We were treated this evening to a 90-minute debate in the dog park called American presidential politics. We had Republican candidate Mitt Romney, a Rotweiller, and we had President Barack Obama, a Greyhound.
Rotweiller came lumbering into the park, a large, slobbering dog that glanced eagerly around because, finally, he was in a debate with the sitting president, a Greyhound, one of the fastest dogs in the world. But before Rotweiller got to the stage, he rolled over a couple of times for a tummy scratch, looking for supporters, friends, licking any dog around him that was open to being licked. Play with me, play with me, Rotweiller’s body language said.
Greyhound, however, strolled into the park with a quiet confidence, muscles rippling, prepared. And Greyhound was smiling. Greyhound didn’t slobber, didn’t pause for distractions – tummy scratches, licks, none of that. Greyhound strolled to the center of the park where the podiums were. And he looked across the park to his wife, another sleek and gorgeous Greyhound, and wished her happy anniversary.
Greyhound ran circles around Rotweiller from the moment the bell rang. Greyhound looked presidential, spoke like the king of the dog park, spoke like a dog who understands what his accomplishments are and how they are radically different from Rotweiller’s. In fact, Rotweiller flipped on everything he has proposed for the last 15 months.
So let’s get specific, something Rotweiller is incapable of doing. On health care:
Romney, gritting his sharp, pretty white teeth, said that individuals who are 54 years of age and older, won’t have any changes in their Medicare coverage. But hey, those of you under that age? Get ready for a voucher system.
The government will send you a voucher for several thousand bucks and, with that, you will go shopping for health care on the private market. But hey, guess what? If you have preexisting conditions, you can be denied under the Romney plan. You will pay a much higher premium, particularly if you’re a dog whose has been torn apart several times by a pitt bull.
Rotweiller lacks specifics about everything. He can’t articulate where the jobs he promises will come from, says he will repeal Obamacare, but can’t define how his program will be different, other than extolling the virtues of the “private market.” Yeah, you know, that private market that has worked so great in the past
Let me tell you about the private market. When our daughter was born 23 years ago, we had health insurance – and discovered that it didn’t cover maternity care. Megan cost us more than $8,000 just to be born. There were no complications in the delivery, I spent just one night in the hospital. Two days after I was released, we cancelled our health insurance and spent the next 23 years without insurance. As self-employed individuals, health insurance would have cost us somewhere around $12,000 a year for each of us by the time we reached out mid-50s.
In June, I became eligible for Medicare, the program that Romney/Rotweiller would turn into a voucher system. I pay $299 for three months of care. My entry into Medicare was effortless, the system is efficient, I have zero complaints. The program works.
Trickle down economics, which Naomi Klein addresses brilliantly in The Shock Doctrine, is what we had under eight years of Bush and we all know where that ended – 2008, a financial meltdown for the U.S and the rest of the world. It’s the same plan under Romney Rotweiller, even though he refuses to admit it, refuses to address specifics. And he refuses to address specifics because he knows that if does, he will lose.
Earlier today, I had my own dog park drama. It’s called a hair salon. The woman who cuts and colors my hair, Lynn, is the sister of the woman who retired after cutting my hair for 20 years. She said something about how confused everyone is about who to vote for.
“I’m not confused,” I say. “I’m voting for Obama. You vote for Romney/Ryan, and women’s rights will revert to the dark ages.”
“Oh, Trish,” she says with a small laugh. “That’ll never happen.”
When I was younger, I used to let remarks like this pass. I don’t do that anymore. “Lynn, Romney/Ryan don’t give a shit about you and me, okay? They DO NOT CARE. You’re looking at abortions with hangars in back alleys. You’re looking at a country where there’s no middle class, where it’s rich , poor, and indentured servitude.”
She doesn’t say anything for a few minutes. Then: “Did you see Obama 2016, Trish?”
She’s referring to the anti-Obama film that is being touted as the right wing equivalent to Michael Moore’s Farenheit 9-11.
“No,” I reply. “I didn’t see it.”
“Well, we’re going to have an Islamic state by 2016.”
Oh, okay. I get it now. This is about the fact that Obama is black and she is not. This is about narrative, about the story, about perjury. So I turn the story around for her. “Lynn, are we a country, a people, who ignore the sick, the poor, the elderly, the vulnerable? We call ourselves a Christian nation, and if that’s true, how can we not take care of the most vulnerable in our society?”
Silence. Then: “Well, yeah, I see what you mean.”
Do you? Really?
“Lynn, have you read Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaids Tale?”
“Well, you should read it before the election. Because that’s what you’re ultimately looking at under Romney/Ryan.”
I have a nephew who despises Obama. He thinks Obamacare will put him out of business because he works in the health industry, But actually, Obamacare will probably increase his business – and therefore his profit- because health insurance by 2014 will be mandatory.
Okay, so back to the dog park. The Rotweiller is trotting out of the park, confident that he has won. En route, he flops to the ground several times, slobbering and submissive to the larger dogs. They sniff, he licks and whimpers and begs to be their friends.
The Greyhound races past all of them, already priming himself for the next debate, the next race, the next round of drama that is American politics. And he’s moving faster that every other dog in the park. Ask any dog owner. What dog can outrun a Greyhound?