Wednesday, November 7, 2012

The new "majority"

I have been thinking about a lot lately. Having many conversations with Greg, with friends. After last night, I first need to do a human check, I need to do an empathy check. The first thing I tried to do last night, as a New Englander and a liberal who has often lived through defeat and come out the other side, I tried to put myself in Mitt Romney's shoes, in his supporters shoes. I tried to put myself in his staff's shoes. Regardless of who you voted for, you have a man who has basically been running for president since what, 2007? or so? He ran in 2008 and was not chosen as the nominee, but he has been running since then. You have a husband, father and grandfather who believed in his heart and in his soul that he was the man for this job. He believed he could do better and he worked tirelessly during the past at least 5 years to try and make that happen.

It is impossible for me not to think about what he must be feeling. How hard it must be to "walk"away after fighting so hard for so long. How hard it can be to give a concession speech when you truly believe that you could help the country. It made me think of his wife and children and how they must be supporting him right now during this challenging time. It made me think and try and remember all of his staff and all of his supporters. They have all been fighting for so long as well. I may not agree with the policies, and the fear tactics and the hate speech that is out there, but I like to think that is a fringe and that what we all have in common, is that we all love this country and we are just voting for the person we believe will do the best job. I think of all those people who worked so hard on his campaign. I can only equate it to either the 2000 election and the heartache I felt then, and then perhaps the Red Sox Yankees 2003 infamous game, where we lost our chance for the world series. I also have to say losing the past 2 superbowls to the Giants hasn't been fun to live through.

I guess what I am saying, is that more than anything, we are Americans. We are Americans who should do the human check, do the empathy check, and regardless of who we voted for be gracious and understand that we all have a role to play in this. We need to remember that while there are 50 million folks who are happy, the are about 50 million folks who are not.

We are all expected to do more than vote every 4 years. I am trying to think of how I would have felt if Obama had lost. How would I be feeling today. I am trying to carry that with me. I have to be honest in saying that I am proud to be an American today, more so than I have in a long time. It isn't just about the Presidential election, it is about the ballot initiatives that came out on top (marriage equality, decriminalization of small amounts of pot, etc). I am proud that New Hampshire is currently governed by all women, that we have our first openly game Woman Senator, our first Woman Senator in MA and maybe more than anything, proud that people got out, in droves, and voted and that money didn't win.

Watching the results last night, I am not sure if anything was as clear as the changing make-up of our great  country. The "browning" of America as you always hear about. I have been saying it for so long, but there are a few things I don't quite understand and I am hoping some Republicans/Conservatives can help me understand. In order to come to the best ideas and the best initiatives for this country, we truly do need to find a way to work together. I know the fear with bipartisanship is that you "water down" whatever it is you want in order to get it passed, and more often than not, while something is getting passed, it isn't to the full extent that it was intended to be.

As a liberal, while I love Obama, there are a ton of things I wish he would have pushed harder on, but I know that bipartisianship is how we get things done. If nothing else liberals voting for Obama should show conservatives that we are willing to compromise for the good of the country. From settling on Obama care vs. Government Run Health Care, for not speaking on behalf of Same Sex Marriage Sooner, for not working on restricting automatic weapons and gun laws, for not working on immigration reform, for not talking about Climate Change once during the entire campaign, for not going after Wall Street more. As a liberal, trust me, there is a lot we wish would happen that didn't. There is also a lot that happened, drone strikes in particular, that I clearly do not agree with. That being said, we came out for Obama because we believe he has a plan, we trust him and we believe in him.

So, now, as America continues to "brown" and women continue to come out in droves to vote, as do youth, I think the Republican party needs to listen to its more moderate base. I think it is really sad that people like Olympia Snow have basically been pushed out. People that put so many years in and have worked so hard, no longer having a seat at the table because she is a "moderate."  I think they need to pay more attention to Meghan McCain (who I respect highly) and others like her. I say to Greg almost nightly, why aren't they running a socially liberal, fiscally conservative candidate. I guess Mitt Romney could have been that person, but he wasn't. He was pulled so far to the right during the Primary and waiting too long to start tacking back to the center. In 2008, while I was a Hilary and then an Obama supporter and while I wanted Obama to win badly, I like to think McCain would have been just fine. I remember the days when McCain use to come on NBC and other affiliates and talk to people. He talked about immigration reform, the environment, etc. George W. Bush was even sold as a compassionate conservative and won a much larger margin of the Hispanic vote.

