withdrawal…???

That’s my husband’s take on how I’ll respond to the day after, i.e. November 7. 

President Obama @ UNC

President Obama @ UNC (Photo credit: mehlam786)

Today is Election Day.

Washington’s movers and shakers for the next 4 years are being decided upon today. Even as I write.

I actually left the gyrations of politics behind a few days ago. The nonstop spin of media pundits and the constant polling wore thin.

For me, the die was cast when I mailed in my vote for President Obama. Nothing anyone could say or do would make me reflect upon my decision. That is until SHE happened along.

Sandy.

Two major American cities were brought to their knees by Mother Nature. She reminded us that in the end, we humans must look to each other for comfort, solace, and resurrection.

Watching high winds and swollen waters overwhelm our puny structures was humbling. To this day, I have difficulty dispelling the notion that our existence is, at best…whimsical.

Running parallel is my feeling that what does matter…is us. In the blink of an eye, we could cease to be.

Cole's Restaurant Hit by Hurricane Sandy in St...

Cole’s Restaurant Hit by Hurricane Sandy in Staten Island, NY. (Photo credit: bozer★)

And in that same blink what’sapparent is that we can’t take it with us…stuff, that  is.

Governor Romney promises, with him as President, we will be able to have stuff..to buy stuff.

In and of itself, that’s not a bad thing. It’s how Romney plans to do it that threatens our already tentative existence.

To do that, he guarantees 12 million new jobs. It’s certain those jobs will involve fossil fuel, the primary pollutant affecting climate change.

Short term solutions are the life blood of a corporate raider. A career for which Romney takes pride, having made millions for himself and investors while at Bain Capital.

Romney’s business mentality…taking care of the now, squeezing as much out of the moment as possible, getting out before the tide turns, hoping for the best, not looking back, and above all…having no regrets.

In contrast, President Obama has deliberated the long term effects of his actions. A sign, perhaps, of his professorial background. He has made value-based decisions, including ones to do with climate change. Not all have been politically correct. In some instances the President has lost favor with one group or another, even his own liberal constituency. But at the end of the day, he remained true to his own moral compass.

The President made the last campaign speech of his political career last night in Iowa.

He reminded the audience, those standing in the cold with him and we who watched on TV while comfortably ensconced in our warm homes, that he and his wife were catapulted to the national stage with their first win in that state during the last election. He spoke of local meetings with only 20 folks in attendance…of backyard barbecues…of meet and greets in community centers and church halls. Small town folks…with small town values.

As I watched the President and the First Lady embrace to the raucous applause of cheering Iowans, I identified with the unassuming couple at the center of the crowds.

President Barack Obama embraces First Lady Mic...

President Barack Obama embraces First Lady Michelle Obama as she prepares to leave for her return to the United States April 5, 2009, as President Obama continued his overseas travel schedule. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Barack and Michelle Obama hail from families who struggled to keep food on the table, clothing on their backs, and rooves over their heads. Education was a priority in both their households. And as a result of having been raised by loving and supportive parents and grandparents, Barack and Michelle continue to display the same for all those in need of that same love and support.

Like the Obamas, my worldview embraces all those who struggle in their daily lives. I’ve been there. To some extent, I’m still there. Retirement looms on the horizon for my husband and me, and my daughter, an artist, will always live frugally.

Knowing that I am part of a larger human community makes Mother Nature’s whimsy more bearable.

I am not alone.

When I die I won’t care about the stuff I leave behind. I will take my leave of this transitory existence knowing that I share the love and support of all those with whom I have aligned my life.

…love thy neighbor as thyself…

…he’s not heavy, he’s my brother…

…do unto others, as you would have them do unto you…

…no man is an island unto himself…

…share and share alike

…verily I say to you, inasmuch as ye have done it to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it to me…

…the obamas…my kind of people…

………hugmamma.

English: President Barack Obama, First Lady Mi...

English: President Barack Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and their daughters, Sasha and Malia, sit for a family portrait in the Green Room of the White House, Sept. 1, 2009. Français : Le président Barack Obama, la First Lady Michelle Obama et leurs filles Sasha and Malia, assis dans la Green Room de la Maison Blanche pour un portrait de famille, 1er sept. 2009. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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undecided?…or…independent?

Politics are personal.

Barack Obama in Des Moines, Iowa

Barack Obama in Des Moines, Iowa (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

Most of us don’t like revealing our voting choices. We like to keep them…close to our vest.

So it was a nice change to read the following by an Iowan, who claims to be an Independent voter.

I know about Independents…I’m one myself. I voted for George W. Bush the second time around.

What I hadn’t a clue about…were Iowans. Now I know them…a little better. And I like what I’m hearing.

On the college campus where I write and teach in Iowa, the trees are aflame with red and yellow leaves and the students — more than 90 percent of them if 2008 numbers hold strong — are ready to vote for Barack Obama. With early voting, many students cast their ballots before they headed home for fall break, to far-flung states where their votes may not matter quite as much.

