I got last minute tickets to see Obama at Colorado State University. Which was an awesome stroke of luck. I saw a sitting president. Not only a sitting president, but Barack Obama, the first black president. Awesome. Great.
He was speaking to a college crowd, so he addressed all these awesome things like how he stopped a student loan interest increase, how he funded more grants, how health reform allows kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, how all women now get preventative care with their insurance plans including birth control and mammograms, he talked about how his administration wasn’t going to deny civil rights to gay people. The biggest cheers from CSU students were about green initiatives, lack of dependance on foreign oil and green jobs.
He talked about the economy, though not as much as you might think, I mean college kids don’t really buy homes and pay mortgages or worry about having 401k plans. They aren’t yet concern with taking care of their parents or their kids. Certainly, they haven’t given much thought to their own retirement. Well, most college kids anyway. There are plenty of older students who do.
I was hoping this presidential sighting could cure my voter apathy. It hasn’t.
Not a Bad Job
I don’t think that Barack Obama has done a bad job at all. Honestly, I think it’s a little ridiculous that anyone expects the economy to have recovered after the serious blows it took in less than four years.
Though I’m basically in favor of all the stuff the Obama administration has done, none of it has really improved my own personal life. Health insurance reform seemed to matter so much, except I am now uninsured due to divorce and still can’t afford insurance premiums. My uninsured middle-class neighbors and freelancer friends can’t either. Nor am I poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. I do, however, qualify for the Colorado Indigent Care Program, which existed prior to Obama and will exist after this election. I’m “indigent” but don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford insurance. I thought we were going to do something about this gap in our system, but we didn’t.
The student loan relief . . . excludes me.
The mortgage relief . . . excludes me.
The bailouts, though I’m sure were helpful to many industries – like construction crews for roads, yada yada, – did not help me or my family.
So essentially I voted for all these awesome entitlements, just in case I find myself in a position to need them. I now find myself in a position to need them and I’m “indigent” but I don’t qualify. Uh. Ok.
What I need is for the economy to start kicking ass so I can either find a good solid job with benefits or quadruple my writing business so I can afford to live. I don’t want to just live, I want to thrive.
The source of my apathy is that I don’t feel like this election is going to have much of an impact on the economy at all. I think businesses will start hiring again when they feel like it. Just because a company pays fewer taxes doesn’t mean they will hire. That was the faulty thinking of the bailouts too, wasn’t it? Bail them out so they can hire back their employees and give the economy a kick start. Except they didn’t. They raked in profits on a skeleton crew and kept a skeleton crew. Just because a company pays fewer taxes doesn’t mean they’ll offer their employees more benefits, better health insurance or increase 401k matches. Why should they? We’re so desperate they really don’t have to, do they?
I hope I’m wrong.
I hope companies jump into high gear and hire bunches of people, pump up their benefits, and the economy surges into high gear. That would be massively awesome. This time, I intend to ride the wave. Last time I sat the high out being lamely financially responsible, going without, living within our means and being a SAHM. It fucking sucked. I hope to cash in on the next high.
No, I don’t think Obama has done a bad job. I didn’t expect a black Jesus.
Boogie Man or Money Magician?
I also don’t think Mitt Romney is either super scary or some kind of magic money man who can turn the economy around just because he’s a bazillionaire. He’s a bazillionaire in a vacuum. He’s the boss. He calls the shots. His employees do what he tells them to do.
That’s not how our democracy works. He has to move a couple hundred stubborn fools and do-gooders with special interests in the same direction. I don’t think Romney will have any more luck getting congress herded in the same direction than Obama has. Is one of his amazing skills herding snakes and cats? No, this is a man unaccustomed to being told to fuck off.
We’re a split country. In half. Old and new. Progressive and regressive. One half of us naively idealizing a future that doesn’t exist (and assumes that everyone should have the same idealistic fantasy if they are moral and good, and if others disagree they are monsters). The other half is romanticizing a past, full of ingenuity and amazing leaps in progress and economic growth, (but a flawed past that includes a bunch of serious crimes against humanity like gender discrimination and slavery and which tends to nurse a bunch of archaic phobias, isms and prejudices and romanticizes how awesome it is to work ourselves to death just to scrape by.) We’re like a crotchety married couple, smashed up together and fighting over the bed sheets. We fight over how the money should be spent, like every married couple in America, cranky or otherwise. Our legitimate needs exceed our ability to meet them. Someone should give. The other side, of course.
Evidently four years is not enough time for the economy to rebound. Otherwise it would have. I don’t think it would be better if it had been McCain. Isn’t it equally naive to think that Romney would do better than Obama at it? Maybe he can pull a kajillion dollars out of his ass. I don’t know. If he wins I sure as hell hope he can.
