I first saw this questionnaire over at Katie Schwartz' place, and so far I've read excellent responses from Dr. Monkey and D-cup. I don't do a lot of politics on this blog, but I've grown increasingly upset at the direction our country is headed, and when I saw this I felt compelled to add my own response.
1) What is your name (nickname, whatever you're comfortable sharing), your age (range), gender, occupation, income bracket (range), how you identify (gay/straight/whatever)? Married/Single/Divorced? Kids (how many)?
Just call me Bubs. I'm a 46 year old cop living and working in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. I'm the proud father of two smart and beautiful teenage daughters and I've been married to my high school sweetheart for more than 22 years. I've been a police officer for nearly 20 years, and between my job and my bride's job at the library, we make more money than I ever imagined we'd make when we first got married. We feel blessed. We'll never be rich, but we don't want for anything. I won't have to worry about income when I retire, and we're paying for both our kids to go to college (as long as they start with community college and then go to a state university.)
I served in the Illinois Army National Guard (as did my bride) as a medic in the early to mid 80's, and we both finished our duty before the first Gulf War. I'm a gun owner and a member of the NRA. I am that middle aged white guy in the suburbs who is supposed to be a perfect Republican voter, although I don't go to church as much as I should.
2) What are the most important issues to you in this presidential election and why?
The most important issue for me is the economy; specifically restoring some sense of fair play for working people and the working poor. When I talk about the economy I'm including the issues of affordable health care and energy policy as well. I think it's obscene that the greatest nation in the world allows so many of its citizens to go bankrupt trying to pay for medical care. I'm alarmed at the growing disparity between the wealthiest and the rest of us.
I'm outraged by the fact that so many things my parents worked for and expected as part of being a middle class American--things like medical insurance, secure pensions, the ability to send your children to college without incurring crippling debt--are disappearing. Our energy policies have been focused on maximizing short-term profits for corporations instead of being geared to insuring the long-term strength and sustainability of our way of life.
And then, of course, there's Iraq. Putting aside the question of why we invaded in the first place, there can be no doubt that the invasion and occupation have sucked billions of dollars down a sinkhole; billions and billions of dollars that could have been far better spent here in the United States.
3) Why do you think voters should vote for Obama/Biden, what differentiates this ticket from McCain/Palin?
Simply put, I don't understand how anyone can look around at the current state of affairs--hemorrhaging money in Iraq, $4.00 a gallon gas, record bankruptcies, rising unemployment, record deficits, Wall Street and banking failures--and think that putting anyone from the party of George W. Bush in the White House could be anything but another disaster. McCain represents the party that has occupied the White House for the past 8 years, and has controlled Congress for 12 of the past 14 years.
It's like I told a coworker the other day: if you're more outraged by flag lapel pins and YouTube clips of angry black preachers than you are by the fact it costs you $3,000 a year to drive to work now, and you can't retire because you can't pay for health insurance, then I guess McCain is your man. Go home, pour yourself a stiff drink and listen to God Bless the USA a few more times until you numb the pain.
I don't think Obama and Biden will magically solve all these problems, but I'm confident that they won't make them worse. Obama and Biden are not ideologues, and they are not radical leftists. They didn't get where they are by being anti-business. I do believe that they share a concern for the little guy, a true concern for his well-being (as opposed to phony brush-cutting-at-the-ranch theatrics) and would work to do what they could to improve things. Obama and Biden have a far better plan than McCain to provide affordable health insurance to the most Americans.
I used to like McCain, and would have voted for him over Gore had he been the GOP nominee in 2000. It's been depressing to watch the diminishing of McCain as a public figure, as he works so hard to pander to the same "conservatives" and fundamentalists in his party who smeared him in 2000. And Palin? She's a ruthless autocrat and scares the hell out of me as a candidate. Who would you want one heartbeat away--her or Joe Biden? Can you imagine the howling of right wing talk hosts had the Democrats nominated a candidate like Palin? Good lord.
4) If McCain/Palin wins this election, where do you see our country going in the next four years?
I see every negative trend I talked about earlier continuing, and probably getting worse. I see more of the elevation of empty patriotic symbolism and posturing over the true love of neighbor and country. I think we'll see an increasing downward trend in the living standards and wages of average Americans.
5) Economically, where do you think this country is today and how do you think Obama/Biden can make a positive impact?
One of the things that appeals to me about Obama is his commitment to invigorate the economy and create jobs by investing in our infrastructure. He also says he'll invest in green and alternative energy sources. We have to start somewhere. Here's a link to Obama's position page on the economy. Go look around.
6) In the past 8-years, how do you think this country has changed under the Bush regime? Have you been affected by these changes? If so, in what ways?
I've seen an increasing polarization, and willingness to demonize one's opponents. All that red state/blue state bullshit. We saw more of it at the GOP convention with the implication in several speeches that they represent "real" Americans, as opposed to Democrats, who presumably represent all us degenerate urban perverts, elitists, dope fiends and sandal wearing secular humanists. Conservative Republicans have given us the phenomenon of the sore winner.
How have I been affected? Well, it's turned me into a self-identified Democratic voter for the first time in my life. I don't think I'd vote for a Republican for dog catcher at this point.
7) I have read that Palin is considered the new voice of feminism, which is offensive in my opinion. Of equal concern are her views on abortion and the removal of books from libraries. I'd like to know what you think about all of that and how you feel about McCain choosing Palin as a running mate. And what kind of message you think that sends to women?
Republicans have successfully harnessed working class fear to get working class people to vote against their own economic interest (read What's the Matter with Kansas by Thomas Frank). Now it looks like they're trying to do the same thing--trotting out a candidate who, at first glance, working women and moms can relate to, but who actually opposes policies that most of those women would be in favor of. I don't think it sends any message to women, really, since women aren't some monolithic block.
I think that McCain's choice of Palin as a running mate shows that his desire to win is strong enough to overcome his previous problems with evangelicals and Bush conservatives. It's no secret he would've preferred Tom Ridge or Joe Lieberman, but ultimately he caved in to the right. And it's paid off for him, so far at least. By picking Palin he's put the GOP's favorite wedge issues like abortion and religion right back in the mix. If we try and win this election on issues like book banning and abortion, the Republicans will beat us like a rented mule.