Category Archives: Partisanship

My Thoughts on the Presidential Address to Congress

The other night after putting my children to bed, I settled onto my couch with my laptop and switched on MSNBC. I was ready to hear from our President. I was looking for hope, for answers, for any sign that there will be a light at the end of this very long and difficult tunnel. Homes in my neighborhood stand empty, friends are losing their jobs, funding for my son’s education is being cut drastically and I’m getting nervous about affording even groceries right now. This speech needed to assure me that eventually everything is going to be alright. And did it? Here is my reaction to the President’s address to congress.

After thunderous opening applause and a quick introduction by Pelosi, President Obama launched enthusiastically into his speech. Right away he recognized just how bad it’s gotten. He explained that he didn’t need to rattle off any more statistics about this recession since we are all experiencing it first hand.

With my arms folded and my heart sadly resigned, I certainly agreed. As much as I support our President whole-heartedly, I know the reality and can’t help but worry the obstacles in front of us are impossible to overcome.

He then reminded us that we are all responsible for our economy, for our environment, for our children’s futures. After years of excessive spending and with no regard for the consequences of bad loans or oil dependence, we’ve wound up where we are. His words were strong, he spoke plainly and he spoke right to me.

All this time, I’ve been smugly blaming the previous administration and everyone else for this mess. But it was at this moment when I realized that this problem is all of ours. We have all played a part in this mess and we all need to make an effort to fix it.

“Now is the time” he demanded. Ok. You’re right. I’m listening.

He then went on to explain this recovery plan will do the following:

  • Create 3.5 million jobs
  • Give 95% of Americans a tax cut by April 1
  • Give families paying for college tuition a $2,500 tax credit
  • Allow unemployed Americans extended unemployment benefits

Honestly? These promises practically make me giddy with hope. I was ready to leap to my feet during this part of his speech faster than Pelosi herself. But I didn’t. I was still holding myself back. These are promises and certainly look great on paper – but I am still waiting and seeing.

Obviously, this recovery plan means that a lot of money (read: trillions) will be floating around. Considering our reckless past, I appreciated the President explaining that careful tabs will be kept on every dollar spent. Americans can go to recovery.gov to see where our money is going. This is good. Actions and process have to be kept transparent if we want if regain any economic confidence.

The next points he brought up were about banking, credit and loans. The message came across loud and clear that our money in our banks is safe and that we cannot stop loaning to individuals and businesses. This will stop economic growth in its tracks. Clearly, trust needs to be rebuilt again.

He also pointed out that “responsible” families struggling to hold on to their homes will be assisted. He said that:

“…the average family who refinances today can save nearly $2,000 per year on their mortgage.”

For a family like ours who followed the rules, bought a home within our means but are still scraping to pay our mortgage – this was very encouraging to hear.

Further into his speech, I was thrilled to hear the three priorities of the recovery plan:

 “…the budget I submit will invest in the three areas that are absolutely critical to our economic future: energy, health care, and education.”

He explained that ignoring these areas will change the future of our country if we do not give them immediate support and attention.

This was where my cautious “we’ll see” grumblings gave way to affirmative exclamations. I was emotionally on board then. All I could think about was my child’s school staying open, my $150 co-pays to treat my son’s flu that never responded to his $25 flu shot, and the empty homes scattered all over my neighborhood. Maybe? Could it be? Well, it seems there actually is hope.

As our president concluded his speech, he mentioned the stories of individuals who have made differences in their communities. He then introduced us to the young high school girl who reminded our congress that “We are not quitters!”

You see, that is exactly it for me. I am scared right now. I am nervous that from the bottom of this economic hole, these promises are just too good to be true. I want to hide my head in the sand and wish it all away. Or maybe just wait for someone else to fix it. But we are not quitters. No matter what side of the tracks you fall on: get up, get out and do something. This is everyone’s problem. Not just Wall Street’s or Congress’s or our President’s.

No doubt about it, our President is a fantastic speaker. But he is also an extremely smart and capable leader. The impossible is ahead of us but instead of moaning about what can’t be done, I will follow his lead and consider all that can be done. He is inspiring me to take responsibility, move forward and do my part. It was an excellent speech and I’m excited and ready to see what our future has in store.

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, Obama, parental fear, Parenting, Partisanship, Politics, Raising Awareness, Reality check

Is Obama’s Hope for Bipartisanship Possible?

