Cherished readers, I know I’m hardly your first source for hard-hitting political commentary. In fact, I try to keep anything too far off the topic of Harvard, Cambridge, or at least my own life out of this blog entirely. But with something so important coming up in just a couple of days, I wanted to let you know some of my thoughts regarding this year’s Presidential election. I hope you won’t mind if I set up my soap box here just for a moment.
Over the past eight years, I’ve seen billions—soon to be trillions—of dollars spent on a divisive, deceptively plotted war that could have been spent lowering my college tuition or funding my mom’s underprivileged public elementary school. I’ve seen gay friends and loved ones demeaned by wave upon wave of state laws and amendments limiting their rights and social standing. I’ve seen my medication costs skyrocket after the deals between drug manufacturers and college health clinics like mine, which once made prescription birth control affordable on a student budget, were outlawed. (Apparently President Bush thinks I am less likely to engage in behaviors he disapproves of if they become less safe. Maybe next we should make airbags and seatbelts more expensive to discourage drunk driving.) Finally, as a vegetarian who used to enjoy freedom from food-borne illnesses like salmonella and E.coli, I’ve seen that fringe benefit disappear because of the weak and ineffectual FDA born from big agriculture's massive contributions to George Bush.
These are only a few ways my life has changed under Bush policies, and they are just a drop in the bucket of nationwide suffering these past eight years. My troubles are nothing compared with the loss and confusion of the family whose soldier dies needlessly overseas or people losing their homes due to predatory mortgages they didn’t understand and market nosedives they couldn’t predict. They are nothing compared with the fears of people facing illness or disability without medical insurance or whose public housing has been abandoned by the government, then demolished and never replaced. Homes are still uninhabitable, families still adrift in the bungled cleanup of New Orleans that should have been finished two years ago. Osama Bin Laden is still missing. Women still earn up to a fifth less than men putting in the exact same hours on the exact same jobs. And in the worst assault yet on what America stands for, prisoners are still being detained in Guantanamo Bay without formal charges. This is the Bush legacy.
This tirade may sound overly focused on a man who isn’t running for President right now—but I say it because I just can’t believe things will be different enough if John McCain is elected. He vows to continue the Iraq war in pursuit of a victory his own experience should tell him will never come. His health care plan is eerily similar to those useless Bush rebate checks: send Americans cash so they can “choose” for themselves… between for-profit corporate insurers accountable to no one. He has voted over and over against helping women achieve pay equity or gain access to the contraception that would prevent many of the abortions he so opposes. Despite his newly-professed belief in economic regulation, nothing in his recent record indicates that he’ll defy his party’s close ties with corporations to do what’s right for the rest of us. And he has almost completely backed off from the anti-torture stance that once made him such a class act.
Meanwhile, Barack Obama has demonstrated sincere concern for the social justice issues our government has neglected far too long: poverty, race inequality, public education, the environment, equal rights, civil liberties, health care, and more. He wants a shot at fixing these things without worsening our calamitous national deficit. I say we give him one.
I believe John McCain is a patriot who has spent his life—and nearly lost his life—in service to his country. However, he doesn’t know what’s best for this country anymore. After too many years in league with an out-of-touch party and a reckless administration, he simply isn’t a compassionate choice for President of the United States.
Barack Obama is, and I’ll be voting for him on November 4, and I hope you will too.
Thanks for listening, and we’ll be back to the regular material next week.