Congratulations America - you made history with this election. Pardon the soapbox.
For me, this election was the most electrifying of my life. For the first time ever, race and gender were not considered truly issues in a person's ability to lead. Additionally, from my viewpoint, politics as usual have finally been turned on its head. A smart, energetic person from a decided middle class upbringing was a viable VP candidate. Most of Palin's faux pas' were because she is not a standard politician, and while you may not like what she said, you have to respect the fact that she alone spoke her mind and let you know what exactly she thought. When has that happened in our lifetimes? The fact that she was a woman did not factor highly in most people's minds. Thanks Miss Ferrarro and Senator Clinton. You paved the way.
For the first time in my memory, one of the candidates stayed strongly focused on the issues and actually was intimately familiar with the ideas from his camp. Not only that, but he won due in large part to his stance on the issues. Oh, yeah, and he's African American - which was never brought up directly throughout the entire election. Who would have thought that? To me, this shows exactly how Gen. Powell shattered this barrier more than any other person. I mean, if Powell ran for President anytime in the last 12 years, does anyone doubt he would have won? And yes, that would be even against Bill Clinton.
I find all the corporate handouts (I'm sorry, "bailouts") to ailing businesses due to corruption in those corporations and greed on Wall Street and in the banking industry absurd. Many people are in bad situations, however, many of these are situations of their own making. For the banks to cry foul because loans they created and offered are being defaulted on at enormous rates is insane. They made a bad bet. For homeowners to cry foul that a loan they agreed to to not be accessible - how is this my fault? There never has been a guarantee that real estate would always appreciate. You must be prepared for the possibility that your home may decrease in value and not count on being able to refinance at will. Again, many people played poker with their homes and lost - why is this my responsibility. I feel bad, but I see no advantage to helping them out. Will I be able to refinance my home loan to a better rate even though I can afford it now? I realize the world isn't fair, but these people couldn't afford these homes to begin with so I don't see a reason to help them keep these places. Also, for many of the people, these are not their first homes, but investment homes. So again, why should we fix a situation of their own making? If we are going to bail out these areas, I want a plan which lays out what is in it for those of us who have been responsible. I want a plan which tightly regulates these industries. If we bail out the auto industry, it should come with corrections to their staffing issues so these jobs aren't shipped out of the country to stay competitive. But there should be expectations to have a completely viable green car in a given timeframe. Autos should be priced aggressively - not marked up hundreds of percent. And benefits promised to workers for dozens of years (regardless of industry) should be kept. GM removing medical benefits from retirees who have given 30+ years of service should be a criminal act - and GM is not alone in this.
But for all our gains in areas of rights, as incredible as they are, I'm still confused. We've clearly made progress with women's rights in the last century - to go from women not being able to vote 100 years ago to serious consideration for the presidency and not even a peep of surprise that a woman was nominated VP for the republican party. We've made unbelievable progress in civil rights for African Americans from not being able to drink from the same fountain, be served in a restaurant or have any semblance of equality 60 years ago to having the opportunity to serve as president. But in the same breath, we view those issues as reasonable, but feel we need to define marriage for others. Many states not only won't recognize gay rights, which means many Americans still don't have basic rights many of us take for granted like marriage, shared medical benefits, civil protections for property, etc. However you view homosexuality, segregating a portion of our community in such a fashion is reprehensible. There was actually a referendum on one state's ballot to not allow unmarried couples the ability to adopt children. And it passed. So, people in this state actually feel that it is better for a child to be alone than not. For every example someone can give on how this arrangement is bad for a child, I can find DOZENS where children in foster care are worse off. I just can't understand what so many people are afraid of. What is the risk to our way of life in giving children a home where they are wanted? What is the risk in allowing people the same civil rights that my family enjoys? What is the harm in allowing people who love each other a piece of paper acknowledging that fact? How does treating other people as people degrade our moral fiber?
I have many friends and family who are homosexual. I explain it to my children easily - they love and care about each other. I have no concerns that these relationships are damaging my children - because they simply aren't. My kids are happy, well adjusted and are truly better off for these relationships. And if you don't approve of this "lifestyle", then don't participate or associate there. But don't prohibit them basic civil rights as a way of enforcing your morals. In the end, that doesn't communicate morality, but immorality and makes us all uglier as a result.
That ends the soapbox.