More good reasons to vote straight blue in November.
1. The Supreme Court
Supreme Court Justices are appointed for life. Over the next four years, 3 of our 9 sitting Justices will turn 80, and one will shortly thereafter. They are Antonin Scalia, Anthony Kennedy, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Stephen Breyer. Now just because they’re 80, doesn’t mean they’re going to drop dead or retire, I know. (In fact, I’d expect crusty old Scalia to hang on as long as possible if Obama is elected in hopes that a Republican will be sworn in in 2017.) It’s impossible to predict when the next vacancy will occur, but this is the oldest court since the New Deal era and if I were a betting girl, my money would be on at least Ginsburg, who has been treated for pancreatic cancer, and possibly Breyer being gone prior to the next election.
I shudder to think what this Court would look like if Romney were to appoint four justices. We already have a group of justices that often (though not always) split 5-4 along ideological lines. The last thing our country needs is more Scalias on the court and I can’t see Romney appointing anyone but staunch conservatives.
Issues already on the docket for the 2012 – 2013 session are cases involving Title VII, The Fair Labor Standards Act, how employers can rewrite the employee benefit plans, the death penalty, and the Clean Water Act. In addition, few doubt that the Defense of Marriage Act and California’s Prop 8 will end up in the Court during its next term, along with challenges to voter ID laws. Considering the Republican position on those issues and you can guess the kind of justices Romney would nominate.
So yes. I’ll vote for Obama, so he can nominate justices, but also for my Democratic Senate candidate. The makeup of the Supreme Court affects our nation for decades, and if Romney were to be elected, our only hope would be that there are enough Democrats in the Senate to block any truly radical nominations.
2. We should be able to have a grown up discussion about guns and gun violence in this country
The most recent gun-related homicide rate for the U.S. was 3.0 per 100,000 compared to a rate of 0.3 for the rest of the NATO nations. The U.S. rate was 10 times higher. If you compare us to the 22 other richest countries in the world, we account for 80% of gun-related deaths and for 87% of children killed by guns. Is there anyone who thinks this is okay? Anyone?
I don’t claim to know what the answer is. I know it’s not to go on a huge gun grab and take all of people’s guns away. It’s not to remove all restrictions and let people buy whatever they want either. Yes, we have a 2nd Amendment right to keep and bear arms, but I hardly think the Founding Fathers could envision semi-automatic weapons with the power to kill upwards of 100 people in a minute’s time. There is simply no reason for semi-automatic rifle except to kill and kill quickly. No one needs that. No one – and if you try to tell me that it’s to protect yourself from the ‘Big Government’ when they come for you, here’s a newsflash. The government has drones and just tested a Mach 6 aircraft over the Pacific Ocean. If Big Brother wants to find you he will, and your AR-15 isn’t going to do a damn thing about it. That ship has sailed.
Why not make it a bit more difficult for people to get their hands on these types of weapons? In the past month alone we’ve seen public rampages that have killed almost 20 people and injured over 60 more. And that’s just the public shootings. How is it that an individual with known mental instability has the opportunity to purchase enough weapons and ammunition to take out hundreds of people? How is it that the mentally ill so often fall through the cracks in our society? Why can’t we focus on our mental health care and try to figure out what’s going to snap inside these people before they go berserk?
Why aren’t we tracking people with known ties to domestic terrorist groups as diligently as we’ve tracked Muslims since 9/11? The fact of the matter is that since 2008, we’ve seen an astounding increase in the number of right-wing hate groups. Let’s focus on those folks. They’ve killed many more people than any Muslim terrorist has in the past decade – in fact innocent Muslims have often been targeted.
Why can’t we focus on rehabilitation of prisoners and equip them with skills to go out into the world as productive citizens, rather than repeat offenders? In the U.S. 56% of violent felons are repeat offenders. Let’s train people in trades, help them get educated and show them that they have options, rather than herding them through a punitive justice system that labels and ostracizes these people once they’re back in our society.
There is no easy solution to our issue of gun violence, but when you have people who’ve sold their soul to the NRA making our laws, we can’t even have a conversation about it. I know that there are NRA-backed Democrats as well, but the Republican Party Platform specifically states this: “We oppose federal licensing of law-abiding gun owners and national gun registration as violations of the Second Amendment. We recognize that gun control only affects and penalizes law-abiding citizens, and that such proposals are ineffective at reducing violent crime.”
If it is true that controlling gun ownership has no effect on violent crime, why do countries with much stricter gun laws have lower rates of gun violence? Other countries have figured something out. Maybe we should ask open-minded questions and consider implementing solutions that are currently working elsewhere.
As much as any other issue we face, when it comes to gun control we have to get away from ideological extremes and work to fix it from multiple angles – and that simply won’t happen with a Republican President and Congress.
If you’re a slave to the NRA, you don’t get my vote.
3. I care about this ball of blue and green we live on and share with each other
The idea that anyone, in 2012, can deny climate change is real absolutely blows my mind. The fact that we have a political party who sees the Environmental Protection Agency as an evil regulator stifling free enterprise is simply astounding. Regarding the negative effects of carbon emission on our environment the Republican party platform states that the “scope and longterm consequences of this are the subject of ongoing scientific research”. Bull. The science is established. Our planet is warming and carbon emissions are a big reason why.
I want someone watching over companies and making sure they aren’t dumping waste into our rivers and streams. I want to know that the air I’m breathing is clean. I want a healthy planet for my daughter and her daughters. Think about what our future will look like if our planet really does warm 2 degrees as scientists are predicting. The effects aren’t just environmental (though that really should be enough). There are economic consequences that affect everyone. Watch what your food prices do this summer and get back to me if you don’t believe it.
We consume more fossil fuel than any other country, despite the fact that our population is about a third of China’s and India’s. We are almost completely dependent on carbon and it is simply unsustainable. We need to expand research and development into safe, clean alternatives to carbon fuels. Have you ever been to Wyoming? I lived there when I was younger and have been back as an adult. The wind blows all. the. time. Let’s figure out how to harness that energy and transport it to those who need it. We have a huge resource in the sun itself. Let’s fund companies who are pursuing solar energy. (Yes, some will fail and some will succeed, but we need to try). We are getting our butts kicked by China when it comes to solar energy. Rather than increasing our military budget and slashing all discretionary spending, why not focus on making us a leader in something other than the might of our war machine? Kick ass Armed Forces don’t do us much good if we don’t have the energy to power them. It doesn’t matter much how many new aircraft we have if our planet is burning.
You get my vote if you get that.