Saturday, October 18, 2008

Getting My Groove Back

A colleague asked if I had watched the most recent Obama/McCain debate. I said that I had. She volunteered that she continued to be "concerned" about Obama and what he stood for.  The ensuing discussion turned out to be the best conversation that I have had in weeks. For twenty minutes, I didn't grieve for my mother. I became caught up in presenting to this single mother of two why Obama's policies on the economy, health care, and the war in Iraq would benefit her and her children much more than McCain's policies on those matters. I don't think that I persuaded her of anything. She is lying, not as much to me as to herself. She isn't undecided; she plans to vote for McCain. She is just uncomfortable admitting that to me. I'll get to the reasons why in a minute, but first I do want to thank her. My discussion with her pushed me a little more back on the path of being me before I lost mama.  

Mama was a woman of strong opinion and I certainly inherited that character trait from her. She was a great fan of Senator Obama. On the Friday before she died, I visited her in Wilson and we watched the evening news together. There was much about the elections and we discussed all the ins and outs of both campaigns.

I've been unable to find the motivation to write anything of substance since Mama passed away on September 15. I'm still an Obama supporter, but the only reality for me has been that my mother is dead; everything else has seemed surreal, a waking dream, and I've just been going through the motions. That is, until my co-worker expressed her inability to trust Obama and her fear of what he might do to this country should he be elected. I shrugged off the lethargy that has enveloped me of late, and I gave her all the reasons why in supporting Obama, she would be supporting her own interests.  

My efforts to sway her were pointless; in spite of her protests to the contrary, her reasons for not voting for Obama weren't about his policies but about his race. With fewer than three weeks to go until election day, I really think that it's time that we spoke with some honesty about the role that race has and is playing in this presidential campaign. I've never heard so many people speak of any candidate as being someone of whom they are afraid, don't know what he might do to the country, that he may be working with terrorists etc., as I've heard regarding Sen. Obama. Then there's the fixation on his religion--he's a Muslim; he sat in Rev. Wright's church for 20 years (that must have been his non-Muslim period) and listened to reverse racism; and my personal favorite, he's a sleeper agent for Al-Qaeda. 

I don't intend to address these claims; they are ludicrous and based in nothing but fear mongering. Anyone who believes this crap is going to be just like my colleague, totally content in clinging to their ignorance. Don't get your panties in a wad, I didn't say that everyone who supports McCain is ignorant. What I'm saying is that if the reason that you support McCain is because you believe that Obama is an Al-Qaeda supporting, Muslim terrorist, racist hater of white people out to destroy the United States, you are ignorant. If you also still believe that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and/or that Saddam Hussein was responsible for 9/11, you are also working hard to receive a blue ribbon in ignorance. Keep in mind, ignorance can be cured; the antidote is knowledge. 

Fortunately for my peace of mind, there are a great many people who actually care about the issues and are basing their choice of a candidate on his stance on those issues. For those people, I've created a little issues chart presenting McCain and Obama's basic positions on education, health care, stimulating the economy, and the war in Iraq. Check out their respective campaign websites for more details on their response to the issues. 

Issues      McCain    Obama

Upholds Bush's No Child Left Behind Act (NCLB), which requires public school students to pass standardized tests for the schools to get additional federal funding. Plans to enlarge a program offering school vouchers to families with an average household income of $23,000. Supports virtual schools (online education) and will invest $500 million to support virtual schools. Plans to make college more affordable by increasing federal funding on need-based grants and low-interest loans.                      

Critical of NCLB. Plans to reform law by funding it and tracking school progress. Plans to focus on combating high high school dropout rates by implementing mentoring and extracurricular programs. Wants to create a tax credit that will make the first $4,000 of college free--covering two-thirds of the average public college tuition. Plans to make community college free. 


Will provide a $2,500 refundable tax credit for individuals and a $5,000 credit for families. Wants to increase the number of walk-in clinics nationwide.Wants a national health plan to help citizens buy affordable health insurance. Will allow people to choose between the national health plan and private one. Will raise the age limit for children to be covered under their parents' plans to 25.
STIMULATING THE ECONOMYWants to drop the corporate tax from 35% to 25%. Opposes federal control of the minimum wage. Proposes to double the personal exemption from $3,500 to $7,000 for every dependent. Supports decreased spending except for job training and national security.Will inject $75 billion into the economy by cutting taxes for the middle class and providing workers with a tax credit. Will implement a higher payroll tax for those making more than $250,000 per year (5% of the U.S population make more than $250,000 annually). Plans to raise the minimum wage. Plans to provide $50 million to employment programs for groups facing employment difficulties, such as homeless veterans and children aging out of foster care.
WAR IN IRAQ   Hopes to release troops from Iraq by 2013. Disagrees with a withdrawal before Al-Qaeda is defeated, arguing that our troops must stay to prevent another terrorist attack.    Will implement a phased withdrawal of one to two brigades per month to get our troops out of Iraq within 16 months. Proposes to keep some troops in Iraq to protect our embassy and diplomats, but is opposed to having a permanent presence there. Thinks that we need to re-focus our efforts on Afghanistan.
Okay Mama, I'm moving forward, one step at a time.


Beth said...

