’ve ignored basic freedoms and liberties guaranteed in the Constitution like the right of habeus corpus and the right to be protected from search and seizure. Obama and the Democrats support and believe in the Constitution. Republicans only appear to want to cut taxes for the rich, provide windfall tax breaks and public welfare for oil companies and other large corporations, and rape our environment for personal gain. I am opposed to those Republican programs.

    Comment by AuthorEditor — 8/13/2008 @ 10:20 am

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