Wednesday, November 5, 2008

I'm baaaaccckkkk

So, in the time since I last talked to you all, LOTS of things have happened. My office has moved, I moved, I arranged the wedding from hell, I broke my foot, then put so much use on my walking cast that I broke IT, Princess started off at her new school with one hell of a bang, we missed Halloween, I survived what should have been Pumpkin's 6th birthday with a minimum of tears (but lots of stress, since it was the same day as the wedding), and more. All of which I will get to, eventually.

However, there is one topic at the front of my mind today, as it is with most of America. Now, as I have mentioned before, I normally take very little interest in politics. I scraped through high school government with a D-. I honestly don't know the difference between Congress and the Senate. And normally, I don't care. This election has been different though. Alaska has taken center stage in this election, for several reasons (namely Palin and Stevens). Everywhere I go, especially at work, I am thrust into a political discussion. Most of the time, I am left standing with a stupid look on my face, not really following the conversation. I do have opinions, but I can rarely coherently defend them. Frankly, I would have gladly voted for Hilary. I like her, I like her style, I like the way she ran the country the first time she was in office (oh come on, you really don't think Bill had any real input, do you?), and I think she would have been good for our country. I like McCain too. As far as Republican conservatives go, he's a pretty decent guy. I'm not a big fan of Obama. Mostly because I'm afraid he's more flash than substance, but to be honest, I don't know that much about him, so my fears may be completely ungrounded. I think some of the people against him because his name "sounds like Osama" are so fantastically stupid that I no longer wonder why our country is in the toilet. Palin, on the other hand, scares the hell out of me. She is a fantastic governor. I'm glad she will be returning to our state. I think the whole "Troopergate" scandal was blown ridiculously out of proportion, and while I'm not a conspiracy theorist, I can definitely see where a certain element in our state is just hunting for any excuse to throw her under the bus. The idea of her in charge of our country, however, just gives me chills.

Despite what she has demonstrated thus far, she's not stupid. She is actually a very intelligent, friendly woman. She brought about huge changes and fantastic growth to a previously neglected area of our state. I remember driving through Wasilla when I was a little girl, on my way to our family homestead. There was a gas station/convenience store on the corner, and a stop sign. Now, there's a booming city, rivalling Anchorage in options for shopping, dining, entertainment, etc. The one and only thing I disagree with is the addition of a sales tax to the area. It's one of the few locations in Alaska that have a sales tax, but with expansion comes the need for expanded wallets, and so I do prefer this method to raising yet again the property taxes, as Begich chose to do in Anchorage. It's a small percentage, it has cap, and it's spread more evenly among the people. A LOT of people in Alaska choose to rent simply because of the ridiculously high property taxes, so a relatively small percentage of the population carries the majority of the tax burden in our state. Anyway. She does, however, have some seriously scary opinions of home and hearth, and the treatment of women in general. Granted, I have a decidedly liberal attitude. But even so, I cannot see how turning back the clocks 50 years or so will help us NOW. And it seems to me somewhat hypocritical for someone who believes that women should be at home raising the kids and doing the housework, to actively seek out a national appointment, dragging her kids along with her, pulling them out of school, and forcing them into the spotlight. But I digress (alright, I digress a lot).

The point of all this is that this morning, I had a conversation with a coworker. Generally, I like this man. I think of him as very intelligent, friendly, funny, and he usually has some interesting news tidbit to drop on me in the morning, generally one that makes me chuckle all day (he was the one who broke the PETA and breast milk story to me). The day before the election, however, he morphed into a Republican demon - telling me how he had talked to his grown son the night before, discussing the vote, and how he had never been more proud of his son when he said "Don't worry Dad, I've voting for McCain, and so is everyone I know. We all know Obama's full of shit." Now, again, I do have some concerns about his sincerity, but I truly believe the man has some wonderful ideas. And while I don't expect him to completely solve this country's problem in his time in office, I DO expect that he will put forth one hell of an effort. While I think he may not be able to accomplish all that he has set out to, that doesn't mean I think he's full of shit, and while I understand that everyone's political views are different, I think dumping that kind of statement on someone, who you haven't bothered to even ask first what their views ARE, smacks of the exact type of arrogance that has helped to flush this country down the toilet. Anyway, so I replied with "Well, I wouldn't go that far. I think he has great ideas. I just don't know that he will be able to accomplish them all. My choice would have been Hillary, but I'll take him over Palin any day." The look of shock was almost comical. After he stuttered out "WHHHHYYYY?" in a whiney tone more reminiscent of my 4 year old than a grown man, I said that I think she was the single most "anti-woman" candidate since I was born. The thought of her making decisions for me and my daughter terrifies me. And he looks at me, and says with the deepest of scorn, "Are you talking about the abortion thing?"

And here it was my turn to sit with the deer in the headlights look of shock. The abortion "thing"???!!!! Are you kidding me? Even sweeping aside her views on religion, sexual orientation, and everything else she stands for that I 100% do NOT support, the abortion "thing" alone would have been enough to sway my vote against her.

Here's the thing - I actually don't believe in abortion as a personal choice for ME. That does not mean that I won't support and defend the right for every other woman on this planet to have SAFE access to that choice. One of my favorite bumper stickers, which I think sums the whole thing up so well, states "If you can't trust me with a choice, how can you trust me with a child?" And how much truth is there in that? As an adoptee, I am grateful that my mother's choice was for life, but that doesn't mean she made the best choice for everyone involved. What it does mean i that she was able to make a choice. And that's what counts. I personally believe that abortion should be used only in the direst of circumstances. I hate that there are some women in this world who routinely use abortion as a method of birth control. I also know that when we start drawing lines, there are people who fall through the cracks. If we say that only women who have been raped can have abortions, well, what kind of proof is required for that? Do you have to have a police report in hand, taken immediately after the incident? What about those women who, for whatever reason, never report their rapes? What about those cases where the continuation of the pregnancy would cause death for either mother or child? Who determines that? And really, what are the percentages of women and young girls who have no medical access to be able to afford the type of doctor it would take to make that determination? What about the drug and alcohol addicts, who are unable to care for themselves, let alone a child. If they are forced o give those children up for adoption, does that make it better? In most cases, it actually continues the addiction cycle. And then there are the other cases... the women who actually used birth control and it failed. The women who were doing everything in their power to prevent an untimely pregnancy, and it simply didn't work? What about the girls in college, who have a one night stand, or even a steady boyfriend, but aren't ready for marriage and family? How many of them would be forced out of school and onto welfare? How many failed marriages start with the words "I take care of my responsibilities?" (and yes, I actually do know someone who was using protection, got pregnant anyway, and this was how she was proposed to by the father, who ended up dumping her 5 months in because they were completely incompatible, and has yet to contribute to that child's life in any way, leaving the entire burden on her. Would she have chosen abortion had she known from the beginning he wouldn't be there? Probably.)

You know, I could go on and on. But it just absolutely kills me to hear the basic human right to choose summed up as "that abortion thing." I just cannot understand how, in our supposedly enlightened world, anyone could possibly refer to such an important decision as that.

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