When I was teaching, I spent very little time in the teachers’ lounge, usually eating lunch in my classroom while watching CNN or listening to the radio. But that wasn’t always the case. Early on, I spent many days with other teachers either listening to or joining their conversations. One lesson I learned about the teachers’ lounge is that there are three things you never discuss there:
3. Howard Stern
Let’s talk about Politics for a moment because I don’t usually write about it, lessons from the teachers’ lounge, because I am always fearful of losing friends because of differing views. That alone is very disturbing to me, and thus the teachers’ lounge rule. Why can’t people talk about politics without the fear or threat of losing a friend? Why can’t we end that conversation with something like, “Okay, we disagree on that. Let’s talk about football.” No, usually, political conversations often end with something like, “Well, you’re an idiot!” And two people walk away without speaking much ever again. I’m going to test that and hope that I don’t get called an idiot or cause any of you to walk away.
I’m not affiliated with either of the two main parties. My voting history goes something like this:
1980 – Ronald Reagan (Republican)
1984 – Ronald Reagan (Republican)
1988 – George H. Bush (Republican)
1992 – George H. Bush (Republican)
1996 – Bill Clinton (Democrat)
2004 – John Kerry (Democrat)
2008 – Barack Obama (Democrat)
That’s rather balanced, even though it shows what could be described as a trend, so I’ll get the mystery out of the way and explain why I’m voting for Obama.
I’m not a big Obama supporter, nor am I a staunch Democrat. Although I’m voting for Obama, it could be argued that I’m voting against Romney. If I had to list reasons, the list against Romney is probably longer and more substantial than the list for Obama. It’s very likely that when I specify a reason I’m not thrilled with Romney, it can be argued that Obama is guilty of the same thing. Yeah, that may be true, but just because Obama may also be guilty is not a reason to erase that from Romney’s side of the ledger.
So, let’s begin.
- Live and Let Die
For many years at election time, students would innocently as me, “How do we know if we’re Republican or Democrat?” It’s a multi-faceted, complex question, but I will burden you to read one small part. It seems that one big difference is that Democrats tend to enjoy sharing, pitching in to help each other. They don’t mind giving up a few bucks from their paychecks to help others in need through social programs for unemployment, social security, and health care.
Republicans – not so much. They tend to believe – and have every right to believe – that what’s mine is mine and what’s yours might eventually be mine, but for now it’s yours. Republicans are okay with the idea of keeping every penny, earned pennies of course, even if it means their neighbor will be hungry and cold tonight. They tend to believe – when it’s convenient – in “Survival of the Fittest.” If you can’t take care of yourself, then please lie down on the side of the road and get out of my way so I can get past you more easily.
Republicans – I think – are very hopeful people because they appear to be willing to accept their own demise should they fall victim to unemployment or an illness so severe that it will drain their life savings. Republicans also tend to adhere more strongly and faithfully to their religion, so perhaps they believe that if they are ever in a really tight spot, their years in praise to their chosen God will be remembered, and that God will show them some mercy and pity.
Democrats do not tend to rely or expect any great handout from the sky, so instead they prefer to pool their resources for the various rainy days experienced by individuals. That’s where I am. I don’t mind sharing and collecting for each other. I don’t mind more of my tax money going to a universal healthcare system because I know it’s going to help me. And even if it doesn’t help me directly, it’s going to help my neighbor. And maybe my neighbor’s kid is sick, and his kid will get my kid sick when they sit together in school. But maybe, if there’s coverage for that kid, then we’ll all be okay.
Romney expects to be President. Throughout his career and life, he’s either been given or has bought anything he’s ever wanted. He expects things, and that’s okay in the business world because it shows confidence. However, he seems to expect that a smile, handshake, and a greased palm will allow him entry to the White House. It doesn’t work that way. You can ask how I know what he’s thinking and how I know he “expects” something. Here’s how.
- The Pander Bear
Pandering. And this one might be better blamed on the GOP and Team Romney, because I want to believe he is not dumb enough to be guilty of this on his own. When Romney spoke in Michigan he said he loved being in Michigan because “the trees are the right height.”
WTF? Is it that difficult to say something complimentary? Romney’s goal is to find something people want to hear, say it, and then expect that they will love him for it. His handlers told him he has to connect with people, find common ground. Trees? No.
He tried the same thing in the South when he told them how much he loved grits.
Down in Miami for a MLK Jr. celebration, he approached a group of black teenagers and randomly said, “Who let the dogs out?” Then he approached a child with a necklace and referred to his “bling bling.”
