I am going to let you in on a little secret, one that I’m sure will come as a huge shock: I’m going to vote for Obama. Now I know that most of you lean Republican and will undoubtedly choose Mitt Romney this fall. Which is fine… (well, actually it gets my goat, which is why I’m writing this down, but let’s proceed….) Hopefully you’ll read on, and if you disagree vehemently with me go ahead and write your rebuttal in the comments section. I vow to read every word and not censor a thing!
So – here goes:
First, I believe the President of the United States should, above all else, be an excellent public speaker. This is a job, after all - to be the President - and the main job requirement is that you can stand up and SPEAK to the world on our country’s behalf without gutting the English language or sounding like you’ve never finished high school. Any person seriously being considered for the presidency should possess intelligence abundant enough to speak off the cuff, a keen respect for our interconnected world and the complexity that is life nowadays, and most importantly, a belief in what they say and do! These are what I would look for if I were interviewing someone to be a public speaker - do they communicate with their body language that they are in control of their thoughts and not squirming around in their own head while simultaneously speaking? Can they prove to be a competent leader, one who displays authority and workability, or does the speaker come across as bullying, and/or scornful of other ideas and attitudes? These are not partisan requirements – these are basic tenets of exemplary public speaking for the leader of a vast civilization that any candidate running for PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES should have to meet!
Secondly, I desire my President to be someone who demonstrably walks gently upon this Earth. Meaning, someone who takes everyone’s interests to heart – from the stars to the skies to the seas – not just the most powerful or popular clan’s current stake. I want a president who believes in observable data and its power to impact our lives and lands and solve problems. A president who believes climate change is upon us, that mankind is partly to blame, and prioritizes real-world solutions. (Heck, I desire a President who admits we make mistakes sometimes, instead of someone who is so opposed to apologizing for anything to anyone at anytime that they name their book: ‘No Apologies, The Case for American Greatness’). I cannot imagine raising a successful family with the mantra ‘never apologize!’, nor do I want to live in a world with a vocal proponent of that belief speaking for me. The Seven Wonders of the World are not all in America, you know! We have much to learn and appreciate from other countries and cultures, and I want a President who has traveled the world taking part in those cultures – not someone who’s landed in foreign countries with the sole mission of converting them to a decidedly ‘American’ way of life (insert Romney’s Mormon missionary trip to France here). Nor do I want a President that uses other countries to shelter his own personal money from our tax system. That is a pretty brazen disregard of the slogan ‘American Greatness’ (I need America to make my money but I need the Cayman Islands to protect it!) and what I consider walking through the world with a big, wide American stick, waving it furiously in anyone’s direction who gets in your way.
Third, I need a President who values women’s equality. A president who believes to his core in the idea of ‘equal pay for equal work’ for women. The number of initiatives the Republican party has set forth in the last decade trying to squelch women’s monetary and/or health rights is just staggering – it’s really about all they have tried to legislate for the last four years (certainly not any creation of jobs!). I don’t know if Mitt Romney feels women deserve equality and choice in their family planning/health care needs, or in fairness in the workplace, but I can say with certainty that his party does not. I can also say with certainty that his church’s historical leanings have been the opposite of women’s equality, and that he himself has raised five sons, no daughters, so that instinctual feeling a father has to claw and advocate for their own daughter’s well-being is just not there.
Mostly, I want a President who uses their religion as a stepping stone towards kinder, more accepting behavior, not more exclusive, radical behavior. I want a president (and a party) that doesn’t cling to one bible verse, such as, ”Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination.” Leviticus 18:22, without also clinging to other verses within the same book that state that tattoos are a sin, (“You shall not make any cuts in your body for the dead nor make any tattoo marks on yourselves. I am the Lord.” Leviticus 19:28), or that the shaving of a man’s beard is a sin (“You shall not round off the side-growth of your heads nor harm the edges of your beard.” Leviticus 19:27), or ignoring such inconvenient verses as the one which states your wife must marry your brother if you, the man, happen to die. (“If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her.” Deuteronomy 25:5). The bible is beautiful when used as a buoy for your soul, savage when used to persecute those who stray from common-day accepted interpretations of one translation of an ancient text! I want a President who embodies the main theme of the Bible as it has been discerned by Christians throughout time – love thy neighbor as thyself, not a President who publicly supports legislation and talking points that stress: love thy neighbor unless they are poor and downtrodden; homosexual; beholden to the government for help; or worship a God in some way or form different than my God.
Lastly, I want a President that’s actually trying to work on behalf of our country. And if you look at the world in the last four years, President Obama has done a pretty good job of keeping us afloat amidst all the economic and political storms. Many countries have fared far worse, with most of those that have (Spain & Greece come to mind) being countries who adopted the very fiscal policies the Republican party advocated and still believe in – less regulation, more tax cuts for those making the most money, as well as heavy government austerity. In fact, if you didn’t LOOK at President Obama at all – if you just listened to him, or read up on his actual policies, you would learn that he has been a truly intelligent public speaker, unfailingly polite amidst outrageous claims, and about as centrist as a politician could be in almost every instance. His health plan was Mitt Romney’s same plan in Massachusetts when Romney was governor. In fact, Obama has legislated more ‘republican’ ideas than anyone else in the last four years! Yet still the right paints him as wildly ‘un-American’, categorically dangerous and irresponsible.
We’ve watched for the past four years as almost every Republican senator and representative has filibustered or blocked every bit of legislation that’s come their way with the exception of the slaying of women’s rights. (Which they actually vote on and pass unanimously, except for Olympia Snowe, who got up and left!) In any job in America, how do you keep that job when you just refuse to do it? How do you save face when you vocally shout, time and time again, that you don’t believe in the very entity that is paying your salary? How do you accept money from the government for things that matter to you and your state, yet deny that you took the money, or that any others should have the same opportunity? The hypocrisy of the right these last four years is just astounding, yet the facts are there. The people we elect to lead this country must actually work, not just obstruct. And Mitt Romney and his party cannot prove that they can do that.
Regardless of my thoughts, most people I know will still vote for Romney come November. This is due I suppose to party loyalty, scare tactics, gut feelings, religious fervor, disinterest in competent public speaking or women’s rights or sound financial policies or environmental advocacy…..hm, I really can’t say why. Obviously you can make the case that the economy still stinks - and it truly does! - and maybe Romney can reenergize it. But is he a great public speaker? No. Does he believe what he says? No. Is his party truly concerned about job creation? No. Does he have an economic platform that has proven to generate wealth for the majority of people? No. Does he advocate in a Christian manner on behalf of women and children and the poor and oppressed? No. Does he have something to hide within his own taxes? I don’t know, but I assume so, because that is how the ‘rich’ game is played nowadays. You make oodles of money, then wriggle your way through our tax code, using the government for everything you can while publicly denouncing it. You don’t ever worry about health care because you and yours already have it. You don’t care about the planet because you and yours already rule it. You live in a lollipop land where money trickles down from the top (proven to not be true, even in the last four years when all those billion dollar companies were bailed out and made a fortune!), where your God reigns supreme, where people without education or health care or choices don’t matter, because you don’t have tuberculosis, or a minimum wage job, or a baby that you can’t take care of….
I’m voting for Obama because I live in America. Not this lollipop land where health care and heaven and happiness are for the fabulous few. I live in reality, where problems must be solved - not blocked; where voices must be heard - not squashed; where leaders must be analyzed - not crucified.
I live in America, where we’re supposed to dish up liberty and justice for all, not some lollipop land where disastrous fiscal and social policies are doled out like candy. We’re not children, after all, so easily placated as that…or are we?