Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Foreign Policy in My Kitchen

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.

15 comments:

  1. My husband was deployed at the end of the Bush administration, and I think if I had heard such a comment, I would have had a similar reaction. Wow.

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  2. I always look forward to your posts, and this one summed it up nicely. I've been really torn, and therefore haven't wanted to go vote because (1) I hate politics; (2) there are things about Obama I have not liked; and (3) I don't feel like we get straight answers from any candidate during election season. However, you summed it up nicely:

    "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."

    I sent that quote to my husband, and told him I think I'm finally ready to vote and feel good about my vote for Barack Obama.

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    1. Thank you so much for this comment. I was really hesitant when I hit 'Publish' this morning, but now you made me glad I did. I will remember it next time I need help feeling brave.

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  3. Korinthia, this is one of the most moving pieces I've read about the value of steady leadership and a hope for piece. Morra

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  4. Well said.

    Cindy Landrum (remember her?) said last night that everything Romney said was either agreeing with Pres. Obama's policies or lying about something. I don't know that I'd go quite that far, but the fact Romney repeated the gaffe about the location of Iran vs. Syria is truly mind-boggling.

    Cheri

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  5. Wouldn't it be more interesting if it were a real debate? I mean, the candidates were even second-guessing themselves on stage, expressing multiple conflicting views that they haven't reconciled yet, let alone polished for presentation to millions of scrutinizing viewers? It would be even better if instead of two people on stage there were a hundred or a thousand people, each representing a position on a single topic rather than a party, and ready to openly discuss their views. Much more realistic than expecting a single candidate to be knowledgeable about and have a well-formed opinion on every possible issue under the sun! I would cast my thousand votes without concern for how any one person talks, looks, or thinks.

    did you notice the mitt romney ad at the bottom of the blog page?

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  6. This is such a great piece for so many reasons. As a Canadian who lived in Britain for close to fourteen years (and therefore knows people from many parts of the world) I can tell you that I do not know a single non-American person who isn't supporting Barack Obama. In fact, most people I know are absolutely mystified that anyone would consider voting for Mitt Romney when Obama has already undone so much of the damage wreaked by the government in the previous 8 years in the U.S. Is it perfect yet? No. (Will it ever be? No.) Real progress takes time if it is to last.

    Seriously, though, how can anyone consider voting for someone who seemingly believes Iran is landlocked? Or who thinks it's his job to bring gender equality to the Middle East when he voted against equal pay for equal work in his own country? Or who takes jobs away from Americans by outsourcing them overseas for his own financial gain? Or who puts money in offshore accounts to avoid paying taxes? I could go on...

    Mitt Romney is probably a great grandpa, but he is clearly WAY out of his depth in a presidential race, unless he's running for president of a country club.

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  7. As you know I support President Obama. As you also know, I know it takes a lot of courage to write a political post when you are not a political blogger then hit publish. Your post gave me chills and now I feel even MORE resolved about my decision to vote for Obama for a 2nd term.

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  8. Beautifully written and expressed, Korinthia. I loathe conflict so much I hesitate to write anything even remotely political on my blog--for the very reasons you mentioned. I admire your courage in hitting that publish button.


    I agree with all you have written. I would have written the same thing--only not nearly as eloquently. Thank you for putting my thoughts into cogent words.

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  9. I agree with Arno Klein's sentiments. I would welcome fresh and honest exchanges instead of rehearsed, repetitive rhetoric. That written, I fully support the only president who has made me proud. Wonderful piece, Kory.

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  10. I second Rhona's comment, as a Brit I'm always astounded by the things Republican voters are either prepared to overlook or even support. I can understand (though don't support) fiscal conservatism but both social policies and apparent lack of knowledge about the outside world would be laughable if they weren't scary. We just assumed Bush was a joke and that nobody could possibly vote for him! This time round we're hoping for the best but expecting the worst...

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  11. Hi Korinthia,

    I've never commented before but I wanted to let you know that I really appreciate both this post specifically and your writing in general. I admire that you posted this not because I would hesitate to share my own political opinions (as a Canadian, I don't think politics in general are as...hostile as they are in the States) but because it was something that you called upon your courage to do. I'm glad you were able to do so. Seeing people be brave is inspiring.

    I appreciate your writing generally because I think you seem like a genuine person who strives to be kind and thoughtful and compassionate while also being reflective and discriminating, all qualities I admire. The love you have for your children leaps out of your writing and, though this writing is all I know of you, it helps remind me of the kind of parent I want to be. So, thank you.

    All my best to you and your family,
    Sheena

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    1. Thank you for the very kind comment, Sheena. I appreciate it more than you know.

      I'm actually having a rough week, struggling a lot with the kind of person I want to be versus all too human feelings that make that difficult. It's reassuring that someone from a distance can tell I'm trying. (Please comment again sometime!)

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