It seems to me that political races usually boil down to ideological differences. I’m not going to go into that, because in my opinion, there are so many other things in play here that the traditional ideologies hardly matter.
Because this year, even if you have always believed in Republican views regarding economics, there are so many more reasons to view the Republican candidate for President with alarm. And I’ll just say here that, for me, the fact that he is a multi-millionaire is not one of them, although it does bother me somewhat that as a retired teacher my income tax rate is twice what his is. The truth is, I don’t mind paying taxes for things that are important to me, such as schools, communities, roads, etc. Civilization does not come without some cost.
I will say that it bothers me a lot that someone who supposedly loves our country well enough to run for President seems to think he shouldn’t have to pay his share, though. And that he thinks if he didn’t take advantage of every loophole in the tax code he doesn’t deserve to be President. Really?
But let’s just ignore all that and move on to the other reasons Mitt Romney is a scary guy.
I realize this is not a big concern for most Americans, who tend to think the problems of the world are not ours because we are too big and mean for anyone else to screw with, but as someone who has traveled a bit and who does pay attention to events in the rest of the world, I have to be concerned when I think of Romney as commander-in-chief of the armed forces. Guys, we aren’t the only ones with nuclear bombs.
For me, the scariest part is Romney’s ignorance of foreign policy. His views on the subject, on the few occasions he’s expressed them, pretty much center around “Obama’s foreign policy sucks” and “We need to be so tough and mean nobody will want to screw with us.” And then there’s his comment in Israel that the Jewish people must be economically better off than the Palestinians because of their superior culture. Really? Does anyone not think we have enough enemies in the Middle East, many of whom have nothing to lose if they declare war on us? Do we need to give them even more reasons to hate and resent us?
Romney’s foreign policy advisors are the same as George W. Bush’s. Considering how unpopular the Iraq war has been—not to mention the Afghanistan war—do we really want to return to that? I grew up during the Vietnam War and I thought it was normal to see photos of fallen soldiers in the paper every day or so. Is that really what we want? Because frankly, I’m sick of it. The Iraq war was a GWB ploy for revenge. The Afghanistan war was a lost cause from the start. The drones that are invading other countries and killing civilians make me want to vomit. Romney promises to be tougher than this. The Republicans want to spend billions more on defense than even the Pentagon itself requested. Really?
Oh, and let’s not forget that all the while the Republicans are eager to send our young men off to battle, they are also intent on reducing veterans’ benefits and making it really hard for wounded veterans to get the medical care they need (and fully deserve). Really?
Job Creation & the Economic Crisis
Romney promises millions of new jobs as a result of the policies of his government. But he doesn’t really explain how he’s going to fulfill that promise. He does promise to eliminate regulations that he says prevents companies from expanding, such as environmental laws, product safety laws, etc. I guess I have to question why it should be thought necessary that we live with polluted water and air, not to mention potentially dangerous products, in order to motivate companies to do business here. It’s bad enough that this happens in third-world countries; is that what we want to happen here? Maybe if we refused to buy these companies’ products, they’d reconsider.
In Scandinavia, the IKEA company has a fine, upstanding reputation, or at least it did. The unionized workers are well-treated, well-paid, and happy. And the company prospered. Then it decided to open a plant in Norfolk, Virginia, where the labor rules are minimal. I suppose they expected the workers would be so grateful to have jobs that they wouldn’t mind being exploited. Apparently, however, the workers weren’t total idiots, because they started quitting in droves, and weren’t quiet about it either. It didn’t make much of a splash in this country, but it was a huge scandal in Scandinavia. That a great company like IKEA would treat workers in the U.S. like bugs they could squash. . . simply because the labor laws are so lax here.
So when Romney promises millions of new jobs, I have to ask myself, “What kind of new jobs?” Because if they are sweatshop jobs like this, are they worth having? Is this what you envision as the future of our country? And before you shake your head and tell yourself this will never happen here, you need to open your eyes: it is already happening here. And if Romney and other Republicans have their way, more labor laws will be struck down, giving employers all the cards, while their employees have no choice but to accept whatever their employer metes out—or starve.