It’s week one for President Obama and he faces an overwhelming to do list; a tangled rats nest of diplomatic, economic and environmental issues – all of which are deemed an absolute priority. However, our President has made one thing very clear. In order to succeed at untangling any of this mess, our country must unify, shake off bad partisan habits, and move forward as one nation. But after all the anger across party lines over this past year – heck, over this past decade – is national bipartisanship actually possible?

During President Obama’s historical inaugural speech, he turned to the nation and announced:

On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.
On this day, we come to proclaim an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas, that for far too long have strangled our politics.

Bipartisanship was clearly his priority the night before his inauguration as Obama attended a number of dinners, one honoring John McCain, where he aimed to demonstrate his intentions to unify this country.

And while President Obama’s stimulus plan only needs the majority number of votes to pass, he hopes for more. Obama is aiming for at least 80 votes to demonstrate to the nation that our government acts with one voice working together to solve our economic issues.

Before and since Obama was sworn in as our new leader, he has prioritized efforts to reach across party lines. There are an endless number of examples and Jonathan Martin at Politico lists many of them here. However, many are still skeptical whether these bipartisan efforts will actually work – and for various reasons.

Jake Tapper, an ABC White House correspondent, pointed out examples where Obama critiqued McCain during the election year – and at the time, he was clearly not in a bipartisan frame of mind. Will conservative citizens forget his criticisms and allow this water to pass under the bridge?

And that stimulus plan? Well, even if it is likely to pass, folks on both sides of the fence think such an idealistic goal of 80 votes is unlikely. Jay Newton Small from Time Magazine explains that Obama will either have to reach much further over to the Republican camp, which would disappoint supporters – or push the plan ahead going against his bipartisanship ideologies. Newton-Small writes:

“Obama may quickly find himself forced to choose between betraying his party and betraying his principles.”

Ed Kilgore wrote about Obama’s bipartisanship goals at the Huffington Post – and he too recognizes those that are skeptical his efforts will work. He writes:

“Call it ‘bipartisanship,’ ‘nonpartisanship,’ or ‘post-partisanship,’ this strain of Obama’s thinking is impossible to ignore, and has pleased and inspired some listeners while annoying and alarming others.”

Kilgore explains further about the possibility of Obama’s bipartisan intentions:

“Among self-conscious progressives and conservatives alike, there’s a prevailing belief that Obama’s ‘bipartisan’ talk is largely a tactical device without real meaning — and a lingering fear that he might really mean it. “

So, critics seem to think Obama’s bipartisan efforts are not genuine but some underhanded method to get what he wants? Or worse still, if he does mean it and politicians drop their baggage at the door, where does that leave both parties? Will they have to (gasp) compromise and listen? Have open discussion and actually tolerate differing opinions? That’s just not how Washington works. Right?

FireDogLake.com goes so far as to say that Obama cares more about bipartisanship than a stable economy. RealClearPolitics.com explains that bipartisanship is not such a great idea after all because it requires both sides to work together – and if one side has got it all wrong, the entire effort will be diminished.

And let’s not forget Rush Limbaugh. Like him or not, he has a huge conservative audience that hangs on to his every word. What are his thoughts on Obama’s bipartisanship efforts? Well, go see for yourself. But he certainly doesn’t think conservatives should “drink the Kool-aid”.

So what do everyday people think? Well, I was discouraged looking back at the comments of the Politico article I mentioned above. But not everyone considers Obama’s efforts impossible. Corina Fiore from Down to Earth Mama explained to me:

“Obama’s bipartisanship agenda is possible. As a nation, we know that with hard work, determination, intelligence and common purpose, anything is possible… This task, though, is difficult with so many egos and so many different ideals to consider.”

And then another blogger, Wendy Piersell from Totally Her, relayed to me that:

“I hope/think the Obama administration will change the dynamic between parties forever. But politics will always be partisan.”

I agree with both. Opposing parties and differing opinions are important for this country to check and balance itself. Our country is defined by its diverse perspectives – we don’t all agree and it’s our right that we don’t have to. That being said, President Obama simply wants to keep the door open. No idea or suggestion aimed at fixing our nation’s problems should be ignored based on party affiliation. Let’s keep an open mind and sit down to fix this together. We may all not get exactly what we want but, if our country is better off for the compromises we’ve made in 5 years, it will all be worth it.

And bipartisan efforts should extend even as far as Type A Mom. Please make sure to jump over, welcome and read future articles by our new Conservative Mom Editor, Krista Herling! Welcome Krista!

