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President’s Day

My plan was to post about Boundries today, but yesterday was my baby’s 4th Birthday and today is President’s Day and it’s got me to thinking, so I’ve bumped my prepared post for this, my train of thought on politics in America.

When I married Sean I remember being struck with the idea that if we had a child, that child could grow up to be President of the United States. Growing up as a Canadian, that was a trip to me. I’m sure other countries would have cause for debate, but with the power that the United States has wielded for so long as the “leader” of the free world, you could argue that being the President of the United States is, perhaps, THE most important job in the world.

The thing is, where we stand now, it’s a job I wouldn’t want my son to touch with a 50 foot pole. Loch is currently on the “I want to be a policeman” kick, and as much as I hate the idea of him strapping on a gun and doing the honorable, yet hideously dangerous and underpaid, work of a law enforcement officer, I think I’d prefer it to President of the United States. What does that say about our country?

I’m currently awaiting my interview for American citizenship. I’ve been living in the US for 13 years and am only now truly eligible for a passport. I did the work visas. I did the temporary green card after my marriage. I got my permanent green card after Sean and I had been married for 2 years and could prove our marriage wasn’t in fact a scam,and now, after thousands of dollars in legal and processing fees and countless hours of preparing and gathering the right documents and information, I’m finally writing my citizenship test and having my interview in March. I don’t need to do it. I can legally and happily live on my green card indefinitely. The thing is, I want to do it. I love this country. I want to be a part of it. I want to be the same citizenship as my family. But mostly, I want to vote. I want to be part of the democratic discussion. I want to count.

My problem is, will I?

I’ve lived in the country for the past 3 elections, Bush, Bush and Obama, and I’ve become increasingly disillusioned with both the electoral college voting system and American politics in general. From an outside perspective the whole process seems innately flawed. Ignoring idiocies like the “hanging chad” fiasco of the first George W election, I find it perplexing that the person who wins the popular vote (i.e. more people want him/her as President) can lose the general election. The way the states are played against each other, some being worth more than others is, in itself, undemocratic. The way you have to win some particular state to  win the election is, not only confusing, but somehow unfair. I’m sure Republicans in ‘Blue States’ are fed up with feeling like they don’t count, just as Democrats in ‘Red States’ must feel uninspired to get themselves out to a voting booth. It’s kinda like, what’s the point?

Coming from Canada, I used to think America’s 2 party system made it easier to decide. Less dissemination of votes, made for a clearer cut winner. You don’t end up with a leader, as you can in Canada, who only received 30% of the vote. But now that I’ve lived state side for over a decade, I see that, in someways, this isn’t a great system either. There’s no room for middle ground save candidates themselves that are either left leaning conservatives, or fiscally conservative liberals. America’s become, even more so lately, a ‘my way or the highway’ way of  “representing” the people. The parties are so at odds with each other that, again from an outsider perspective, very little is able to be accomplished. If you hold the Presidency and Senate or House, you can, in many ways, bully your policies through with little, to no, viable opposition. If you hold the Presidency but not the majority in the House or Senate, then you’re a lame duck, unable to do anything but watch your potential policies get debated to death and torn to shreds. This isn’t what’s best for the American public. We aren’t thriving under this system. If anything, we’re in the worst position we’ve ever been in both domestically and globally.

I tell Loch, you have to be flexible, you can’t always get your way, let’s make a deal. Politicians could learn a bit from my preschooler in the ways of listening and compromising. It’s like the leaders of America need a mom to come in and say “Enough! Work this s*#@ out!”  The way the government is running now, it’s as if, politicians are disagreeing for the sake of disagreeing. Republicans actively and vocally loathe the Obamacare Health Plan, yet there is no other developed country in the world without some form standardized and subsidized health care for all. People dying because they can’t afford health care shouldn’t happen in a country like this, but nor should the few be responsible for the many. In Canada, you don’t worry about getting hurt or sick because you can’t afford it, you worry because it’s awful to get hurt or sick. Yes, Canadian’s pay a lot of taxes but frankly, we pay a lot of taxes here too. The only people that seem to be getting major tax breaks are the very, very rich and the very, very poor, and like I said in my post School: A Diatribe, where does that leave the middle? We need some compromise. We need our representatives working together.

