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Election Day 2012: What Did Really It Mean

November 8, 2012 1 comment

Barack Obama has won! But Election Day 2012What does it really mean? While we are very focused on the fact that President Obama will remain in the White House for another four years, the Election Day results are full of complicated victories and valuable lessons.

It would be so easy to take Election Day at face value. I would argue it would be dangerous to do so. Barack Obama’s victory in the Electoral College will look like a landslide, but an examination of the popular vote indicates a much closer race. Further, the results also show a very polarized nation. The Obama campaign is a study of modern political science and demography. They understood what groups constituted their base, and then they pursued them relentlessly. One group that didn’t fall into the Obama base in large numbers was white men who didn’t work in the auto industry. Married white women also were not big supporters of Obama in 2012. They are angry, and the rest of the country should take some time to try to figure out why.

As America’s first Black president anticipates his second term, this nation must confront its resurgent comfort with racism and negative racial imagery and rhetoric. As a candidate, Mitt Romney had the opportunity to repudiate the nasty and unnecessarily inflammatory racial and racist rhetoric spewed by his campaign surrogates. But Romney looked the other way as John Sununu, Newt Gingrich, and Donald Trump took to social media and traditional media in a game of racist one-upmanship with each other. Hopefully, these three men will jump back into the clown car and drive away.

The role of the Latino community will take on mythic proportions as the story of the 2012 Elections will be retold…and rightfully so. After being discussed in a manner that was either dismissive or disgusting during the GOP primaries with talk of “self-deportation” or electrified fences, the Latino community was waiting for someone to say something reasonable. The executive order around the DREAM kids was policy change that the Latino community could believe in. Comprehensive immigration reform is overdue. Let’s hope everyone in Washington is finally gets it.

The LGBT community also knew it had a friend in President Obama, despite earlier frustration with him. President Obama repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” a policy that institutionalized keeping active duty military personnel in the closet. Conversely, a deployed soldier was booed during a GOP debate for asking a question. But the LGBT community and the world knew President Obama has the inclusive spirit of equality and justice contemplated when we say “We the People” when he expressed his personal support for marriage equality. Marriage equality initiatives fared well in states…maybe President Obama helped change some minds.

Women make up over 50% of the registered electorate. The first official act that President Barack Obama did in 2009 was to sign the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which makes it easier to sue based on gender discrimination. So Barack Obama hit the ground running where women are concerned and never stopped. The GOP presented themselves as the perfect foil to Obama, especially in the past two years. There were some, including me, who thought that this year was going to become the Year of the Woman. Sandra Fluke was called a “slut” by Rush Limbaugh. Mitt Romney offered some lukewarm response and Barack Obama called Ms. Fluke personally to offer support. There are myriad compelling and complicated cross currents involved in the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, which included attacks on privacy and access to birth control. The landmark legislation of the first term of Obama Administration, Obamacare, is extremely beneficial to women, whether it is for our own care, the care of a child, or the care of an aging, sick parent. The Affordable Care Act is now safe from threats to “repeal and replace.”

The election of 2012 is noteworthy for women because it is the year that we rejected efforts to destroy progress and go back to a time when women had little control over our bodies and our earning potential. Throughout the country there were candidates for the House of Representatives and US Senate who expressed extreme views that would have endangered the physical and economic lives of women. Those candidates LOST! The idea that in 2012 there was a debate about the definition of rape is offensive and shocking. Let’s clear it up once and for all: rape is rape because no means no. The law is clear about abortion, but the procedure should be available since it legal. The law is settled, let’s move on. I think equal pay is one area where we could focus our energy instead. The fact that the Violence Against Women Act remains in limbo is also unacceptable. But there are 20 women in the US Senate now, a record. Let’s hope that makes a difference and we can focus on issues that really matter to women and the nation.

President Obama will probably have the opportunity to appoint another Supreme Court justice. It would be amazing to see the first Black woman take her place in the highest court in the land. But there are many other firsts that could be achieved…first Asian-American, first Native-American, first open LGBT justice…there is need for diversity on the bench and President Obama is the person to achieve that goal.

