Heather L. Barmore
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Heather L. Barmore
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    Change In Action at Babble Voices


    Caucus Eve

    My senior year of college I took a course on electoral politics and at the end of the semester we were tasked with writing a paper as to the necessity of the Presidential primary process in its current state (this was in November of 2004 after the failure of Kerry-Edwards) (Remember them?) as well as the purpose of the electoral college. Were either representative of our democracy? How could they be changed in order to keep fairness and ensure that every person in the country was able to cast a vote that would count.

    After the papers were written a debate was held for us to defend our positions on the primary system. It wasn’t until the end when I sighed deeply and in all my let’s just blurt this shit out, glory I said “Um, HELLO?! THERE ARE NO BLACK PEOPLE!” Righteously indignant I was with a professor that appreciated my candor as no one else had pointed out this glaring fact about the states of Iowa and New Hampshire.

    At the time I had never been to New Hampshire, never stepped foot in the wee town of Concord and heard stories from shop owners telling how Joe Lieberman once shoveled their front walk in return for a vote. I found that the people of New Hampshire weren't so much turned off by politics but accepting of their role in the process and they would shrug while telling tales of two Clintons. And tonight, on the eve of the caucuses, Iowans are walking around Des Moines right now either annoyed with having Rick Santorum in their face every other second or fist pumping and saying ‘FUCK YEAH’ to their first in the nation status. I don’t blame them for being proud of this part of their culture but it bothers me. Oh, how it bothers me.

    I cannot be the first to say that these two tiny states are in no way representative of this country and its 309 million inhabitants. Thus the glaring unfairness and giant middle finger to the non-white, urban dwellers of this country forces me to scratch my head in curiosity. Life isn’t fair, this I know, but for a country that takes so much pride in being a representative democracy and the pains we have gone through to be almost, truly, representative it baffles me the way in which pundits have taken the First In the Nation status and made Iowa and New Hampshire the be all end all of electoral politics.

    Over the last two Presidential cycles we have seen a trend of front-loading: States that are not Iowa or New Hampshire trying to get an earlier spot in the primary calendar with the hopes of actually being able to vote in a FAIR and DEMOCRATIC fashion for the candidate of their choice. Thus the party committees have allowed for states like Nevada and South Carolina to get in on the January action thus giving a semblance of balance but it doesn’t work that way. The pundits with their papers and statistics and fundraisers with dollar amounts in their eyes still see the first in the nation as the first in a competition to get rid of at least one or two candidates. Never mind that four - FOUR - of the GOP contenders failed to get on the ballot in Virginia (who cares about Virginia? That is until you need it to win the general election but now? eh. It’s just Virginia) they have Iowa. They have poll numbers and county-by-county visits and individual people to spoil thus giving Iowans the ability to say that their vote really does matter. But what about the rest of us?

    Tomorrow approximately 3 million people - 1% of the entire population of this country - will essentially decide the fate of this Presidential election. How does that make you feel?

    More on the Iowa Caucuses:

    Iowa Caucuses: Do they really matter?

    The Overhyped, Unrepresentative Iowa Caucuses

    Iowa Caucus Voters Lack Enthusiasm (if Mitt Romney was all up in my face I'd be less than enthusiastic too)

    Scenes leading up to the Iowa Caucuses

    Game Change!

    I have watched the trailer for Game Change no less than 10 times. I stopped right before 11 because I figured that someone from our IT department was going to come up and start lecturing me on my YouTube watching:

    You know how teenage girls line up for like hours to see the midnight showing of Breaking Dawn just so they can spend 45 minutes screaming at Taylor Lautner? That’s exactly how I feel about this movie but if Ed Harris (as John McCain) removes his shirt then I might ask HBO for a refund.

    Also: Jon Huntsman; it’s a damn shame you won’t win:

    And finally. If your family is anything like mine - oh, wait, you thought I was birthed from a bunch of progressives who protest corporate greed each weekend? HA HA. No. So this is for your crazy, right-wing family members who think that Barack Obama is single-handedly ruining this country and have a photo of John Boehner (orange and weeping) on their mantle via Media Matters:

    Tip Sheet for the Holiday Dinner Table: 2011 Edition

    This holiday season, here's our guide to talking politics over turkey and eggnog -- and winning the debate. Below are talking points to beat the 12 top falsehoods and attacks to expect from your Fox News-watching uncle. (Here's the PDF version to print out and take with you.)
    1. When they say: "We can't raise taxes on job creators."
    Then you say...

    We should be putting money in the pockets of the real job creators: the middle class whose spending keeps our businesses thriving and hiring.
    Instead, the GOP just voted to raise taxes on millions of middle-class Americans and protect tax giveaways for those few Americans who already have more than they could ever spend.
    We already tried "trickle down" economics and it didn't work.

    2. "Regulations kill jobs and economic growth."

    Talk to real business owners and they'll tell you they're hurting because they don't have enough customers -- not because of regulations.
    We don't have to choose between jobs and common-sense safeguards that protect the food we eat, the air our kids breathe, and the products we buy.
    New standards encourage industries to innovate and can CREATE jobs -- just like safety standards spawned a new industry in safety gear for construction workers.

    3. "Half of Americans don't pay taxes."

