Four years ago, Barack Obama was running for president and my six month old son was one of his youngest supporters. Not out of volition of course but because his mother is a die-hard Democrat and bought him a tiny Obama t-shirt that we’d dress him in. As a political independent, I might have normally been against having my infant advertise one politician over another but I kind of liked Obama myself. More than anything, I was against the Republicans retaining office largely out of my disgust for Dubya and any chance another Republican could follow him in office.
Four years later, B’s mama still loves Obama (a chant around our house: Mama loves Obama) and his ubiquity on TV has made him a presence–albeit feckless–in our household. For instance, we have a play plastic phone that is baby G’s and we hand it to him and pretend it’s Obama asking for advice. After a call or two, I grab the phone and tell him to leave us alone. We can’t help him with the presidency, that’s his job.
If we are a bit brusque with the president, we are downright disdainful of his opponent, Mitt Romney. It’s one of the few privileges of being a parent, the chance to foist your own opinions on your kids. I have no appreciation for Romney and so communicated that to my four-year old. “We don’t like Romney,” I told him. “He wants to steal our money.” (I don’t know why I told him this exactly. While I know Repubs are generally for across the board tax cuts I nevertheless associate Romney with corporate greed so….) For a couple of weeks B followed the party line but then, as is already the case with my attempts to mold him, he twisted it and made his own modifications.
“I like Mitt Romney,” he said last week. No, I thought, this can’t be happening, but then he surprised me when he suggested that Romney can take all of his Nana’s money and give it to us. “Because we don’t have any money, right?” he said. “That’s right,” I said, laughing, and giving him a hug.
I’m not sure the recasting of Romney as a sort of Robin Hood would play with the American people (or with his Nana for that matter) but I appreciated B’s ability to resist my heavy-handed efforts to steer him and then maneuver it all in his favor (in his mind, the money would all go towards buying him a new toys). I think he’d make a great politician.
Whenever politicians kiss babies, it’s looked upon disdainfully, and I have to confess to open cynicism when it comes to this. However, this weekend I was watching a news segment on Obama’s visit to a bar for St. Patrick’s Day to drink a Guinness when the camera cut to the President holding a baby as a crowd looked on. Suddenly it hit me, maybe kissing babies isn’t just a political ploy but a real perk of the job. I love to kiss on mine and probably do it hundreds of times a day. I’ve never tried someone else’s, but let’s say you’re running for political office and someone hands you a baby to smooch, well why the hell not? There’s nothing like the softness of a baby’s skin, it is untainted and not hardened yet by life. In other words, exactly the opposite of the political process. Maybe if you’re Obama and handed a baby the touch of its skin is a little shelter from the storm. Or maybe it’s just a ploy to garner votes, but this one time I’m going to give the President the benefit of the doubt.
Sometime last week I started thinking about a potential blog post that would discuss the rising cost of gas and how that affects who I may vote for President. That’s largely because I am one of the countless parents who uses their car to put their baby to sleep. Five days a week I throw baby G in his car seat around mid-morning and drive south until he passes out. It’s the only way to get him to sleep without me holding him and that precious hour while he does so is one of the most productive periods of my day. I make calls, I write, clean, whatever.
Some days G falls asleep before we get to the top of the hill but that is rare, most of the time it’s a 15 minute round trip. That may not seem like much, but when you have such little funds that you only put $10 in the gas tank at a time, it all adds up, or rather subtracts. So I began to think how I might vote for President based on who can keep gas the cheapest.
Then on Sunday the New York Times ran an article titled Rising Gas Prices Give G.O.P. Issue to Attack Obama. “A gallon of gas had dropped to $1.89 when Mr. Obama took office in 2009, in large part because of the fall in oil demand caused by the financial crisis, and has almost doubled since,” it said. “Iran’s recent warnings of a disruption in the global oil trade have pushed the price of a barrel of domestic oil to more than $103, a six-month high and up about 34 percent since September. That has helped drive the average price of a gallon of regular gasoline in the United States to $3.52, a 30-cent increase in the past two months. It is already approaching $4 in some places.”
In my area it was $3.55 when I stopped on Sunday to put $12 in the tank. That is something I feel directly, as I will have to stop today and spend more money on gas. If a candidate for president were to directly speak to this problem it would catch my ear. Yet another Republican debate is being held tonight, and if one of the remaining players were to look at the camera and say, “All you stay-at-home parents, I know the cost of gas is draining your bank account. If I’m elected president, I will do something about that.”
Yet, if Republicans do mention it, it will likely only be to attack Obama. In that case, I won’t be able to take it too seriously. Under George W. Bush the cost of gas rose 272 percent from $1 something when he started to over $4 sometime in 2008, before falling precipitously as our economy crashed. The price of oil seems directly tied to tension in the Middle East, and most Republican candidates seem primed to start a war there again, this time with Iran. For instance, Rick Santorum recently used similar talk to that employed before the advent of the Iraq War, saying on NBC’s Meet the Press: “I would be working openly with the state of Israel and I would be saying to the Iranians, you either open up those facilities, you begin to dismantle them and make them available to inspectors or we will degrade those facilities through air strikes–and make it very public that we are doing that.”
Sadly, Obama is not handling the situation much better–and likely won’t, if the past represents the future–so it looks like I will not be able to vote for either major party candidate unless something drastic happens. What if we stay-at-home parents were to unite and demand action? We could pledge to vote for the candidate who will look out for our interests and reduce the cost of living for those of us who are harboring the next generation of Americans. If not, I am casting my vote elsewhere. Is Nader running in 2012?