The Obama campaign probably knew whether you preferred Coke, Pepsi or 7-Up. But the one thing they didn’t know was whether you would be subject to voter suppression or voter intimidation. This trend toward shaping the outcome of the election by controlling who can access the polls must stop. All of America benefitted from the fact that the efforts in Florida, Texas, Pennsylvania, Ohio and other states were not successful. The people who would have been disproportionately impacted would have been the elderly and college students. The folks who invested the country and to whom we owe a debt on one end, and on the other end, we have the generation we are trying to teach the value of civic engagement and instill the habit of voting…these are the targets of the GOP campaign of voter suppression. It is shameful. It is ironic because we recently discovered that a GOP operative has allegedly engaged in voter registration fraud and that the GOP allegedly knew about it. There is such hope for our country because groups like the NAACP, the ACLU and the Advancement Project successfully fought these voter ID laws and state officials. Here’s what was amazing, voters were energized by the obstacles, not discouraged. It didn’t matter what they need to get to vote, they were going to vote. We need to remember that every Election Day and have the same passion and commitment.

Voters waited on line for hours to vote due to reduced early voting hours in Florida. Requests to expand hours in light of the long lines were denied.

Passion and commitment… In the final analysis, that was what made the difference. This election was the most expensive election in American history on the federal, state and local levels. At the top of the ticket, almost $2 billion was spent in pursuit of the White House, with the Romney campaign spending over $1 billion. This campaign was the first presidential campaign is the post-Citizens United world. The big money interests didn’t disappoint. They dumped money into the Romney campaign as though they thought they were buying the very best seats at the opera… Maybe they were. But all the money the world can’t buy passion and commitment. As Election Day drew closer, television ads lost their effectiveness, but passion and commitment motivated tens of thousands of volunteers who fanned out across the country to phone bank, knock on doors, and show up at rallies to support President Obama. Negative ads might move the news cycle, but a Get Out the Vote strategy moves voters.

Barack Obama won. This is great news for the country…all of the country. There are some folks who would have you believe that this is only good news for the people who want free stuff. Absurd. It’s time for the country to unite behind this president…for real this time. No clandestine dinners on Inauguration Night, please…

The “Fiscal Cliff” and potential sequestration loom on the horizon if all of us don’t get our act together and move forward. The time for fighting is over. The time for unity has arrived. This is the United States of America, and we have just re-elected our president. You may not respect the man, but respect the office.

Election Day 2012…What does it mean? It means that we have to realize that the country is changing is some wonderful ways…we embraced our better angels. But after some brief rest, it is time to get back to the work of restoring the nation economically, recovering from Hurricane Sandy, fixing big issues like immigration, the tax code, education and climate change and setting the course for a secure future.

On another day, there will be an autopsy on the Romney campaign, but not today. Today it is sufficient to say that President Obama won. GOP must do some soul-searching about its tactics and its lowest common denominator assumptions about the country.

We all voted. President Obama has reached 332 Electoral College votes. Now we must shift gears, and return to the work governing.

Let’s do what Americans do…Thrive.

All Rights Reserved

Kimberly S. Jones

2012

Romney Sutra: The Numerous Tortured Political Positions of Mitt

October 26, 2012 1 comment

All three presidential debates have taken place. We have seen Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. There are less than two weeks left until Election Day. We should have a very clear sense of what policies the candidates are proposing, the direction they want to take the country – we should have a full measure of each man running for the office of President of the United States.

But we don’t have the full measure of one of the candidates, Mitt Romney. Instead, it is the numerous tortured political positions of Mitt – the Romney Sutra. It is confusion, entitlement, hypocrisy, dishonesty, chaos and deception.

It is amazing that we don’t know Willard Mitt Romney. He has been running for president since mid-way through his term as governor of Massachusetts, probably before. He began to run for Election Day 2012 on February 7, 2008, as he was suspending his 2008 Presidential Campaign.

It is amazing that we don’t know Willard Mitt Romney. He has been running for president since mid-way through his term as governor of Massachusetts, probably before. He began to run for Election Day 2012 on February 7, 2008, as he was suspending his 2008 Presidential Campaign. But as he was running, he was also hiding.

