by Saundra McKee
After weeks of op-ed pieces against our President, I’d like to offer a dissenting viewpoint. I like and respect and consider Jack Bennett a friend, but disagree with him politically. I have no doubt that it will set off a series of tyrannical rants from the right, and that’s okay. I’m a liberal Christian, sixty-two year old female, Democrat and retired educator (in order of importance to me). For as long as I can remember my litmus test for those I vote for is based on a quote from the late Vice President Hubert Humphrey: “The moral test of government is how it treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the aged; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick needy and the handicapped.” For me, Barack Obama’s life, career record and philosophy most reflects the values presented in the quote.
1. The children. It’s no accident that teachers, like other union members, support Democratic candidates most of the time. Obama worked for children and schools as a state legislator in Illinois and continues to see the problems with standardized testing being used as the sole measure of a student’s achievement. Romney thinks class size is irrelevant to student success. There are studies that go both ways on that one, but ask almost any teacher. Obama is willing to listen to students, parents and teachers. I don’t get that from Romney.
2. The aged, sick, needy, handicapped. I’ll lump these together because too often being old and being sick go together. Medicare and Social Security are so important to many of our seniors and the historical record shows that the Democrats have been the ones to protect it. Organizations for retirees agree. Ryan, Bush, Santorum and other members of the GOP were determined to privatize social security and throw that money on the stock market. With health care, we are just about the only modern nation that doesn’t provide quality health care to all its citizens. Obama care isn’t perfect yet it is so much like Romney care from Massachusetts! At least we’ve taken the first steps. The American Council of Churches, AARP and many other groups support these efforts. All these programs can be saved and reformed if members of Congress stop worrying about re-election and try to work together.
3.To Humphrey’s list of who government should look out for I would add some others: Pets-It may be silly, but I would never carry my beloved dog on the roof of my car. Victims of bullying-as a teacher you try to curb this, but can only do so much. It may be reaching, but I don’t like people who prey on or in Mitt’s case beat up on weaker individuals. Veterans-Obama has worked to get us out of Iraq and Afghanistan and increase benefits for veterans. I understand Romney got several deferments and along with mission work, studied French in Paris during the Vietnam War. Women and racial minorities-I try to respect all religions and have no idea what he’ll do, but a cursory glance at the history of Mormonism or Church of Latter Day Saints raises all kinds of concerns about racism and empowerment of women. Victims of incest and rape- Paul Ryan(who would be a heart beat from the presidency) opposes abortion even when the mother is the victim of incest and rape. That to me should be a very personal decision. Mitt was once pro choice, pro gay and pro gun control. He claims he’s done a big turn, so I don’t really know where he stands on many social issues. In the area of civil rights and human rights, Obama wins hands down in my humble opinion. Conservatives claim they don’t want government interference but then try to get the government to tell women and gays what they can and cannot do.
4. His persona. Obama is a likeable guy that I can relate to. He seems like a good husband and dad who really cares about people. He wasn’t born wealthy. He and Michelle had student loans and he drove around in old clunker cars even when he was in the Illinois legislature. He lived in crummy apartments and lived paycheck to paycheck. He could have made big bucks in the private sector, but chose teaching and service. I respect that. He’s patriotic but doesn’t think every war is equally just. I can connect with him. Like his granddad, my dad went out and signed up to serve and defend our country the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. He’s a Constitutional Scholar who understands the need for limits to our rights. He doesn’t want to take away anyone’s guns but questions whether private citizens need automatic rifles. I find the Republican mayor of NYC much more outspoken on gun control. I also like that he is of mixed race and has lived and experienced other cultures. He sees the shades of grey (nothing to do with those novels!) when it comes to global issues like the Middle East and global warming.
5. His record. “General Motors is Alive and Bin Laden is Dead.” Great bumper sticker and true. NASA is privatized, credit card companies are more honest and the economy is coming back. I think we were on the verge of a major depression in 2008. Romney’s policies sound scarily like those of George W. We can’t blame the man for all that’s wrong with the world. Gas prices reflect oil company greed (he did make BP clean up the Gulf) more than presidential policy. There are several sites that list accomplishments of his first administration. Check them out.
It’s clearly going to be a close election. I have tried to warm up to Romney and just haven’t been able to sense that he gives a darn about my demographic or the demographics that I care about. I fear what blunders he’ll make across the pond. I don’t think he can inspire us or bring us together as a nation. He was strongly disliked during his one term governorship. I could say lots more and should include footnotes, but space is always at a premium. If this gets printed, I sincerely thank the KP for its independence.