We live in an era that is becoming more and more partisan by the day. I am still young - perhaps this has always been the case. All I know is that since I have reached adulthood, I have been watching this country slide into an us-vs-them mentality. Liberals versus conservatives. Christian versus non-Christian. Theists versus non-theists. Evolution versus creationism. Citizens versus immigrants.
What troubles me the most is that people seem to accept these divisions as inevitable. I acknowledge that working together in spite of differences is challenging. I have strong opinions on many issues - in general I am quite liberal. I support access to contraceptives, health-care reform that allows uninsured people with pre-existing conditions to obtain affordable insurance, increased funding for education, and the continuation of public programs that support people who are in tough circumstances. At some point in our lives, we all need a helping hand, whether it be in the form of education grants, food stamps, unemployment benefits, social security benefits, or a myriad of other public services. As valuable as private charities are in providing aid, these services have limitations - limited funding and geographic availability being the two main drawbacks.
I don't know what the future will hold but I do know that this election is making me very uncomfortable. I have watched Mitt Romney change positions with an alarming regularity; his only consistency seems to be that he is inconsistent. What worries me even more than his inconsistency seems to be the fact that his tactic is working. What does this say about our society - that it is OK to change positions depending on the audience? My only wish is that I knew what Mitt Romney believed in.
Obama isn't a perfect candidate. But overall, he has consistently espoused values that I believe in. He has worked to reform healthcare, to pass laws that provide a path to citizenship for the undocumented youth in this country. He has worked to increase funding for research and come out in support of gay marriage. He signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act into law, which provides women with more options for fighting pay discrimination. Even more than that, he has shown a willingness to work with the other side. I am tired of watching ideologies and in-fighting stand in the way of practical solutions for this country. From what I have seen over the past four years, he is a person who is working to make a better life for everyone in this country. My vote for Obama - which I cast yesterday - was in support of what he has achieved as president, as well as the values he espouses.
I had hoped this election would be about the issues. Instead, this election has been more about sound-bites and zingers. In Mitt Romney, I don't see a candidate that understands the issues of low-to-middle income families. He doesn't seem to understand what it is like to worry about paying for college or the challenges of finding a job without having connections or the challenges of finding affordable health insurance. He doesn't seem to understand the value of public services that help people in need. I have a huge respect for the private sector. However, the private sector is a profit-driven enterprise and with this comes certain limitations. I do not think disaster relief or educational enterprises (including public programming) are suited to the private sector. Given the staggering costs of health-care in this country - which is primarily a private-sector enterprise - I no longer think that health-insurance companies should be a profit-driven venture.
To quote Jon Huntsman Jr, "When was the last time we sat down as a people and talked about solutions?"