I’ve held off on commenting publicly on the blog about politics because, frankly, I don’t think the world needs yet another self-righteous lady in the suburbs lecturing people on morality and economics right now, and I’m also not looking forward to the responses I know this will bring. But I do believe every voice is important and I also believe we as a nation are not doing a very good job listening to each other.
I understand that parenting blogs aren’t solving all of the world’s problems, and if you don’t place any value on my opinions, I can’t say I blame you. But at the same time, I know that I find value in reading the words of women I relate to, and I want to point out that parenting is political. As foster parents, we literally co-parented with the government. As parents raising children who have medical and educational needs, it is the government that makes decisions about our kids’ healthcare and their rights to services in school. As a public school teacher, policy makers shaped every part of my job, including the curriculum I taught and the way I was evaluated. As a highway engineer, my husband’s line of work is very dependant on transportation funding from the government. We don’t have the luxury of being apolitical in our family because politics is steeped into every aspect of our day. We deserve to have mature, adult, fact-based discussions about these things. Yet as I write this, our current President is tweeting about all of the American cities he feels have gone “to hell” under his own leadership, and we recently endured a debate that was more of a kindergarten shouting match, so things are…not great, and it’s pretty obvious we can’t count on the people who should be leading us to act like adults.
First, I want to tell you where I am coming from. It’s a place squarely in the middle. I was registered as a Republican for fourteen years, but mostly because we lived in Pennsylvania during most of those years and if I had registered as independent I would not have had the ability to vote in the primaries. We are a Christian family and I describe myself as fiscally conservative and socially a bit more liberal. By that I mean that I support equal rights for all Americans, I believe that being pro-life includes actually working toward the change you want to see by doing things like fostering or adopting children and providing parents with education, healthcare, and parental leave because we know those policies do reduce abortion rates (much more so than any laws). Yet, I also recognize that those policies are expensive and “How are we going to pay for that?” is a valid question, especially when our country is already $27 trillion in debt.
I did not vote for Barack Obama and I don’t carry any shame about that. In 2008, our country was at war and I thought it would be smart to have a leader with military experience. In 2012 we were still in the middle of recovering from a terrible recession, and I thought it would be a good idea to have someone with real-world business experience leading our country. Although I didn’t vote for him, I was still happy with the way Obama handled many things. I do think he is a genuinely good person who wanted good things for our country, even if I did not always agree with him.
In 2009 when I delivered our oldest daughter, my pregnancy was considered a pre-existing condition. I resigned from my teaching job to stay home with the kids, and had to switch to my husband’s insurance. We honestly did not know until after I delivered Abby if the insurance company was going to be willing to pay for our delivery. I appreciated when we no longer had that concern by the time our next child was born in 2011. Our credit card statements became easier to understand, Osama bin Laden was found, our LGBTQ+ friends and family finally had the same rights we did as American citizens, the Affordable Care Act reduced abortion rates significantly because it granted access to insurance and birth control to people who did not previously have it…you get the idea. Good stuff happened.
Even so, there were plenty of policy decisions I didn’t like. I thought he was too harsh on immigration, I took issue with the drone strikes that left innocent people dead, I thought he issued too many executive orders, I didn’t like his policy on Syria, and our national debt increased 58% under his leadership (although it’s important to recognize he inherited a recession and any president, regardless of party, would have been in a similar position). I still think those are all valid criticisms of the previous administration. I do recognize that there is no such thing as a perfect Presidential candidate, but what I have missed most during both the 2020 and the 2016 election years is the ability to speak civilly to other people, especially when we don’t agree, and learn from each other. Our country can’t survive with half of the population considering the other half its enemy. Unfortunately, I don’t believe Donald Trump has shown himself to be willing or capable of promoting that kind of kindness, respect, and empathy we need right now.
In 2016 I voted for Democratic candidates for the first time in my life, and I did the same this year (I already mailed in my ballot). I put a lot of thought into that decision, and the decision to switch my political party. I’m disheartened by all of the people both online and in my real life who have tried to tell me that somehow makes me a bad Christian or in support of murdering babies. It doesn’t. In reality, when I did further research, it became very obvious that laws all by themselves don’t do very much for reducing abortion rates (much the same way that I don’t believe laws by themselves would do very much to reduce gun violence unless they were combined with other policies), what actually reduced abortion rates is access to education and birth control and healthcare. I wish those were Republican policies, but for now they are not.
I personally switched parties after Betsy DeVos was appointed Secretary of Education without any qualifications and without being able to answer very basic questions in her confirmation hearing. But in the years since, there have been many more times I would have switched. I will not associate myself with the hateful rhetoric towards our own citizens, and I think that when the Taliban, Russia, and every white supremacist group in our country are in favor of one candidate, we should definitely ask ourselves what in the world would make us agree with them?
I do recognize that there are some things the Trump administration has accomplished, and I don’t think it’s to anyone’s benefit to ignore them. The Farm Bill made CBD and hemp federally legal, and it was that legislation that made it easier for us to access CBD oil for our son. Until the pandemic, the economy was continuing to do well (a trend that started under Obama). Mortgage rates are low and our family has benefited from a more affordable housing price. Gas prices are at the lowest I can remember (although that has a lot to do with the pandemic). But even if I put aside the tweeting and the negativity and immaturity, I still have many of the same criticisms of Trump that I had of Obama, and every single thing I didn’t like about the Obama administration, Trump’s administration has expanded.
