My voice is just one out of what once represented the middle class, now leaning much more toward the poverty level as the true middle class continues to erode. My family represents just one — like so many families throughout the United States through a number of years — that has suddenly been dealt a potentially crushing blow when the main breadwinner lost their job at a time when jobs are so hard to find, and the competition for those jobs that are out there is so intense.
We are fighting like mad to get back on our feet. And even when our main breadwinner did have a job and we could more solidly be counted among the middle class instead of leaning toward poverty, we were hit by a double-whammy of 1) hitting year after year of stagnant income with the cost of living rising year after year, and 2) being covered by medical insurance with rising premiums and seemingly less coverage, that was especially felt hard in our bank account when our oldest child had to have emergency surgery in December 2010, followed by our youngest child needing to have the same procedure done the following April, and even the deductibles that were left to us were staggering.
Then came the loss of the main bill-paying job on October 28, 2011. Now, a week away from the one-year anniversary of that date, the family’s retirement savings is gone; we’ve been paying bills and keeping a roof over our head through what was left of that last paycheck, tax refund money, any amount of money my lovely wife can earn through her own music teaching business, unemployment insurance, monetary gifts from friends and family, cutting expenses wherever possible, watching every dime that gets spent. It’s been a grueling, painfully emotional experience that I wouldn’t wish on our worst enemies.
The main breadwinner here continues to look across the country for jobs for which I am qualified, even taking a shot at something I’ve never done before — auto sales — that doesn’t even realistically approach the income (even for an average, experienced auto salesperson) that was seen before in my last full-time job with multiple times the pressure. I’m looking at minimum-wage jobs, seasonal work, anything I can possibly do to make my family’s life better.
I’m still looking for a better way to make a living, and not just in my own little corner of the world. There was a job opening that I was highly qualified for in California just a couple of weeks ago, a good-paying job, and I gave it my best shot. I didn’t even get an interview. That’s how tough the job market is out there, even with jobless numbers improving.
My family was once solidly considered among the middle class. Now, we are fighting to stave off poverty. We’re not alone. Too many have gone down that same path before in this “land of plenty.”
You’d better believe our family has an interest in what happens in the next general election, now just 16 days away. Too much of our future literally depends on it.
That’s why we are supporting Barack Obama for president. Here are the reasons why, and then some …
The memory of what was happening to American jobs before President Obama even announced that he was running for the office is all too vivid in my mind. High-paying jobs were being sent overseas, and those same jobs here were being cut. It was happening all around me in my own place of employment — to intelligent, highly skilled people who worked hard and did quality work and in some cases ended up training the very people who would end up taking their jobs.
The incentives to do such things were already in place long before Obama started talking about campaigning. The remnants are still out there. It takes longer than 3 1/2 years to turn that kind of thing around when it’s taken many more years to build to that point, and to question why Obama hasn’t been able to single-handedly and miraculously turn that tide in less time than it took to get to this point is ridiculous.
What’s holding things back in turning that tide? For one thing, I’ll point toward an area that has been frustratingly under-mentioned in this long campaign: a Congress that has been more focused on seeing Obama lose in 2012 than seeing America as a whole succeed, and an opposition party and the talking heads behind it that have been all too proud and happy to admit their obstructionist ways.
Case in point: the American Jobs Act of 2012. How easy it’s been to forget that this was proposed in front of a joint session of Congress in September 2011, with strong statements made by Obama to pass it quickly — reminding Congress at the same time that it was Republicans who had, at one time, helped to craft parts of that piece of legislation.
In a Republican-controlled House of Representatives, nothing has been done to move it or any piece of it forward. Much more time has been spent in the House voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
The American Jobs Act is still basically the plan by the Obama administration to get millions more Americans working again, with high-paying jobs. His opposition wrongly and misleadingly says that he has no plan. It’s been in front of their noses now for over a year. That’s the picture of political obstructionism.
Mitt Romney’s camp has said that it will create 12 million jobs over the next four years. Aside from vowing to repeal the ACA (patterned after Romney’s own health care legislation in Massachusetts), slashing government regulations that won’t even put a dent in jobless numbers, and mentioning tax cuts to corporations that have already seen tax cuts and subsidies that haven’t gone nearly far enough in creating jobs, what is there in Romney’s plan that will achieve that lofty number over the next four years?
With Obama, we have a truly common sense, at one time bipartisan plan. If Republicans are too focused on defeating him 16 days from now and not nearly enough on benefiting Americans as a whole by passing legislation that’s been out there that could go a long way toward hitting that 12 million new jobs figure, those Republicans are the ones who should be voted out.
