Vote Obama-Biden 2012
Okay, here's my last political post for 2012. It's a very personal post – a final plea for empathy (not sympathy) from friends and family. You probably already know my preference for POTUS. I early voted, so one of my civil rights has been exercised, a duty and privilege fulfilled. In accessing this particular civil right, we are equals. Now, learn why your choice this year is so incredibly important to me and to my civil rights.
First, I need to offer a few non-personal considerations because, although one issue trumps all the others for me, you don't need to be single-issue oriented to vote Obama-Biden. (Scroll below the next image if you would rather just skip to the juicy personal stuff.)
On the one hand, after nearly four years, we know President Obama to be an experienced and thoughtful Commander in Chief, a prudent leader in foreign policy, and a balanced advocate for all Americans. Don't take my word for it; read former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State General Colin Powell's endorsement. As one of the most even-minded commanders and leaders I know, General Powell is a Republican who would win my vote for President. Our private sector job growth has been positive for 31 months. President Obama is successfully raising a solid and lasting Twenty-first century oriented economy from an inherited recession "highly similar to the Great Depression" (forbes.com).
On the other hand, Governor Romney's positions change to meet the needs of his audience. I trust him not a whit with foreign policy and even less to lead our troops. He was a trigger happy candidate for months until he adopted a peacenik approach in the last presidential debate. What will his positions be in office? Our allies and adversaries would like to know. So would I. His promise to create 12 million jobs in four years has been debunked by both Moody's Analytics and Macroeconomic Advisors. They forecast that 12 million jobs will be created by 2016 no matter who is president. The math behind the harsh Romney-Ryan economic plan doesn't add up and too much of it remains shrouded in "trust us" mystery, quite like the hidden tax returns of Governor Romney. Reading this economic plan is like reliving the eight years that helped create and exacerbate the recession. I spent a large chunk of my life in the military, but I wouldn't accept Romney's extra $2 trillion in military spending. It lacks any details. It's like saying we need to buy more ships because we have fewer than we had in 1917. We're talking apples and oranges in the capabilities of those ships. Budgets should be created from requirements, not by throwing money at something. We also must reflect on the obstructionist opposition party in Congress we've encountered since President Obama took office. Its members continue to ignore the real and immediate needs of Americans. As one most recent example, stop and consider that Senate GOP members procedurally blocked President Obama's September proposal to help veterans find jobs in their communities over the next five years. The GOP blocked jobs for our veterans! That's jaw dropping!
My advice on these issues alone: keep experience in the oval office; expel the GOP from Congress.
But I said this post is personal. Here's why.
A vote for Mitt Romney is a vote to kill my ever-so-incrementally, slowly growing share in American civil equality. We're not there yet. But Canada is! So, too, Argentina, Belgium, Denmark, Iceland, Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden. Even Israel beat us to one of those civil equality milestones.
You see, I believe in this rather big idea called equality. It is a quintessentially American idea (but certainly not an idea limited to America). Civil rights establish our equality more specifically. In them, we share a sense of pride. We enjoy their benefits; we take seriously our obligations. Although the words of America's founding fathers inspire us while enumerating our rights and responsibilities, some of their words fell woefully short of our present day notions about equality. Our supreme guiding document required tweaking as our country matured.
We worked hard and sadly sacrificed too many innocent lives in order to overcome several outdated codifications of slavery: the Enumeration Clause, where each slave counts as three-fifths of a whole person; Article 1, Section 9, which limits Congress from prohibiting the "Importation" of slaves prior to 1808; and the Fugitive Slave Clause, which expressly requires free states to deliver freedom-seeking slaves back to the party laying claim to them. We have matured, haven't we?
We struggled, too, with the question of citizenship. We amended our Constitution several times over many years to grant full citizenship and voting rights to Native Americans, blacks, women, and finally 18-year olds. And why not! We were sending our 18-year-old children to war. We now look to the Fourteenth, Fifteenth, Nineteenth, and Twenty-Sixth Amendments for these civil rights. We have matured, haven't we?
We famously wasted time, energy, money, and more lives with our Eighteenth Amendment prohibiting alcoholic beverages in the United States. Nearly fifteen years later we regained our senses by repealing it. We have matured, haven't we?
Why am I making this personal appeal? Because this big idea of equality guides my own journey, my personal maturing. For the longest time I refused to acknowledge to myself who I was. I joined the military thinking my life lacked sufficient discipline. I switched religions thinking it would help me get closer to God and effect a change. I rose through the ranks as an Air Force officer and fighter pilot. Friends and family thought they knew me. One actually did. With encouragement and support from an extremely close straight friend, I finally came out to myself. Lifting that weight off my shoulders was liberating. But my newly honest self now had to confront the life it loved. Being out in the military twenty years ago (even two years ago) would have cost me my job. So I resigned my commission rather than live a lie. By the way, my good friend is now a retired officer and proud father of two. And in his follow-on career he currently interns as a counselor. Go figure!
President Obama ended "Don't ask, don't tell" (DADT) so that everyone can serve as open and honest individuals, not forced to lie. It has hurt no one. The Air Force can even recall me from the Ready Reserves now if they ever need a crusty old fighter pilot.
But our country is still maturing. I remember my loving mother sitting with me at her mother's funeral service, lifting both our spirits by gently nudging my shoulder and whispering that I no longer had to worry how to answer Mamaw's constant question: "Am I ever going to see you get married?" (Mamaw's other constant remark: "You need to eat more!") I always managed to dodge the honest answer: "Mamaw, neither my state nor my country allows me to marry. The option of asking my love to marry me is not open to me in the same way it is to your other grandchildren." Funny, I always thought Mom would get to see me marry. She, too, is now gone.
So, you see, a vote for Romney offends me when considering this big idea of equality. He supports the "Defense of Marriage Act" (DOMA) and promises to waste our time, money, and Justice Department resources to defend it. He makes no sense. Two federal courts have now ruled DOMA unconstitutional – and House Speaker Boehner has wasted Congressional time and our money defending what President Obama and his Justice Department refused to defend. Our current administration understands that DOMA's constitutionality is indefensible. The former governor has also signed a pledge to pass an anti-civil marriage equality amendment to our Constitution. It would be our Twenty-Eighth Amendment. If ratified, I would give it about fifteen years before repeal, just like prohibition. Another huge waste! His action on this pledge would not only waste federal time and money, but the process would waste states' time and money as well. Governor Romney has repeatedly vowed to litmus test his judges for Federal benches. Why? To reverse America's progress toward civil equality for all citizens. Doesn't he realize his vow consequently interferes with states' rights that he claims to support? So inconsistent! Governor Romney doesn't get it. Mitt Romney and the Republican Party have not matured with their country.
Why am I making this personal appeal? Because I want my friends and family to keep this unserious and backward-thinking Romney-Ryan pair out of office. I don't want your vote to codify my second-class citizenship. George Orwell rather famously quipped in Animal Farm that "ALL ANIMALS ARE EQUAL BUT SOME ANIMALS ARE MORE EQUAL THAN OTHERS." How much longer must Orwell's unpleasant maxim roll around in my head whenever I visit and converse with my "more equal" straight friends and family? I try to silence its truth about my state and my country. But it keeps shouting at me, haunting my thoughts about you.
If this election somehow threatens your civil rights, let's talk. We can slowly, deliberately, and carefully consider your thoughts and objections. Until then, know that a vote for Romney-Ryan is a vote for my continued second-class citizenship – and it is offensive to me. Obama-Biden in 2012 is the way forward.