I am not sure what conservatives are thinking and talking about today. I have no doubt many are angry, sad and scared. I can understand, as "my media" has sold me on feeling that way if Romney would have been elected as well. I have a lot of respect for Romney as a hard-worker, as a person, husband, father and as a man of faith. He has clearly put a lot of time energy and effort into making a difference in people's lives. I wish he was allowed the opportunity to talk about that more. I don't agree with him, but I can respect him. When I first learned he was the nominee, I remember thinking, well, he was Governor in MA, he cannot be that fringe. I also realized I was too young to "remember" how he was as a Governor, but I didn't remember "bad" things.  During the primary I was shocked to see how extreme his views had become (for that time period anyways).

I think there were a few things that really hurt the campaign. I don't think Paul Ryan helped (they were going to win the base anyways), I think the 47% comment was a game-changer and after that the perception that was being sold appeared to be confirmed. I think the economy turning around, his International visits, the lies about Chevy and then Sandy that all kind of created a "perfect" environment for re-election.

I just think everyone needs to realize that American is changing, and for the better, if you ask me. We have more diversity than ever and I am pretty sure by the next census whites will no longer be the majority (if we aren't already in the minority). I think there are more opportunities for more people than ever before. I think there is more open-mindedness than ever before and there are more folks thinking about equality than ever before.

I think everyone needs to check themselves and realize what does and does not "work" in politics. More and more women are out in the work force, becoming politically engaged and involved, voting. Matters of women's health is not just a women's issue, it is an economic issue. From birth control, to the right to choose, equal pay, maternity leave, affordable day care, affordable college and a minimum wage that is possible to live on. All of these things are becoming more and more important in elections. And while everyone was talking about the youth vote, no longer mattering, it appeared that it did.

All this being said, with such a small margin of people that are millionaires, and a new majority  being made up of what we today call "minorities" (persons of color), women and the youth, it all ALL affected the election last night. I think the Republican party needs to do a bit of soul searching. I think Meghan McCain is actually a great person to look to for some guidance here. I know so many in her party shoot such meanness her way, but I think she is one of the smartest in the party and most in tuned to the challenges that lie ahead, if fear, whiteness, religion and Fox News are what continues to dictate the party and isn't core values, I think there is a bigger problem.

We need to find a way to come together and work hard and stop the partisan gridlock. I don't think that it is a good sign that Mitch McConnell basically came out last night drawing a line in the sand. I am not sure that is the way to do it. There needs to be compromise. There needs to be conversation. There needs to be an opportunity for the public to hear honest debates about policies without lies and fear mongering from either side. This needs to happen. If Americans don't understand the topics, it should be their role to learn about them. I know they always complain when debates get too "technical" and "wordy" because no one, except politicians, understand what is going on. Maybe we all need to read-up on policies and ideas so we can participate and we can make informed decisions about what may be best.

The office of the presidency needs to be respected again. It was obvious after Obama's inauguration in January of 2009 that the Republicans sole purpose was to ensure he was a 1-term President (heck, they held a meeting to confirm their one and only goal). Well, sorry folks, the rest of the country had a different idea.

Can we now please focus on the fact that we rise and fall together. If the President succeeds we all succeed. Can we please get over this three-year old mentality of not wanting to share credit, not wanting others to succeed and trying to prove daily, that we are right and everyone else is wrong, that we are better and they are scary. We are an amazing country, a country that has gone through ups and downs over the years, but we have survived. We have survived through Civil Wars, World Wars, Nuclear Crisis, Terror Attacks, the Great Depression and now the financial crisis of 2008. We have gotten through it all.

I am not naive to the challenges that lie ahead. I am not envious of the President and all he needs to be in charge of. I am not envious of the tough decisions he has to make. I cannot imagine what the next few months will be like between dealing with the fiscal cliff (that should have NEVER gotten to where it is today, again, all about ensuring only a 1 term President), dealing with the an ever changing climate, the economy, Europe's financial woes, to just name a few. Not to mention trying to unite the country. I do not envy President Obama in the least. I can only hope that the gridlock stops, that the my way or the highway attitude stops and that people start realizing that we all are in this together. We truly do, rise or fall together. It is about shared sacrifice, it is about honor and freedom. Freedom to love, freedom to worship, freedom to speak and freedom to vote.