I would skew liberal in today’s politics. Since there is no middle ground, I’d be considered a Democrat. But, I also don’t believe you should have to give away all your hard earned money to the government. I don’t think we need as big a governing body as we have. I think things (and money) easily get lost when there’s too many cooks in the kitchen. I’d like to see less elected officials getting more things done.  I’m pro-a-woman’s-right-to-choose and pro-gay marriage. I’m pro-military AND pro-repealing Don’t Ask Don’t Tell. I’m against an open door policy for all illegal immigrants but I’m pro-immigration. I don’t think people should be asked for their papers on the streets like we live in Nazi Germany, but I do believe they should have papers. As an immigrant myself, I’ve had to go through infinite proper channels and jump thorough hundreds of government hoops to work and live in this country. It’s upsetting to me that I can no longer comfortably send my child to the local public school because of overcrowding, underfunding and the fact that over 68% are non-english speaking students. It’s upsetting to me that the statistics say that by 2035 the most spoken language in America will be Spanish. I’m all for learning another language. Canada itself is bilingual. But what other county in the world has had their primary language changed due to their immigration? If I chose to live in Italy, I better learn to speak Italian. I don’t think it’s too much to ask for a moderate amount of assimilation.

The bottom line is, I come down right in the middle of American politics and I think what we need is to be flexible and work together. Human rights should be non-negotiable. Fiscal, medical, environmental and immigration policies should be up for debate. Compromises must be made.

I said I wouldn’t want my son to be President, and the way things stand right now, I mean it. Look at Obama. Had I been able to vote in 2008, I would have voted for him. I, like many of my generation, wanted to believe in change. I wanted to believe in hope. I wanted to see a new kind of government. One of transparency and working together, where the will of the people dictates policy and the country is not run by a few back room boys wheeling and dealing in Washington. I wanted more FDR ‘The New Deal’ and less wars for oil. I wanted to feel safer from terrorist attacks not like we were asking for it by acting more and more like the gross infidel we’re made out to be. I wanted to see new jobs and less dependence on foreign debt buyers. I wanted to believe in “Yes We Can”. Has Obama delivered on that hope? No, probably not. Does he deserve another 4 years do try and do so? Yes, he definitely does. And not just because the potential Rebulican Presidential candidates range from rich, bland, nothings to appalling, bigoted freak shows, but because Obama has had about the worst 4 years ever to be President. He inherited 2 unpaid for, unpopular wars, the worst fiscal crisis since the Great Depression, near a collapse of the housing and job market and the oil spill in the Gulf, all the while being barraged with inane questions about his birth certificate. When I drive around town and see bumper stickers that say ‘Worst President Ever’, with the O of worst begin the Obama symbol I think, really?! Really?! He ended the Iraq war. Killed Osama Bin Laden. Took out over 30 top Al-Queda leaders. Helped topple Qaddafi’s reign of terror. Closed Guantanamo. Put regulations in place so we can’t be F-ed by wall street and the banks again, and helped avoid total catastrophic financial fallout set up by a number of monumentally, greedy and self serving politicians and bankers. And people HATE him? Hate him? I literally don’t get it.

We shouldn’t hate our President. I can tell you I was not a Bush fan, and I didn’t think he was up for the job of President, but since he was President, I felt he deserved my respect and, at the very least, my grudging support. I didn’t agree with his policies but  I believed in the democratic system to work through the issues. But to loathe him with the hatred usually reserved for murders? No. Totally disrespectful and inappropriate. It used to be that a few crazies or zealots might want to kill you if you were President. Now, it’s like half the country. To hate just because. To disagree for the sake of disagreeing. To work against because you simply refuse to work with. These aren’t qualities that made America great and they aren’t qualities that will make America better.

I’m nervous for America’s future. I love it here. It’s the land of opportunity. The land of free and the home of the brave. A country based on the ‘Can Do’ attitude of a frontier people carving their own path. But we didn’t make this country great by working alone. By looking out only for ourselves. Leading this country now is a lesson in negotiating. Negotiating a coming together. The Right has to stop shutting the Left down. The Left has to stop negating the Right.

As the quote goes: In War, is it whose Right or who’s left? This country is at war against itself. As we look back at the Presidents, leaders and history that came before, we have to collaborate to move forward. To become a country, American’s came together. To save our country we’ll have to do it again.

Otherwise we’re looking at a civil war of undereducated citizens in a country owned by China.

Why would I want my son to be a leader of that?

