I watched the Presidential Debate last night knowing that there was nothing Mitt Romney was going to say that would make me want to vote for him.
I should have realized that he would say things which would motivate me even further to push for voting Obama into a second term. I haven’t been super happy with Obama for several reasons – one of them being that while he seems to speak a lot about freedoms and equalities and so forth – he hasn’t really done anything to make my life better (except for the Affordable Care Act, which I’ll get to in a minute.) It took him until almost the end of his first term to support gay marriage.
There were several things which went wrong in last night’s debates. But here were the takeaways that I had after watching the debate:
Neither candidate directly engaged with the topic of women’s rights or the mounting pressures to remove rights from women with regard to their bodies. Even when the Affordable Care Act came up, nobody mentioned the part where the Affordable Care Act makes reproductive care for women easier to access and far better regulated (I haven’t paid for my birth control out-of-pocket since August, I hope you haven’t either.) Obama HAS made changes in this department. I now feel safe switching insurance companies and having my insurance in another state besides the one where my mother fought tooth and nail to get her blind, deaf, rubella baby health insurance. I actually have the freedom to travel and the access to health insurance which I desperately need to not have absurd medical costs.
But one of the issues with the dialogue around health care came from Obama himself. His examples when they came to disabled citizens were all about children, and how difficult it is for parents to support their disabled children without access to affordable insurance. And while that’s true, there’s a much more important bracket that I think both candidates forget about (or maybe they’d just rather not think about it.) Disabled adults need health insurance in order to be financially independent from their families. Furthermore, as a woman with health care needs, if I hadn’t gotten the healthcare that I needed I wouldn’t be functional to work. In order to have a robust workforce, we really need health care in order to keep people in their jobs. And in an era where most people are freelancers like myself, we don’t get health benefits from our jobs. So federal health care initiatives will actually change the face of insurance. Romney may talk about small business all he likes, but the reality is that my generation is still trying to figure out where we go in this new economy. The answer, is in part-time freelance work.
Furthermore, the demographic which both candidates emphasized was not that of the low income family, but of the middle class American family. What is supposed to be the dialogue for low-income families? For families here there is only one parent? For same sex couples of any financial demographic?
There’s so much that they didn’t talk about and I find myself frustrated by their narrow gaze.
Furthermore, while I’m willing to take pretty low digs during my own academic debate work, I never want to see one debater underhandedly call another a liar – especially not when the opponent is the President of the United States. Romney used a folksy underhanded tactic to make sure that he could get a dig in that would force us to question if Obama is a liar or not. Obama has a lot to lose by these underhanded remarks going unnoticed, and we have to hold people like Romney to a standard of decency that prohibits such things as calling people liars in underhanded ways, and steamrollering moderators just to get the last word in.
Finally – Keep your dirty hands off my Big Bird!