I can only hope that we find a way to come together and the hate stops. I have only been alive for 33 years, but I can say, in my 33 years, I have never seen such anger, such hatred, such disrespect and so much fear. I can see where some folks may be frustrated by the slow recovering economy, I totally get that. If you voted for Romney because of that, I get that. You felt Romney would do a better job with the economy. If you are a millionaire+ and you are anticipating having to pay more taxes and that was your main motivation, I get that. Voting for self interests makes sense. I get it. You work hard and the argument I hear most often is why should your taxes go to help someone else when you earned that money and they, may or may not, be working as hard as you. I can get that. I can totally get that. I think if I was a millionaire+ I would be more of a Warren Buffet, wanting fairness and expecting to pay more, being so grateful for what I have and wanting to ensure we all succeed together, but I have also never been a millionaire+ so I need to be honest and acknowledge that not until I am wealthy, will I have any clue how I would "feel" about that. How I would feel about being asked to pay "more" even though percentage wise, after deductions, it is most often less. I can get voting for self interests, that make immediate logical sense. That isn't necessarily how I vote, but doesn't make it right or wrong, just a philosophical difference.

What I don't get is the hatred. What I don't get is the fear. What I don't get is the fringe's desire to spread this feeling around the base. Barack Obama cannot win election again. Can we ask for a truce here? Can the right please agree to not sell this man as the spawn of Satan anymore, what good is it doing you? I just don't understand. I mean I understand that fear can motivate, I understand that fear can get people to the polls, but I don't understand how a party that claims to love this country so much can do so much to ensure we don't succeed as a country. I am sorry, but when you root for the President to fail, you root for the country to fail. When you said you only wanted the President to be a 1-term President, you were basically wishing for a scenario where the country was in such bad shape that we would "fire" our leader. I am sorry for all of those out there that spread hate and just keep putting out the talking points without even understanding what they are saying. Pause and take a moment.

Realize that while you may feel like your vote didn't count, or there was some mass conspiracy out there, your voice does count and your voice does matter. You may have children, family, friends around you. Perhaps you are influencing them to give up on this country, too. How is that helpful? Perhaps your speech that you throw around so casually will fire them up to a point to know return.  We never talked politics when I was little. My Nana always use to say there are three things you never talk about "Money, politics and religion" because they just cause problems. My parents never use to share who they voted, it was always none of my business and I respected them for that. I definitely came into my own politics on my own time.

Your vote mattered and your voice matters. I do not care who you voted for. I have always wondered why the popular vote didn't hold more weight (I understand its origins in keeping powers with the states and the fear that people basically weren't "intelligent" enough to get the vote right), but I think if nothing else, after standing in long lines, for hours, we realized how much our votes do count.

For all those out there that are afraid and scared and for all of those out there that for 4 years+ have heard about the evils of President Obama, for a second, please just stop and question it for a second. Were you hearing this for politics, ONLY. Perhaps this is how they knew they could get you to vote. They scared you and it clearly worked. I just ask you, to take a step back and think about all of the things they claimed would happen when Obama was President. I don't think any of the "scary" things came true. I think there are policy decisions we could disagree on (some you may not agree with), but we are all here today and appear to be going in the right direction. The economy is coming back, housing market is coming back, our military continues to be strong, things are moving there, slowly.  I do the same and take a step back and continue to question.

Please also be reminded of the fact that for months, Fox news has been telling you that the Polls were wrong, the Polls were skewed. Perhaps this can be a small insight into why you feel the way you do. I am not trying to belittle feelings, as I honestly am trying to think of what I would want said to me if Romney won. I think I would not have felt good. I would have been worried about the Supreme Court, about immigration, climate, banking, women's issues and the economy. I would have honestly been worried because I know where I get my information. I try and look into things and read up on things to not take everything at face value, but I admit that I too live in a bubble of information.