And women, oh dear women. Let’s not be histrionic about our reproductive rights. Mitt Romney has no power over whether you get to terminate your pregnancy. He can nominate a Supreme Court Justice – if one of them dies or retires – and then that Justice will do whatever the hell he or she wants. Overturning Roe v. Wade would only give states the right to make their own abortion laws. Some will allow it, some won’t. Just like today’s differing abortion limits in various states. Essentially, the worst that can happen is that you’ll have to take a day trip to another state. And yeah, I do think that any woman in the world can figure out how to make her way there. Unemployed crackheads can still do $50,000 in blow every year – because they want it bad enough. If a woman or girl wants one bad enough she will get it, because women are resourceful.
I hate to simplify this issue because I know the hysterical screeching about the rape and the incest abortion clause is so much fun (and gets so many juicy clicks), but, for goodness sake, in the cases of rape or incest, take the motherloving Day After Pill or Plan B. You know instantly whether or not you’ve been raped, or even made a drunken mistake. So, take the damn pills. That’s what it’s there for. And if that is disallowed somehow, here’s a little secret for you – Plan B is an overdose of birth control pills. That’s it. That’s the whole secret.
Romney has no intention of outlawing birth control (he won’t have the power to either). Mormons use birth control. As do most Christians and most Republicans. The very small minority of people who don’t use birth control in this country are not a threat to me or you. So take a deep breath and focus on nurturing your womb. And your soul.
Has Obama really done a lot to improve women’s economic experience? Is his cabinet full of bright, intelligent women? (Obama, 6; Bush W., 6) Are there all these wonderful economic policies that pay women equally or is there still a 23 cent differential? Is there a wonderful safety net for SAHMs who end up divorced? Are there a bunch of women leaders in corporations or blah, blah, blah? Is there suddenly a major drop in teenaged pregnancies? Is there some awesome workplace policy that creates a positive work/family balance for “family values?” During his speech Obama made a comment that I thought was pretty choice, “Do you want a congress made up of a bunch of men?” Because you recently grew a vagina Barack? Because under your administration things have dramatically and wonderfully improved for women? Because you want us to believe that you somehow love and respect your wife more than Mitt Romney does, maybe because she had a job? Really?
I read only one article, last year, about Paul Ryan’s economic reform ideas and I thought his was about the only realistic plan I’d heard so far. Harsh maybe. But, realistic. Do you realize that 10,000 baby boomers are turning 65 every day in this country? That’s 10,000 people qualifying for medicare and social security. Per day. Most of them are richer than me and you. And they will still be cashing a social security check. That my generation will have to pay for. And they are going to live another 30 years. Some of them will live for decades with chronic illnesses. Expensive chronic illnesses needing lots of care. So even our children and possibly their children will have to pay for this. Get reproducing folks, because there are millions and millions of baby boomers about to enter their senior years and they expect fantastic free health care and social security checks. Who has a realistic plan for that? Ryan? I don’t know. Maybe.
Naive Ideologies are Easy
We make arguments so loud and long that we stop questioning our own ideology. And we often do it when we’re way too young to have even formulated a real opinion about our own positions because we haven’t acquired the relevant life experience. Abortion is an entirely different issue when you’re the one who is pregnant, or yearning to be. The economy is a vastly different issue, when you’re the small business worried about how you’ll pay taxes by the end of the year and feed your kids.
I have not watched one debate. Not one hour of CNN. Certainly I have not polluted my brain with Fox News, the cause of 95% of high blood pressure in America. I have ignored news articles deliberately. I have clicked “hide” on every. single. person. on Facebook who pollutes my consciousness with rants about their political rightness and how the other side is a bunch of anti-American morons for having a differing opinion. Why?
Every hour I have not watched CNN has been another hour that I get to maintain my internal peace. Every second I have not watched FOX News has been a second in which I have not been furious with assheads. Every issue I ignore, is another thing that I don’t have to be stressed out about. Every political conversation I have not had with a relative or friend is a relationship that has not been damaged by condescension, divisiveness or baffling irritation.
This is America, everyone has a right to be wrong. And I have a right not to hear about it.
The truth is that I can’t solve anyone’s problems right now. Maybe never. I can vote. Period. The end. I have no control whether or not women are allowed to get abortions, my opinion about whether they should is irrelevant, what is relevant is whether or not I should. I am powerless over whether or not insurance companies are money sucking turds who screw over their customers, hell I don’t even have any insurance. I have no idea how we’re going to pay for baby boomers to retire in the style they’ve become accustomed to and they are going to get old whether I like it or not (and I do like them, I do, well a lot of them anyway). I can’t control whether interest rates go up or down.
Accepting my own powerlessness is paradoxically freeing. I don’t have to fix this. Or convince you that I know how to fix it. Or even convince you that Romney or Ryan or Obama know how to fix it. I don’t even have to believe that any one of them can fix it to roll the dice and vote. I don’t have to believe that Romney is a woman-hating douche bag. I don’t have to believe that Obama is a Muslim non-US-citizen. I don’t have to understand why other people need to believe this bullshit in order to justify their political positions.
My position right now concerns staying above water and improving my own family’s economic condition. Putting gas in my car, feeding my kids and keeping the mortgage current. And I want a really nice pair of black leather boots. I just do.
If Obama loses, I’ll have won anyway. Because this political season’s bullshit hasn’t made me crazy.