Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Some Post-Election Observations and Thoughts

So I fell asleep watching the election coverage last night.  My wife had fallen asleep earlier, and she woke up around midnight and turned the TV back on.  I vaguely remembered hearing that Obama had won, which was pleasing, but when I woke up this morning, I can’t say I was satisfied.  I don’t think I’ll ever be satisfied with the state of our government.  And really, nobody should.  Government, like us, needs to change and evolve with the times.  If we went strictly by the Constitution, as some of us would like, women and minorities wouldn’t be able to vote, we could be thrown in jail or ostracized for practicing different religions and speaking what’s on our minds, etc.  That’s not the kind of government a society like ours needs.

I’m not saying the election didn’t turn out the way I’d wanted.  It did, for the most part.  But I just hope the two parties can now come together and make some positive changes for America.  Let’s get more people back to work.  Let’s get the economy booming again.  Let’s get energy independence and better education for our offspring.  Above all, let’s work together.

My wife and I were listening to the radio this morning, and this guy was complaining about how everyone he’d talked to was voting for Romney until he stopped at Sheetz and saw a girl in her twenties buying subs and soda and candy.  She said that she and all of her friends voted for Obama, and then apparently she pulled out an Access card (food stamps) and used it to pay for her items.  And of course this guy was all up in arms about this.  But my wife recognized a flaw (lie?) in his story.  You see, I don’t know how it works in other states, but in Pennsylvania you can’t use your Access card to buy prepared foods like Sheetz Made To Order (MTO) subs.  You can’t use it at McDonalds or other fast food joints.  You can’t use it to buy tobacco or alcohol.  You can only use it to buy groceries.  And my wife knows this well because she worked in a group home taking care of people with severe mental health and mental retardation diagnoses, and she would take them out shopping for food.  These women worked simple jobs (like putting nuts and bolts in plastic bags) so that they could use their earned money on personal items and trips to places like McDonalds where they could not use their Access cards.  And so this guy’s story was a bunch of baloney.

I’m not surprised that someone would embellish to try to prove a point like this.  Entitlement is a huge reason why certain people vote Republican as opposed to Democrat.  They think there is far too much of it, and they don’t want to see their tax dollars going to pay for someone else’s laziness.  And I get that.  Believe me, I do.  I had a friend who never wanted to work a day in his life and jumped around from job to job.  He had a relative who was on disability for mental issues, and so he went and did the same.  He was “diagnosed”, quit working, and started collecting checks from the government.  And man does that bother me.  I hung out with him enough to know that his “issues” weren’t severe (or even existent), and yet he got the doctor to sign off on his inability to work.  And by work, I mean pushing carts around and cleaning and stocking shelves.  So yeah, I GET IT.

But then I look at the little elderly ladies that lived in the group home where my wife worked.  I look at my own mother, who can’t walk unassisted due to severe spinal stenosis and who uses a wheel chair to get around.  Yes, there are jobs out there that people in these situations can do, but they aren’t the kinds of jobs that can pay for mortgages, automobiles, etc.  My mother worked retail her entire life, and just standing behind a counter waiting on people became entirely too painful for her.  Some people legitimately lack the mental or physical capacity to do meaningful work, and so without government programs such as food stamps and disability, they’d be unable to pay for anything.  Caring for those people should be a government responsibility, and if you disagree with me, I have to wonder what you would propose instead.  Should they receive no money and just be cared for by others, pushing that responsibility onto those who CAN work?  Or should the lives of the disabled be miserable because of their handicaps?

Even if this girl at Sheetz used an Access card, this guy had no idea what her life is like.  She could have been buying the items for her disabled mother, as my wife and I do for mine.  She could be a single mother to two or three kids with a deadbeat father who doesn’t pay child support.  And daycare isn’t cheap—it’s $30 per day for our son.  Think about that for a second… if you are working a minimum wage job, making $58 for an 8 hour shift BEFORE taxes, and then $30 of that goes to daycare, that’s leaving you with $28 a day to pay for everything else.  That’s $600/month BEFORE TAXES to pay for food for your kids, a house or apartment to live in, utilities, transportation, etc.  And if you’re in the unfortunate situation of where you have no family to help you out, what do you do?  And so even if this girl at Sheetz used an Access card and voted for Obama, this guy had absolutely no right to judge her.

Moving on, then I saw another post where the person said that everyone was tired of Obama’s excuses, and that every time he tried to do something, it was vetoed by the Senate.  He went on to say that now that the Senate is Democratic, there are no more excuses.  I’m just stunned by this.  First of all, the Senate doesn’t veto anything.  Laws are created in Congress and must be passed by both the House of Representatives and the Senate before being forwarded on to the President to be signed into law.  If the President doesn’t like it, he can veto it.  The Senate does not veto anything.  Secondly, the Senate was already comprised of a Democratic majority prior to the election.  It was the House that was Republican, and the House still IS Republican.  Nothing has changed in the grand scheme of things aside from more minorities (thank goodness!) having been elected.  So I don’t know where this guy is getting his news and education from (Fox News, maybe??), but wow.  Wow.

Finally I saw someone post a message indicating that she was very upset with the outcome of the election because it meant that death panels could now deny people proper medical care.  Again, I don’t know where people are getting their information, but her post sparked a huge discussion about Obamacare and how it won’t work.  Ok, there are no death panels, so wherever people are getting that information from, they need to turn the channel or browse to another site (like here:  Second, Obamacare is already working, and if you want to know more, just ask me and I’ll tell you.  I have very real data proving that it is working.

People are bitter.  It’s understandable.  For some I’m sure it feels like their team lost the Super Bowl.  And of course everyone is a critic.  Everyone has their own idea of how things should be.  And very few of us will ever be one-hundred percent satisfied with the outcomes of elections and the actions of our elected leaders.  And we really just all need to realize that fact.

But now it is time to move on.  If someone proposes an idea, we need to evaluate it and offer our own ideas—not flat out reject what has been given to us.  We need to see things as humans, capable of understanding middle ground and not seeing everything as a one or a zero, black or white, right or wrong.  In order for us to move forward, we need to stuff away the talk of liberals and conservatives, Democrats and Republicans and Greens and Libertarians.  We need to simply all be AMERICANS, working together to make our country a better place for ourselves and our children.

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