I got last minute tickets to see Obama at Colorado State University. Which was an awesome stroke of luck. I saw a sitting president. Not only a sitting president, but Barack Obama, the first black president. Awesome. Great.
He was speaking to a college crowd, so he addressed all these awesome things like how he stopped a student loan interest increase, how he funded more grants, how health reform allows kids to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26, how all women now get preventative care with their insurance plans including birth control and mammograms. He talked about how his administration wasn’t going to deny civil rights to gay people. The biggest cheers from CSU students were about green initiatives, lack of dependence on foreign oil and green jobs.
He talked about the economy, though not as much as you might think, I mean college kids don’t really buy homes and pay mortgages or worry about having 401k plans. They aren’t yet concern with taking care of their parents or their kids. Certainly, they haven’t given much thought to their own retirement. Well, most college kids anyway. There are plenty of older students who do.
I was hoping this presidential sighting could cure my voter apathy. It hasn’t.
Not a Bad Job
I don’t think that Barack Obama has done a bad job at all. Honestly, I think it’s a little ridiculous that anyone expects the economy to have recovered after the serious blows it took in less than four years.
Though I’m basically in favor of all the stuff the Obama administration has done, none of it has really improved my own personal life. Health insurance reform seemed to matter so much, except I am now uninsured due to divorce and still can’t afford insurance premiums. My uninsured middle-class neighbors and freelancer friends can’t either. Nor am I poor enough to qualify for Medicaid. I do, however, qualify for the Colorado Indigent Care Program, which existed prior to Obama and will exist after this election. I’m “indigent” but don’t qualify for Medicaid and can’t afford insurance. I thought we were going to do something about this gap in our system, but we didn’t.
The student loan relief . . . excludes me.
The mortgage relief . . . excludes me.
The bailouts, though I’m sure were helpful to many industries – like construction crews for roads, yada yada, – did not help me or my family.
So essentially I voted for all these awesome entitlements, just in case I find myself in a position to need them. I now find myself in a position to need them and I’m “indigent” but I don’t qualify. Uh. OK.
What I need is for the economy to start kicking ass so I can either find a good solid job with benefits or quadruple my writing business so I can afford to live. I don’t want to just live, I want to thrive.
The source of my apathy is that I don’t feel like this election is going to have much of an impact on the economy at all. I think businesses will start hiring again when they feel like it. Just because a company pays fewer taxes doesn’t mean they will hire. That was the faulty thinking of the bailouts too, wasn’t it? Bail them out so they can hire back their employees and give the economy a kick-start. Except they didn’t. They raked in profits on a skeleton crew and kept a skeleton crew. Just because a company pays fewer taxes doesn’t mean they’ll offer their employees more benefits, better health insurance or increase 401k matches. Why should they? We’re so desperate they really don’t have to, do they?
I hope I’m wrong.
I hope companies jump into high gear and hire bunches of people, pump up their benefits, and the economy surges into high gear. That would be massively awesome. This time, I intend to ride the wave. Last time I sat the high out being lamely financially responsible, going without, living within our means and being a stay-at-home mom. It sucked. I hope to cash in on the next high.
No, I don’t think Obama has done a bad job. I didn’t expect a black Jesus.
Boogie Man or Money Magician?
I also don’t think Mitt Romney is either super scary or some kind of magic money man who can turn the economy around just because he’s a bazillionaire. He’s a bazillionaire in a vacuum. He’s the boss. He calls the shots. His employees do what he tells them to do.
That’s not how our democracy works. He has to move a couple hundred stubborn fools and do-gooders with special interests in the same direction. I don’t think Romney will have any more luck getting congress herded in the same direction than Obama has. Is one of his amazing skills herding snakes and cats? No, this is a man unaccustomed to being told off.
We’re a split country. In half. Old and new. Progressive and regressive. One half of us naively idealizing a future that doesn’t exist (and assuming that everyone should have the same idealistic fantasy if they are moral and good, and if others disagree they are monsters). The other half is romanticizing a past, full of ingenuity and amazing leaps in progress and economic growth, (but a flawed past that includes a bunch of serious issues like gender discrimination and slavery and which tends to nurse a bunch of archaic phobias, -isms and prejudices, and romanticizes how awesome it is to work ourselves to death just to scrape by). We’re like a crotchety married couple, smashed up together and fighting over the bed sheets. We fight over how the money should be spent, like every married couple in America, cranky or otherwise. Our legitimate needs exceed our ability to meet them. Someone should give. The other side, of course.
Evidently four years is not enough time for the economy to rebound. Otherwise it would have. I don’t think it would be better we’d elected John McCain to be our President in 2008. Isn’t it equally naive to think that Romney would do better than Obama at it? Maybe he can pull a kajillion dollars out of his ass. I don’t know. If he wins I sure as hell hope he can.
But that’s not all I have to say about the President and the 2012 race. Stay tuned for Part 2!