I am referring, of course, to the upcoming Presidential election. Before you gasp in shock that I might be considering Mitt Romney, I’m not. Any vote that I cast in November will definitely be for Barack Obama. The part I’m undecided about is whether or not I’ll be voting. Frankly, I’ve been having trouble coming to terms with this because for as long as I have been eligible to vote, I’ve always done so. I’ve done a lot of thinking on this election and I’ve been able to narrow down why I’m hesitant to vote for the President to three main bullet points.
I consider myself to be a liberal progressive and, as such, I’ve always voted for the Democratic Party, even though they don’t always act exactly how I’d prefer. As a direct result of everything that has happened here in my home state of Wisconsin over the last two years, I have become almost completely alienated by the national Democratic Party. While Wisconsin’s State Senators were standing up for me at the local level, the national party remained tight-lipped on the issue. Once the recall became a reality, out-of-state right-wing money was flowing like water in to the pockets of Governor Walker from every direction, including the national Republican Party. Meanwhile, the de facto leader of the Democratic Party, Barack Obama, couldn’t even offer more than a single tweet in support of Tom Barrett. Even the President’s spokesman couldn’t say for sure when asked if the President had endorsed Barrett. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the President’s motivations. He was looking out for his own reelection bid and didn’t want to alienate any of the Walker/Obama voters that are apparently a sizable chunk of the Wisconsin voting block (I’m still having trouble believing that these people exist). He has, however, alienated me. I can only assume that there are others like me out there as well, who hoped that for once national Democratic Party would grow a spine and do what’s right in favor of what’s best for their political careers.
If you ask any legitimate economist what the initial cause of the economic collapse is and what will eventually mark it’s end, no matter what their political ideals, they will tell you it is the housing market. When it comes to my home, I have done everything right. I got a mortgage that I could afford, I’ve never been late for a payment, and I currently pay an interest rate that is a full 3 points higher than the current rates. Yet, my house is underwater so I can’t refinance. No one will do it. We’ve talked to our bank, we’ve talked to credit unions, we’ve talked to the bank that holds our current mortgage (Bank of America is a remarkably evil company, but that’s a long story for a different day). They all tell us the same thing, “You’ve got great credit; We can’t help you.” President Obama is constantly touting his “HARP” program, but guess what, it’s all just for show. We qualify for it and would love to use it, but there is absolutely no reason for any bank to actually participate in it. The entire goal of the program is to lower the monthly costs of our mortgage, allowing us to not only save that money, but also to spend it elsewhere, thus benefiting the economy as a whole. The mortgage holders, being the greedy corporations that they are, don’t want me to spend that money elsewhere. They want me to keep sending it to them. That’s where the President’s program is a complete failure. It looks great on paper, but it offers absolutely no incentive for the banks to actually participate. President Obama sure talks a great talk about helping middle class homeowners like myself, but I’ve yet to see him do something of substance to actually benefit the millions of Americans in the exact same scenario I’m stuck in.
- Health Care
The Affordable Care Act a.k.a. Obamacare is the largest health care reform of our generation. It has some stunningly fantastic initiatives that really does improve healthcare for millions of people nationwide, including but not limited to the extension for covering college graduates under their parent’s policies, protections for those with preexisting conditions, and the upcoming health care exchanges. I’m hugely in favor of it, I’m not arguing against it, and I certainly don’t want to see it rolled back. My disappointments are actually quite the opposite. It didn’t go far enough. Not even close. The President spent far too much political capital trying to gain Republican votes that he was never going to get in the first place. So much so that he ended up with what is essentially a health reform law that the more reasonable (sane?) Republican Party of the 1990s would have gladly voted for. This country’s health care system is broken beyond repair and all that the Affordable Care Act was able to do was put a few bandaids on it. Does that help? Yes. Is it a step in the right direction? Yes. Is that the long-term solution that we desperately need? Not even close. The United States of America deserves a national single-payer health care system. One that is written from the ground up specifically for Americans. Obama had the opportunity to really fight for this, but instead chose to let congress bicker while he sat on the side-lines waiting for a bill to reach his desk. He completely failed to sell the American people on a reform that would benefit the entire country, and instead let the GOP completely control the message. If the SCOTUS does in fact overturn part or all of the healthcare reforms in its decision tomorrow, hopefully it will give Democrats a good reason to actually fight for a single-payer system.
So that’s where I stand. I’ve always voted Democratic, but I’ve been so alienated by how little the Democratic party seems to care about my future that I don’t know if I can support the party any longer. Certainly not with my money, and potentially not with my vote. I understand that not voting in November can be interpreted as a vote in favor of Mitt Romney, which is what leaves me undecided. I just don’t know that I can vote for a candidate that I no longer believe has the courage to truly stand up for myself, my family, and the millions of people like us. If I do end up voting for Barack Obama in November, my vote will be more about potential supreme court appointees in the next four years than anything else.