Archive for October, 2012

I don’t usually talk politics in this space, and may not ever do so again – who knows? But after voting today, and after watching what’s been going on for the last year or more, I felt like I had to collect my thoughts and record them. Let the heated responses commence!

Just got back from voting.

I promised myself that I wasn’t going to go off on any more political rants, and I’m just as ready as the rest of you for this whole drawn out process to be over, but coming home from the polls all I kept thinking about was this:

“How can so many of my friends, FB and others, most of whom I’ve known, loved and respected for years, be so strongly – sometimes militantly so – for Romney?”

These are people that I’ve worked and played with, and who are in all other respects very intelligent and responsible people, and I just don’t understand how they can’t or won’t see what has been patently obvious to me for years:

Mitt Romney doesn’t care about you. Or “us.” Or anyone except his own family and (maybe) the other 1%-r’s.

I don’t think he’s evil, or that he has a plan to ruin the US, or that he’d ever do so intentionally. But I do believe that there’s never been anyone as out of touch with America and its ideals in the history of our politics as Mitt Romney.

I can only claim membership in one of these demographics, but I am baffled that any of them would even consider voting Romney:

  • Women – of any age, race, or socio-economic status. Maybe neither Romney nor Ryan have themselves said anything outright about the definition of rape or how the female body works, like the handful of ignorant men in their party have felt the need to do, but they (and the tea baggers, Republicans and the rest of the Right) still support those ignoramuses. In some cases, Romney/Ryan still endorses them for re-election. There could not be a more personal, more private topic than the reproductive rights of women, and making such decisions – and acknowledging the consequences as those women understand and believe them to be – is the sole responsibility of the woman affected by them. Any woman anywhere voting to give that power to anyone else – especially to a group like the GOP / Tea Party – astounds me.
  • Christians (of any denomination except Mormonism) – when did it become OK for what is known to be a weird, cultish group like the Mormons to have a representative in the highest office in the land? This is a group who believes that God lives on a planet called Kolob, itself a planet that was discovered by prophets who bound two magic “seer stones” into a pair of spectacles. That’s only one of a long series of extremely strange beliefs espoused by the Mormons and their founders. (Magic underwear anyone?) So how does the far Right, the Tea Party, the evangelical Christian parties, all go from condemning things like idol worship and cult activity to embracing such ideology, or to at least tolerating it? Part of me thinks it’s more a case of “well, anyone would be better than the current President…” but that’s another whole debate and article. I know if that sort of thing were as important to me as it appears to have always been for the Christian Right, I wouldn’t consider Romney or the Mormons for any powerful political office at all.
  • Older Americans – say what you want about Obamacare, if one of the “first things” Romney and Ryan want to do if elected is to dismantle it, Medicare and Medicaid are going away. (I, for one, don’t mind paying a little more as a percentage than I used to if it means more people have medical coverage than did before.) There’s no math in the universe that allows for any of Romney’s fiscal plans to work without raising taxes and/or making deep cuts, and the likelihood that any of those cuts will be from the military is as small as the overall percentage of the budget represented by PBS. If any of the so-called 1% – if even .001% of them – paid the tiniest fraction more in taxes than they’re paying now or have paid in the last decade or so, many of these problems would begin fixing themselves (and the 1% would never even feel that slight increase.) Under Romney that will never, ever happen.
  • Minorities – not much to say here, and I honestly don’t believe there are many Romney supporters in these groups. But I’ve seen a few shills coming out in support of them, or in opposition to the Dems, and even when I know it’s staged it’s baffling to me.
  • Working Class / Middle Class – see above re: taxes and spending.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg for me on why a Romney presidency would be disastrous for the country. Here are a few more reasons:

Given a handful of opportunities to show us how he’d handle foreign affairs, Romney has muffed each one magnificently. Not only has he blown it in every case, it’s been obvious that he didn’t realize at the time that he’d done anything wrong. That’s because he treats other world leaders and representatives like he treats everyone else, including us: as underlings. And everyone else is, in his mind, beneath him. So he treats those foreign leaders and their representatives like his employees – he talks down to them and doesn’t for a second consider how his words may be (mis)interpreted. He has no diplomatic skills, and doesn’t understand why that is, so he will never get better and will never come across as sincere to any of them.

Taking a “tough stance” with the rest of the world, a la George W, is not the answer to our or the world’s problems, in the Middle East or anywhere else. It’s true, we can’t appear weak in anyone’s eyes, but that doesn’t mean those are the only two choices. W frittered away nearly 60 years of international good will in his relatively short time in office; from the end of WWII to the beginning of his term the majority of the rest of the world held the US in high regard, and would by and large listen to what we recommended and would follow our lead. After Bush and his cabal ran roughshod over everyone – again, us included – it will take decades to win back much of that good will. The so-called “apology tour,” which really didn’t happen, needs to happen but not with “apology” as the sole reason for such a tour. Other countries need to see and to believe that we’re not the blustering bully on the block, and that (as Bush seemed to intimate often) “if you’re not for us your against us, and woe be to you if you’re against us.” Arguing from that position makes us what we can no longer afford to be: the world’s traffic cop, and the ones that “have to” go in and use military force to settle arguments anywhere and everywhere.

