Doing the Right Thing

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I just read this over at a friend’s blog and felt compelled to post it.

Trying to Do the Right Thing
I’m a 34-year-old mother of three boys who lives and works in what I guess you could call middle of America. Not that 20 miles outside of Indianapolis is a thriving hub or anything, but we’re near enough to a big city to not feel like complete hicks … and we’re close enough to cornfields to feel somewhat attached to the Midwest farming community—many of our closest friends.

My husband manages a large discount retailer in the area, and, in order to avoid conflict, I won’t mention any names. I stay at home to raise my kids who are 3, 5 and 12.

Here’s the thing … In the next couple months, we’re going to be asked to vote on the future president and vice-president of the United States. This is a huge deal. I want to do the right thing. However, I’m feeling overwhelmed about what that is. I know everyone in this country will need to determine what is right for him or herself. And everyone’s “right” is always different in varying degrees.

My husband would tell me to vote Republican, no matter who the candidate is. He feels that no matter what, a Republican will look after our best interests and won’t raise taxes so we can better protect our hard-earned money. A Republican will be more invested in protecting our borders. He or she (in this case) will “put our country first.”

But I’ve seen Republicans in action for the last eight years. I’ve seen what the Republican Party has done to our country … to my neighbors … and to our family. I have eyes and ears and despite what my church bulletin tells me, or my husband, I need to judge for myself.

So, in order to make the best decision I can–for me and for my family–I decided to do some research. I didn’t need to search very far in order to learn about the current state of the economy. Today, on my Yahoo homepage, the news is grim: “Jobless rate jumps to a 5-year high of 6.1 percent with 9.4 Million unemployed Americans. This is worse than economists predicted. Only a year ago, unemployment was at 7.1 percent.” –Leading Economist, Associated Press, Sept. 5, 2008.

Here’s a little-known fact I found on a website called alternet.org. “Since launching the ‘global war on terror,’ the Bush administration has funneled billions of public dollars to private contractors and more than doubled the size of the occupation with these hired guns. If you think the U.S. has only 160,000 troops in Iraq, think again. With almost no congressional oversight and even less public awareness, the Bush administration has more than doubled the size of the U.S. occupation through the use of private war companies. There are now almost 200,000 private contractors deployed in Iraq by Washington. This means that U.S. military forces in Iraq are now outsized by a coalition of billing corporations whose actions go largely unmonitored and whose crimes are virtually unpunished. In essence, the Bush administration has created a shadow army that can be used to wage wars unpopular with the American public but extremely profitable for a few unaccountable private companies.”

Now, I’m not sure if the source, alternet.org runs left or right, but I DO know that learning about this infuriates me. Because here’s what it means to me: Only a few very greedy men are lining their pockets with revenues they gain from the war. My husband would argue that because of “Trickle down economics,” the whole country is benefiting from the riches of these few. However, when I look at my friends who can hardly make enough money to keep their farms running … or when I need to decide between gas for our truck or lunch money for our kids, I’m not exactly seeing anything trickling down. What this means is, if the war is still going on when my sons get old enough to work (God forbid) … they could go to one of those private corporations that support the war and get a job offer to work and live in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever the war happens to be at the time. Maybe they have a 3-year contract … perhaps they have a high salary of $70,000 a year or more … But is this the life we want for our sons? Or our daughters?

Alternet.org isn’t the only news source reporting this … Business Pundit calls the war a “cash cow.” They cite Halliburton, Veritas Capital Group/Dynacorp and Washington Group International as some of the largest offenders. I get that America is built on capitalism … I understand the idea of looking for ways to build a better life. I know the people who work at these companies are only trying to help themselves and their families … However, where do we draw the line? We are essentially invading another country for nothing more than an oil source and then profiting from building them back up after we’ve destroyed them. How is this right? How is this ethical? How is this Christian? How does this support our economy as a whole? How does this protect our borders? How does this provide jobs for the 9.4 million unemployed? How can I possibly tell my sons that this is what I’ve chosen for them and they should feel glad for it?

How am I going to vote come election day? The only way I can—for the candidate who promises and can deliver change. Some of my more liberal friends tell me, “Sure, Obama talks a good game, but can he really stand by all his big talk?” I have to tell you, I think he already has. He’s motivated our young people to become passionate about politics again. He’s not accepting campaign money from lobbyists and special interest groups. He’s proposing solutions for tax cuts that are even greater than what McCain promises. He cares about building schools that support our children. He’d rather spend our tax money right here in the US—building up instead of destroying—investing in programs to run our nation instead of in weapons and war efforts that destroy other nations.

I don’t understand how Republicans can tell me that they don’t want “big government” to rule our nation. They say this while the Bush administration passes a bill allowing government to spy on the very people it claims to protect. Thanks to Bush, our government is allowed to read our emails and listen in on our phone calls. Our “privacy” is violated in ways it never was before—not for a “free” nation like ours. And is it any better to have corporations rule our nation than government? When big corporations steer government toward decisions that impact everyone on earth—like the companies that are making money from keeping this war going—or the oil companies who are making more money now than ever before—how can we trust that?

Do we want 4 more years of the party who is motivated by financial gain? Do we want 4 more years of the party who supports a select few billionaires while the majority of us—once solidly rooted in the ‘middle class’—are now sliding into financial ruin?

I don’t want my sons to grow up only to fight in a war that John McCain can see lasting for 100 years or more.

I don’t want to vote for a candidate who picks a running mate only because she is female. Sarah Palin is a good person, I’m sure … and she’s a mother like me, so I admire that about her … however, she doesn’t have any more experience running this country than I would. And it is arrogant to assume women will embrace her in the same way they embraced Hillary. I’m not a Hillary supporter myself … but at least she had the experience of being in the White House for 8 years … she proposed national healthcare reforms … she’s met with government leaders all over the world. She’s a highly-trained lawyer … she ran the state of New York.

I think it is important for all of us to remember that we aren’t voting for a contestant on American Idol … Sarah Palin isn’t a bachelorette preparing for a rose ceremony. We can think she’s likable and attractive, yes, but the vice president is someone who needs to be able to run our nation in the event that something happens to our president—bottom line.

I’m trying really hard to look at these issues from all sides. I feel the extra burden of making the right decision—not only for me, but for my three beautiful boys. For the kids in their classes … for my sister’s kids in California … for my brother’s kids in New Hampshire … for the future of America, and yes, even the world. This is one of the most important decisions we can make. I urge each of you to carefully weigh your thoughts … to research facts … to open your minds to the possibility of change. Thank you for listening.

-Flustered Housewife, mother of 3, middle of Indiana

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