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23 Comments Post a comment
  1. Caitlin #

    Totally correct. Yet Obama is better than the other GOP candidates our country is seeing. Mitt Romney keeps changing his mind every day which is not good for a country that is certainly not stable. Santorum and Gingrich should have run for president 100 years ago, when his beliefs were not uncommon.Gingrich also wnats poor kids to work as janitors. Ron Paul wants the middle and lower class to pay the price(literally) so that the upper class folks like him can enjoy tax cuts. I personally just think they should pick four or five people off the street and make them president.

    February 20, 2012
  2. Reblogged this on dlcommunicates and commented:
    Thought provoking and well said. Read it and ponder where you are in relation to the issues raised. Ponder what you’ll do about it? Ask yourself if you’re in the irrationally angry, intractable group on either side of the spectrum. Is that who you want to be? Will it solve anything?
    There’s a disconnect between what the mainstream wants and upper class politicians (I don’t think of them as representatives or public servants) ideology.
    Does anyone know of organization(s) that actively & successfully work to change or circumvent the quagmire we’re in?

    February 20, 2012
  3. Jim #

    I think what you say about working together for the country’s good resonates with many average everyday Americans. I think most of us are tired of the bickering.

    February 20, 2012
  4. We disagree politically, but I have to compliment you on keeping your tone civil. You’re setting a wonderful example of that for your son, and I wish more people would take your cue!

    February 20, 2012
    • I really appreciate the classy way in which you disagreed with my political stance. Thank you for also keeping the dialogue civil. I think we can all learn from each other. xo leigh

      February 21, 2012
      • My pleasure 🙂 Loch’s a lucky kid — or, as I would put it, richly blessed!

        February 21, 2012
  5. Happy birthday to Loch!

    February 21, 2012
  6. Amy #

    Hi Leigh, I really enjoy the diversity of your posts and your writing style. This is a fantastic summary of the state we are in. It is an intelligent and well-spoken argument. And, it has personality. I love that you offer your perspective on the immigration process and very clearly state your stance on key issues. I also really appreciate your point about the inappropriateness of hate. Great job, Leigh!

    February 21, 2012
  7. I would add that many, if not all, of the GOP candidates have made statements expressing racism, homophobia, and/or lack of sensitivity to religions that are not their own, or have supported legislation that reflects these sorts of values, or both. In a nation with such a strong history of diversity, do we not want presidents who represent a splash of that diversity themselves (or at least a tolerance of it)?

    I also agree with you about immigration, although the difficult part about asking immigrants to speak English remains that it is still not the official language of the US; we in fact HAVE no “official” language to this day. I would argue that this needs to happen, although it divides people again along political lines whenever the subject is brought up by someone in the government.

    Overall, I think you make a lot of points well here, and want to leave you with another quote, this one by Stephen Colbert, which is one of my favourites at the moment:

    “If this is going to be a Christian nation that doesn’t help the poor, either we have to pretend that Jesus was just as selfish as we are, or we’ve got to acknowledge that He commanded us to love the poor and serve the needy without condition and then admit that we just don’t want to do it.”

    February 21, 2012
  8. I always enjoy your posts. This was a really interesting piece. I do agree with many of your points but I would like to point out that the electoral college is to protect state rights. As someone who just drove across the country, I can confidently share that each state and its citizens is unique, almost like a separate country. Californians do not see things the same way as Texans. Your vote counts towards your state’s vote. The inconsistency is really how each state divided up its electoral votes. Some divide them by the percentage of votes; some are winner takes all. But then that’s a state’s right. I have noticed people in the most populous states are more likely to complain about the electoral college.

    As a former California public school teacher (can’t you tell from my histroy lecture) whose children attended public schools and universities, I believe you can send your children to public schools. It depends on where you live. LAUSD is a mess but Calabasas, Santa Clarita, and other outlying areas have wonderful school districts that produce highly competitve students who go to highly ranked colleges.

    February 21, 2012
    • Thank you for your civil disagreement to my political points. I also really appreciate your extended knowledge on the electoral college. It’s something I don’t truly understand and have always found complicated. I understand that the states themselves are very different in both location and mindset, but shouldn’t an American in Texas, an American in Wyoming and an American in California have the same weight vote on their Commander in Chief, rather than who their state as a whole votes for? I didn’t realize that the state itself decide how the electoral college is divided. I guess I feel that should somehow be federally mandated to make it more “fair”, but I don’t know enough to really speak to the issue with authority.
      I am very interested in your take on public education. I think it has changed a lot in the last 20 years. My husband is a public school kid and did beautifully, but short of moving, as you noted to Santa Clarita or Calabasas or the like, we are stuck with LAUSD, which I think you put well, is a mess.
      Thank you for your thoughts. I sincerely appreciate the discourse. xo leigh

      February 21, 2012
  9. As the election approaches, I sincerely hope that there are more of us out there in the voting public who feel as you’ve stated than are readily apparent. I hope it’s because we’re that proverbial “silent majority” who will rise up to drown out the moaning, groaning masses.