    Do you know anyone who doesn't pay property, payroll, or sales taxes? Didn't think so. That's because all Americans pay taxes.
    The real problem is that regular Americans are working harder and harder but getting paid less and less. With half of Americans making less than $30,000 a year, many just aren't earning enough to be taxed on their income.
    Now when it comes to income taxes, regular Americans struggling to get by would gladly pay the same income taxes as millionaires if it meant making as much money as millionaires do!

    4. "Obama is waging class warfare."

    As Warren Buffett tells it, the only class warfare in America is being waged by his class -- and they're winning.
    Middle-class families shouldn't have to pay higher taxes than any millionaire. That's not class warfare. That's a basic American value.

    5. "Obama made the economy worse."

    It's hard to feel optimistic when we all have friends and family members who have lost jobs and are struggling. But the reality is that Obama's economic policies put people back to work and kept unemployment from shooting up even higher.
    Just before Obama came into office, we were dealing with the worst recession since the Great Depression. We can't go back to the ways that caused the mess we're still dealing with today.
    We can create good jobs and get our economy back on track -- but we need leaders who want Americans to succeed more than they want the President to fail.

    6. "Obamacare is a disaster."

    Actually, the health care law is already working. Just ask the 2.5 million college age kids who are now covered through their parents' plans. Or the 24 million seniors who got preventative wellness checkups through Medicare or the 17 million kids who can no longer be denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition.
    Let's stick with what's working -- we can't go back to the broken system we had before where insurance companies were in charge.

    Say this ... instead of that

    "Actually" or "As it turns out" ... instead of "you're wrong"

    "Teachers, nurses, and firefighters" or "Americans who keep our country running" ... instead of "government employees"

    "Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid" ... instead of "entitlements"

    "Our roads, bridges, and schools" ... instead of "government spending"

    7. "We need to cut spending to grow the economy."

    Actually, when we cut investments in our roads, bridges, and schools, Americans lose their jobs. That takes away customers from businesses -- and that means less hiring and less economic growth.
    The best way to get our economy moving is to put Americans back to work, not to lay off our cops, teachers, and construction workers.

    8. "Corporate tax rates are too high."

    Actually, we have the second lowest corporate tax rate in the developed world. And some companies like Bank of America don't pay any taxes at all, thanks to corporate tax loopholes.
    Right now, big corporations are sitting on record piles of cash, raking in record profits, and handing out record bonuses to CEOs -- while paying the lowest tax rates in decades.
    America's middle class is carrying too much of the burden and getting crushed -- we need to ask millionaires and big corporations to pay their fair share.

    9. "Wall Street didn't cause our economic crisis -- irresponsible homeowners did."

    Americans have always been advised to buy as much house as they could afford. What changed was that banks suddenly started telling homebuyers they could afford houses they really couldn't, because the banks knew they could sell the mortgage to Wall Street at a profit before it went bad.
    Wall Street greed caused the financial crisis. They sliced and diced risky mortgages into fancy financial products that no one understood, took a profit each step of the way, and dumped the risks on us.
    The more Wall Street abused the rules, the more money they made. Markets work when there is one set of rules for everyone and everyone plays by those rules.

    10. "Allowing gay couples to marry is an attack on marriage."

    Gay couples just want to be able to make the same public commitment and lifetime promise to take care of each other and their families as everyone else.
    With so many marriages ending in divorce, it doesn't weaken marriage to allow people who've been fighting so hard to commit to each other to publicly do that.What we really need are more couples willing to fight as hard for their marriages as gay couples do.

    11. "Government workers' huge benefits and salaries drove states to bankruptcy."

    As it turns out, our teachers, nurses, and firefighters make less than they would in the private sector. And they've sacrificed a great deal, like taking pay freezes.
    Corporate special interests, on the other hand, have enjoyed massive tax giveaways that have made our budget problems worse. Hardworking middle class Americans have sacrificed enough. It's time for politicians to ask the big corporations to share the burden.

    12. "The Occupy protesters are [fill in latest smear]."

    Do you disagree with them that Wall Street CEOs shouldn't be able to pay politicians to write the rules and get rewarded when they break them? Or that those politicians are putting the wealthiest 1% ahead of everyone else?
    These protesters are ordinary Americans from all walks of life joining together and speaking out. This is democracy. Like General Colin Powell said, that's as American as apple pie.

    Have a great holiday and I’ll see you back here next week wherein I will tell you how embarrassed I am to love congress. I know. I KNOW.


    I remember the day the war started. Though remember, it wasn't a war, but a peacekeeping mission called Operation Iraqi Freedom. I was 20 when it began and today I am 28. When it began I remember the fear that gripped me after two years of turmoil it felt like another reason for Them to come after us and with each 'Breaking News' flash across the television screen my insides churned waiting for the next big thing. If I felt that way with such strong and visceral reactions to bring myself to think about how the parents of those overseas have dealt with each insurgent attack and IED explosion. I'm shaking my head: How do you do it? How did they do it?

    War became the new normal. The Mission Accomplished banner was bullshit and the finding of Sadam the most memorable. Found in a hole a former dictator thankfully knocked out at the knees. And knowing all these years later that there were never weapons of mass destruction. What was real and what wasn't is something that will continue to be debated for years to come and while we can be sure of how it ended it is the beginning that gives me chills. But today it is over. Secretary Panetta declared it so and the last troops moved across the border into Kuwait.

    (Photo via @richardengelnbc)

    It's over. There's no elation just somber and continuous reflection. How do you feel?