Thursday, October 30, 2008

Why I'll Be Voting Obama

With things getting so busy starting this weekend, I wanted to take some time to state why I'm voting for the people I'm voting for. I had dinner with friends on Monday, and it darn near turned into a screaming match in the restaurant. I found the whole thing very stressful--I'm not quick on my feet when it comes to saying what I think. I need time to form sentences and think intelligent thoughts, and after I got home, I was so pissed off with myself for the things I could have said or should have said, things I meant but didn't clearly say. I will be so glad when the elections are over--I'm tired of life revolving around politics. I don't know if it's because I live in the DC area or if it's just because our nation has become so polarized, but all of it adds up to the votes I'll be casting.

First, the issues that are important to me:

1. The economy. I am still seething over the bail out that was passed, something that both major presidential candidates voted to support. I was thinking about it the other day, and as late as this spring, my husband and I were out purchasing new furniture, a nice lawn furniture set, etc. I would no sooner think of doing that now than I would of buying a new car. After a long summer of soaring gas prices and the price of food being stratospheric, we are at a point with our budget that I'm clipping coupons and not leaving the house unless absolutely necessary. And yet, these tycoons who cried for a bailout are taking vacations and holidays and huge bonuses. And no one is doing anything about any of it. The Democrats really let us down when, after taking control of Congress 2 years ago, they failed to act to do anything, and I mean anything, to get to the bottom of the oil prices. And Exxon is reporting record profits yet again.

I want a tax cut. After visiting the TaxCutFacts.org site, I discovered that Obama's tax plan will save my husband and I approximately $1800 as things stand right now with no dependents and a higher income than probably is average. McCain's tax plan will save me $60 after I quit my job and have a baby at home. In order to save a meager $60, I have to drop my income by over $40,000 and add another mouth to feed. For Obama's plan, I can keep on working, not worry about whether or not we get a baby this year or next year or the year after, and still save almost $2K. It's a no brainer. Each year, we pour our tax return back into the economy by doing fix-it-up projects on our house. Next year will be a debate--new doors, new floors, new exterior paint and shutters? Or will we just save it, just in case?

But even if I don't get a tax cut personally, I do think the Bush tax cuts should be repealed and businesses should start paying their fair share. I think there should be a penalty on businesses who ship jobs overseas and tax credits to those who create jobs here at home. We need to stimulate the heck out of our economy, and giving money back to the middle class while making it attractive for businesses to remain in the US seems a sensible way to do it.

2. Health Care. The mass hysteria on the right about so-called socialized medicine in this country infuriates the living crap out of me. I have spoken with a huge number of people outside of the US who live in countries where there is centralized health care FREE OF CHARGE to all citizens and they would not give it up for the world. They absolutely love free access to doctors and treatment when they need it. They love not having to worry about a bill and how they're going to afford to pay off their bills when they are done getting the treatment they need.

For some people in this country, yes, there are ways to play the system and figure it out and manage to get a drastic reduction in health care costs. But why should we have to? Why should we have to play a system for access to what should be a basic human right, a right that is guaranteed to all of us in the immortal writings of our founding fathers in the Declaration of Independence: Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. It's kind of hard to have much life when you have a potentially fatal disease and no health care coverage.

I have top-of-the-line health insurance with a top company, paid for through my husband's employer. However, I have spent out of pocket this year well over $2000 between dental care, physical therapy, my sinus infection in January, prescriptions, co-pays, and other expenses. And the bills keep coming in. I have 6 outstanding bills at the moment: 2 for the dentist, 3 for Quest Diagnostics from my annual physical, and 1 from the orthopedist. And you know what? They all have to wait until the latter half of November before they can find any money from me. I can't spend what I don't have. Other considerations have come first. But I will pay them all off and be done with it shortly. Unfortunately, because of our income, unless we spend something like $3000+ on health care out of pocket, we can't deduct these expenses from our taxes.

This is crazy. We need a health care policy that will pay for people to have top notch care, regardless of their ability to pay. People deserve the right to see a doctor. Long waits? How about 2 years ago, when I sat in a hospital waiting room for 5 SOLID HOURS with my leg broken because the emergency room was overcrowded with people who had nowhere else to go for a basic exam or help with a cough or a cold? Not good for doctors? I'm personally in favor of a system that pays doctors a fair wage regardless of where they live. The people in my hometown have perhaps one doctor. My dad travels 30 miles each way to get to his doctor. Imagine if it didn't matter if you were in a big city or a tiny town. The system could be radically different and radically improved with the right plan.