No Safety Net For Lazy Bums
According to Romney, people who are struggling to make ends meet should simply work harder. Hard work is the universal answer to economic hardship.
I suppose for someone who has never seen the harsh realities of life, that makes sense. I mean, I personally have never gone hungry or without health insurance. If I hadn’t been around a long time and seen a lot of tragic situations, I might think people down on their luck are just lazy too. Having seen lots of horrific scenarios, however, I can no longer make such judgments. There are many reasons for someone’s economic problems besides laziness, and it blows my mind that anyone can still think that after so many people were laid off in the recent economic crisis. Here are some I am aware of from personal experience:
- Mental illness, medical expenses, etc.
- Layoffs of one or both parents in a family
- Devalued home results in bankruptcy or struggling to make mortgage payments for a home worth half what was paid for it
- Failed business (including a bad weather year for farmers)
- Older workers (50+) get laid off and can’t get hired anywhere else
Admittedly, there are people whose poor decisions caused or exacerbated their problems. However, as someone who has had her own issues in the past with things like credit cards, I cannot condemn others who have made the same mistakes. The economic climate practically begged us to spend money, like good patriots, to support the economy. Financial experts encouraged us to buy bigger houses than conventional wisdom would advise, telling us that the value of our homes would keep going higher, and giving us a huge return on our investment. Should we have known better? Probably. But the financial experts really must have known there would be repercussions eventually. And it bothers me a whole lot that the mortgage industry remains essentially the same as it was, with nobody having been prosecuted or sent to jail, while one in eight mortgages remains underwater four years after the scandal first came to light.
And Romney promises to deregulate Wall Street even further. Is this what we want? Really?
If there’s one thing that has become crystal clear to me in the past year since the Republican governors started their attack on worker rights and schools (when my eyes were finally opened), it’s the judgmental attitude of the Republicans toward other races and cultures. An atmosphere of fear pervades the party, undoubtedly because their policies protect the rights of white males above any other group, and that sector is rapidly becoming outnumbered by minority groups. Not only is this attitude repugnant, it is also a losing proposition. Because unless the intention is to go back to giving only white men the right to vote, the Republican party will be swept out of existence within the next 10-15 years.
Nevertheless, almost every day I hear another racist or sexist remark coming out of a Republican’s mouth. Does this mean they all feel that way? Of course not, but it is significant that more and more Republicans feel secure enough to spout off the ignorance they would have kept silent about only a few years ago. I would imagine any informed Republican would be concerned about what is happening to their party; however, most of them are keeping their mouths shut, and this bothers me even more. Are you willing to accept a return to the Fifties’ era bigotry simply to win a presidential election? What does this say about you?
This country was founded for the purpose of giving people the right to choose their own religion—or no religion, if that is their choice. Historically, most countries did not allow that right. While there may have been Jews and Catholics in 17th and 18th century England, they weren’t treated the same as those who embraced the state religion. That’s why many people came to America in the first place, and that’s why the founding fathers insisted that freedom of religion be included in our Constitution.
But now that the Latino population is increasing so rapidly, as well as the growing numbers of immigrants who adhere to Muslim and other non-Christian religions, the Christians (especially the Protestants) are beginning to feel threatened. Freedom of religion is fine and good as long as their religion gets preferential treatment. Otherwise, laws need to be made ensuring that these other upstart religions don’t get too uppity.
And this is where their social agenda comes from. God meant marriage to be between a man and a woman, so gay people can’t be allowed the same marriage rights as everyone else. Uh people. . . that may be the tenet of your religion, but hey, freedom of religion, remember? Shouldn’t we all have the same rights? Even those who don’t believe in your god?
Nor should a woman have a right to disrupt a pregnancy, according to these people. Not even in case of “genuine rape.” One gets a feeling these people don’t believe in rape at all—even though I know several people who have been raped and probably more than that who are too ashamed to admit it. Incest, too, is a lot more common than any of us knows. But the worst part of all of this is the assumption that anyone should have the right to tell a woman what to do with her body, or make judgments about women who become pregnant without attaching the same stigma to the men who are at least equally responsible.
