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The Rant

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After my last article declaring victory for Barack Obama, the comments I received were blistering and rightly so, considering his somnambulistic appearance at the first presidential debate. To say that Mitt Romney ate his lunch is charitable. Obama's debate performance was baffling. He had the opportunity to confront Romney on a range of issues, but for whatever reason, he chose not to, tossing away his best chance to repudiate the GOP/Tea Party platform and allowing the grinning governor back into the race.

Among my many critics, one said that I had "spiked the ball on the one-yard line," which is among the mildest rebukes I can repeat. The others were the same racially charged remarks that you might expect when accompanied with a side order of crow or, in this case, Jim Crow. I didn't like it. It was too stringy and definitely did not taste like chicken. I did, however, receive one serious comment from a gentleman to whom I promised anonymity if I could use his letter as the basis for a new rant. He wrote:

"As an undecided voter, why should I vote for Obama? What has he done with regard to the economy, foreign policy, and galvanizing our country? And please don't insult me by shifting an answer to why Romney isn't qualified. ... What has your guy done?" 

A reasonable question deserves a reasonable response. Anybody can google "Obama record" and come up with a list of achievements, so rather than writing a campaign newsletter, I would like to point out a few accomplishments that have affected me personally or the lives of people I care about. Some of these initiatives were passed in Obama's first two years when he had a bickering Democratic Congress. Others were achieved in the past two years while the president labored against constant Republican obstructionism. The Tea Party-controlled House and its equivalent members in the Senate have blocked or filibustered every bill the Obama administration has presented, yet the latest unemployment figure is below 8 percent and the Dow Jones Industrials stock index has gone from about 6,600 two months after Obama took office to more than13,000 today. Who wouldn't want over a 100 percent return on their investment in just three years?

Critics have called this a "jobless recovery," while in a period of two years, the Republicans blocked 19 jobs bills. This included the "American Jobs Act," which would have created two million jobs and provided tax breaks for small business, modernized 35,000 public schools, given companies tax credits for hiring veterans and the long-term unemployed, and invested in roads, bridges, rail, and airports. Imagine what the unemployment number might be if Obama had a governing majority.

But enough about the Tea Party "know-less-than-nothings" who scream "Socialism!" with every breath and on to your question: When you speak of "galvanizing our country," I remember the night of November 4, 2008, when an estimated 240,000 people jammed Chicago's Grant Park to hear the new president's victory speech. Through my own tears, I thought that event was pretty damned galvanizing, but on inauguration day, a private dinner took place with a group of GOP congressional leaders, including Paul Ryan, Eric Cantor, Jim DeMint, Newt Gingrich, Bob Corker, and evil linguistics genius Frank Luntz. They pledged as a party to block and obstruct President Obama on all legislation — in essence, undermining the economy to regain the White House. I believe sabotage is still a crime. The country was galvanized, but the great promise of the Obama election was wasted for political advantage and the governing process was poisoned. The Frank Luntz propaganda instructed, "Don't say 'healthcare reform,' say 'government takeover'" instead, and before you knew it, a corporate-sponsored renegade "tea party" began showing up at congressional town hall meetings, wearing holstered weapons and shouting down their representatives with cries of "Marxism" and "death panels." Which brings me to the Affordable Care Act, or "Obamacare." What half the electorate once believed was socialized medicine was merely insurance reform, after all. I have written past Rants about my inability to buy health insurance from anyone at any price for a decade, because of  "pre-existing conditions." I lived with it until I needed emergency surgery and suddenly my medical bills were costing more than my house. Were it not for my subsequent admission to the Church Health Center, I would have either been dead or broke, or dead broke.

Obamacare forbids insurance companies from discriminating against pre-existing conditions. The insurance industry isn't complaining, because they're gaining 30 million new customers and no one yet has been assigned to see a government doctor, except at the Veterans Administration, which saw an increase in its budget every year under Obama. The Congressional Budget Office once forecast Obamacare savings of $123 billion over 10 years, before a GOP-led states' rights campaign put the numbers and the program at risk. Meanwhile, there have been 33 separate House Republican votes to repeal Obamacare. I don't understand how a party with an evangelical Christian wing could vote against a government that wishes to feed the hungry and care for the sick. But that's just me.

My life is filled with women, which is why I want a president who will protect their rights. I want to know that my mother's Medicare is solvent and my wife's Social Security benefits are intact. My stepdaughter will benefit from Obama's student loan reforms, and thanks to the signing of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, my niece is paid the same as a man who does the same work. Under Obamacare, my other niece, who is expecting, can be assured of top-notch pre-natal and post-natal care. And for any woman who may find it necessary to make a personal choice regarding pregnancy, under the president's plan, her privacy is protected and not subject to the probes or unwanted ultrasounds of the GOP shame squad.

Unfortunately, I lack the space to discuss Obama's foreign policy successes. And there was that little matter of Obama bringing the country back from the brink of economic collapse. But I'm beginning to sound like a Google list. One group bound to benefit from Obama's reelection are professional investors. This includes a certain ex-governor currently running for president — so he'll have a soft place on which to land when he returns to wherever he calls home.

Randy Haspel writes the Born-Again Hippies blog, where a version of this article first appeared.

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