We have tried to vet Mitt Romney. There are the political masochists who watched all or most of the GOP Presidential Debates – all 20 of them. If the debates were challenging for the viewer, imagine what they must have been like for Mitt Romney. From May 5, 2011 to February 22, 2012, Mitt Romney pulled, twisted, turned, and stretched himself into so many different political positions that I wonder if he recognized himself.

In the course of those debates, the only constant was his steady march to the right. Romney struggled to make the GOP believe that he is “severely conservative.” I suppose STAUNCHLY conservative wouldn’t have been enough. Even linguistically, Romney comes across as lacking authenticity and sincerity.

There was no amount of pandering that was too callow. Who can forget Romney pandering to the non-voting trees in Michigan as being just the right height? I know the folks in the South felt an instant kinship to Romney when he started referring to them as “y’all,” and telling them about his breakfast of “cheesy grits.”

During the primaries, there were certain groups who should have paid very close attention to what Mitt Romney said, or equally important – didn’t say. Seniors, women, Latinos, LGBT, public service employees, college students: you should have been listening to the various contradictory positions that Romney took on the issues of importance to you. Blacks, veterans, the poor, the sick and disabled, the middle class with a job, cities, alternative energy (e.g., wind and solar), etc. if you were marginalized or excluded from Mitt Romney’s political discussion, you will be totally excluded from a Romney Administration. You probably won’t even get a binder…

But the pandering couldn’t remove the taint of his previous remarks and his record. Or could it? A senior Romney advisor, Eric Fehrnstrom, told us they would just shake and reset after the primaries, like an Etch-A-Sketch. Six months earlier, they telegraphed the desperate dash to the middle they were going to make in the first presidential debate, but all of us, President Obama included, were still unprepared when it came. But I am certain that the people of Massachusetts were not surprised at all.

The people of Massachusetts should know him best, right? He has lived there since he moved there to attend Harvard Law School and Business School. Bain Capital is headquartered there. Mitt Romney was governor of the state. With that much history in the state, you would think he would be way ahead in the polls in his home state. You would be wrong. According to the Real Clear Politics Average of Polls, President Obama is ahead of Mitt Romney by a staggering 16.3%.

Romney’s current poll results in Massachusetts are analogous to your significant other starting a committed, passionate relationship your sworn enemy.

But for folks who aren’t from the Bay State, we must stop and ask why? The citizens of Massachusetts DID have the chance to vet Mitt Romney. They saw him in action. Was he able to create millions jobs? Did he mystically change the political culture of the capital? Did he turn water into wine? The short answer is no, not so much.

Governor Romney’s Bain Capital years… key evidence for his ability to turn-around failing circumstances – well, we have to take his word for it because many of those businesses either went bankrupt or they are privately held, so we can’t see their books. We certainly haven’t been offered the opportunity to review the books of Bain Capital during the time that Mitt Romney was running the place.

We have only seen two years of tax returns. Why shouldn’t we trust what Mitt Romney has told us about his tax returns? He contorted himself into a convenient shape on this issue once before to help himself when he was running for governor. Once he won, we discovered the information he gave the citizens of Massachusetts about his taxes was false. By his own father’s standards, Mitt Romney has fallen short by his failure to produce multiple years of tax returns, which is sad and ironic since George Romney initiated the practice in 1967.

If you don’t know who Barack Obama is, love him or hate him, then you haven’t been paying attention. He told us more than we needed to know in the two books he wrote and published about himself BEFORE he became president. The President and First Lady continue to do an amazing job of raising well-adjusted, intelligent and poised young ladies in the white-hot glare of the fishbowl of the White House.

But President Obama isn’t running to be Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, the office pursued is President of the United States.

Dr. Heathcliff Huxtable, also known as Bill Cosby

The track record President Obama has established in his first term is full of hits, but if we are honest, it has not been an unqualified success. I could take an entire blog just listing accomplishments achieved during the Obama Administration. But here is Pundit On Point Cliff Notes version: Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act signed; Consumer Financial Protection Bureau created; automobile industry revived; two women, including the first Latina, appointed to the US Supreme Court; after a century of effort, healthcare reform created; end of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Iraq War ended; and the man responsible for 9/11, Osama bin Laden, was brought to justice.

