How is the back to school rush focusing and sharpening my views on politics and the presidential elections in November? While we try to be non-partisan in our posts and discussions at ClimateMama, this post is both personal and will be seen by some as partisan – so be forewarned….and bear with me then, while I digress and reminisce for a moment.
My son is starting high school this year; my daughter just turned 13 and is in her last year of middle school. Both have now surpassed me in height – I am now officially the shortest in my family! Yet I feel physically no different then I did when they were babies, but all of a sudden I feel the reality of their teen years and my mortality staring me in the face. I recognize the need to “cherish every moment” as they rush full steam ahead to be “grown up.” Soon enough in the eyes of our country the will be “grown ups” – legally able to – vote, marry, drive a car, serve in the army and purchase a gun (not drink, but I guess that is a discussion for another time!) In my eyes however they will perennially be my “babies” who I will continue to work hard to protect and to create a safe, secure, healthy and welcoming world for.
My children’s future looms large in my thoughts and I see clearly that the decisions we make today will have direct implications for them, 4 and 5 years from now as they become “adults” in the eyes of our country and over the course of the rest of their lives. As the back to school season this year coincides with a presidential election year and the election rhetoric is in full swing, like many of my friends I have limited time or desire to watch political “attack” ads, read negative campaign articles or listen to the partisan media news shows railing on about the virtues or faults of one candidate over the other. Yet as a parent, making an informed decision IS my responsibility and what I “signed up for” when I choose to become a parent.
Living in a democratic country we pride ourselves on the ability to have choices, to be free to take decisions that may not be the “mostpopular” but are ours and ours to choose. Full disclosure: While I have lived in the US for many years, I only became an American citizen 5 years ago and have voted in only one presidential election: I voted for Obama, for hope and for change. I am ideologically a democratic but have and will continue to vote for candidates from other parties as I believe in choosing the “best person with the best plans and ability to accomplish the job..”
So in this election, as I get ready to send my children off to school, and look to their future, Mitt Romney’s treatment of climate as a “laughline” in his keynote at the Republican National Convention on August 30th when he said: “President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. MY promise … is to help you and your family,” offends me to the core and gives me serious pause and concern.
So it is time to get political on these issues and speak loudly about our choices. A party that officially has adopted a platform that doesn’t allow a woman to make health care decisions that affect her own body – even when it is violated in the most horrible way is not helping to protect, nurture and support my daughter. A party that is against supporting the greatest human rights issue of our time is not supporting the personal freedoms of my gay friends and relatives. A party that blatantly and boldly ignores the scientific facts of climate change and our part in it, that every major national academy of science the world over and 97% of climate scientists as well as mother nature are telling us are real and getting worse, is flying in the face of reality. A party that believes less environmental regulation is “more” and THE way to go, is not looking out for my family’s future. A party that subsidies multi-billion dollar energy companies and promises to expand oil and gas drilling well into the future, while turning its back on support for renewable energy sources like wind, remains a party of the last century not this one. And last but not least, a party whose budget plan American Catholic leaders called “…morally indefensible and a betrayal of Catholic principles of solidarity…that turns its back on the hungry, the elderly and the sick while giving more tax breaks to the wealthiest few..” is not a party of strong moral character.
I think we can all safely agree that life is complicated; feeding and clothing our children, keeping on top of our rent or mortgage, paying bills and looking after our families health and welfare, are not easy tasks. We don’t question that “social issues” related to our health, our children’s education and our personal freedoms are closely tied to “environment issues” that in many respects we take for granted in this country like clean air, clean water, safe and toxin free food and products, garbage collection and sanitary sewer systems, which all have impacts on “economic issues” that we face as a family, community and nation. These are all different sides of the same coin and trying to pull that coin apart is not possible.
There are many, many problems with our current political system and both parties are to blame. But putting our heads in the sand, hoping that problems will go away and not standing up to a political party that appears to have been “hijacked” is not the right answer. A party that is flexing it’s muscles and is poised to balance a complicated budget seemingly in a vacuum; ignoring the social, economic and environmental costs that are mounting before us, is neither walking along the path our country has been built on nor is it the party that I BELIEVE we are intended to follow.
My views and thoughts as my children get ready to go back to school are personal and I guess I have become “partisan.” Please, study the facts – get emotional and become vocal – our children’s future and our own is at stake …