Well, four years ago democracy was exciting. In 2012, democracy is, frankly, a little terrifying. In 2008 we were choosing between this awesome black guy and this not as awesome but still pretty harmless old war vet with a phenomenally entertaining
Britney Spears has said some silly things in her time about politics, although (wisely) she hasn't said a whole lot on the subject, but I think we can agree that Britney 2012 is a proven beacon of wisdom far beyond the reach of any comprehension. Therefore, on a day and regarding a subject that has been written on and discussed as nauseum from nearly every angle imaginable, I thought I'd offer my take on this very important if drastically talked to death topic in what I hope is a new and unique way worth a small spot in the digital literature of the 2012 presidential election.
Because at the end of the day, it all really just comes back to Britney, doesn't it?
1. Even if Barack Obama were to sit in his underwear in front of the television for the duration of a second term, he would already have made a more significant positive impact on my actual nuts and bolts life, and many others' as well, by drafting and pushing through the Affordable Care Act. Because of President Obama, starting in 2013 I will not have to worry about being denied health insurance because of my pre-existing condition, one which requires me to take simple but prohibitively expensive daily medication (it's one pill, but boy is it pricey) so long as I wish to remain alive and as healthy as a clam as any human being deserves the chance to be if conceivably possible. To clarify, I need health insurance to survive; without Obamacare, I cannot get health insurance unless it comes as a benefit with my job. (For the record, I do not presently have a job, nor have I for eighteen months; have you heard the economy sucks?) In dramatic shorthand, Obamacare will save my life. And that's just me; there are so many other great benefits of this legislation that will positively affect literally just about everyone in the United States at some point or another that I don't know whether to be baffled or infuriated by the folks up in arms attempting to get the legislation repealed. Like it or not, we are all Stronger than yesterday because Barack Obama had the balls to push through health care reform that half a century's worth of well-meaning politicians have failed to realize. *Foghorn*
2. Don't Let Me Be the Last to Know exactly what Paul Ryan's magical arithmetic-proof trick is that allegedly will allow significant tax cuts and debt elimination coexist without those of us lacking a shitload of dough suffering like Christina Aguilera at the Born This Way Ball... although I guess in order to be last I'd have to wait until the entire remainder of the population was made privy to the details, since it seems nobody besides the Vice Presidential candidate actually knows, either. Including, quite possibly, Governor Romney.
3. "I love Big Bird...but I’m going to stop the subsidy to PBS." Not that PBS (or NPR) gets all that much money from the Fed (15% for PBS, 2% for NPR, approximately), but look. Governor Romney ain't a fan of the arts, or at least a buyer into the notion that the arts (and decent news coverage, and Car Talk, and Big Bird) do a world leader nation enough overall good that each of us could afford to chuck a dollar a year toward the cause ($445 million currently goes to PBS per year). When it comes to Mitt Romney, the credo is Me Against the Music.
4. Remember the last time we took a "No, really, you do whatever you want, seriously" stance on Wall Street and, more broadly, that thing Mitt Romney constantly touts called "Business?" This would be from about January 2001 to January 2009 or so - coincidentally, the duration of George Walker Bush's two terms in the White House - in case anyone needed a refresher. That didn't really turn out so hot in the end, did it? Lehman Brothers probably would agree, although Bear Sterns, Chase Bank, Bank of America, and numerous others might not feel like it was all that horrific, since they were spared a lot of pain and consequence when our tax dollars bailed them out. By the way, when you had that last overdraft charge, I assume Chase let you off free...bailed you out, if you will...since fair is fair, right? They didn't? Well isn't that interesting). Anyway, the bottom line is this philosophy proved pretty clearly bad news, as 8% unemployment and millions of depleted retirement savings funds and, not least, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan never cease to remind us. So why on Earth would we want to elect a ticket that very openly plans to return to that economic strategy? Talk about a severely un-cute case of Oops! ... I Did It Again.
5. Look, there are some good elements of conservative fiscal ideology. We should spend within our means and try to avoid superfluous debt. We should encourage people to invest in new ideas, technologies and businesses, especially those that have some beneficial quality to the nation and/or mankind (i.e. not credit default swaps or tabloid media). In fact, conservative fiscal policies are really good guidelines for individuals to consider. But when it comes to the greater good, it's a different matter. I mean, otherwise, what would be the point of government in the first place? A big BIG reason we need government is that even the most successful Paul Ryans among us cannot do everything that needs to be done in order for Paul Ryan to live, much less thrive. It hasn't been that way since we stopped hunting and gathering and thought to collaborate on this whole life thing because specializing and spreading the responsibility allows us collectively to accomplish exponentially more. In generral, I've always felt that a lot of what counts as fiscal conservatism is really just a little Selfish. That's MINE! My money! I made it! Keep your grubby hands off and go build that road I drive in my Mercedes (boom boom baby) to my office, or go get a minimum wage job in one of my franchise stores and do the work that sends millions of dollars barreling into my 401k while I sit at my corner office desk or maybe go for a round of golf with Muffy and Tad.