There is so much more. Ask the Dream kids, senior citizens, students with federally guaranteed student loans, women who heard Barack Obama state “rape is rape,” and the LGBT community who heard our president say he supported marriage equality.

There is more work to be done on the economy. No one is saying otherwise. But President Obama has been steady. In fact, it has been this type of even-keeled leadership that has provoked endorsements from conservative and careful sources, such as the Salt Lake Tribune and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.

Governor Romney has tried to strike all of the poses, but he has only succeeded at looking entitled and cheerlessly ambitious, while leaving us questioning his motives and sincerity. Pro-Choice v. Anti-Choice. Varmint Hunter v. Gun Control. Misogynist v. Binder-holder. Neo-Con Hawk v. Peacenik Dove. Severely Conservative v. Moderate. All of this hypocrisy is trapped in one person.

If you are everywhere in your principles, then you will get nowhere. As all of our parents told us, if you don’t stand for something, you will fall for anything. We live in a time when the President of the United States must stand for more than their own ambition. Listen to the hint the people of Massachusetts are sending. The Romney Sutra, with its numerous, tortured, political positions of Mitt, will not unite and elevate our nation.

Vote. Engage this republic of ours. It will only get better when we all lift it up towards its highest purpose. Vote.

All Rights Reserved
Kimberly S. Jones 2012

An Open Letter to Speaker Boehner: Big Gavel, But Impotent

July 13, 2012

Dear Speaker Boehner,

You will be in session for 25 more working days before Election Day. Then hopefully, you will officially become lame as  the OUTGOING Speaker in the Lame Duck Session. For those paying attention, you have been lame all along.

When you became Speaker of House, you made great show of taking possession of the gigantic gavel. You know what they say about men who have big tools and don’t know how to use them. What a waste! Yes, Mr. Speaker. Your time as Speaker of the House has been a great big, orange, weepy, ineffective waste. The tragedy of it is two-fold: you follow one of the most effective Speakers in the history of the House of Representatives, Nancy Pelosi, and your ineptitude comes at a time when the Congress and the country needed a statesperson with political acumen to hold the Speaker’s gavel.

The 112th Congress could be called the Looney Tunes Congress. There are some folks in the House of Representatives who are so comical that they are better placed in a cartoon than in Congress. Joe Walsh, Allen West, and Michelle Bachmann, to name a few, all deserve their own special clown car. Allen West makes ridiculous statements that are throw-backs to a drunken, discredited, red-baiting Congressman who brought a shameful time to America. Yet there are some who take this person seriously. Allen West is one of the best “race hustlers” around, invoking provocative images of slavery to suit his own political agenda. He needs to get off the “plantation” of crazy where he is currently enslaved, and find the freedom of sanity and reality.

Joe Walsh is a dead-beat dad who thinks nothing of denigrating and disrespecting a decorated war hero, who also happens to be a double amputee, to suit his own craven political agenda. By the way, what are Joe Walsh’s legislative achievements while in Congress? What has he done for the people of his district? I doubt it’s very much.

Michelle Bachmann… Where to start or end with her? Her biggest legislative achievement was to guarantee your unthreatened ability to buy incandescent light bulbs. I know that the most important item on your political agenda over the economy, education, the environment and other trivial things is light bulbs. But the rest of America was worrying about other things. You are blessed if the future of light bulbs was keeping you up at night. Her latest stunt was to call the Affordable Care Act the “largest Middle Class tax increase in American History.” Wow, lie much?

Yes, Mr. Speaker, you with your big gavel couldn’t herd these crazy cats into acting in the best interests of America. We have seen it time after time.

But you, Mr. Speaker, have been like Wile E. Coyote to President Obama’s Road Runner. You have allowed the TEA Party extremists to fill your head with legislatively wasteful and politically destructive plots ordered straight from ACME political tricks and schemes. Rather than helping you catch the President, all you have gained for your troubles is the political equivalent of an anvil falling on your head – dismally low approval ratings for Congress, 17.8% according to Real Clear Politics Average of Congressional Job Approval polls through June 18, 2012.

