Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Steanso's Closing Argument

Well, with the election right around the corner, I have a feeling this thing may still end up being much more of a nail biter than the media would have us believe.
I read a friend of mine's blog last night, and she talked about describing the presidential race to her little boys by way of comparison to the David and Goliath story, with, in her version, McCain being equated with David and Obama with Goliath (needless to say, my friend comes down more on the conservative side of the political spectrum than I do).
But after getting a bit of a chuckle over her anecdote, it made me stop, think, and wonder about how many other people see the race in the same way that my friend does. Even moreso, it made me think about how much this country has changed over the last couple of decades. We're now at the point where a black man with three and a half years of Senate experience is seen as a Goliath who's threatening small, heroic John McCain? McCain is a white male from a well-connected family who's been in the Senate for over 20 years and who's running on behalf of a party who's held the White House for the last 8 years and controlled the legislature for 6 of the last 8! Obama favors health plans which will insure more of the nation than McCain's, a tax plan which would benefit far more people in this country than McCain's (and yes, that includes small businesses- few of which make over the $250,000 a year necessary to bump them into a higher paying tax bracket), and economic recovery plans which give incentives to companies that keep jobs in the U.S rather than shipping them overseas (a benefit to American workers that won't be seen under McCain's plan).
Anyway, the David and Goliath thing just killed me because even though I know it was mostly a reference to the lead given to Obama in recent polling numbers, it seems to me that Obama's entire campaign has been about protecting the middle class and "the little guy", while McCain is all about tax cuts for the wealthy and for big business along with continued deregulation. McCain is still proceeding under the "ownership society", trickle down economics model, acting as though helping big corporations and the wealthy is enough to translate into a better standard of living for the rest of the country.
And there could not be a stronger refutation of these trickle down theories than the failures of the Republicans over the last eight years (as jobs have been shipped overseas and income disparities in this country have continued to grow at an alarming rate), including our current economic meltdown (note: I'm not saying that supply side economic theories have absolutely no merit, but the idea that American workers and middle class families will survive and thrive through the use of unregulated free markets and trickle down economics alone just doesn't hold much water anymore).
We need change. We need someone who will not be content to sit back and say that the American economy is strong and everything is going fine while American workers continue to contend with the outsourcing of jobs, salaries being reduced, and benefits (including insurance) being cut, all while wealth continues to "trickle up" to the wealthiest members of our society (and no- I don't hate rich people, but I just think the basic needs of workers shouldn't go unmet while the wealthiest among us get even richer, often off of the product of middle to lower class American labor).
McCain keeps launching attacks against Obama, saying that he's a socialist who wants to "spread the wealth around", but when it came time to give $700 billion of government money to Wall Street firms in order to shore up big business, McCain didn't bat an eye in handing that money out. Once again, it's not so much about the redistribution of wealth for McCain as it is about making sure that the money flows to the right places (which for McCain will always mean to big business and to the wealthy).
Even McCain's symbolic everyman, his "Joe the Plumber", is essentially a fictional character who works as a plumber and makes over $250,000 a year (the actual Joe the Plumber had never actually owned or operated a plumbing business- something like 95% of real plumbers make less than $50,000 a year and would do much better under the Obama tax plan). This is the person that John McCain claims to want to help- a fictional, run of the mill, middle class worker who makes over $250,000 a year. The real people that John McCain wants to help are big businesses and our wealthiest citizens. They make up his base, and they're who he represents- which is ok, but I just wish he would be honest about it.
Anyway, Obama is running his half hour TV spot tonight and making his "closing argument", so I guess, in a way, this is probably mine.
I think John McCain is a good man, but I think he represents policies and theories which are outmoded, and which have proven to be ineffective. I think that if he's voted in to office we're going to see the continuing growth of a radical divide in this country between the rich and the poor with a continually shrinking middle class. I think McCain will continue to extend the war in Iraq far beyond what is necessary, and in the process he will continue to spend tremendous amounts of our nation's resources in a conflict that we never should have gotten embroiled in in the first place, all at a time when we desperately need those resources for everything from healthcare to education to maintaining our national infrastructure (those levees down in New Orleans could still use a lot of work, people).
It's time to move forward with someone who will represent change, not only to the American people, but to the world. We need to regain international trust and rebuild relationships with our allies and potential allies. We need to be willing to have discussions with potentially hostile nations, but with a sense of resolve that lets them know that we are unwilling to waiver on issues of democracy, civil rights, national security, and other core beliefs. The willingness to have a discussion does not equal a showing of weakness. Discussions, in fact, can help potential enemies understand the strength and willpower of the enemy they face. The willingness to listen demonstrates judiciousness, fairness, and a lack of ethnocentrism. These are qualities that we would do well to demonstrate on the world stage at the moment.
So that's it. Vote Obama. I kind of think he's crazy for wanting the job with all of the problems our country is facing, but if he's willing to take it on, I'm willing to support the man and stand behind him.


Meredith said...

Okay I have held my tongue lately on your blog to keep my blood pressure level, but had to chime in here since you reference me today in post. Not afraid to expose that I'm the one in the story.

To set the record straight, I told my son the David and Goliath story as his bedtime tale...HE asked me about McCain being a good man, and I said yes. He then used his deductive reasoning skills (as much as a 5 year old has) to ask if that meant Obama was his mind he thinks if one is good, one had to be bad. That is why, if you will read the blog again, you will see that I explained to him that they are BOTH good and mom just want to vote for one over the other. But both were good.

So, glad you got a chuckle....afraid you may have missed my point, though...I was not trying to throw Obama under the bus to my 5 year old. I was explaining to him how both could be good men at the same was actually a compliment to 'your guy'. But hey, use it as comic fodder on here if you need to.

Jill said...