While I did not vote for him, I still wanted Donald Trump to do well because it is in the best interest of our country. Unfortunately, in my opinion he really did not. If I didn’t like something about Obama, why would I support Donald Trump for doing the same bad things, but worse? Despite a campaign promise in 2016 to decrease the debt, it has continued to grow under his leadership. The pandemic has been so poorly handled that the United States has more infections and twice as many deaths as any other country in the world. The Trump administration took Obama’s already poor immigration policies and made them infinitely worse. While the pandemic is responsible for quite a bit of the decline in employment and the economy, it’s a president’s responsibility to be able to handle a crisis. By the time January comes, 25% of Trump’s presidency will have included time we spent in the pandemic, so it is in no one’s best interest to ignore his response or the consequences. He also blatantly disregarded common understandings about ethics to appoint his own children to leadership positions within our government, despite them having virtually no qualifications to hold those positions.
The expensive border wall is costing too much money and being so poorly constructed that it is already falling apart, and it still doesn’t address the fact that most illegal immigration does not happen on foot through Mexico. There is an executive order about pre-existing conditions that he is claiming is his way to help America, but I find it to be more of a useless example of grandstanding. I have the same criticism of his excessive use of executive orders that I had about Obama. That healthcare order is currently not necessary while the Affordable Care Act already protects them, and if the ACA is repealed the order is only a policy statement, not a law. It will not stop insurance companies from denying coverage, and there is currently no Republican plan to address how to replace healthcare if the ACA is repealed, a question Mike Pence very obviously dodged in the VP debate. In addition to the hateful way he speaks to his fellow Americans, there was enough evidence of impropriety to impeach Donald Trump, he is currently under investigation for insurance and bank fraud, and quite a few people associated with his campaign are in jail for serious crimes.
He was handed an opportunity to show our country that unseasoned people could enter the political arena, and in my opinion he did not rise to the occasion. I am horrified that he knew about the bounty on our troops but did nothing to address it, and I was shocked and sickened when he ordered our own military to use tear gas on peaceful citizens, including clergy. I do not find any of those things qualities befitting a U.S. President, and I also do not believe they are at all in line with what I always considered to be traditional Republican ideas.
All of that said, I realize Joe Biden is still not a great option for a lot of people, and I admit I was less than thrilled when he earned the nomination. He was part of an administration I took a lot of issue with in the first place, and I think one of the reasons so many Americans were drawn to Trump in 2016 was that they were tired of the same career politicians being our only options. I appreciate the idea that my children might be able to receive free college tuition, but unless and until we get our current budget under control, I really don’t think it is a campaign promise he will be able to keep. But I will be happy if he proves me wrong!
I understand both men have problematic histories in regard to race (although Trump much more so, having been actually sued by our own Justice Department for racist housing practices in his business in the 1970’s, around the same time Biden was making comments about “racial jungles.”) I think it would be difficult to find a white man in his 70’s in this country who has never made problematic statements on race, and that speaks to the fact that our entire country has a lot of work to do in regard to both race relations and diversifying our political candidates. But I will say that as I did more research into Biden and his accomplishments, I was pleasantly surprised. (To the contrary, the more research I did into Trump, the worse it seemed to get from a perspective of human rights. I did not know until recently that under the Trump administration we are accepting 90% fewer persecuted Christian refugees- people seeking completely legal entry into the country because they are facing persecution and death in other countries for their Christian beliefs. I consider that, along with other harsh immigration policies, to be a huge violation of my pro-life beliefs.)
I appreciate that over the course of his career Biden has sponsored or co-sponsored 4,445 bills, and they include things like the Violence Against Women Act, bills that protect victims of child trafficking, and crime victims with disabilities. He has a long history of being able to work with people on both sides of the aisle, and I think that is something our country desperately needs at the moment and something I really do not see Donald Trump ever being able to accomplish as long as he insists on viewing all Democrats, including many governors, as his enemies. So far, Trump has had four years in office, I don’t think he has the right any longer to claim he is not a politician, and as such he needs to learn how to get along with people in order to lead effectively. I know some people see Biden’s middle of the road approach as a negative or wishy-washy, but I choose to see it as a positive because I believe it shows a willingness to consider all angles and try to find a middle ground with people you don’t agree with.
So, I did cast my vote for Joe Biden this year. I don’t anticipate that one mom’s blog post is going to change anyone’s mind, but I appreciate that we live in a country that allows me a voice, and so today I decided to use it because I know there are a lot of women who identify as conservative who are really struggling with this decision, and I hear you. What I struggle with the most is that all of the discussions lately are filled with so much negativity. Even this post felt heavy to write because as much as I tried to find positive things to say about both sides, it really is the negative behavior that has been a deciding factor in so many votes, and that makes it necessary to discuss.
Thank you in advance for your time and for participating in respectful discussion and modeling to our children and youth the way disagreements should actually be handled. If you don’t have anything productive or kind to say, feel free to move on with your day without engaging here.