I fully support nationalized health care, just like I fully support our socialized police and fire departments and public schools.

3. An End to the War in Iraq. There's not much I can really say about this. I firmly believe that the troops need to come home as quickly as possible. I would say they need to come home NOW, but unfortunately, it's not like they can pull up stakes and leave. A phased withdrawal, beginning immediately, however, is something I fully support. Let's face it: Iraq is a mess. We went in and made a bad situation worse. The Sunnis, Shiites, and Kurds all hate each other. There is nothing, no-thing, we can do to force them to get along. There is nothing we can do to force them to have American style democracy. They don't want it.

This war was begun under false pretenses, built on a pack of lies. It distracted us from what our one real and main objective should always have been: nabbing the crap out of Osama Bin Laden--who did attack us. Let's get our guys out of Iraq, let the Iraqis beat the crap out of each other, and then we can go back when the dust settles on the humanitarian mission of rebuilding a country we had no business destroying. In the meantime, we can get our butts back to Afghanistan, find that S.O.B., and take care of business.

And I personally support prosecuting those responsible for starting this illegal war and those who used it to line their own pockets. It is too late for impeachment, but it's not too late for a major investigation into the entire thing and to start holding the administration's feet to the fire and forcing them to answer the tough questions--and if they don't want to talk, they can be prosecuted for contempt of Congress, and any other violation we can get 'em on. Ok, it's all a pipe dream, but it'd be nice if these bastards actually had to own up to ANYTHING. (Nancy Pelosi has been the biggest disappointment to me of any politician in Washington--we all knew what we were getting when we got Bush and Cheney and Company. But I believed in her, and she let us down.)

4. Energy independence. I am well sick of paying for Saudi Arabia's oil. If there is a country on earth I believe should be wiped off the map, it's Saudi Arabia. Their treatment of women is despicable, deplorable, disgusting. And they run around as billionaires with oil and sock it to us, while treating their own citizens deplorably. I wouldn't give money to an organization whose aims I don't agree with, so why should I pay money to a foreign country whose treatment of its women in particular I do not agree with?

There is a windfarm about an hour from my hometown, and I honestly think every time I see it that it's one of the most beautiful sights I've ever seen. I wish there were more windfarms around. I hope that our next leader will lead the way on new energies, especially wind and solar. Obama promises a tax credit to those who drive hybrids. I don't currently, but I might. And I think it's great to have that added incentive to do so.

5. Women's right to choose. I have always been firmly pro-choice and pro-life at the same time. For me, were I ever to be put in that situation, I cannot imagine making the choice to have an abortion. However, far be it from me to tell someone else what she should or should not do. I don't have to live Jane Smith's life. I don't have to live with the decision to have an abortion and the feelings that one has afterwards. I've never known anyone to get an abortion and feel, "All right! Time to party!" There are attendant feelings of guilt, disappointment, anger, sorrow, and more. But none of us has to live raising a child we never wanted because other options weren't available. For obvious reasons, it would be my wish that more women today would choose adoption over abortion. For some, this is just not an option and I accept that as well. I would fight to my dying breath that women have the right to safe abortions versus back alley hack jobs as we saw in the past. And any candidate I vote for must, first and foremost, be pro-choice.

6. Guns and gun control. This year, I will not be voting for our incumbent representative, Rob Wittman, despite the fact that he voted to oppose the bailout twice. Why? Because in the course of storming his office with the John Birch Society, we were able to speak with one of Wittman's people on the phone. His top aide let it slip that Wittman owns no fewer than 22 guns. I cannot in good conscience vote for someone who owns twenty two guns. I mean, seriously, WTH do you need 22 of them for? Who do you think you are? Rambo? Apart from the sheer number, I think there are way too many guns in this country in general, particularly high powered weapons and automatic weapons. I am all for responsible gun owners hunting and for a WELL REGULATED militia, per our Constitution, but no, I don't particularly believe convicted felons, particularly those with a past history of gun violence, deserve to own guns, nor do I think people need to have vast quantities of them, nor do I think they need hollow point bullets to shoot a damned deer or duck. Firearms were meant to be regulated, not used and abused, and it's damned time we got back to a reasonable system for doing so.

