Archive | November, 2012

The Day After the Day After

8 Nov

I had every intention of writing a post-election post yesterday but spent most of the day on a short trip to Richmond to meet up with my family.  I had started getting sick (a cold) while watching the election returns, and by the time I got home yesterday I was in pretty bad shape.  Rather than try to muddle through my feelings I decided to wait until today to jot down my thoughts.  I’m glad I did–I think that the extra time gave me a little bit of clarity.

First let me say that I was shocked by the results.  I realize that there was quite a bit of polling data that pointed to the actual outcome, but I did not think there was any way that Democratic turnout would be as high as it was in 2008.  I was wrong.  Hats off to President Obama’s team for their tremendous ground game.

Four years ago, this is how I felt when Barack Obama first won the presidency.  A lot has happened in the four years hence: I got engaged, got married, bought a house, had a daughter, got out of the Navy, moved to Virginia from California, lost a baby.  Also in those four years we have actually witnessed the presidency of the candidate of hope and change.  I truly wish that I felt as optimistic today as I did in 2008.

In 2008, Barack Obama campaigned as a healer, a uniter.  It was easy to get swept up in his beautiful rhetoric and personal story.  Today, not so much.  At least not for me.

I have many, many thoughts about this election and why things turned out the way that they did.  People who are much wiser and have better access to data will pick everything apart, from the primaries to campaign commercials to changing demographics.  Political scientists will suggest fine-tuning this message or making a dramatic reversal on that issue.  We’ll see what the future of the GOP has in store, but from where I sit I think that we may be fighting a losing battle.

I am saddened, really, by where I think our country is today.  It appears that more citizens than not feel that the answers to our myriad problems lie in an ever-expanding federal government.  It is a good and noble thing to want to help the poor in our society, and well-intentioned people used to be able to disagree on how best to accomplish this important task.  Now it seems that if you do not believe that the answer is food stamps and 99 weeks of unemployment benefits and redistribution of wealth and “free” health care then you are selfish and greedy and only care about “the rich.”  Never mind if these programs actually work or if they perpetuate a hopeless cycle of dependency.

It is also my belief that Mitt Romney and the Republican Party lost the “war on women” war of words.  I live in Alexandria, Virginia, and was inundated with ads about how Romney wanted to take away women’s rights, which were never enumerated.  I thought about what those rights could be and surmised that apparently  women’s rights encompass the right to abort an unborn child at any stage of development for any reason, and the right to free birth control.  We can argue about the merits of either of those “rights” but the message got through to the intended audience; women preferred Obama to Romney by a 10-point margin.

So my heart is a little heavier than it was four years ago.  I worry a lot more–now it is not just me that I have to think about but the futures of my children and grandchildren.  I do still hold out some hope, mostly because some of my dearest friends believe so differently from me.  I don’t agree with their views but we are all sincere in our beliefs.  Maybe they will be proven right and I will be proven wrong, or maybe the pendulum will swing back in a few years.   In the meantime a Thomas Jefferson quote keeps repeating in my head, over and over again:  Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have…the course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.

Cousins and a Carousel

8 Nov

Ruby and I drove down to Richmond yesterday to help my Mom pick out granite countertops for my parents’ kitchen. My sister Rebecca and her kids also came up and it was nice to all wallow about the election together.

After lunch we went to a mall so the kids could play for a bit, and of course they wanted a ride on the little merry-go-round. Rarely has one dollar bought so much joy.

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Here is a cute picture of Ruby from earlier in the day:

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Four Years Ago

8 Nov

In November 2008 I was serving with the 101st Airborne in Iraq.  This is how I was feeling the day after Barack Obama was elected President of the United States of America.

November 5, 2008, COB Speicher, Iraq

On November 5th, 1992 I was 10 years old.  The night before, William Jefferson Clinton had been elected the 42nd president of the United States.  My 5th grade math teacher, Mrs. Leyton, wore a Clinton/Gore pin to school to show her support for the president-elect, and I told her something to the effect of “well I think that Bill Clinton is going to ruin this great nation with higher taxes.”  We were instructed to write in our journals about our post-election feelings and I wrote that I was in mourning for our country.

Fast-forward 16 years and I am now a LTJG in the Navy, serving with the Army in Iraq.  The polls on the east coast started closing at 3 am local time, so I woke up in the middle of the night, wrapped myself in a blanket to guard against the recent chill in the air, and watched the election returns on AFN.

The soldiers I work with took to calling me their “election headquarters” because I kept up so well with the polls throughout the seemingly interminable election, and I was always more than willing to share both the facts as I knew them and my endless predictions.  Over the past few months my moods have vacillated depending on the plethora of polls.  After the Republican National Convention I was flying high and nothing could get me down, but after the market started its freefall and McCain’s polling numbers followed I was increasingly agitated that the only thing I could do to stop Obama’s blue wave was to cast my Pennsylvania absentee ballot and hope for the best.  An eternal optimist, I remained fiercely convinced that one of my personal heroes, Senator John McCain, could pull off another upset and land himself in the White House all the way up until I actually saw Senator Barack Obama’s supporters dancing through the streets of Chicago, and one of the men I admire most give a deeply gracious and moving concession speech.  By the time our first African-American president delivered his acceptance speech I was already out the door on my way to a meeting, but I read the transcript later and was impressed by his words as well.

Being a political junkie, November 4th was like Christmas in autumn for me.  As much as I wanted my candidate to win, I also love the political process.  Watching the numbers come in, painting the once grey maps blue and red and proving the pundits either right or wrong gives me no small measure of satisfaction, and this year it was especially gratifying to see the tremendous voter turnout.  I’ve grown up quite a bit since Clinton’s first victory, and I no longer wallow in misery at the thought of my candidate losing.  Granted, I was disappointed and am concerned for the future of our country, but the same optimist in me who hoped for a McCain upset now prays that I will be proven wrong and that President Obama will govern with wisdom and strength.  On January 20th he will become my commander in chief, and I will obey his lawful orders as I support and defend the Constitution.  My candidate lost, but every time Americans participate in a free and fair election democracy wins.  The increased interest in our legacy of government for the people and by the people is certainly something to be optimistic about, especially because the great honor of my life is to put on a uniform and defend that freedom every day.

Election Day!

6 Nov

Here is Romney’s cutest surrogate, doing her part to paint Virginia red today!

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Ice?

4 Nov

The ice-skating rink at Pentagon City is open for the season already. Ruby was fascinated by the skaters.

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Voting!

2 Nov

I will be working the polls on Tuesday so today I took advantage of Virginia’s in-person absentee voting. Ruby behaved beautifully and we were in and out in about ten minutes. Here we are outside the election office:

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And here Ruby is with her Romney/Ryan button and “I voted” sticker:

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This one was just too cute not to share:

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ABC

2 Nov

Yesterday I forgot to post these pictures of Ruby learning about her ABC’s from Dr. Seuss.

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