Still, at least according to the media’s incessant reporting, a large segment of Iowa voters are still independent and undecided. And they’re getting a lot of attention. I’m a registered independent, and I’ve spent my whole life in the Midwest — MichiganWisconsin and now Iowa — so I’ve gotten a lot of calls from pollsters over the years. And every time they ask me whom I plan to vote for in November, I always tell them I’m undecided.

It’s always a lie.

I always know whom I’m going to vote for months before the election, though I’ve cast votes for at least three different parties over the years. For many Midwesterners, saying I’m undecided is akin to saying it’s none of your darn business. In Iowa, it’s often hard to predict how people will vote, largely because it’s a fairly private place (there’s plenty of elbow room) and it’s an awfully polite place, too. We try to get along despite our differences. Bumper stickers and yard signs go away swiftly once an election is over.

Defying Convention

While I can sort of guess whom most of my students will vote for based on their T-shirts and the Howard Zinn books sticking out of their backpacks, I’m less certain about the political leanings of my fellow bowlers on Wednesday nights or my fellow worshippers on Sunday mornings. Last week, at the same stoplight, I saw a Romney sticker on a Prius and an Obamasticker on a massive Dodge pickup. Iowa defies convention. Still, I believe these mythical swing voters will once again go for Barack Obama in 2012. Here’s why:

— We don’t like to change horses in midstream. Here in the Midwest, if we hire someone to do a job, we try to stay out of the way and let him or her finish it. It’s stoicism common among the farmers and laborers of the region. Good work takes time. You can’t solve a problem overnight. You plug away a little every day.

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic presi...

Illinois Sen. Barack Obama, a Democratic presidential candidate, strolls the Iowa State fairgrounds Aug. 16 in Des Moines. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

This is, I think, a big reason George W. Bush won Ohio in 2004 and why Wisconsin GovernorScott Walker staved off a recall attempt earlier this year. It’s simply a matter of respect. Iowans remember, acutely, the economic collapse of 2008 and understand a community doesn’t recover from disaster overnight. Federal assistance and federal subsidies have helped Iowa recover from many unforeseen disasters in the past; while we don’t trust the government to do everything, we understand that effective federal programs, such as Obama’s economic stimulus, student-loan and health-care plans, can steadily help a nation work toward recovery. If we see some progress, we are patient people.

— Iowa’s a “live and let live” kind of place. I recently learned that a well-educated gay man from the East Coast, now living in rural Iowa, whom I met at a cocktail party, is probably voting for Mitt Romney. Meanwhile, an insurance company employee I met at church, a married father of three who dresses in khakis and polos, turns out to be one of the fiercest liberals I’ve ever met. I know a small-business owner who is still undecided, but he’s wavering between Obama and theGreen Party. A former student of mine in Ames, an Iraq war veteran, will probably vote for Obama, but may very well go for the libertarian Gary Johnson or write in Ron Paul.

Few Converts

He doesn’t trust Romney on foreign policy or civil liberties. Simply put, for those coveted independent voters, Romney-Ryan’s hard turn to the right on social and military issues is disconcerting. Most Iowans don’t like to put their noses in other people’s business, whether it’s a neighboring home or a distant nation. Divisive social issues and jingoistic nationalism, which Republicans are pushing hard in Midwestern swing states, may mobilize the party’s base but they do little to create converts to conservatism.

— Wall Street is very far away from Iowa. In the Midwest, we don’t trust fancy. And while those on the far right have long tried to paint Obama as the elitist in this race, in Iowa, Romney is going to have a hard time hiding the silver spoon that’s been in his mouth since birth.

It’s not that Iowans resent wealth; it’s more that they resent the kind of wealth that Romney has accrued in his life, most of it “unearned” income — wealth that seems to grow through the manipulated magic of Wall Street rather than the pluck and perseverance we prefer. Wall Street’s recklessness in the past decade has had a profoundly destructive effect on Main Street and the fields that surround it. It’s hard for Iowans to forget that Romney made his money in a system that exploited, in multiple ways, the modest resources of the average American family.

In Iowa, we tend to follow our strong opinions with a polite disclaimer: Well, I may be wrong, you know. And I may. Yet one thing is certain. No matter which way Iowa goes this year, it won’t be long before the pollsters come back to us, looking toward the 2016 caucuses, asking us whom we will support the next time the presidency is at stake. And we’ll get everybody excited, by letting out a low whistle, shaking our heads and muttering, “Well, gee, I don’t know yet. I’m undecided.”

Have a nice day.

English: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in O...

English: U.S. Sen. Barack Obama campaigns in Onawa, Iowa on March 31, 2007. Onawa Public Library. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

(Dean Bakopoulos teaches at Grinnell College. His most recent novel is “My American Unhappiness,” now out in paperback. The opinions expressed are his own.)

To contact the writer of this article: Dean Bakopoulos at bakopoul@grinnell.edu.

To contact the editor responsible for this article: Katy Roberts at kroberts29@bloomberg.net.