I think we all need to try and walk out of our bubbles for the good of the country. I think we all need to put down our talking points, put away our finger pointing and try and take a deep breath. We are not going to get anywhere if after the election things in Washington continue to be perceived as "wins" and "losses." We need to have honest conversations in this country. We need the media and politicians to step up and serve as fact checkers. We need to have experts in the field not be swayed by money and politics and actually let us know what works and help direct us. If an idea a Republican has would work best for our economy, or something else, there has to be honest people out there to let us know. If something an Independent or Democratic supports would make a huge difference, there has to be someone out there that lets us know. I try and follow policy as much as I can, as I am a huge politics and history geek, but I have to call a spade a spade. I am no economist, other than looking back in history I have no clue what works best. And perhaps more than anything, if Scientists tell you that climate change is real, we need to believe them. We need to bring respect for science back to this country!

We need to start demanding more from everyone. We need to demand more from our Congressmen, Senators, President, Governors, we need to demand more from our media, regardless of who bankrolls them. We need to expect more from each other. We need to be each other's keeper, and look out for each other. We need to find a way to step in and help. Why is it only during times of national tragedy we put our differences aside and ask how we can help. Why does it take such tragedy to pull together. Why can't we be humans each and every day. Why is it only every 4 years people think voting is important, we need to remember the importance of midterm elections for our country and our process.

We the people truly do have the power and we need to demand more. We need to demand that voting is easy and flawless. We need to ensure every one's voice is heard and that should NOT include having to wait in line for 9 hours, having less opportunity to vote, or getting the wrong ballot. People should have no fear that their vote didn't count or was somehow credited to the other candidate, it is 2012 people. We need to demand that money does not sway votes or elections. How can we believe anything we hear if money influences everything. If parties are supporting legislation because of who bankrolled their campaigns, that isn't honest. How are we supposed to know what would really work best if it is only voted in because of the money that backed it. If you heard from Verizon that cell phones were the cure for cancer, would you believe them? I wouldn't!! Verizon would only benefit from that belief. Would you belief a study funded by Verizon talking about the positive benefits of cell phones. I wouldn't. My antennae would go up and I would look into it more. We should only be pushing legislation that will work, not that will make all of the lobbyists happy. We need to hold people more accountable.

We need to find away to keep religion out of politics. It gets into dangerous territory. I understand having your faith influence your decisions, but it should not dictate your policies. Not everyone believes what you do and religious FREEDOM is why we founded this country, let us try and remember that. When the first Jewish President is elected and tells us all to keep kosher, I will be sure to come back to you all and see how you feel about that.

More than almost anything, I think we need to be grateful to live in a country where, while problems exist, we are able to peacefully vote every four years for a leader. We are able to do this without the fear of being shot and killed. We can do this without military protection. Almost more beautiful is the peaceful transition of power that happens every January. Once again, we do this peacefully, without civil war. We do this every four years and it is truly a beautiful thing. There are countries all around the world, trying to get to where we are. There are people dying, revolting in the streets to have fair and honest elections. While I have no doubt our process has its flaws, I am grateful to live in a country where I am given this right and I live to tell the tale today. I think more people should take advantage of the right we have and I only hope that more and more people continue to make their voices heard by voting. We need to be engaged, to not be cynical and to root for our President, regardless of who you voted for (yes I would be saying this if Romney won too).

It isn't up to Obama to deliver, it is up to us to deliver. The President can do very little on his own. We need to demand that the House and the Senate work with the President and don't say "no" to everything. There has to be some compromise, somewhere. We need to demand better from our media and from our politicans. It isn't just about whether or not Obama will fail, it is about whether or not we will fail. This isn't just on him, this is on us too! People need to care and people need to not hate. Hate is not productive.

I truly hope that we can all find a way to come together. I have no doubt we have our differences and there will be fights. I have no false hope that it will be easy, but we all have to do our part and we all have to try. We need to hold people accountable and if misinformation is circulating, we need to find a way to reign it in. I think the election last night showed a great shift in human consciousness, in my opinion. It proved to me that people can overcome great obstacles and it also proved to me that there is much room for improvement and working together. I am reaching my hand out to others and I can only hope that when the President tries this again for the 5th year, he sees a few reaching back.

and that's all she wrote....