I know all politicians pander, but he makes no attempt to disguise it. He makes no attempt to make it seem genuine. Later in that same video about the trees, he goes further – and worse – by talking about cars and how he loves Detroit because it’s where so many cars come from. In a city with record unemployment, Romney went on to say how his wife loves Cadillacs and “has two, actually.” Is that what you want to do? Are you so dumb that you don’t realize your audience and that bragging about your wife’s two Cadillacs is not a good move in front of such a job-devastated city?
- Not Obama?
Romney seems to have only one reason for which I should give him my vote: he’s not Obama. He keeps telling us over and over how everything Obama did was wrong, but he’s not telling us what he’s going to do that is better. Oh, I’m sorry, he did tell us. He said he’s going to create jobs and fix the economy. He has told us how Obama is responsible for all this unemployment, but he’s going to fix it. His proof is clearly states. “I know how to create jobs.” Yep. That sums it up I guess. Isn’t that good enough?
And his economic plan, as designed by his running mate Paul Ryan, claims to be able to create 12 million jobs, cut taxes, and cut the deficit. When Ryan was asked how he could possibly cut taxes (which cuts the money the government has to work with) but also cut the deficit, Ryan refused to explain. When pushed further to explain, Ryan said, “I don’t have time to do the math.” That’s rather insulting. It’s also distracting.
If you’re going to claim to be better than Obama, then please do more than just claim it. At least try to prove it, without insulting me of course.
- Roe v. Wade
Right to life/pro-choice issues are important to me. I have no problem with anyone who is Pro-Choice. I respect women/couples who learn that their child will be born with birth defects, mental and/or physical, and are willing to have and care for that baby. Those people are definitely more admirable than me. You’re entitled to that path, and I would never do anything to force abortion upon you.
Equally, I expect my President, and my country, to respect the choices of others. Too many people seem to confuse “pro-abortion” with “pro-choice.” I don’t encourage abortions. I don’t like abortions. What I like is for people to have the option if they individually believe it is necessary. I don’t like that Romney/Ryan want to take away birth control pills, contraception, and abortion as options, even in cases of rape and incest. I want my President to protect the rights of individuals to make those choices on their own. Romney/Ryan will not do that.
I don’t know that Obamacare is great, but what I do know is that Romney talks out of both sides of his mouth. He likes to say how Obamacare is one of the main reasons we’ve got so much unemployment. Yet, Obamacare is very similar to something called Romneycare, which Willard the Mitt successfully introduced to Massachusetts. It’s interesting that it was good for MA but not good for USA. It’s also interesting how many people are crying about Obamacare without really understanding it, so I’m going to give you a brief summation.
Typically, the government pays billions, somewhere around $700 billion, to hospitals in order to reimburse them for costs and fees of providing care for those who are uninsured. A lot of that money is in the form of intentionally excessive fees. Just today I read about a guy with a broken arm who was charged $73,000 for x-rays and staying in a room for about a day and a half. Hospitals typically overcharge because the government doesn’t usually ask questions. Obamacare intends to shift the money. Instead of paying $700 billion to hospitals after taking care of people, we’re going to take that same amount of money and invest it into a healthcare plan so people will already be insured before there’s a problem. Obamacare will spend the money upfront instead of afterward. Also, by providing insurance before, it allows more people to see doctors regularly for what is called “preventative care,” which prevents problems. Preventative care typically costs half of what is known as “after care,” which is when we pay to fix a problem instead of “preventing” it before it happens. That’s basically it. Independent accounting groups have shown that Obamacare will NOT cost more money but will in fact SAVE money.
Romney also likes to try scaring senior citizens by telling them how Obama took something like $716 billion dollars out of Medicare and put it all into Obamacare. What Romney and the Republicans fail to explain is that once Obamacare takes full effect, then it will take care of what Medicare had been covering. So it’s like you giving me a $10 bill and me giving you two $5’s.
Aside from that, Obamacare did not cost jobs at all. Jobs were lost when business owners realized that they could cut jobs and save salary cost while demanding the remaining employees perform the same work without complaining, otherwise they’d be fired next.
- The War on Religion
Too many people have the mistaken belief that we are a Christian nation. In a way, we have been, but officially, on paper, we are not. I know that people like Newt Gingrich love to refer to the line in the Constitution where it mentions our “Creator,” and they love to assume it means that God created us and God is in charge of us. That’s not what it means. If our Founding Fathers meant God, they would have written God, but they didn’t specifically because they did not themselves believe in the God as viewed by the Catholic church.
The Founding Fathers were not Christians, they were Deists. That means they believed there is some kind of Supreme Being that was responsible for our beginning, but that’s about it. They did not believe in a Being that had a giant book in which all of our destinies were prescribed. Those Fathers also believed that our country must not pay more attention to one religion over any other, thus the First Amendment, which “prohibits the making of any law respecting an establishment of religion…” because that’s why certain brave people left England in the first place.