7. Illegal immigration. I break from my usual side on this one. I am fully in support of laws which make it very difficult, if not impossible, to remain in this country illegally. I don't believe that anyone has any right to go into any country without following said country's laws and procedures for entering and remaining legally. If I should up and move to Canada or France tomorrow, I think I should have to obey the laws of immigrating there. And I feel the same about immigrants coming here. My own family came through all the legal channels, which were not easy in the early part of the last century. They too took menial jobs, learned the language, and became citizens. While I appreciate that many illegals perform jobs that US citizens would not want to perform, in my view there should be some system of keeping track of these people, giving them adequate time to learn English and learn enough civics to pass the test, and in the meantime allow them to pay taxes on their earnings. And if they cannot do so, then they need to get the heck out and find some other way of supporting themselves and their families. And while we're at it, let's tighten our border security. Those militia men in Arizona may be bastards, but at least they're trying to do SOMETHING to help patrol the borders. This is more than I can say for the federal government.

8. Vice Presidential Picks. Like many women, I suppose, I was temporarily excited by the prospect that a woman had been chosen as McCain's running mate. And then I started to learn about this woman. And she still has me shaking my head. My father probably put it well when he said the other night, "She's a cute little girl who's in way over her head." I do not appreciate the race-baiting she's engaged in. Anyone who thinks the Earth is a mere 6,000 years old is a crackpot. I do not like the fact that she zips around chasing wolves from helicopters till they collapse of fright and exhaustion and then she kills them. (Give the wolf a fighting chance!) I do not like that she preaches her little abstinence-only policy and then her 17 year old gets knocked up. I do not like the fact that her 7 year old was flipping someone the bird (I didn't know what flipping the bird was at age 7.) I do not like that it took her 5 years and 6 colleges to finally earn a college degree. (There's flighty and then there's not even bothering to try.) I do not like that she appeals to the lowest common denominator, so-called "Joe Six Pack". I don't want someone I can have a beer with running this country. I want someone a hell of a lot smarter than me in charge. I do not like that she chides Obama for his "lack of experience" when she has none to speak of herself, but that this fact somehow qualifies her.

I admit, I know very little about Biden other than that he takes the train home from Washington to Delaware every night to be with his family while Congress is in session. I know that he has a ton of experience. I know that during the rally, he was gracious enough to stop and take pictures with people who asked as he walked the handshaking line. And frankly, that's probably all I really need to know about the vice president. The President is the one who should be the story, who should be on the hook for answers. And I like that Biden is allowing Obama to be President.

9. Experience and Demeanor: I got grilled on Monday for stating that I thought Obama had more experience. Let me explain. Of course he does not have more senatorial experience. But he has boots-on-the-ground experience, and I think that counts as much, if not more. Look, anyone can sit in their ivory tower day after day, passing bills, but if you're not in the trenches with the people, how can you possibly understand what people are going through on a day-to-day basis? When one of the candidates isn't sure how many houses he owns and spends more than my husband's and my combined annual salary on househould help, I can't see how he's in touch with what the average American goes through on a day-to-day basis.

Additionally, McCain's temper is notorious. He is hot-headed, curses people out, screams at his wife and calls her nasty names in public, and has alienated many of his colleagues. This is not the type of man I want attempting to build coalitions with our allies when we need them most. As evidenced by Obama's trip around Europe and to Iraq this summer, it's obvious that the rest of the world is enthusiastic about his candidacy and would be willing to work with him. And now, more than ever, I feel like we need the rest of the world to start pulling for us just a little bit.

So, that's where I stand on everything. I will be voting straight Democratic party this year. Had McCain actually won in 2000's primaries and gone on to run against Al Gore, I think I would have had a very difficult time knowing who to vote for--and I'm not entirely sure that I know now who I would have voted for at that time. But this is the wrong time to have McCain in office. We need someone even tempered, passionate, ready to act, ready to reach across the aisle, ready to lead, and ready to serve.

I would like to say that I never was a big Obama supporter until the last couple of months. I did not vote in the primaries, but had I voted, I don't think I would have voted for him. I never heard his 2004 DNC speech until approximately a month ago when my husband sent it to me from YouTube.

