For any of you who have followed my blog for a while, you know my political backstory. In short, I was raised and educated Catholic, followed my mother into a non-denominational Christian faith, voted Republican and did all the things a good Southern boy is supposed to do. Then I moved away. And Hurricane Katrina happened. And the combination of these events began to shape my world view in such a way that I began to swear allegiance to neither the Republican nor the Democratic party. In 2008, I broke away from my family politically and voted for Barack Obama.
Now the next Presidential Election is here and it is time once again to decide who is going to get my vote.
It all began with the Republican primary in 2012. Though we'd gotten a glimpse of Mitt Romney in 2008, he always looked like an amateur next to John McCain. This time around everyone agreed Mitt was the Man To Beat. And he came out swinging. Mitt was the frontrunner from the word "Go."
But something funny happened on the way to Tampa...
Suddenly, Michelle Bachman started getting a lot of attention. Then Rick Perry jumped ahead of Mitt in the polls. Campaign Romney shook off the dust and re-gained ground... only to have Herman Cain (HERMAN CAIN everyone) overtake him. It wasn't until people found out Herman Cain has had about 78 mistresses over the course of the last 3 years that Romney came back. Then came Newt Gringrich- think about that. And just when you thought Romney had finished off all his challengers, Rick Santorum- the most ridiculously close-minded and unpresidential candidate in my lifetime (can you imagine him trying to stand up to China???) began to give Mitt his toughest test. Finally, when the dust settled, Mitt Romney got the nomination after all. Whew...
Now came the tough part: what the hell does Mitt Romney stand for? The next few months were spent revealing that Mitt Romney:
1) is a constant flip-flopper who will say anything to get elected. Let's not be naive- all politicians are. Obama flip-flops. He's had to eat plenty of crow. But Mitt Romney has mastered the art of completely ignoring quotes he's actually made in the past and just saying "That's not true, I did not say that" even when it is being quoted directly to him.
2) is medieval when it comes to social issues. He's got "binders full of women" to appoint to his cabinet... because he wouldn't ever appoint any of the women he personally or professionally knows because, well, he doesn't know any. And don't even start on issues of civil rights for gay people.
3) has no specific tax plan. Oh wait... I stand corrected Mitt Romney spent the better part of July and August talking about a $5 Trillion Dollar Tax Cut, only to completely deny it in every single debate with Barack Obama. He used the phrase "cut spending" (a Republican buzz word which is actually a good policy), only any idiot will tell you cutting spending does not increase revenue. It only frees up the current revenue you have. And when one finds himself in debt, the only way to climb out of debt is to cut spending AND increase revenue. And tell us Mr. Romney, how do you plan to increase revenue? By cutting taxes for the middle class AND the wealthy? Hm.... that doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. #Arithmetic
4) believes that 47% of the country's population is lazy and doesn't want to work for a living. Remember this factoid for later.
5) has no foreign policy. To have this confirmed, watch the 3rd Debate in which Mitt Romney agreed with everything Barack Obama has done in office and proposed no new ideas.
And yet, here I was, back home in Louisiana not even a week ago and was completely surrounded by people who were voting for Mitt Romney. Not only were they loud and proud about it, but they tried to challenge me on WHY ON EARTH would I vote for Obama?!?!?
It went a little bit like this:
Mom: "How could you vote for that lying ass Barack Obama?"
Me: "How could you vote for that lying ass Mitt Romney?"
Mom: "Nate, just look at the economy!!!!"
Me: "Oh you mean the one that Republican policies helped to drive us into? Ok. What does Mitt Romney plan to do to get us out?"
Me: "Oh and by the way, did you know that unemployment in September was the lowest it's been in 3 1/2 years and consumer spending was almost double what economists thought it would be? Hm."
Nanna: "How could you vote for Barack Obama? He wasn't even born in this country!"
Me: "Oh Jesus."
Nanna: "Well he wouldn't show his birth certificate!"
Me: "I guess Fox News didn't ever show the birth certificate that Obama released did they?"
Nanna: "Well what took him so long?!?!"