Why is this an issue in my election choice? Because certain candidates, like mega-Christian Paul Ryan, have been very vocal about their religion and that they intend to govern with respect to their religion. Ryan and others have also criticized Obama for trying to preserve the Constitution’s intended respect for all religions. For example, many government buildings seem to specifically recognize Christmas during December. Obama has made efforts for government buildings to not limit themselves to that or any other Christian holiday. Thus prompting Fox News and other Right-Wing organizations to claim that Obama has declared a “War on Religion” when it fact Obama is just trying to keep in line with the Constitution.
- I Now Pronounce You…
Obama has shown his intent to protect or promote the rights of gays (Gays?) to marry. Romney/Ryan/Republicans have shown their intent to prevent it. Why are they so bothered? Why do they care if two men or two women living in South Middlanowhere are living as a married couple? They claim it will “undermine the sanctity of marriage,” but that’s only part of the anti-gay mission.
Another part stems back to the religious angle. Just minutes ago I watched a revered political voice on CNN complain how gay marriage is a sin against God and that our country will face devastation if we don’t stop it immediately. Again, we’ve got too much religion affecting and infiltrating the government.
Joe Republican, also living in South Middlanowhere, really thinks that gay marriage somehow cheapens all marriage. As far as I can tell, heterosexual marriages are doing a fine job of cheapening themselves, so they don’t need any help from gays. But that’s not why the Republicans, as a party, are against it.
One of the largest industries in the country is insurance companies. They have one goal – to not pay money to people who file insurance claims. The more money they pay out, the less money they keep. Thus, each person they have to insure is another person who they might have to pay. When couples marry, usually one spouse is able to join the other’s insurance coverage. That’s two people covered for the prince of one, something insurance companies hate. If heterosexual marriage is legal, then that’s millions more people who now have to be covered for very little extra cost.
Why do Republicans care what the insurance companies think? Because the insurance companies continually pump money into the campaign funds of the Republican candidates, and they’re beholden to have earned that money by voting against heterosexual marriage. And I’m beholden to not like someone who tries to stomp on the happiness of others. Legal happiness.
- Black Gold, Texas Tea
Amazingly, one of the most profitable industries ever to exist in our country pays zero – count ‘em zero – taxes. It’s known as “Big Oil,” and it mainly consists of Exxon-Mobil, Conoco-Phillips, and a few others. Big Oil does not want to pay taxes. Big Oil relies upon Republicans to preserve their tax exemption. I’m not a fan.
- Changing the Rules
There are two ways to win a race. One is to learn to run faster, train better, exercise more, improve yourself. Another is to make your opponent go slower. Republicans seem to be focusing on the slowing down. They lost the last election, and now they seem about to lose this one. Instead of finding a better candidate or coming up with better ideas for their party platform, they have instead focused on changing the rules of the race.
You remember the election of 2000, right? The “hanging chad”? It was awful, and it was partly because of a woman named Kathryn Harris. She was Florida’s Commissioner of Elections, and she ordered the recount that eventually went to the Supreme Court. Without Harris, Al Gore would have won. Did you know that Kathryn Harris was not only the Florida Election Commissioner but also the Florida campaign manager for the Republican Party? Ain’t that a kick in the ass? The person who controlled the recount was also the local coach for one of the participants. How does that happen? Ask the Republicans. They seem to always be around when these controversies pop up. I’m not saying the Democrats are innocent, but they never seem to be attached to anything really ground shaking.
Historically, the amount of voter fraud has amounted to less than one vote per state per election. That means less than 50 times each election, someone has tried to vote falsely either through impersonation or regulation, such as missing a voting deadline. Even with such low voter fraud instances, Republicans have claimed that voter fraud is rampant and significant, prompting them to push for the need of a national voter identification card. Republicans know fully well that not everyone will be able to get such an ID because some people have insufficient transportation either because of their age and mobility or their inability to pay for a way to get to the proper state location for the ID card. Studies have shown that most likely the elderly, the poor, and minorities would be affected and unable to vote. Not surprisingly, these are also the same groups that tend to vote for Democrats. Coincidence? Of course not. Just a plan for the Republicans to win an election by tripping the opposition instead of learning to run more effectively and efficiently.
I’m not saying that Obama is far better than Romney, nor am I saying he is even a little better. But he doesn’t scare me the way Romney does. Every time Romney had a chance to do something, he’s done the wrong thing, and he seems to have no clue that it was wrong.