President Obama's Re-Election Speech 11/7/2012

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much. Tonight, more than 200 years after a former colony won the right to determine its own destiny, the task of perfecting our union moves forward. It moves forward because of you. It moves forward because you reaffirmed the spirit that has triumphed over war and depression, the spirit that has lifted this country from the depths of despair to the great heights of hope, the belief that while each of us will pursue our own individual dreams, we are an American family and we rise or fall together as one nation and as one people.

Tonight, in this election, you, the American people, reminded us that while our road has been hard, while our journey has been long, we have picked ourselves up, we have fought our way back, and we know in our hearts that for the United States of America the best is yet to come. I want to thank every American who participated in this election...
... whether you voted for the very first time or waited in line for a very long time.
By the way, we have to fix that.
Whether you pounded the pavement or picked up the phone...

... whether you held an Obama sign or a Romney sign, you made your voice heard and you made a difference. I just spoke with Governor Romney and I congratulated him and Paul Ryan on a hard-fought campaign.

We may have battled fiercely, but it's only because we love this country deeply and we care so strongly about its future. From George to Lenore to their son Mitt, the Romney family has chosen to give back to America through public service and that is the legacy that we honor and applaud tonight.

In the weeks ahead, I also look forward to sitting down with Governor Romney to talk about where we can work together to move this country forward.

I want to thank my friend and partner of the last four years, America's happy warrior, the best vice president anybody could ever hope for, Joe Biden. And I wouldn't be the man I am today without the woman who agreed to marry me 20 years ago.

Let me say this publicly: Michelle, I have never loved you more. I have never been prouder to watch the rest of America fall in love with you, too, as our nation's first lady.

Sasha and Malia, before our very eyes you're going up to become two strong, smart beautiful young women, just like your mom. And I'm so proud of you guys. But I will say that for now one dog's probably enough.

To the best campaign team and volunteers in the history of politics...

The best. The best ever. Some of you were new this time around, and some of you have been at my side since the very beginning.

But all of you are family. No matter what you do or where you go from here, you will carry the memory of the history we made together and you will have the life-long appreciation of a grateful president. Thank you for believing all the way, through every hill, through every valley.

You lifted me up the whole way and I will always be grateful for everything that you've done and all the incredible work that you put in.

I know that political campaigns can sometimes seem small, even silly. And that provides plenty of fodder for the cynics that tell us that politics is nothing more than a contest of egos or the domain of special interests. But if you ever get the chance to talk to folks who turned out at our rallies and crowded along a rope line in a high school gym, or saw folks working late in a campaign office in some tiny county far away from home, you'll discover something else. You'll hear the determination in the voice of a young field organizer who's working his way through college and wants to make sure every child has that same opportunity.

You'll hear the pride in the voice of a volunteer who's going door to door because her brother was finally hired when the local auto plant added another shift.

You'll hear the deep patriotism in the voice of a military spouse whose working the phones late at night to make sure that no one who fights for this country ever has to fight for a job or a roof over their head when they come home.

That's why we do this. That's what politics can be. That's why elections matter. It's not small, it's big. It's important. Democracy in a nation of 300 million can be noisy and messy and complicated. We have our own opinions. Each of us has deeply held beliefs. And when we go through tough times, when we make big decisions as a country, it necessarily stirs passions, stirs up controversy. That won't change after tonight, and it shouldn't. These arguments we have are a mark of our liberty. We can never forget that as we speak people in distant nations are risking their lives right now just for a chance to argue about the issues that matter, the chance to cast their ballots like we did today.

But despite all our differences, most of us share certain hopes for America's future. We want our kids to grow up in a country where they have access to the best schools and the best teachers.

A country that lives up to its legacy as the global leader in technology and discovery and innovation, with all the good jobs and new businesses that follow. We want our children to live in an America that isn't burdened by debt, that isn't weakened by inequality, that isn't threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet.

We want to pass on a country that's safe and respected and admired around the world, a nation that is defended by the strongest military on earth and the best troops this - this world has ever known.

But also a country that moves with confidence beyond this time of war, to shape a peace that is built on the promise of freedom and dignity for every human being. We believe in a generous America, in a compassionate America, in a tolerant America, open to the dreams of an immigrant's daughter who studies in our schools and pledges to our flag.
To the young boy on the south side of Chicago who sees a life beyond the nearest street corner.

