Dear President Obama and Governor Romney,
I’ve cut short my watching of your debate and I probably will not watch the remaining two. While our country is more polarized than perhaps it has been since the Civil War, I find that my disillusionment with both of you is equal.
When you talk about classes in the United States, you talk about those poor people who make $250,000 or under and then people who have done “very well for themselves” like you both have. I do not see that you understand what happens at wage levels below $250,000. There is a world of economic levels under that bar. There is the level at which I once lived, when I had to forego hot dogs for Memorial Day because I couldn’t afford both the hot dogs and the buns. There’s the level I and many people I know inhabit, grateful but not necessarily comfortable. There are people who have nothing at all. To me, $250,000 would be a massive life change for the better. To me, $250,000 is “doing very well.” You are not talking to me.
You both talk about the creation of jobs but you do not acknowledge that the times have changed. Many of the manufacturing jobs will NOT be replaced because automated programming has replaced the need for trained machinists. Customer service jobs have been outsourced or have been replaced by social media. People who have been out of work have tuned into social media gurus who have sold them snake oil sold in a bottle labeled “Fake it till you make it.” I’m not sure either of you have any idea what any of that is all about. You are not talking to me.
You both toss about the term “pre-existing condition” as if it was just words. Do you understand what that means? I could tell you. Many people I know could tell you. Pre-existing condition is a great way for insurance companies to label you as risky. It’s a great way for them to charge you more. It’s a great crutch the healthcare industry uses to get you on more medication and to get you to more appointments because your health is at more risk than the “normal” person. If you are not wealthy, you can end up doing things like cutting pills in half to make them last longer. Do either of you have any experience with that kind of scenario? You are not talking to me.
Gentlemen, I am not yet 35 years old. When you talk about “younger people” needing to approach medicare in new ways, you reference people in their mid-fifties. You assure the American people that current retirees are fine. What about me? What about my generation? You might remember us as the generation who had to leap into jobs six months after graduation because our college loans started coming due. We started our adult lives deep in debt. Your plan extends to kind of cover people who are ten years away (maybe, if they’re lucky) away from retirement. Do you not have any plan for me? Is it just assumed I will have nothing to cushion me in my old age? You are not talking to me.
You equate Donald Trump to a small business. My family owns a small business, sir candidates. I can tell you about the vast chasm that separates our reality from that of Donald Trump. But if something like that needs to be explained, you simply don’t get it. Neither of you. You are not talking to me.
Your words may be pretty, your faces may be splattered with smug smiles, and you might enjoy, Mr. Romney, telling Jim Lehrer all about how you want to cut funding to his PBS employer. But you both lost me and my confidence tonight. Both of you. If I was not a woman, had women before me not fought and been ostracized for the right to vote, I would simply skip the privilege of going into the voting booth. I am left bereft of hope for my future after this debate, gentlemen. Whomever of you wins will take me nearly to my 40th year of life, and you are not talking to me.
A leader must understand, in my opinion, the people he or she is leading. Not just the people who attend the $50,000/plate dinners. All of the people. Even scumbags like me who go to work every day, 7:30-5, who don’t have fancy cars or more than two rooms to my name. I’m one of the people you’re supposed to touch with your ideas. And your touch has done nothing but left me cold.
You should have been talking to me.
You should both be ashamed of yourselves.
Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeannerene/4907249541/ via Creative Commons