It's that time again...
First, if you are not registered to vote (or have moved since the last election and haven't re-registered), please make sure you do so before the deadline. The registration deadline here in Oregon is Oct 14 but it's different in every state. You can get more info on registration and polling places at Vote 411.
After you register, make sure you vote! Employers must give you time off to vote by law, and it has never been more important. Additionally, many states allow early voting, meaning you don't have to stand in long lines on election day. Even if you disagree with me on every single thing and will be voting against all of my chosen candidates, I still encourage you to vote - it is one of the most powerful things you can do. Representative government only works if people vote, and our representatives won't really reflect the will of the people if only half of the people vote. If you have any trouble voting, this page lists info on how to get help.
Now, for a little more on why I personally think this particular election is so incredibly important. For me, the most critical issues facing our family (and our kids) are these:
1) the war in Iraq
2) the economy
If you've been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know I've been diametrically opposed to the war in Iraq. I'm all for going to get Bin Laden, but attacking Iraq and killing thousands of American troops, killing and displacing millions of innocent Iraqis, and spending trillions of dollars that our government has/had no plan or intention of paying back? Not so much.
I don't believe that all Republicans are liars, but unfortunately it seems that many of the Republicans in power (or other positions of influence, like the media) are willing to say whatever they think will get them what they want. The last 8 years has been all about lies, half-truths, manipulations, and I'm so sick of it. From the way McCain's people have been running his campaign, it looks like he's not interested in changing this trend. So much for trying to be a "maverick".
I am astonished by the way the Republican propaganda machine manages to convince its followers that the Democrats are at fault for everything that's happening right now, when the Democrats have not been in power for much of the last 8 years. Yes, the Dems have been in control of Congress for the last couple years, and they haven't gotten too much legislation passed. The reason? Bush has vetoed a ridiculous number of bills. Bills that passed through both houses of Congress, including bills that would provide health insurance for low-income children and prohibit water-boarding. He spent ridiculous amounts of money on a war we didn't need (again, Iraq did not help us nail Bin Laden, did it?) while neglecting our own country. Bridges are falling down, more people are without healthcare than ever, financial institutions are crumbling, and somehow that's the Democrats' fault even though Republicans controlled the entire government for 6 of the past 8 years? Really?
But I also don't want to support my candidate by tearing down the other side. Although there are things about Senator Obama that I don't love, in general I think that he would be a wonderful president. He would be so incredibly different from what we've tolerated for the past eight years. Here, I'd like to take a moment to address many concerns I've heard expressed about Obama since most of them are based on inaccurate information.
1) Obama is a Muslim.
NOT TRUE, for the millionth time, and even if it was, so what? Muslim does not automatically mean terrorist. I find this ironic, since Obama has been a person of very strong Christian faith much of his life. In fact, it was his work with a faith-based group that led him into politics. This is someone who is ambitiously pursuing a political career because he sees that this is where he can do the most good - he wants to work to change the system from within, because he's seen it from the outside and realizes how unfair it is to those in our country who have the very least. No, Obama did not and would not take his oath of office on the Quran. No, Obama was not a Muslim when he lived in Indonesia, any more than he was a Catholic.
2) Obama will raise your taxes.
This is untrue, unless you make more than $250,000 a year. There are mass e-mails going round and round that make a bunch of blatantly false claims about Obama's economic platform. If you get one of these, don't get scared - hit delete. Don't ever trust something that you get in a forwarded e-mail, whether it's telling you you just won the lottery in Britain or there's a guy in Kenya who wants to give you ten million dollars if you just send him your bank account information. I make a habit of going to Snopes.com to check out any e-mail forward, and 99% of them are totally false.
Under McCain's tax plan, everyone's taxes would go down, but those making over half a million dollars a year would get the lion's share of the decrease. For people making $38-$66,000 per year, you get a much bigger tax cut under Obama's plan ($1,042) than you would under McCain's ($319). The people who really ought to worry about Obama's tax plan are those lucky folks making over $2.9 million per year. Under McCain, they'll lower their taxes by about $200,000. Lucky them! They can afford to buy another Ferrari. Under Obama's plan, they'd have to pay an additional $700,000. Poor babies.
Much of this is done by undoing the Bush tax cuts, which were obviously fantastic for the economy (hmm...economy under Clinton, pre-Bush tax cuts = good, economy under Bush, post-Bush tax cuts = bad...I'm notoriously bad at math, but this seems pretty straight-forward to me). A fellow knitter on Ravelry posted this great analysis of stock market performance under all of the presidents back through Coolidge. He encourages you to go see where he got his statistics, and if you're skeptical, I would also. Numbers don't lie, unless they're made up (and if you believe that the Dow/S&P and Nasdaq numbers are made up, well, I can't really help you out there).