And I can’t forget that Romney’s track record in the business world with Bain Capital is the very model of what has contributed to so many lost jobs and jobs sent overseas that has contributed to a sour economy that is slowly struggling to right itself … struggling in part because of obstructionism in Congress.
Once the jobs situation is straightened out and more people who once classified themselves as middle class Americans can classify themselves that way once again, we will see the economy as a whole rebound even more. The middle class is the engine that drives America’s economy, yet the middle class is the one that continues to struggle and fall behind the most to this day. Until the jobs situation improves, the economy won’t improve the way we expect it to.
Beyond jobs, however, the Obama administration has already done more to watch out for the average consumer than anything seen from the opposing side, and let’s not downplay how important consumer protection is to an economy that needs to build itself up. Anyone who’s had the common sense to appoint someone like Elizabeth Warren to be in charge of consumer protection at one time has the average consumer’s best interests at heart.
As a consumer, it was pleasing to me to get a check in the mail in recent months that reflected a rebate on being overcharged on health care premiums, a check that came straight out of the policies of “Obamacare.” As soon as Obama took office in 2009, I saw tax cuts aimed at the middle class reflected in my paycheck. These are minor things in the small scheme of things that amount to a lot when the overall numbers of the middle class are added up, which leads to a strengthening economy that could be even stronger if the jobs numbers improve.
The Obama administration is the one on the right track in growing the economy.
After giving a fair and objective listen to any attempt made by Romney to outline his plans to cut the deficit and balance the budget — simplifying the tax code, reducing tax rates across the board, cutting costs on seemingly everything but out-of-control defense spending — I have to agree with a majority of experts that the numbers won’t add up. With the kind of deficit we’ve been looking at (and, by the way, if you look at it objectively you’ll find that spending under Obama isn’t the monstrosity that his opponents would lead you to see it as, especially compared to past Republican administrations), to do anything other than to look for increased revenues by at least going back to tax rates on the upper class the way they were in the Clinton years when we had a budget surplus, as Obama has proposed, is unrealistic. To think that we’re going to solve any budget crisis by cutting things like PBS and Planned Parenthood is foolishness.
With the fragile state the world is in these days, this area would be filled with glass fixtures just waiting to break apart no matter who is leading from the White House. So much attention has been focused in recent weeks on the September attacks on the consulate in Libya and the deaths of four American people there and who dropped the ball as far as security measures and what was known when, etc., and there are answers that do need to come out from that incident.
What is not needed at a time like now, after the American deaths in Libya, is to politicize it the way Romney and other Republicans have been leading up to the election, to the point of having California GOP Rep. Darrell Issa release documents that include the names of Libyans who’ve helped America and potentially endangering more lives.
Romney was already left with a bit of egg on his face after attempting to score political points with the Libya attack in last week’s presidential debate. After some of the egg that’s been left splattered on him by other foreign relations miscues — look at his tour of foreign nations around the time of the Summer Olympics — he can’t afford those kinds of mishaps, but it does seem to reveal a bit of foreign relations recklessness on Romney’s part that makes any perceived Obama foreign policy miscues look tame in comparison.
Obama and Romney may be closer in thinking on this issue than many people realize. Obama stated in last week’s debate that people need to be free to carry firearms for sporting or even self-defense purposes as long as they do so responsibly, but concerns remain over enforcement of current laws and in areas such as how easy it is for people to obtain and carry military-style assault weapons and take people’s lives with them.
Let’s put aside NRA-backed propaganda and look at gun control from a more realistic perspective. Millions of gun rights supporting Americans can still carry firearms of their choice as long as it’s done responsibly, yet gun rights remains a hot topic in every election cycle.
How many guns has Barack Obama taken away from you?
Conservatives should be happy with steps that have been taken in the Obama administration to send immigrants who are here illegally back to their native country, and liberals should be satisfied that Obama is at least talking about making a genuine effort to come up with fair reforms of immigration policy. Romney’s hinting at self-deportation is unrealistic at best.
OTHER MAJOR SOCIAL ISSUES
It doesn’t seem to matter what economic situation voters themselves seem to be going through in their personal lives come election time, it often seems to come down to social issues where the biggest decisions are made or swayed in a major election even when voters themselves may be struggling financially.
The middle class can often find itself struggling to survive from paycheck to paycheck, and it’s been that way for years. Even then, many voters in that category will push that aside and look instead at issues such as welfare, women’s rights, gay marriage, capital punishment, drug laws, the environment, and the biggest of them all — pro-choice vs. pro-life in the abortion issue — as the real deciders when it comes to actually casting a ballot.
It’s in that area where we run the hardest into the age-old debate of whether there is or should be a separation of church and state.