I'd say that hope comes in many forms, dear Sheria.

I agree that it's time we all spoke frankly about racism in this election. It's happening, and to deny it is to play ostrich. I've written a thing or two about it, and I've gotten some responses from readers who say that they often hear people saying that they won't vote for Obama because he's black.

For the people saying that, I believe November 5 will be a hard dawn. For me, it will be a happy one.

Love ya, Beth

Bucko (a.k.a., Ken) said...

Glad you are getting you groove back. For us, it is not a hard choice, there is no way we could vote for McCain/Palin.

Hope you have a good Sunday :o)

~Rebecca Anne~ said...

I'm going to miss the alerts of AOL as well....that alert just sent me right over here, which is good, because now I know where you are.......

As for the elections, 3 weeks will tell the end of the story...I can only hope with all hope it's a good chapter.

Marie said...

Thought provoking and informative post as ever Sheria. I'd follow you anywhere! (((hugs)))

Saltydawg said...

I have been following this all too carefully and have wondered when racism would raise its ugly head. I just don't get why it should bother someone. From a Brists point of veiw, you guys need change, BIG change. McCain does not reperesent that with his same again policies and his Stepford wife. Palin is full of false family values, Imean how many times is she going to wheel out her teen daughter who's up the duff and then say please leave them in peace?
Obama, is like a breath of fresh air. He's not a socialist, or a seceret bomber or anything else of the kind. He just want's change in a country that has to change. With countries like India and China taking away jobs, and with a world in turmoil, he'll bring a calm to it all........ You need him. The world needs him. Phew, Gaz xxx

Dannelle said...

Hey Sheria, glad to see you getting back in form! It will get easier and I know your Mama would not want you to give up your passion for life.
I sent in my ballot (hate the fact my precinct is mail-in). My family was surprised at my new rebirth in the Democratic Party. If we don't get change be are going to get runover and stomped on, dragged through the mud and become a laughing stock. I thank you for your chart, it is very clear. Actually it is better than most comparisons I have seen. I worry that the "undecided" may use race as a factor in their decisions- so sad that it may come to that. Keep your voice loud and strong, Dannelle

Yasmin said...

Glad to read your taking baby steps forward, and you'll get there in our own time.

Watching the news last night about Obama, was quite disturbing as people won't vote for him because he is black and they fear for their way of life, but isn't Obama about change, and if he wins, wouldn't change be better than what you have now, they are voting for their next President, afterall they are all Americans so why would the colour of his skin matter

Take care


Marc said...

What I want to know is why McCain supporters bring up their vague Obama "concerns" to someone like you. Are they secretly hoping that you'll take them aside and confess that Obama is really all they fear to be true, that you have to vote for him because you're black, but they don't have to and--not to worry--you know they're not racist.
Let's pray that instead yours is one of millions of conversations going on that do seem to be moving many from red to blue. (Like my sister, thank God.)
Your mama is smiling.

aims said...

Am I gonna miss AOL alerts! It'll take a while for us to get used to blogger.

It's good to see you posting again, Sheria. I've thought of you a lot over the last few weeks. Know that you are in my prayers. You are now going through something I've feared for years and even more so now that my mom's health isn't good. I'm very close to my mom, too and I don't know what I'll do without her. Like your mom, mine is very opinionated. She loves, loves, loves and supports Obama. My daddy is supporting McCain. I almost hate visiting them and when I do, I do everything I can think of to steer the conversation away from politics. ;)

You take care and I'll be checking back in soon.

Des's big daddy said...

Good for you. I'm sorry that you have to deal with ignorance at work, but you handle it well.

Judith HeartSong said...

Dear Sheria,

I am so sorry you lost your Mom. I know you will miss her every day.

Your post is wonderful and insightful. We are standing at a crossroads here, and things could go from bad to worse quickly.

Leigh said...

Thanks for the chart on the issues. I've copied it down to share.
It's good to see you writing again. My thoughts are with you often.
Hugs, Leigh

Jeannette said...

I am very sorry to hear of the death of your Mother. Hugs. I came here via Call For Support. As a Brit I can only say that the one thing that should be considered by all Americans, is not colour, age, size or anything else. It is whether the person will make a good President and do what is right for America. Who will be the best at doing the job.

Indigo said...

What was that I just saw? Ahh ok, it's the fire in your eyes, that blaze that burns bright when you come out fighting. I for one understand missing your mother but I'm also a little releived to see that fire blazing inside again. As Marc said, your Mother is smiling. I can hear her now, "It's about time you said something! I'm proud of you.." of course I'm sure you remember the tone and voice loud and clear. Love ya hon! (Hugs)Indigo

Justplainbill said...

Sheria, sorry I was away for a week and finally getting round to reading blogs.
Sorry for you with the lose of your Mother. My Mother died on New Years 36years ago and I still think of everyday. I am sure you have many memories of her that you will recall as I do. {{HUG}} Bill

Alan said...

A friend of mine from South Africa posted a bit about the difficulties people have overcoming long held cultural bias.

Language and habits of thought are hard to recognize and change. They seem to get in the way of rational thought quite often.

Good to see you back, pen in hand, taking on the world again.

Peace, Alan