Nope, we ain’t riding in the way back machine…

It is over, so very over and in the end America must accept that she is not the nation she once was, times have changed. Obama will have another four years in office and while many people including yours truly are feeling pretty good about that; for many millions of Americans this morning they are shaking their heads in dismay.

In the end I am not convinced that Obama won again because he was awesome but more because the alternative was stuck in a time warp and many of us simply had no desire to get back in the way-way machine.

When your only strategy is to stir up ugliness, it will eventually backfire on you. In the end the GOP has shown itself to be increasingly disconnected from America in 2012. America is more than Christian heterosexual white men (and women), America is a diverse salad bowl filled with people of all stripes and colors. Oddly enough all these diverse people do not think the same no matter what the GOP would like to think, believe it or not, Black people can be some of the most socially conservative folks around (Black preachers and gay marriage anyone?). Yet even with all that diversity most of us are not interested in having leaders who openly disregard us. We aren’t self-deporting, shutting our own uterus’s down or any of that nonsense.

America is at a crossroads, it happens to all of us, when we reach that point where we need to decide to make changes. Despite Obama’s win, one look at the electoral map shows that there are large chunks of America where being a Black person this morning might not be too good while people process this lost.

Yet in order to have true growth, we need to have a willingness to get raggedy and name our demons so that we can truly move on. In the end I am not sure how realistic that is, but a changing demographic in America means that the old ways of being don’t work anymore.

So while there are many winners this morning and I congratulate them, I can’t help but feeling we still lost and that until the majority of Americans truly accept that the face of America is a gorgeous tapestry, this ride will be rocky.

 

Race to the cell, the only thing America excels at in 2012

I really did not want anything to do with the final presidential debate; frankly these debates are starting to make me rage. Of course circumstances put me in a situation where I ended up listening to parts of the last debate and catching the running commentary on twitter.

The debates are simply good theater, the candidates are putting on a show for us and since most Americans are too busy to actually read/research the candidates we look to the debates to tell us all we need to know about the candidates. The funny thing, is that the debates and the entire election season with the campaigning and the billions of dollars being spent to one up the competition, shows us just how not exceptional we are as a nation despite this belief we hold that we are an exceptional nation.

I will take Obama any day over Romney, but that doesn’t mean I am jumping with joy because the truth is presidents for all the power they hold are essentially Cheerleaders in Chief. As this recent piece in the New York Times covers, no one who wants to truly make deep, systemic changes in this country is going to be elected and if they do, they will learn real soon, that we as a nation only like surface change. To create change is to acknowledge publicly that we have problems and when you think America is the “hope of the world” it can be hard to admit that the only thing we are excelling at these days locking up our citizens. Yep, America is the winner in the “Race to the Cell”.

For those of us who work with the most vulnerable among us, there is a growing sense of frustration as we see that poverty in this nation has changed. The face of poverty has changed and it looks more and more like us. Our smartphones and cars may hide those facts and the stiff upper lipped American way of keeping our financial lives private, hides a great deal. Ask any social service provider what they are seeing and they will tell you, that today’s client in need is just as likely to be a college educated person with no easily solvable problems and a solid work history as the stereotypical single mother with no education. It’s just easier to have the appearance of still being financially stable when we who are experiencing the economic downturn personally, still have the accoutrements and trappings from our formerly middle class lives. It also doesn’t hurt that many of us and I include myself since in recent years I have struggled financially are reluctant to share our business and talk about how bad things have gotten for us.

To some degree we have no one to blame but ourselves when we see politicians not discussing the issues that affect the millions who struggle daily to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. After all why would politicians want to discuss those issues when we ourselves can barely admit to family and friends that we have hit hard times? Yet in a nation that is sinking, we need to talk, and talk often on these issues.

Child poverty is a very real issue in this country; I see it every day at my job. Child poverty is the only reason I have a job at the moment. Out of the 35 most economically advantaged nations, America and her exceptional self, ranks number 34 in child poverty. That means you see child poverty too but don’t notice it because we expect child poverty to be a black, brown or tan face in a third world country. However ask any school teacher in America and they will tell you what child poverty looks like because they see it in the classroom. It’s Suzie who comes to school and has a bellyache every morning, because she is not getting enough to eat and her parents are too pride filled with American exceptional-ism to fill out the paperwork that would officially label them needy so that Suzie can actually have a full belly and focus at school. Instead we say Suzie has attention deficit issues, which is easier to acknowledge than the fact that Suzie is going hungry in a nation of plenty.  Ask Suzie how exceptional America is when at a tender young age she knows food is not a given. I see American exceptional-ism every day at my center when the same group of kids is more eager to eat the snack then to play in a fun activity after school. Not too damn exceptional if you ask me.

Our infant mortality rates are horrid for such an exceptional nation and social mobility here is a myth compared to most of Europe, Canada and Australia. Yet half of America is looking at Mitt Romney and his “success” and despite the fact that Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan have no fucks to give for the little guy, they will vote for these guys because the Horatio Alger myth is deeply ingrained in our psyche. This belief that hard work will turn us into millionaires is the lie we tell ourselves because we can’t handle the truth.

The problem with avoiding the real discussion on how unexceptional America and what our real issues are is that we keep putting a patch on the roof when really what is needed is a new roof. Eventually the patch job will fail and when it does, it is taking the whole damn house with it.

 

 

Buying the vote or at least the machines, the Romney plan

This week in my professional life, I learned that even for a small non-profit in the relatively sparsely populated state of Maine that the government cares about things like conflict of interest among the board of directors. See, my board chair got married a few months ago to a fellow board member, the same board member who owns a company that provides cleaning services to our small relatively unknown agency.  What this meant for yours truly is that reams and reams of paper were created this week by declaring that interest of conflict and making sure we were  transparent as hell since we are a publicly funded agency. Who would have thought?

That said, when you are running for president of these fractured states apparently you can have a “straight line financial interest in the voting machines that could decide this fall’s election. These machines cannot be monitored by the public. But they will help us decide who “owns” The White House” and no one seems to care, at least not the mainstream media.  Yesterday I came across this story, mentioning that the Romney family basically owns voting machines, no they didn’t exactly go out and buy up a slew of voting machines but thanks to their connection with Bain Capital which Papa Romney founded they have a connection.

Initially I thought this was a conspiracy type of story, but after some poking around, it seems this story is legitimate, or has enough legitimacy that frankly we should all be concerned, or scared.  In this fast paced world, our collective memories seem to be so short that it’s as if we have forgotten the hanging chads of 2000. Hell, just look at the recent attempts at voter suppression and the hullabaloo over identification.

I don’t know, but if my Pops were running for President, maybe I would rethink my decision to have anything to do with voting machines directly or indirectly. I would be scared of even having an appearance of there being a conflict of interest and sure as hell wouldn’t want anyone questioning the legitimacy of the results if my Dad actually won.

Then again, I am not Tagg Romney since the idea of uttering out loud that I want to punch out the sitting president wouldn’t be an action that I would choose. I am hardly one to jump on the conspiracy wagon but at this stage in the process, we should all be concerned about the integrity of the voting process in this country. We are moving closer and closer to being a world governed by the wealthy who in the end make decisions that affect the lives of the not so wealthy and really that is a scary thought. This election season both the Democratic and Republican candidates are approaching almost a billion dollars spent each trying to get a job that pays only $400,000 a year. Imagine what that damn near 2 billion dollars could do, if we didn’t have a process now guided by wealth and privilege.