As the TEA Party dropped an anvil on your head, Wile E., I mean, Mr. Speaker, it was also dropping boulders and anvils on groups who expected their elected representatives to look out for their interests. We expected you to bang your gavel to lead, not bang the gavel on our heads. It was the American people who suffered most. As you collected your annual salary of $223, 500, with benefits and pension, American citizens waited for the jobs that would give us salaries, benefits and pensions. Instead, you postured and played politics with our lives. As you took your salary and did nothing for the American people, the gavel laid impotently in your hand.

Instead of efficiently reauthorizing the Violence Against Women Act (“VAWA”), and expanding the Act so it reaches all victims of violence, the VAWA sits in limbo, a victim of the violence of the political act forced on it, in the same way that all women and members of the LGBT community who have violence forced upon them will be left without adequate recourse if this act isn’t reauthorized. But at the same time, this same Congress was all too happy to push this government to the brink of a government shutdown over an effort to defund Planned Parenthood.

It bears repeating that it is a sad fact that Planned Parenthood is the bogeywoman for abortion, but abortion represents 3% of the services of the services they provide. The rest of the services they provide are for the HEALTH of a woman, e.g., routine screenings such as pap smears and mammograms. By the way, Mr. Speaker, abortions in the first trimester are a legal medical procedure and a matter of CHOICE for the mother and her family. None of that mattered. You were willing to allow your big gavel to lay impotently in your hand as the country careened toward a shut-down. Women suffered during your term as Speaker. We will remember. We will deal with you harshly on Election Day.

The gavel was placed in your hands because the GOP promised to be the party of jobs. Jobs, jobs, jobs. Yes, we got a job alright, a con job. Do a Google search for “GOP jobs bill in 112th Congress.” I did. The results are extremely spare, especially for the party that claimed that they were going to be job creators. What happened? You lied to us. This GOP ascension had nothing to do with jobs, and everything to do with power for the sake of power. You wouldn’t even vote on the Jobs plan that the President sent to Congress, not once. No, the goal was never jobs, it was always power.  All I can say is “well played.”  Because that is what you did, you played the American people. Crafty…

But the gavel still lays impotently in your hand. A gavel that you should wield with power, authority and finesse; instead, you are run around by the freshman members of your caucus. How embarrassing. That was especially apparent when you allowed the little boys and girls in the TEA Party Caucus to publicly throw their un-statesmanlike tantrums as the country had an unnecessarily prolonged negotiation about the debt ceiling last summer. The debt ceiling had been raised almost 80 times since 1960, mostly under Republican presidents, as you well know. Yet, you procrastinated like a teenager with a term paper on the debt ceiling issue, which meant that you manufactured a crisis that resulted in the first downgrade of the US credit rating in America history. Not an effective use of your power, if you ask me. Impotence that doesn’t just reflect on you, it affects the rest of us.

Yes, Mr. Speaker, there are 25 days when Congress will be in session before Election Day. You just wasted one of those days on another useless vote to repeal some or all of the Affordable Care Act. And yet again, Wile E. Coyote, the Road Runner stuck his tongue out at you, said, “Beep, Beep!” and sped away…for the 33rd time.

But the big gavel lies impotently in your hand. And America watches and waits because there are problems that still should be solved in the 25 working days, the time before your impotence becomes lame impotence in the Lame Duck Session. The debt ceiling looms on the horizon – AGAIN. In your limited wisdom, the fix put on unemployment and the payroll tax holiday was temporary, so they are expiring. Happily, the Bush Tax Cuts are expiring, but the President and most of America wants you to extend them for those with annual incomes under $250,000. And yes, VAWA is still sitting out there waiting for reconciliation in conference. Adopt the Senate version, and let’s get on with it.

In New York, we say someone is all sizzle and no steak. In Texas, they say someone is all hat and no cattle. You, Mr. Speaker, were all gavel and no power, statesmanship, or gravitas. Impotent. It’s sad, because America deserved better. We needed better. And I think you may have wanted to be bigger than the gavel. It’s sad that the gavel ended up being bigger than you.

Sincerely yours,

Pundit On Point

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Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones