I’m not Joe the Plumber. Nor am I Tito the Builder. (Or Bob the Builder or Sonic the Hedgehog for that matter.) I’m Nicole the Writer. Stringing words together in sentences is a large part of what I do to keep food on the table.
I don’t have children. But my family and friends do. It would be nice to think that maybe, just maybe, their grandchildren and great-grandchildren wouldn’t still be paying for our national debt. It would be comforting to think that none of them would be called to serve in the Middle East, potentially paying the ultimate price in the latest of centuries of warfare in that part of the world. (Don’t take my word for it. Consult your history books on this one.) It’s a history of war that we’ve never truly won – and sadly, never will.
But that’s potentially our future. In the here and now, I’m Nicole the Daughter. The daughter of someone who worked long and hard to give me opportunities that she never had. Like the chance to get a good education with the hope that maybe I might have things just a little better and even a little easier than she did. Someone who deserves a whole lot better than $1 trillion in cuts to Social Security and Medicare, programs she paid into all her working life. Or, to have all the money that she, I, and so many others have paid in squandered on the stock market. (Gamble with your own money, sir, not with ours.)
As Nicole the Woman, I abhor the idea of abortion. But just as much, I hate the idea of the government having jurisdiction over what is, and should be, a very personal decision. (President Bill Clinton summed it up best for me by saying that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare.”) And I am one of those people who think that the “health” of the mother is a very serious consideration. We do a great disservice to women to suggest otherwise.
We do an equal disservice to put one of our gender in the White House in 2009. No, don’t misunderstand. I was raised to be strong and independent and I fervently support a woman in the White House. It’s just that I can’t see it being that woman. I’ll just say “thanks, but no thanks.”
As women, unscrupulous bankers took full advantage of the mother and I, at an alarming interest rate, just so we could escape a dying neighborhood where we already owned a home (courtesy of America’s Greatest Generation) but whose value was rapidly slipping into nothingness. But it was that or be debt-free – in a ghetto.
Banks have done me no favors. But apparently, I’m in a position to do favors for both them and Wall Street. (Don’t even say the word socialism to me because we’ll have to talk about this bailout first. What exactly do you call it when the government has a stake in the financial system? Hmm. Then we’ll be talkin’ a blue streak about Social Security and Medicare. But the old and infirm should just die already and decrease the surplus population. Right, Scrooge? Oh wait. Doesn’t apply if you’re old and married to a millionaire – and already eligible for health benefits that my tax dollars pay for.)
But neh-neh, financial overlords. I played your game – and won. I’m Nicole the Homeowner. Owner as in mortgage-free. Someone who has been able to realize the American dream even if on a very small scale, after decades of working and scraping by. It’s not much, but it is ours. And I’m grateful for my small piece of the pie.
I’m Nicole the Taxpayer (unlike Joe the Plumber), a full-fledged, card-carrying member of the trod-upon middle class. I’m grateful to have a job I love (at least most days) that pays me a decent wage and comes with good benefits. It took me a long time to get here, so forgive me if I don’t want to lose those benefits or to be taxed on them. (But no one is supposed to pay any extra taxes in this economy, right?) And I certainly don’t want to see my employers lose the incentive to continue to offer them to me. I can’t begin to buy those benefits on my own for $2,500. And I have to have something to protect me should I become injured or sick. Sorry, but I don’t want anyone to “do for the healthcare industry” what was done for the financial sector. Does that still even seem like a good idea? Did we learn nothing in recent weeks?
I’m grateful, too, to be Nicole the American. American in as much as some of my ancestors were already here. Were always here … long before the white man came. Luckily, no one judges me by the color of my skin because the rest of my ancestors came from Europe (Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales, Germany, France) and tempered those Native American features. They were all looking for that better life. Some found it. Some weren’t as lucky.
As Nicole the Voter, I worry about my family and friends. I worry about my job. I worry about my home. I worry about the millions of people out there who are in such dire circumstances. On the latter, I like to think it’s all altruistic, but if I’m honest, I know it’s not. I know that with just a few tragic changes, I could be sharing their plight.
Tomorrow is a very important day in this country: Election Day. Voting is a right, a privilege and a responsibility. I took it very seriously. I voted my conscience and my heart. I think I made the right choice. I hope you will make the same one. I know some of you will.
Some of you won’t. And that’s OK, because this is America. We need to remember that. And we need to remember what the American dream is so that it can be kept alive for those generations to come. For me, that made the choice very simple.