I'm not a political blogger. I have no desire to be a political blogger. It's not that I'm not interested in political issues, I just worry that people are so polarized anymore that when you voice support for one side or another that people stop listening to you carefully. I worry about stereotypes that cut both directions--that if you support different positions than I do that you will make assumptions about everything else I believe, and that people who agree with me will do the same. No one I know is that simple.
So at the risk of alienating anyone or people jumping to all manner of conclusions I feel the need to comment on last night's presidential debate on foreign policy. Not that there was any debate on foreign policy since it all seemed to be agreement on foreign policy, which I found rather mystifying, honestly, since I don't think the two major parties agree on much in that area. But that aside, this is what I found myself reflecting on this morning.
There has been a lot of discussion about looking back at the past four years. They have been a hard four years for many, and I understand. But compared to the four years before that? I prefer the path we are on now.
When I think of foreign policy, I think not only of the role of our nation in the world, but of the future of my children and our own family. I think about standing in my kitchen watching President Bush on television while my husband was deployed in Iraq the first time. I was washing dishes while my daughter, only four at the time, was drawing at the table. I didn't usually express political opinions in front of Aden back then because she was too young to understand and her life was complicated enough with her dad away. But then the president was asked if the responsibility for all those soldiers overseas troubled his sleep at night. And President Bush replied that he slept just fine.
I almost dropped the dish I was holding.
I became so agitated and upset that it alarmed Aden and she wanted to know what was wrong. I explained I was angry with the president. She was shocked. We were supposed to be proud of the president. She used to say she loved the president. She wanted to know why I was unhappy with him. And I looked her in the eye and said, "That's the man who sent your daddy to war."
Foreign policy is not some game. It's not a way to rack up points with voters where you can say whatever sounds good at the moment to help raise money. Troops are people, my friend.
So when President Bush said he slept well at night it hit me hard. Because I did not sleep well at night back then. Ever. He made the world at large feel less safe, and my own home feel less safe. He ripped a hole in my family while I was pregnant and caring for a toddler and a preschooler. I lived in terror every day that soldiers could come to my door with unthinkable news. At night I tossed and turned, afraid to sleep in case there was a fire or intruders and I alone had to protect my children. I had no faith in the kinds of decisions our president was making and it was a frightening way to live.
Then we elected President Obama. I am confused by the way he is characterized by the people who oppose him, because he strikes me as an intelligent and compassionate man. He is thoughtful in a way I find comforting. He's not perfect, and I disagree with him in certain areas, but I trust him enough to give him the benefit of the doubt in a way Bush/Cheney never earned from me. Governor Romney hasn't earned my trust either. I have tried to follow his positions on all the issues but I don't know where he stands on any of them at this point. His answers to questions on abortion and contraception I find particularly confusing anymore. And then he says inexplicable things like Syria is Iran's only path to the sea, which seems to assume I won't look at a map. I'm sure he's a nice person and loves his family and wouldn't intentionally cause harm to anyone, but the idea of his making decisions for my daughters and my business makes me beyond nervous.
As I watched President Obama last night, I was again reassured by his knowledge and demeanor. There is a reason his opponent was forced to essentially agree with all of his foreign policy decisions. They have been sane, rational, and effective in a complicated and unpredictable world. President Obama has had to make difficult decisions in crises in real time and has made them well. I know there are people who do not trust him, despite his consistency and steady hand. I cannot agree with these people.
Because when my husband was deployed to Iraq for a second time, and I had faith that the Commander in Chief was invested in his safe return, I could finally trust the decisions being made at the top. I didn't for a minute think that President Obama would blithely say he found it easy to sleep at night.
But I finally do. I'm voting for Barack Obama on November 6th.