The two wars that began under Bush and that have claimed thousands of lives and untold trillions of dollars are the main reason that the economy has struggled and continues to struggle. We can’t afford – in lives or in dollars – to spin up a couple of more. Romney’s saber rattling over Iran, Syria, Pakistan and anywhere else scares me as much as any of his domestic plans do, if not more.

What it all comes down to for me is this: who do I believe? Who is more sincere when they say that their plan, what they want more than anything, is to make life better for as many Americans as possible?

It’s not Romney.

The simpering, pandering tilt of the head and the softer vocal delivery changes of the last few months couldn’t be more insulting. Someone obviously told him he wasn’t coming across as warm and friendly and believable, and that’s as close as he can get to showing any of those traits. And it’s one thing to change your mind or your position on something because you’ve seen new information or you have actually changed your mind. But in every instance of Romney changing his stance on key issues like abortion and health care and taxes and almost anything else on the agenda, it’s been glaringly obvious that he’s done it only to try to convince more people to vote for him, not because it’s what he (now) believes.

I don’t believe anything he or his running mate say, and what’s more, in most cases I no longer believe that they believe it themselves. They do believe that the majority of us are too uninformed or unaware to notice their insincerity and misdirection.

Romney moves in circles that most of us never see, even in all of the over-glammed TV shows and movies that portray the super-rich lifestyle. We’ll never come close to that rarefied air, and he can’t relate to anyone that doesn’t breathe it regularly. He never will. From hearing him talk about the hobby horse his wife keeps for dressage competitions, to hearing him when he meets an unusually tall person on the campaign trail (“Wow! You’re really tall! I’ll bet you went in for sport!” Who talks like that??) he is not one of us. He can’t and never will be, and for him to pretend otherwise or that he has our interests as his first priority is demeaning.

I know the other side plays the game, too, and that the election (or re-election) toolbox is full of things employed by both sides. Spin will always be spin, and staged events and Q&A will always be present. I know that we have many other, deeper problems with our government like the preponderance of lobbyists, the ineffectiveness of Congress (its glee at foiling the other side, no matter what may be best for the country; its near constant state of campaigning; its omnipresent promise of “campaign reform,” which is like asking the foxes how many of them should guard the chicken coop; and on and on and on), and the absurdity of rulings like Citizens United, allowing unlimited and unaccountable funding for anyone who can afford to set up a PAC, “spooky” or otherwise (I’m looking at you, Rove.) Even having the most-watched news channel consist not of news, but of one person’s and one parties’ opinions, for all intents and purposes being GOP Campaign Headquarters, and passing that off as factual, as News. All of these things have to change or else.

For over 235 years we’ve had the best, strongest and most elastic form of government the world has ever seen, and I fully expect it to continue no matter who is elected. I said earlier that a Romney presidency would be “disastrous” and I believe that. But it won’t be the end for the US. I believe that any economic recovery that we’ve seen recently will evaporate, that we’ll become embroiled in more world conflict if not outright war, and that the gap between the ultra-wealthy and the rest of us – greater now than it’s ever been in history – will only widen if Romney is president. But we’ll survive.

I also believe that the only chance we have of a speedier recovery, a more collaborative relationship with rational and cooperative world partners, and a more productive and better-off middle class – and a better chance at a decent future for our kids, and their kids, in perpetuity – is to make sure Obama is elected.

Obama has done, and not done, plenty of things I haven’t agreed with over the last four years. But I’ve seen more that I do believe in, and more that gives me hope for our future – all of our futures – than I’ve ever seen in any plan of Romney or Ryan.

I like that Obama has been able to activate and motivate the younger voters across the country, and I’m very proud of the fact that my 20 year old daughter and her friends are taking a vigorous part in the process, from attending speeches to watching the debates to getting active in their communities to actually getting out and voting.

I hate to vote in opposition of something or someone instead of voting FOR something or someone, and I know that’s one of the positions that’s causing many to vote for a Romney ticket. It’s been a long time since we’ve had a candidate that I wanted to vote for rather than ensuring that the “bad guys,” whoever they may be at the time, don’t get in.

Contrary to what much of this essay implies, this is the first time I can remember where I’ve felt like I could vote FOR someone and not against someone else, and that’s why – at almost 50 years of age – I voted today. For the first time.

I will still “like” all of my friends and family and co-workers (though I will continue NOT to “like” the Romney, Ryan, Tea Party or other Right Wing stuff that appears from them on my FB timeline so frequently these days) no matter what happens in the election. But I will likely never understand how they can support and vote for Romney and most of the other GOP policies.

Good luck, Mr. President. You got my vote. Please don’t waste it.