    I, too, feel this sense of impending dread and gloom about the future of America. In part, I suppose, it has to do with the tendency for fear to be the driving force in a lot of political propaganda — even “news” in general. It’s hard to see a future for America with both sides convincing you that electing the other would mean sure Armageddon. Republicans seem to apply this tactic more readily, but Democrats’ employ it as well, only with more subtlety and finesse.

    Anyhow, kudos to you for having the guts to put this out there in the universe. I tend to shy away from bringing up political issues because of the inevitable, pointless debate it brings. Hopefully you’ll be spared. 🙂

    February 21, 2012
    • I was hesitant to mention anything as well, as this blog is, for the most part, not at all polarizing. But I’ve been so itchy lately about how everything is going down – maybe from watching the Republican candidates so much – that I felt it was something I should address. I’d love to avoid the pointless debate myself, though I’m always open to learning, if people can keep it civil.
      xo leigh

      February 21, 2012
      • Definitely. A debate or discussion that leads to learning is always worth the time. With things being so polarized, though, it really is hard to separate facts from fiction — especially with both sides claiming their experts are trustworthy while the others are tainted. Ach! How can you decide?

        February 21, 2012
  10. I agree with you 100%. I also commend you for being brave enough to write this post in a country so divided.

    This is an excellent passage: “To hate just because. To disagree for the sake of disagreeing. To work against because you simply refuse to work with. These aren’t qualities that made America great and they aren’t qualities that will make America better.”

    I do feel afraid to post my thoughts on this subject, or even to speak of them aloud amongst friends. I live in a very conservative area, although a blue state, and I have actually have long-time childhood friends tell me they don’t want to spend time me me because we disagree politically. It is baffling to say the least. It’s also unfair that one side has to remain so quiet and tolerant while the other gets to scream loudly.

    February 21, 2012
  11. Ah, Leigh – yes!

    I tried to explain the principle of respectful politics to some friends during President Obama’s last State of the Union address. The man is our President, whether you voted for him or not. And he deserves the respect of the American people, the majority of which put him in power. Has he fixed everything? No. Does he make me angry sometimes? You bet. Will I vote for him again? The jury’s still out. But you’ll never see me speak of him disrespectfully. Just like you wouldn’t have found me speaking disrespectfully about President Bush.

    Furthermore, I get bent out of shape when the media doesn’t refer to him as President Obama or Mr. President. It’s President Bush. It’s President Clinton. It’s Speaker Gingrich. It’s Governor Romney. So, why should our current president be stripped of the same respectful title? The correct way to address him is President Obama – today, tomorrow, and even if he’s elected out of office.

    This is America, and we don’t spit on our leaders.

    February 21, 2012
    • I think we could all be using a little more respect right across the board. It’s too easy to be disrespectful. Especially when the media propagates it. Well made point. xo leigh

      February 21, 2012
  12. Oh no, definitely not the presidency for Keler- way too much craziness. Whatever DID happen to compromise? And to just letting people do their jobs? Well happy birthday again my favorite nephew (your shirt is cute!). I’m looking forward to the post on boundaries…

    February 21, 2012
  13. Your views apply to my own country as well! And i think you make a better speech than most of our politicians. I hope you don’t mind if i reblog this somewhere.

    February 21, 2012
    • I don’t mind at all. Thanks for reading! xo leigh

      February 22, 2012
  14. Reblogged this on ellikitty.

    February 21, 2012
  15. Colleen #

    Found your blog through the Chance of Sun blog. This entry captured EXACTLY how I feel about politics in America. I definitely couldn’t have said it any better.

    I agree…the passage: “To hate just because. To disagree for the sake of disagreeing. To work against because you simply refuse to work with. These aren’t qualities that made America great and they aren’t qualities that will make America better.”…is especially powerful.

    We need more politicians who feel similarly to achieve compromise and make the country stronger. Thanks for voicing your opinion on this topic! I look forward to checking out your other posts.

    February 24, 2012

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