It's true, and atypical for me: Rumournation has lain fallow, in the middle of an election year. Usually full of rant, bluster and venting, this little space in the middle of cyberspace has been empty, no longer a waystation for friends who care about what I have to say and the random visitor brought hither by a misspelled Google search.
The reason is simple: I've been fighting breast cancer. And that fight has turned me into a warrior, not only when it comes to hanging on to my life, but when it comes to my politics. Because, suddenly I went from someone who was making it on her own, to someone who needed the social safety net. And because politicians like Mitt Romney (born with a silver spoon in his mouth) and members of the Tea Party (born when their heads stuck in their butts) don't want to believe that I exist.
But I do exist, in multiple dimensions: The single mom-head of of household dimension, where I still had to raise my child every day, despite being ill and exhausted from surgery, chemotherapy and radiation. The suddenly not-able-to-work dimension, where COBRA became a lifeline, even with the $1200 a month premium to cover both me and my kid. The pre-existing condition dimension, where despite the fact that I can actually make a good living doing consulting work, I face a gap in health insurance coverage during the months between the end of my COBRA coverage and the start of the ACA in early 2014 that is an enormous barrier to running a small business. And, most of all, the American-working-woman dimension, where I've become used to the fact that, for me to succeed, I usually have to be better, smarter and more buttoned-up than my male counterparts because I am simply not afforded the same considerations and freedoms as they are, even after years of agitating for equal rights.
Case in point: Reproductive issues are economic issues for women. And yet, access to birth control is not universal, while access to Viagra virtually is. Planned Parenthood is vilified as an abortion provider, rather than being valued for what it really does: provides basic healthcare for free. And despite the fact that the freedom to terminate a pregnancy is the law of the land, instead of hewing to policies that keep abortion "safe, legal and rare," there's a movement afoot to create what I consider real "death panels:" juries of (let's face it, primarily men) who will demand that a woman prove she was raped, is ill, or otherwise incompetent, before she will be allowed to make a very personal choice about her very own body.
I've tried to view Republican nominees without prejudice. I really have. I've read their platforms, looked at their economic plans (well, not Romney's plan, because I can't find it), tried to logic my way into their view of fiscal responsibility.
But, I can't forget that George W. Bush did more to erode both our basic freedoms (Patriot Act, anyone?) and our economic well-being than the previous four presidents combined. I can't ignore the fact that Romney, as a Mormon bishop, ordered a woman to give up her child because there wasn't a "proper Mormon father" in the home. And there's Ryan's voting record in Congress, plain as day, where he turned out to be a defender of the "Protect Life Act," which permitted hospitals to deny women emergency abortions in ANY circumstance, and who authored a budget plan that his own church decried as viciously discriminatory.
I am trying to raise my daughter to have courage and grace, to tell the truth, to respect others no matter what their skin color or economic status. But how do I explain to her that, despite the fact that she's a living, breathing American with a brain, heart and spirit, when she needs support and healthcare, well, she's just not as valuable as a man, or as that fetus she might be carrying?
I can't do it. I can't tell her that. And I can't support a party that cynically chose to conflate politics with religion in a bid for power, that thinks that eroding women's rights is a morally supportable position, that thinks empowering only a small sliver of the population makes economic sense.
And please don't tell me that they're actually protecting women. I have eyes and ears. And I've fought cancer: I can fight you.
I've seen what Barack Obama has accomplished over the past three-plus years. It's not perfect, but it's very, very good. And it's meaningful to me that the first bill he signed in office was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act. Apparently, he thinks I'm worth as much as the man I'm standing next to.
And that, my friends, is what makes a leader and a President. Vote Obama.