Folks, if you are serious about wanting to reduce the number of abortions, put your energies into helping out women with the babies they already have and can’t take care of. The irony of the Republicans’ condemnation of government programs like Medicaid and WIC, which are indispensable to a lot of women with children they cannot support, is that their message seems to place a higher priority on an unborn child (or a fertilized egg) than a living, breathing child.
And if you don’t believe the Republicans are serious about repealing Roe vs. Wade, or birth control pills, or in-vitro fertilization, just take a look at the various “personhood” amendments that are making their way onto state ballots. Do you really think this is just smoke and mirrors? Get your head out of the sand and imagine a world where women and doctors are jailed for abortions and birth control pills, and more and more women die in botched, back-alley abortions. Is that what you want for your daughter? Really?
If nothing else, imagine the cost to the taxpayer of jailing all these people. That should give you pause for reflection, at least.
I almost did not include this in my tirade, primarily because I am almost equally disgusted with the Obama Administration’s education plan as the Republicans’. However, I was a teacher for thirty years. I can’t suddenly stop caring about what is happening to education in this country, and I have to say, the Republicans’ agenda includes completely dismantling public education, while Obama’s, at least, does not go that far.
The average taxpayer does not understand why the schools are so strapped for cash these days. Even my financial counselor thinks it’s because (1) the schools aren’t managing their money wisely, and (2) the economic crisis means there’s less money to go around. While there may be some grain of truth in some circumstances, there is much more going on than that, and it dates long before Obama or the radical Republican governors took over.
In Ohio, at least, for well over a decade, money formerly earmarked for public education has been gradually directed to charter schools and voucher programs, so that people can use state money to send their children to what are essentially private schools, many of them religious-oriented. While in some manner that might seem fair, even if you discount the separation of church and state thing, it does leave the public schools short. This siphoning off of public education funds has caused more and more financial problems, which the more prosperous communities have managed to offset by passing levies to make up the difference. The less-well-off communities, however, do not have the same options, and have to cancel programs and lay off staff, until they get to the point where they’ve eliminated everything except the programs required by law, and even those are decimated to the bare minimum. And yet the cuts still continue.
Few people realize how much of our state taxpayer funds are going to billion-dollar corporations to bribe them not to go elsewhere. Bob Evans got eight million dollars to build a new headquarters sixteen miles away. Are you telling me Bob Evans couldn’t afford to pay for it themselves? Diebold got something like ten times that. Proctor & Gamble donated money to our governor’s campaign fund and got a $100+K grant. These are not tax abatements, folks. These are taxpayer dollars going into the bank accounts of companies that could buy our state ten times over.
And yet our politicians, as well as society in general, call teachers and public workers parasites and leeches? Get real, folks.
Like me, you may have some issues with the Democratic agenda. It’s not perfect either. There are going to have to be some hard decisions to be made in the future. A lot of compromises are going to have to be made on both sides. What I have seen in the past couple of years, though, is that the Democrats were the only ones making them. The Republicans seemed to think they could putter away two good years doing nothing but block the Obama Administration to prove how dysfunctional the Democrats are. Vote in more Republicans and you won’t get compromise; you’ll get a dictatorship. A country ruled by and for the large corporations and billionaires. And if you think they aren’t capable of changing the laws in their favor, all you have to do is see what is happening in 23 states with voter suppression laws. Do you really think those came about because of widespread voter fraud? Really, folks? Really?
Because what it boils down to, at least with today’s Republicans, is that the Republican party is all about selling us out to the billion-dollar corporations. According to the Supreme Court, they are people too, and really the only important ones, because they get to keep their money to buy our elections with while those of us who are dependent on them for jobs pay for the roads, schools, public parks, and yeah, even the wars that they send our young people off to fight.
If this is what you really want, I guess you’ll be voting Republican this year.
But don’t give me any crap about the Republicans being no worse than the Democrats and how you’re not going to vote either way because you’re just fed up with everything.
Because this year, the difference between the parties is as wide open as the Grand Canyon. And if you don’t like the responsibility for being an informed voter, maybe you should move to Cuba. I hear people don’t have to make tough choices there. And they say it’s pretty warm in winter there, too.