And I still wouldn't consider myself a major Obama supporter. I don't have any stickers on my car, nor do I have a sign on my front lawn. But when looking at the alternative, Obama is the clear choice for a change in this bad direction we're heading. He may not have all the answers, but of the candidates, I do think he has the best ideas and hope he'll be able to implement them.

If you are undecided or considering voting for a 3rd party candidate, please consider voting for Obama. I can understand a lot of reasons why people wouldn't want to vote for either candidate, and the other night I said, "Hell, I think we should outright abolish the 2 party system", but this year, I do think it's important to take a stand. If you live in a battleground state, in a state where your one vote could really make the difference in how your state shifts, please considering voting for Obama-Biden. If you and your spouse can't decide, vote one each. Do something, anything, that will truly help shape the future of this once-great nation.

The big questions the candidates are asking are 1) are you better off now than you were 8 years ago? and 2) do you think you will be better off in 4 years if you vote for me?

I happen to think this country is worse off. I happen to believe that we are a much more fractious people than we were--and that this is ultimately Bush's legacy: division. Everyone seems to be arguing over something--Prop 8 in California, evolution, the war, the left, the right, passing blame on who's responsible for the decline of the economy, the foul up with Katrina, the debacle in Iraq, the bailout, everything I've mentioned above... I was speaking with my brother-in-law by phone this evening and asked him whether this was a DC thing or a nation-wide thing in his opinion, and he has been reading up on this very topic. The general consensus seems to be that the US is basically fractured, battle lines have been drawn, and everyone is stressed out and strung up tight.

I really hate to think where this country could be in 2012 if McCain is elected and we have to endure another 4 or 8 years of this type of headbutting. I can't see a good outcome for myself, my family, my friends, or my nation. I'm removing myself from the equation. I can't stand another dinner ruined by arguing politics. I don't want to talk about it any more. I'm tired of arguing with people who disagree with me, and I'm even tired of commiserating with people who agree with me. I'm ready to let the healing begin--at the risk of sounding a little hippy dippy.

If Obama's elected, I do feel like there's a glimmer of hope that things can improve. So if you can, vote Democratic on Tuesday. And if you can't, thanks anyway. I'll still like you when we win. ;-)


Author's note:


Thanks for reading. This took me literally hours to write, and I'm sure I forgot some salient points I intended to make. Tomorrow is my last free day to do anything before the craziness of November settles in, and tomorrow I am working, taking my husband to the doctor, it's Halloween, and I'm partying with friends in the evening. Please feel free to comment, but please understand that for the timing issue and also for the fact that I am flat out sick and tired of this election, I will probably not respond. Thanks for your understanding.

5 pearl(s) of wisdom:

Talmadge Gleck said...

Beautifully written and eloquently presented. Bravo! (and not the "green star" kind, either)

I'm in a red state, so even if I were to vote for Obama, that vote is still thrown away. The vote I'm serious about down here is the one for Senator. Incumbent Saxby Chambliss is in a nail-biter with Democrat opponent Jim Martin ... Saxby, you might remember, is the one who stole the seat from a paraplegic Vietnam vet, Max Cleland (conservative Dem) ... Saxby used tactics that would've impressed Joseph McCarthy.

I'll more than likely post something on the "private" blog about my own feelings re the presidential race. Even if you're as tired of this election as I am, I hope you'll read it.

-Tal

Kate/Susan said...

I definitely will. I look forward to it! :-)

Jasper John R. said...

May I point out that the O corporate tax increase of 10% is overlooked as a tax on people? Everyone seems to forget that corporations don't pay taxes; people do. Everyone forgets that a rise in the corporate tax is an across the board tax on everyone who buys their products. That's why his windfall profits tax is very counter productive.

Melissa said...

I heard tonight that Prince William County will decide VA - the state is evenly diveded and PWC is the key? I don't know the truth in that, but I'll be voting for Obama on Tues - my parents, the staunch republicans that they are, would prob disown me, but it's what I have to do!

Eric said...

Uh, you do realize that the taxcutfacts.org site you mention redirects to an Obama/Biden site, right?

Yeah...I believe what I see there about as much as I believe what I see in the comics section of the daily newspaper. Especially since Obama, Biden and now Bill Richardson can't agree on what income level constitutes "middle class".

And as jasper john says, corporations don't pay taxes, they collect them. From you and me.

But, Obama's probably going to win, and within a year of him taking office, a lot of his supporters will be saying "Holy crap...what have we done?"