6. Gasoline sucks. It's expensive, it's killing our planet, it's not sustainable, most of it comes from fucked up countries like Iran and Venezuela, and it makes a lot of really shitty people a crapload of money, even when they accidentally dump thousands of tons of it into the ocean and kill lots of adorable baby seals and coral reefs and lots of ugly sea creatures that nevertheless are necessary to sustain the adorable baby seal population and much of the economy of the world. You know what's better? Wind power. Electricity. Solar power. Fuel created from some of the bilge we're stuffing into our landfills at an ungodly rate. You know who's big on that stuff? Barack Obama. You know who'd rather slice up the Alaskan Wildlife Preserve and bore under our schools and run a pipeline down the Midwest from Canada to Mexico? Governor Mitt Romney.
7. Mitt Romney is a strange candidate even before you start parsing his wavering political standings or delving into sensationalized media exposés of Mormonism (because it's so much stranger than any other faith-based belief system), and it could suggest something about the party putting him forward for election today. See, nobody seems to like him. Has there been another presidential candidate in recent memory that so blatantly smacked of "meh, best we could find" dispassion? (Even John Kerry was more beloved.) It's tempting to feel sorry for handsome Mitt Romney and his Can't Make You Love Me problem - is it his life, or the things he do? - but two things should stop you. First, he's a big boy, and just as capable as any of us to have learned how to be liked if he so chose (and he's running for President, so I'd say he so chose); second, how the hell is he going to get anything done internationally, let alone in Washington?
8. I'm not going to bother dissecting this one because it's obvious. Mexicans are people too. Useful people, most of the time. They are definitely not "illegals." People aren't illegal. And our immigration laws are racist and myopic, and until they're changed we should not be punishing very useful people who really really really want to work and pay taxes and be American. And we REALLY should not be allowing a state to pull over any brown person they want and ask to see papers. Barack Obama hasn't done nearly enough on this matter, but with his executive order granting some amnesty to children of "illegal" immigrants, he's stepped a few feet toward getting thousands upon thousands of people Out From Under a needlessly problematic legal system. Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan would veto the Dream Act, and would definitely not help the cause in any way even if they do nothing to explicitly harm it (which is possible, with the horrifying racist and xenophobic slant of the present Republican Party).
9. Boys. Sometimes a girl just needs one. Sometimes a boy does too. But you know what we really need more of in our government, and atop our company hierarchies, and on our courts, and in our military, and many other places? Girls. Girls are great. Girls make babies. Girls utilize the emotional and practical methods of thought. Girls aren't violent warmongers. Girls are the shit. Mitt Romney is so unfamiliar with girls that he needed other people to compile binders full of women in order to hire a couple of them when he became governor of Massachusetts. No, he is so girls-ignorant that he actually talked about this on national television thinking it was a totally awesome example of dealing with the concept of girls that made him look super-girl savvy. Plus his party wants to essentially liberate the fairer sex of the right to make a number of important choices about their own bodies and health and sexuality, because men know best, naturally. Might be because he has five sons and no daughters. Obama has two daughters. Just sayin'.
10. Considering how much Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and their fellow Republicans, particularly the "Tea Party" faction that dominated the 2010 midterm elections and stuffed Congress with, essentially, well-paid sandbags (or toddlers, you pick) whose one task (and, for all we know, only skill) is to stand arms crossed and say "No," bitch and moan about government getting out of people's lives, they sure don't seem to have a problem with using the government to get very involved in people's lives when it comes to sex and religion and when those people are gay, non-Christian, and/or, well, female. For one thing, these people just don't seem to understand the significant difference between being forced to allow other people to do things or live certain ways that will never directly affect them and forcing other people to do things or live certain ways because you think they should for some reason. The right of two men or two women to obtain a marriage license does not equal the right of any man or woman to look at those two men or two women and think "that is just gross." The latter right already exists, and always will as long as we have the First Amendment. Legalizing gay marriage or abortion or providing birth control with your 21st century health insurance plan isn't forcing folks to approve or to be subjected to something another does that they find offensive. It's forcing the government, and the public at large, to just let me, Let Me Be.
Okay, there you go. If you haven't, go vote now (especially if you're in Ohio). Tell Barack Obama to Gimme More; you want him to be our President, Baby, One More Time. And while you do, here's a playlist to remind you what's really important today.
Don't Keep Me Waiting.