I’ve participated in American democracy primarily by voting, at least up until now. I voted when I turned 18 and still show up for every election in the many, many years since. Like many of us, the election of Donald Trump has suddenly turned me into an honest-to-God activist. I’m calling my representatives in congress, writing letters to the paper and will be meeting a member of my Congresswoman’s staff this Friday. My Congresswoman will still be in DC. Otherwise I’d be meeting with her in person. I’ve been watching videos of town meetings in other parts of the country, where hundreds or thousands of people have been turning up to protest and let their elected reps know they’re on notice.
Republicans, alas, control both houses of Congress so there have been setbacks. We have a Secretary of Education who knows nothing about public schools or college education. We have a Secretary of State (Jeff Sessions) who was condemned by Coretta Scott King back in the 1980s for his support of racism and segregation. My Senator, Elizabeth Warren, was shut down by Republicans before she could conclude her testimony against Sessions. As a result, #she persisted is now a viral meme on the internet.
The Supreme Court nomination process worries me. These are lifetime appointments and we have a split court. It’s been rightward-tilting up until the death of one of the judges and the Republicans held up Obama’s nominee for an entire year. Right now we have four liberals and four conservatives. Another conservative could set progress back for generations. Trump’s nominee will need 60 votes to pass, which means some Democrats will have to vote for him. At the very least, there’s a great deal of pressure on them to delay or defer that vote. A lot of people are saying that the seat was stolen by the Republicans’ refusal to consider Obama’s candidate for so long. Maybe we’ll just have to wait, at least until 2018 when we might be able to get the Senate back, this time with forward-thinking, progressive Democratic candidates.
It’s been an amazing time. Massive demonstrations and mass actions everywhere. It feels different, like we’re on the verge of a revolution. All the energy that went into the Occupy, Black Lives Matter and other movements feel like they’ve come together into one, huge, uproar.
And maybe the women will lead. The Womens March, Elizabeth Warren and the rest may be at the head of the line this time, leading us to change.
I have to admit I’m not as psyched up for this election as I was in 2008. As far as Obama goes, the bloom is definitely off the rose and the Republicans have moved so far to the right I’d be slitting my gender-based and economic throats to vote for them. I don’t like the partisanship and obstruction on the right, but neither do I like the MIAs that Obama keeps pulling (kinda’ like his first debate performance). He did not fight for me like he said he would (hello, public option for health care?).
That being said, I’d be an idiot to vote for the Republican policies that wrecked the economy. Things are bad enough, thank you very much.
Despite my current cynicism, I have to admit that I’ve (sort of) enjoyed watching the debates between the presidential as well as the vice-presidential candidates. Here are my impressions so far:
My personal favorite: Martha Raddatz, the moderator for the Biden-Ryan debate. She kept the debaters in check and did so respectfully and effectively. Hooray, Martha!
Mitt Romney: a bully with an outsized sense of his own importance. He showed no respect for the moderators, interrupted when other people (including the President) were speaking and told a different story every time he opened his mouth. That really pissed me off after a while. His policies are a rehashed version of Bush the second, even though he won’t admit it. I get this impression that this guy has no clue about what life is like for most Americans. And, he’d be a disaster on foreign policy.
Barack Obama: Like a lot of Democrats, I was appalled at his first debate performance. I wondered if he really wanted the job after all. He let Romney run right over him (along with Jim Lehrer). He has redeemed himself somewhat after the second debate but the first one did a lot of damage to voters’ perception of his leadership. I did like his closing appeal, though. It touched a chord – inclusion over arrogance.
Joe Biden: knowledgeable, but went overboard on the interruptions, etc. I wondered if he were doing a “taste of your own debate medicine” routine, given Romney’s behavior the week before. He did win the debate, no doubt about that. I also came away with a better sense of his bona fides, particularly when it comes to foreign policy. The Romney-Ryan ticket has no such experience and Biden’s clear grasp of the situation comforted me.
Paul Ryan: Not much to say. He got blown over by Biden. I’ve read his rap sheet, particularly on issues of women’s reproductive health, and it scares the hell out of me. No way I’m voting for this dude.
I live in Massachusetts and was around when Romney was governor. He didn’t mention that way he got around taxes was to hike fees on student tuition at public colleges. He also went on the road a lot during campaign season/s and really put down the state. I got the impression he was using the governorship as a stepping stone to higher office. He really had no commitment to the people here. Also, he’s a lot more moderate than he claims – at least he was in Massachusetts – which may be why he back-pedaled his positions during the first debate.
And Obama? Well, I’ll give him some points for his inability to get things done (or done well) during his administration. Remember that asshole republican who shouted out “You lie!” during one of his first state of the union addresses? How far could you go with opposition like that? He’s got to own up to the rest, though. He gave up and gave in way too easy. Like the first debate, he let the Republicans walk all over him. He needs to get in the game more aggressively and really, honestly, fight for our future.
Otherwise, we won’t have one.
I’ve just got to love you, Margaret and Helen!
And, I've been following this immigration thing over in Arizona. And wouldn't you know. Out popped this video.