To the furniture worker's child in North Carolina who wants to become a doctor or a scientist, an engineer or an entrepreneur, a diplomat or even a president - that's the future we hope for. That's the vision we share. That's where we need to go: forward.

That's where we need to go. Now, we will disagree, sometimes fiercely, about how to get there. As it has for more than two centuries, progress will come in fits and starts. It's not always a straight line. It's not always a smooth path. By itself, the recognition that we have common hopes and dreams won't end all the gridlock or solve all our problems or substitute for the painstaking work of building consensus and making the difficult compromises needed to move this country forward. But that common bond is where we must begin. Our economy is recovering. A decade of war is ending. A long campaign is now over.

And whether I earned your vote or not, I have listened to you, I have learned from you, and you've made me a better president. And with your stories and your struggles, I return to the White House more determined and more inspired than ever about the work there is to do and the future that lies ahead.

Tonight you voted for action, not politics as usual.

You elected us to focus on your jobs, not ours. And in the coming weeks and months, I am looking forward to reaching out and working with leaders of both parties to meet the challenges we can only solve together: reducing our deficit, reforming our tax code, fixing our immigration system, freeing ourselves from foreign oil. We've got more work to do.

But that doesn't mean your work is done. The role of citizen in our democracy does not end with your vote. America's never been about what can be done for us. It's about what can be done by us together through the hard and frustrating, but necessary work of self- government. That's the principle we were founded on.

This country has more wealth than any nation, but that's not what makes us rich. We have the most powerful military in history, but that's not what makes us strong. Our university, our culture are all the envy of the world, but that's not what keeps the world coming to our shores. What makes America exceptional are the bonds that hold together the most diverse nation on Earth. The belief that our destiny is shared, that this country only works when we accept certain obligations to one another and to future generations. The freedom which so many Americans have fought for and died for come with responsibilities as well as rights. And among those are love and charity and duty and patriotism. That's what makes America great.
I am hopeful tonight because I've seen the spirit at work in America. I've seen it in the family business whose owners would rather cut their own pay than lay off their neighbors, and in the workers who would rather cut back their hours than see a friend lose a job. I've seen it in the soldiers who reenlist after losing a limb and in those SEALs who charged up the stairs into darkness and danger because they knew there was a buddy behind them watching their back.

I've seen it on the shores of New Jersey and New York, where leaders from every party and level of government have swept aside their differences to help a community rebuild from the wreckage of a terrible storm.

And I saw just the other day, in Mentor, Ohio, where a father told the story of his 8-year-old daughter, whose long battle with leukemia nearly cost their family everything had it not been for health care reform passing just a few months before the insurance company was about to stop paying for her care.
I had an opportunity to not just talk to the father, but meet this incredible daughter of his. And when he spoke to the crowd listening to that father's story, every parent in that room had tears in their eyes, because we knew that little girl could be our own. And I know that every American wants her future to be just as bright. That's who we are. That's the country I'm so proud to lead as your president.

And tonight, despite all the hardship we've been through, despite all the frustrations of Washington, I've never been more hopeful about our future.
I have never been more hopeful about America. And I ask you to sustain that hope. I'm not talking about blind optimism, the kind of hope that just ignores the enormity of the tasks ahead or the roadblocks that stand in our path. I'm not talking about the wishful idealism that allows us to just sit on the sidelines or shirk from a fight. I have always believed that hope is that stubborn thing inside us that insists, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that something better awaits us so long as we have the courage to keep reaching, to keep working, to keep fighting.

America, I believe we can build on the progress we've made and continue to fight for new jobs and new opportunity and new security for the middle class. I believe we can keep the promise of our founders, the idea that if you're willing to work hard, it doesn't matter who you are or where you come from or what you look like or where you love. It doesn't matter whether you're black or white or Hispanic or Asian or Native American or young or old or rich or poor, able, disabled, gay or straight, you can make it here in America if you're willing to try.

I believe we can seize this future together because we are not as divided as our politics suggests. We're not as cynical as the pundits believe. We are greater than the sum of our individual ambitions, and we remain more than a collection of red states and blue states. We are and forever will be the United States of America.

And together with your help and God's grace we will continue our journey forward and remind the world just why it is that we live in the greatest nation on Earth. Thank you, America. God bless you. God bless these United States.

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