I think that you and my kid should go on the road. You'll give the closing argument, and then he'll explain it in three quick sentences.

J.S. said...

Aaargh. Queenie, here's the thing- I've got you posting videos of your kids making campaign pitches for McCain on your blog, and Jill posting videos of her kid over on Facebook endorsing Obama and spitting out phrases about his healthcare plan. How am I supposed to hear all of these parental stories about parents indoctrinating their kids politically WITHOUT finding it funny? (because, frankly, if I don't find it funny, the next available option is to find it a little creepy, and I don't want to go there). I'm really am thrilled to hear that you told your kid that Obama is a good man. And I think McCain is a good man. The main point of including the David and Goliath story on my blog was actually to point out how much our country has changed in that we've gotten to the point where Obama might sort of legitimately be seen as a Goliath to some people (since he's leading in most polls and has raised so much more money than McCain)- even though having a black man in such a position in a presidential race would have been absolutely unimaginable 20 or 30 years ago! (while having McCain as a candidate seems much more traditional) I even posted a comment on YOUR blog before I made my post on my blog in which I congratulated you for reassuring your son that Obama was a good man.
Including kids in political discussions just strikes me as strange because we didn't really talk about politics as kids in my house. My mom sort of leaned more politically toward the left and my dad leaned a little more toward the right, but both of my parents were basically independents who focused on the candidates and not their parties. My parents worked very hard at teaching us values, morals, and ethics, but they didn't talk much about politics, and my political beliefs are ones that I more or less developed and came to on my own as I got older, not because I was told which party our family endorsed, but as a product of my own personality and the moral lessons that my parents instilled in me. (I'm not saying it's a bad thing to talk to your kids about politics, either, but we just didn't do it in our house growing up, so it strikes me as strange when I hear political rhetoric coming out of the mouths of small children).

Anyway, I DO tend to argue with your characterization of Obama as Goliath to McCain's David because I just don't see the metaphor holding up, but I wasn't trying to be mean spirited when I said I chuckled at your story. I just find the combination of small children and politics kind of amusing. I'm sorry to have offended you.

Jill said...

I don't know, Jason. While Meredith and I couldn't agree less ideologically, I think we couldn't agree more about getting kids engaged politically (hey Meredith--do you remember our discssions in Ms. Gray's class before the 92 elecetion? Seems we knew where we stood, even then).
While each of our cute little kiddo videos championing our particular candidate are light and really reflect the values of the parent now, I think that by introducing them to the political process early helps at least give them a chance at remaining politically engaged later. I would say that about 2/3 of my undergraduate students (juniors and seniors in college who are studying to be teachers) don't know what either politician stands for (and have told the class that they don't plan to vote). To me, this is shameful.
I recognize that just because Meredith and I are exposing our kids now doesn't mean that they will engage later, but I think they stand a better chance. I also know that my parents (and Meredith's, if I recall correctly) were very open about whom they were voting for and why. We talked about it around the dinner table, and I'm glad we did.

Also, feminist that I am, I believe that the political is personal. When one of my child's parents--who works for a living--does not have healthcare because she can't afford to buy it independently, and the ideas of a bigoted voting public make it challenging for her to get it from her partner's job, it is personal and plays out in his life. Right now. So, yeah, we talk about it.

J.S. said...

Yes, I mean no, I mean... I mean there's nothing wrong with exposing your kids to politics. I was just saying that of course I'm going to find these political displays funny, because, really, how else am I supposed to view them? Kids at the age of Arden and Meredith's kids are pretty much just rehashing what their parents tell them to say, because obviously at this stage they don't know enough to be making a conscious choice (I doubt Arden understands trickle down economics or differences in U.S. foreign policy stances, even though he's clearly a very smart kid). Kids spitting out political preferences strikes me as FUNNY because I know that eventually they are going to grow up and make their own decisions and choose their own path (if I didn't know that these kids had free will to make their own decisions, THAT would make it creepy), and while they will undoubtedly take the teachings of their parents into account (and no matter how much SOME parents might wish otherwise), they are going to eventually come up with their own belief system, philosophy, and ideology. I found both the clip of Arden and the clip of Meredith's kids to be humorous, because... How else am I really supposed to take it? As serious poltical discourse from a 4 year old? My family's way of raising us is obviously not the only and not necessarily the best way of doing things, but, of course, the most important thing is just raising a good kid. Politics can be part of that or not so much, but I think both Arden and Meredith's boys look like great kids!

Jill said...

Yeah, I think they're hysterical, or I wouldn't do it. But, while he doesn't understand economic policy, he does have a concept of fair and unfair.

I also think that it is a tribute to my own parents that one of their three daughters is a Republican and the other 2 way more lefty than either of my folks. We clearly are independent thinkers.

The League said...

What creeps me out is when the kids AREN'T Jill or Meredith's kids age and are rehashing what their parents told them. Especially when, as adults (or whatever gray area you want to define as college-aged), they cite their parents as an absolute moral authority.

I rarely think its appropriate to tell my professors, a news crew, or anyone else that "My Daddy always said (fill in with some horrible, often racist, red-necky, homespun wisdom)."

While I know neither Mere or Jill's kids are headed down this particular path of hillbillyness (unless Jill is up to something I've missed), I always wonder what the hell went on in those households.

I love KareBear and The Admiral, but...

J.S. said...

Yeah, I DO think that there are household where the parents put so much pressure on their kids to maintain certain political beliefs that it can overwhelm the kids, and I think that's not a good thing. Talking about politics and explaining your political beliefs with your kids is a very good thing. Making your kids think that they might not be loved or accepted by their family if they don't hold a particular political belief strikes me as wrong, and I think that some of those kids that The League is talking about probably come from those sorts of families.