Barack Obama (Photo credit: jamesomalley)
It would not be for Mitt Romney.
If this means a stampede to the exits from some of you, sorry.
But that’s how I feel.
I have a “green card”, (pink actually), that allows me to work and live in the U.S. But, for a variety of reasons, I do not have citizenship. I can easily get it, and retain my Canadian cititzenship as well. I just have not made that choice.
So I can’t vote for anyone.
I watched President Obama’s speech, and those of his VP Joe Biden and former President Bill Clinton — who I’ve seen a few feet away in a local restaurant, as we live about a 15 minute drive south of his home.
I came to the U.S. to live in 1989, writing on the consular application “better job opportunities” as my reason. It’s one of the reasons I’ve stayed.
That, and two American husbands (not simultaneously.)
It’s been a really rough four years and I’m terrified that Obama is not going to be re-elected. Not because I think he’s done such a great job, hamstrung by partisan politics.
But the notion of Mitt Romney, and his dressage-horse-owning wife, his $250 million fortune, his absolute disregard for the middle class (and below) — and his Mom jeans — in the White House is making me look at my Canadian passport with longing.
Would I leave if he won? It’s not that simple.
But I would want to.
I’m a self-employed, middle-aged feminist. Republicans care not a whit for anyone in those three categories.
Every week another insane-o Republican politician, usually male, tosses some red meat into the cage by offering up yet another way to control our reproductive rights. As many of us have noted, Republicans loathe government intervention into any aspect of their lives — but they love telling American women what to do with our bodies. It’s my uterus, boys. Back off!
A third of American workers now look like me: self-employed, permalance, temp or contract. That means the only way to get health insurance is to marry someone who has it or buy it, at whatever price is on offer, on the open market. For anyone living in New York, you’re looking at $600-1,200 a month, easy. You can go bankrupt paying for health insurance or you can go bankrupt with enormous medicals bills. Now that’s my kind of economic freedom.
I’m also weary of the fantasy that the wealthy are “job creators.” They’re not. Right now, American corporations are earning record profits, (often having pounded their desperate, un-unionized workers into lower wages and worse working conditions), and are stuffing their pockets with that dough. They are not hiring or giving raises, promotions or bonuses.
The latest job numbers are terrible — only 96,000 new jobs were added here in August.
And the two largest areas of job growth?
Foodservice and retail, the subject of my memoir of working 27 months as a sales associate.
Dead-end jobs for lousy pay.
From The New York Times, August 30, 2012:
The occupations with the fastest growth were retail sales (at a median wage of $10.97 an hour) and food preparation workers ($9.04 an hour). Each category has grown by more than 300,000 workers since June 2009.
Some of these new, lower-paying jobs are being taken by people just entering the labor force, like recent high school and college graduates. Many, though, are being filled by older workers who lost more lucrative jobs in the recession and were forced to take something to scrape by.
“I think I’ve been very resilient and resistant and optimistic, up until very recently,” said Ellen Pinney, 56, who was dismissed from a $75,000-a-year job in which she managed procurement and supply for an electronics company in March 2008.
Since then, she has cobbled together a series of temporary jobs in retail and home health care and worked as a part-time receptionist for a beauty salon. She is now working as an unpaid intern for a construction company, putting together bids and business plans for green energy projects, and has moved in with her 86-year-old father in Forked River, N.J.
“I really can’t bear it anymore,” she said.
Either can I.
Americans’ slavish devotion to the “free market” is killing the hopes and lives of millions. People who can’t find a job and can’t afford to go back to school to re-train (again) because — funny thing — they’re already in debt from the crappy mortgage they bought or they ran through savings in the years it took to find their last job or because getting the next costly credential is no guarantee that anyone is going to hire you.
For those of you who live outside the U.S., the defining mythology here is that of the boot-strapper, that each of us is fully able, from birth onward, to create and define and shape our lives.
Regardless of race, education, family background.
I’ve spent a lot of time, as a reporter, talking to people whose lives make this a lie:
— A woman who shot her husband dead because the police were unable or unwilling to stop him stalking her.
— The 19-year-old raped in the dark, dirty hallway of the public housing where she lived.
— The family who showed me a quilt with the images of their mother and father, both killed violently, woven into it.
— The contractor who had to fire half his staff because he could not afford to keep them.
— The businessman paying $1,000+ every month to buy health insurance for his family.
— The student terrified to be job-less because she’s carrying $30,000+ of student loan debt.
The U.S. is a great place to live if you’re smart, strong, well-educated, healthy, socially connected. Don’t get sick. Don’t need help. Don’t have dependent family members who can’t earn their own way.
If someone tries to crawl into your lifeboat — say the Republicans — beat the oars on their frozen hands and tell them to save themselves. No one ever needs help. It’s their own fault!
If you’re unlucky enough to be ill, old, physically weak, in debt, financially illiterate…you’re Republican carrion.
If the Republicans win the White House, I fear, deeply and genuinely fear, for the well-being of all but the winners at the craps table of laissez-faire free-market capitalism.
How are you feeling about this election?
Do you plan to vote?