Private name, private number.
Calls from Idaho, Utah, California, Columbus, Ohio.
Calls from the RNC, the DNC, Move On.org, Restore our Future.
My land line has never been so busy, my caller-id never so useful and I’ve zapped so many political commercials, my remote needs new batteries.
I will tell you, however, as frustrating as it’s been listening to the rancor and deception both parties have foisted on my senses, I’ve never felt so important.
If you can believe the pollsters and the pundits, I am one of a handful of voters who control the fate of a nation. They will tell you America is at a crossroads in our history--vote for President Barack Obama and we’re doomed to socialism, vote for Governor Mitt Romney and we’ll be harvested for profit.
Why am I so important? I’m white. I’m a senior. I’m an independent. And, I live in one of five counties in a state that could determine who wins the White House.
Talk about pressure. You should feel it too. According to a Wall Street Journal article by political writer Dante Chinni, five counties in Ohio will steer the nation’s ship. Three are located in the heart of The Press delivery area--Wood, Sandusky and Ottawa. The other two are Tuscarawas and Hamilton.
According to Chinni, we are home to a lot of white seniors who lean Republican and a lot of auto-related union workers who lean Democrat.
I may be the poster child for the voter both parties target with an annoying assault of robo calls and television ads. Here’s my story. I’m the son of a 30-and-out-auto-worker and immigrant mother. I would not have been able to afford college if not for a work-study job at an auto-parts factory in southern Ohio and another one in Toledo.
My ideal presidential candidate straddles the middle--someone fiscally conservative, but socially conscious. Someone who believes in reducing the size of government, but also realizes some regulation is necessary to protect the masses and our country’s resources from being harvested, or polluted, by the few. Someone who believes both the left and the right have good ideas and both sides should work together. Democrat Bill Clinton was such a candidate. He championed welfare reform as did the Republican congress. Together they made our country better.
Unfortunately, this person doesn’t exist today. We have politicians to the left and politicians to the right, while many of us are stuck unrepresented in the middle. I’ve concluded that, if this person doesn’t exist, I’ll vote left when the country swings too far right and right when the country swings too far left. Consequently, I’ve voted for the following: George McGovern (D); John Anderson, a Republican turned Independent; Ronald Reagan (R); Ross Perot (I); Bill Clinton (D), once; Michael Dukakis (D); George W. Bush (R); John Kerry (D) and Barack Obama (D).
This year, it’ll be President Obama. He continued the auto-bailout started by his Republican predecessor, President Bush. On the other hand, Gov. Romney has stated many times he would have let Detroit go bankrupt, saying private equity firms would have invested in General Motors and Chrysler. But, there was no private money after the Wall Street crash. When auto executives sought it, they were turned down. In all likelihood had this approach been taken, many parts suppliers would have failed, the auto industry in the southern states would have filled the void with Toyotas, Hyundais and Kias and Ohio and Michigan jobs would have been lost forever. If you think Northwest Ohio is a tough place to live in now, imagine what it would have been without Jeep, The GM Transmission plant, Johnson Controls, Lear, Norplas, Faurecia, Rieter, etc. According to the Regional Growth Partnership, 83 auto suppliers employ 23,000 workers in Northwest Ohio.
While President Obama deserves thanks for saving these jobs for our families and our children, that alone isn’t reason enough to return him to the White House. There are others. The Republican right wants vouchers for Medicare and privatization of Social Security. Neither are good for the middle class. Ask yourself what your Social Security check would look like today had President Bush privatize Social Security before the Wall Street crash.
I voted for Pres. Bush in 2000, partly because I thought he’d be a fiscal conservative. However, he launched two wars and signed the Medicare prescription drug plan that cost taxpayers an estimated $400 billion over 10 years. I don’t believe either party will take our debt problem seriously. I think they’ll both spend money, but in different ways. The only hope is that the economy gets juiced, more people go back to work and tax receipts increase. Today, unemployment is down, consumer spending is up and credit card debt is at the lowest level in 20 years. Granted these gains are small and progress seems slow, but we’re moving in the right direction.
If you live in Ottawa, Wood or Sandusky counties, you have more power this election than you’ve ever had. Don’t waste it. Vote your conscience.