I'd like to be able to continue living in our house and send the kids to college someday. I'd also like my nice little retirement nest egg to stay in the black. Therefore, I'd like the economy to recover rather than staying in its current free-fall. No matter what you think on the other issues, think long and hard about your family's financial situation and the fact that who you vote for in November will have a direct impact on it. If you make less than $250,000 a year, you'll be better off under Obama. Personally I'm voting for the person who will help stem the current tide of the rich getting richer on the backs of the working class. As a small business owner, I feel even more strongly this way - why should I have to pay double taxes to be self-employed when corporations get huge tax breaks that I can't take advantage of? Obama will be better for small business, until that business starts making piles of money.
3) Obama is going to socialize health care and we're all going to endure terrible medical services and long waits.
I don't buy this. The rest of the civilized world has some sort of government-funded health care and they're not rushing to emulate our system. As someone whose husband recently became self-employed, I know first-hand the difficulties of our current system. Read what the Wall Street Journal has to say about this (yes, it's an opinion piece, but it's a strong argument for Obama's plan and against McCain's plan). You can also read about Obama's plan in detail on his website.
McCain's plan quite honestly scares the crap out of me. I can't imagine why anyone thinks it's a good idea. All of a sudden, we get taxed on our employee health benefits? And the solution is a $5,000 tax credit? How is that going to help people who have to pay over $1,000 a month for health insurance? The anti-Obama machine has managed to scare the crap out of people by telling them the untruth that he's going to tax them 28% on the sale of their home but somehow this one, which would actually happen, slips by. Never mind how difficult it can be to get private insurance if you have any sort of pre-existing condition. Bill had seen a doctor for his knee, which was bothering him while he was marathon training, and because of this he was turned down by two insurers and had to join a group of high-risk participants that was fortunately available to us here in Oregon. Otherwise he'd be without insurance, even if we were willing to pay out the nose. The insurers who turned him down weren't willing to cover him at any price.
4) But that Obama, he's such a snobby elitist. I want a president I can relate to.
Personally, with the state the world is in right now, I want someone who's ridiculously smart in the White House. I want someone who thinks critically about the issues instead of just jumping up and doing the first thing that pops into his head. Plus, the incredible irony of this statement is that Obama and his wife are such quintessential American up-by-the-bootstraps stories that I can't believe that anyone would think they are out-of-touch. Obama was raised poor, by a single mom (until he was 6), and worked his butt off to get into Columbia and later Harvard Law. He didn't have family connections to get him in despite poor grades. In fact, I'm sure he had to work even harder due to the color of his skin.
Obama has a beautiful family that he obviously adores. He's got a smart, successful wife who speaks her mind and quit a high-paying job to stay home with her kids. Not that she needed to in order to earn my respect, but that's the path I decided to take and so I can relate to it. Both the Obamas have dedicated their life to public service, and I can't quite believe that this smart, accomplished, seemingly-ethical man has agreed to run for president. I hope he's got it in him to take all the slime that's going to be thrown at him over the next few months. He's done just fine so-far, but that must be so incredibly difficult, particularly when people make such personal attacks on your family. I think the Obama family is a wonderful example of American family values - it's very much like my own.
In closing (yes, I know, I have a bit of diarrhea of the fingers tonight), I would ask that everyone try to see past the emotions of this campaign and look at the facts. If you think that the economy will do better if we cut taxes despite the fact that we'll get ourselves further and further into debt with McCain's plan, then vote for him. But don't vote for him because you think he's "a regular guy". I don't want the guy down the street negotiating with North Korea, do you? On the other hand, if you think that asking those who have the most to spare pay more than those who are struggling to survive is how society should operate, Obama's your man.
Snopes.com is a great debunking source (for rumors on both sides - you can check out the truth of McCain/Palin rumors there as well), as is factcheck.org, a non-partisan, non-profit website dedicated to checking out rumors as well as analyzing political ads for content. There is a lot of misinformation out there - don't let the media manipulate you, and don't form your political opinions based on the idiots on talk radio or the so-called news (yes, I'm talking about you, Fox News). That's not journalism - it's pandering, and it really ticks me off.
What's my point here? I guess I'm asking you all to be informed voters and really think about what all of the issues are and what impact they're going to have on you and your family. Even though it's easy to focus on single hot-button issues like abortion and gun control, there are so many important things facing us right now - the war in Iraq (and the fact that McCain/Palin don't seem to see any problem with invading Iran as well), our crumbling highways and bridges, rising gas prices (again, don't tell me this is the Democrats' fault when for the last eight years we've had two guys with very close ties to Big Oil in the White House), the housing crisis, the economy, the healthcare crisis... These are the things that will truly impact our lives and our childrens' lives. Vote based on what you think will fix those things, and fixing those things may make abortion and gun control less of an issue. If the economy is good and people are happy, they're much less likely to have abortions out of desperate circumstance or take their gun out to rob the neighborhood convenience store.
And oh, lordy, I realize I've gone on way past the point of common decency. If you're still reading, thank you! You are very patient to be so tolerant of my lunatic ravings. But don't think I'm kidding when I tell you to go vote. Seriously. And consider the issues seriously. Your country will thank you for it.