Me: "Funny, I wonder the same thing about Mitt Romney and his tax returns...."
Stepfather: "How could you vote for that man? He's not a Christian!"
Me: "Yes he is actually."
Stepfather: "Oh bullshit."
Me: "By the way, Mitt Romney is a Mormon."
Me: "And Paul Ryan is Catholic" (My stepfather believes Catholics are not Christian, btw)
Stepfather: "Well tell me one thing Barack Obama has done that proves he's a Christian."
Me: "I don't know the man personally, but eliminating pre-existing conditions so that everyone has a shot at healthcare seems like a good start."
Stepfather: "That's Socialism."
Me: "Nice retort, O'Reilly. And by the way, did you know that certain sects of Mitt Romney's religion believe in polygamy and the entire church believes a man found golden tablets from God in Upstate New York in the late 1800s, that the church didn't allow black people to participate until 1978 when "God suddenly changed his mind" and that when you die you all get your own special planet?
Elderly Family Member: "Romney was right about the 47%. There are that many lazy people in this country?"
Me: "Do I work?"
Me: "Did you work before you retired?"
Me: "How's that Social Security working out for you by the way? Anyway, (off-screen to mom) Hey mom! Do you work?"
Mom (off-screen): "Yes. Why?"
Me: (to EFM) "So that's 3 people right there. If Romney was right in his statement, then between the 3 of us, at least one of us would have to be completely living off of unearned government benefits believing that they are the victims of an unjust society in which they don't have a fair chance. And since none of us believes that, I guess that wasn't so right. Oh and by the way."
Friend of the family: "Being gay is wrong and our government shouldn't support it."
Me: "Old Testament?"
Me: "Tell me- has your son ever disobeyed your husband?"
FoF: "All the time."
Me: "So why hasn't your husband taken your son to the city limits and stoned him to death? That's in Deuteronomy. Also the Old Testament in case you forgot."
FoF: "Well it says it in the New Testament too!"
Me: "Did Jesus say that?"
Me: "What was Jesus's only real commandment?"
FoF: "Love each other."
FoF: "So you're saying as long as you don't hurt someone you can love whoever you want? So if I go out and cheat on my husband, it's ok as long as I love that other person?"
Me: "Tell ya what, go cheat on your husband and we'll ask him which hurts worse: that there are gay people on this planet or that you banged someone else."
I've tried not to get too political this season. After the Peanut Gallery of the Republican primary ended and the only viable candidate in my opinion (Ron Paul, and even he has some truly frightening ideas) was ousted, I knew I would be voting for Barack Obama. I also know that arguing politics with people in any forum is dangerous.
Because emotions are involved. And they should be. Where it gets dangerous is when emotions rule the decision-making. The 4 examples I provided above are ACTUAL conversations I had just last week. And in all 4 cases, the subjects were not aware that voting should be an informed, intellectual exercise. It should not be made from our hearts first. Our heart should support the decision our brains make. And furthermore, because we don't live under the Ayatollah, faith should not be the ONLY thing that informs our decision. Neither should abortion. Or sexual identity. Or the economy. Or foreign policy. Or any one issue.
In our two party system, one will be hard-pressed to find a candidate with whom one agrees about everything. Lord knows, there are PLENTY of issues that President Obama and I do not agree upon. And I think if some of my family and friends could get their heads out of Fox News's ass long enough, they would find they actually agree with the President on 1 or 2 things (foreign policy for example?) .
I wish it was not like this. I wish we had more than 2 choices. I wish every election did not come down to the lesser of 2 evils. I wish we'd been able to hear from the likes of Gary Johnson, and- hell- even Roseanne Barr for that matter. This is why I'm registered Independent and why I think more of you should register as such. However, until some radical advocate sparks change, the trick to making the wisest decision for any political office in this 2-party climate is finding the candidate with whom one has the most in common.
For me, that never was nor never will be Mitt Romney. I hope he has a long wonderful happy life. I hope he reads this and knows I would never try to undermine his happiness because of my religious beliefs. Because even though he has openly said he would do that to me, I can get even with him in a very non-violent and peaceful way:
he will never get my vote.