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7 Thoughts on We as a People

I’m glad this election is almost over with. Yes, it’s exciting and makes for witty Jon Stewart satire and side splitting SNL sketches, and who doesn’t like that? Enough is enough already though. Between Tea Party hullabaloo and the elimination of bi-partisan cooperation, this campaign season been going on for 4 years now. Yes, I am voting for Obama. Maybe not entirely because this has been the most transgender friendly administration in history, but it sure doesn’t hurt.

This election has somehow become about the economy, even though that makes no sense to me. If anyone, president or otherwise, knew the recipe for a good economy, they would simply use it and be the hero. The truth is that the world economy is so vastly complicated that having a politician, even a well heeled business savant, say they know how to fix it is like having a corner garage mechanic boast he can fix the space shuttle. If a true blue real answer exists out there, I would hope both sides would run on the platform that yeah, we are going to do that thing, whatever the hell it is.

What I hope is at the heart of this is a decision on national character. Who do we want to be as a nation? The Republican platform touts rugged individualism, helping the few who will allegedly help the many, an overwhelmingly powerful military, and a focus on the ‘traditional’ values that allegedly made sense at one time in heterogeneous rural communities. The Democrats tout national cooperative assistance, balanced taxation, a ‘powerful enough to deter anyone’ military, and a focus on inclusive values that manage to cross ethnic, gender, and faith based lines. Look, I’m trying to be as bi-partisan as I can be, but like anyone, subject to inherent bias toward my side, even in my best attempt to be wholly objective. Nevertheless, who are we?

In spite of focus on the economy, I think the real issue is about values and what people hope to achieve with them. I can’t help but get the impression that Romney is trying to paint a picture where as President, he will have some sort of influence to wind the clock back to a fictional ‘Leave it to Beaver’ land and that somehow the immense diversity that is now America will somehow go away. That and prosperity will be restored as a mystical causal result. I feel Obama recognizes that the population also includes a plethora of minorities, immigrants, sexual orientations, and gender identities. Call me crazy, but it makes sense to me to have more faith in the guy who recognizes what is, then the guy who is selling a ‘what was’ that wasn’t.

Here are some of my takes on the whole ‘national character’ issue. Imagine, me mouthing off my opinions about things in a closed forum! Oh, the nerve I have…

1. Healthcare: Put up with government meddling or leave things in the hands of the good people who profit solely out of denying coverage or claims? For some strange reason, I’m just not comfortable leaving my fate to people who are gambling that they will be able to take more from me than they have to pay out. I’m slightly more comfortable giving this to people who want me to reelect them. Slightly.

2. Public Assistance: Yes, ideally people should be held accountable to their own decisions and fate, and let the charitable actions of those who can catch the rest. The problem is that many are kind of screwed since birth and in a hole no one could reasonably climb out of. As a wealthy nation, it seems to be the right and charitable thing to help our own, especially when the majority of them are children. Even if we can’t do it out of human kindness, it is wise to remember that people in need are not just going to disappear. Instead, they are going to do whatever they need to in order to survive. Ever notice how the highest crime rates are in nations with the least assistance? I don’t think anyone wants that.

3. Marriage: Seriously, why is this still an issue? It’s not the government’s purview to define any particular faiths version of marriage as the national standard. Less that, without the religious component it’s a contract between two adults, the success or failure of which rests solely on them, so the idea of needing government defense on this seems silly. Why anyone gets snippy about anyone else’s contract is beyond me. If a particular religion doesn’t agree with two people of the same gender getting married, why can’t they just not participate and leave it at that?

4. Foreign Relations: I’m somewhat convinced we’ll never really know what is going on behind the scenes, except when someone royally fucks up and it gets into the papers. At the heart of it though, and in the interest of our economy, a huge chunk of our effort should really be attempting to create conditions favorable for the rest of the world to buy from us instead of spending billions to enforce Pax Americana. I know we like calling the shots and all, but return on investment should really be considered.

5. Immigration: Nothing new here. The anti-immigration folks like to speak in righteous indignation about the overwhelming costs of people coming here illegally and taking from them. I find it interesting that everyone I ask knows exactly what they paid for their car, house, groceries, or a sweater at Sears, but none of them know in dollars how much of their tax money actually goes to this, or even what they actually paid in taxes last year. The former items they know, because they care. If they don’t know, it’s hard to conceptualize that they really care. Then it goes to the principle of the thing, which I see as a fancy way of whining that someone else is getting something they don’t think is deserved. It seems petty. Anti-immigration seems like a good way to spend a ton of money vilifying people who want to come and clean our toilets because America is awesome. Unemployment bites, but chances are you didn’t lose your job as a chemical engineer to a guy who snuck across the border.

6. Women’s Issues: Horrendous misconceptions about both rape and women’s health issues come way, way too often from the GOP side of things. As a woman, I’m not at all comfortable with all the rhetoric indicating rape is ever something the victim is remotely responsible for, nor the notion that there can be a sunny side to it. No and no. It’s all backed by the just world hypothesis; something the world is hell bent on proving wrong and has done so very effectively. I’m also not comfortable having old men making decisions on women’s health issues. The issues need to be decided (if such can ever really be done) solely by people with skin in the game. Yes, I’m purposefully not taking this further because I don’t want this blog to erupt into another unwinnable fight on something that comes down to belief when life begins.

7. The Environment: Yes, drilling the living shit out of the land and sea, and removing EPA control probably would result in a short term economic gain. It seems odd to me, however, that the party so concerned with passing debt down to future generations is OK with them living on Planet Craptastic. This is exactly, by the way, what the Soviets did. In the corporate world, the immediate quarterly financial results, seconded by the annual results, are really all that matters, so of course they are highly in favor of anything that gives them that bump. With all the backtalk about environmentalist conspiracy, doesn’t it make more sense that people who make tremendous financial gains by floating a ‘climate change is a myth’ have a lot more reason, not to mention means, to conspire?

To sum it all up, the economy is going to go up and down and all over the place seemingly by magic no matter who is in office, even though the guy there will take credit for the good and blame the bad on the last guy. In terms of national character, my impression is that Obama better represents forward thinking, a generous and gregarious kindness of spirit, and dedication to equality, open minded attitudes and fair play. Romney waxes more toward a certain rigidity and seems to be favored by those who come across as somewhat mean in spirit and fearful that an unfair receipt of assistance by some will denigrate their own standard of well being. That’s just my impression.

Finally, for the record, in spite of the endless fear mongering by both sides, I find it difficult to understand how some can be sucked into the in-group mentality that believes the other side is dedicated to the destruction of America, their personal religion, or really anything else. I truly do think that both sides really want the best possible outcome for most, but have different ideas of what that looks like and how to get there.

That’s all, now please go vote.

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