In this year’s vice presidential debate, incumbent Joe Biden and challenger Paul Ryan were asked by the moderator for their views on abortion and whether Roe v. Wade should be repealed, and they were each asked to respond as members of the Catholic Church. Ryan gave the view that all life is sacred from the time of conception, and Biden didn’t argue that. Where the difference came was in Biden suggesting that, even as a member of the Catholic Church, he has no right to decide what anyone should do in their personal lives based upon his religion.
Simply put, religion and politics do not and should not mix. If we try to mix them, we launch ourselves down a very slippery slope with potentially no turning back.
Now, before anyone suggests that I am a godless heathen, let me put out a reminder that I am a proud member of the Seventh-day Adventist Church, a true believer. And I am still proud to say that the views of many within my church’s leadership when it comes to churches’ involvement in government reflect my own. And having renowned evangelist Billy Graham come out with full-page national ads encouraging voters to vote based upon their faith does not sit comfortably with me.
My church has a monthly magazine called Signs of the Times. The latest issue of that magazine has a cover story titled, “Is God A Republican?”
There are conservatives within the Adventist religion as well as liberals. It’s quite a mix. You can find fiscal conservatives and social liberals very easily within the same people, just as much as you can find liberals and conservatives both fiscally and socially.
One area that the Adventist religion has been very consistent about has been in the area of religious liberty, and that includes the separation of church and state. The cover story in the last Signs magazine intrigued me right away. It compared politicians to marketers, grabbing on to anything that will help sell them to the public.
“In the last couple of decades,” the article, written by Loren Seibold, said, “a certain set of politicians — largely from the Republican Party — came up with a selling point that has seemed to work especially well: Christian faith.
“These candidates say, ‘I am the candidate who will defend what the Bible teaches. I’ll make laws against the things you believe are wrong. I’ll enforce the things you want to happen. In short, I’ll make the surrounding culture supportive of your Christian beliefs.'”
The article goes on to state that many of these Christian values are also held by the author, but if Abraham Lincoln were running for president today, it’s unlikely that he could have even been nominated by his own Republican Party because he was a member of no church, never publicly confessed a creed, and never publicly used religious beliefs to justify his policies.
The article — unfortunately, not yet found on the magazine’s web site — goes on to give a scriptural examination of how separate religions and governments should be, only coming close in having Jesus make a public pronouncement for His followers to pay their taxes (Mark 12:17).
If government and religion were meant to become mixed, whose religion were we meant to follow? What interpretation do we go by?
It reminds us of John F. Kennedy being attacked for his Catholic beliefs, and having Kennedy say, “I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute — where no Catholic prelate would tell the President (should he be Catholic) how to act and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote — where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference — and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the President who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.
“I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish — where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches, or any other ecclesiastical source — where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials — and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.”
The article concludes by saying, “(D)on’t be beguiled by politicians claiming they will legislate for God. God has no party affiliation, and He doesn’t need politicians speaking for Him. What He does need is for you and me to stand for Him — no matter what governments do.”
That pretty well sums it all up.
IN CONCLUSION …
Mitt Romney has been such a slippery candidate to pin down on so many issues, he comes across more like a snake oil salesman, all too happy to tell the voters anything he feels they want to hear at a particular moment in time.
His experience at Bain Capital and his steadfast reluctance to release more than a couple years’ worth of his own tax returns do nothing to help him in the eyes of skeptics. He is that “marketer” that the Signs article talks about. It’s too hard to tell if he’s the strong conservative he touts himself to be in front of one audience, or more of a moderate as he seemed to appear when the eyes of the world were upon him at least in last week’s presidential debate.
Specifics are few and far between, as are straight answers, when it comes to Romney or his supporters.
Obama is no “messiah.” However, there’s been more done — or at least more attempts made — to “right the ship” under his leadership than we’ve seen since Bill Clinton was in office. If you look carefully at the FACTUAL signs and pay less attention to the misinformation and propaganda that’s out there, it’s pretty clear to see that, while there is still much that needs to be done to turn things around even close to completely, we’re on the right track. To change that track now would be a mistake.
Barack Obama needs four more years to keep things on the current track. More than that, he needs a Congress that won’t play the same kind of political, obstructionist games that could have helped turn things around even more over the past 3 1/2 years.
Copyright 2012, Daddysangbassdude Media
- People That Know Mitt Romney, Don’t Want Mitt Romney (1) – Salt Lake (desertdogmeh.wordpress.com)
- Obama racks up newspaper endorsements (thehill.com)
- Denver Post Endorses Obama for President (mahilena.typepad.com)
- Editorial, 10/14: Obama best for middle class (journalstar.com)
- Reality Check: Who’s In The Middle Class? (minnesota.cbslocal.com)
- Obama Has Edge Over Romney as Protector of Middle Class – Pew Research Center (policyabcs.wordpress.com)