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Communication, Economy, Giving respect, Government, Inauguration, Inspiring people, Obama, Partisanship, Politics, Presidency, Reality check

Plan a Party to Celebrate the Inauguration

inaugballoons

Picture from Obama’s First Day

The countdown in on – there are less than two weeks until Barack Obama is elected president! And this liberal mom thinks the occasion calls for a celebration. If you are as excited as I am, and game for a get together, here are some ideas to host your own fabulously patriotic inauguration party.

Plan the Party

First thing’s first however: unfortunately, the date and time are not exactly “party-worthy”. The inauguration will be held on Tuesday, January 20th and President-elect Obama will officially be sworn in at noon. A parade will follow that afternoon and of course, all major networks will be covering the event. (Even Nickelodeon will be covering the event with young reporters!)

But back to the issue. Noon on a Tuesday is not exactly the time to host a hugely impressive gala. So there are a few options to consider.

  • If you are home that day, host a fun get together with other parents who are home also
  • If you usually work, consider playing hooky – and tell your partner to do the same
  • Have a Tuesday night BBQ or early get together to celebrate
  • Host an inaugural ball of your own the weekend before or after

Invitations

Now that you have decided what kind of party works best for you, it’s time to think about the invites. Sure, it’s a little late, but if your friends are as fired up to celebrate this event as I am, they will leap at the chance to ring in this new presidency. But since the date is coming up fast, consider sending evites. My Punchbowl is my favorite alternative to Evite and it has some fabulous invites at their site.

Regarding who you invite, obviously invite folks who share your own political views. But please consider inviting those that don’t also. In the spirit of bringing this nation together to solve these upcoming issues as Americans, make sure your invites go out to friends of yours on both sides of the political fence.

Decorations

Obviously, as we are all feeling patriotic, you should decorate in red, white and blue. I would also consider adding some sparkle to your event, especially if you hold your event at night. Get creative and recycle red table cloths you may still have from Christmas or some glittery decorations from New Years. String up a few Christmas lights with your red, white and blue too!

Food

The possibilities for food options are endless. You could go with traditionally American foods such as hot dogs and apple pie. Since Obama is from Hawaii, you could serve traditional Hawaiian foods. Ehow offers some great ideas:

“You can choose fun themed foods such as ‘Buffalo LEFT Wings,’ or how about some ‘Campaign Trail Mix?’ Other ideas that are clever include: ‘Lipsticked Pigs In a Blanket,’ ‘Sloppy Joe Bidens’, ‘Barack of Lamb’, and ‘Shredded Pork (Barrel) Sandwiches.’… Keeping the fun theme going for the drinks, why not create a shot and call them ‘Cheney Shooters.’”

I would also consider serving some of Obama’s favorite foods. He is a big fan of Italian pizza. Also, NPR found recipes for some of his favorite Mexican dishes.

Don’t forget Michelle’s favorite shortbread cookies for dessert! And, of course, serve “Yes Pecan” Ben & Jerry’s ice cream.

Drinks

Apparently Obama’s favorite beer is Bud Lite which is easy enough to serve. And I would throw in some Busch beer too, just for fun. But what are some other patriotic, theme appropriate drinks to serve? You can find 10 “all American” cocktail ideas at Fine Living.com. Also, here is a fun recipe for Patriotic Punch. And then Hawaiian themed cocktails are also fun, and probably very welcome in the midst of winter.

Music

Considering that Aretha Franklin will be singing at the inauguration, her music must be a part of your playlist. Other options for Obama favorites can be found on his Facebook page:

“Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bob Dylan, Stevie Wonder, Johann Sebastian Bach (cello suites), and The Fugees”

Games

DivaGirl offers some fun Inauguration games including having guests participate in some presidential trivia. While your group watches Obama’s speech, Ehow shares Bingobama. Print out copies for everyone!

Don’t forget about the kids – they may want to be a part of the inaugural fun as well! Kaboose.com has some excellent ideas such as making your own parade stick, presidential coloring pages and fun family quizzes.

More party ideas can be found at any of these sites:

And finally, if you are serious about hosting an inauguration bash for your entire community, visit Move on.org for more information about how to set one up.

Further Inauguration information:

Happy January 20th!

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Election, Inauguration, Joe Biden, Michelle Obama, Obama, Partisanship, Patriotism, Presidency, Reccomendations, Silliness

Maintain the Grassroots Momentum and Make Change Happen

On November 4th, we elected Barack Obama to become our 44th President. And on that evening, as a democrat, a woman and an American citizen, I could not have been more proud of my country. In a couple months, we will celebrate his election with an Inauguration, as he’s officially given the title “President of the United States of America”. But afterwards, with confetti still falling to the ground and his pencils freshly sharpened, we will be left to wonder… “Now what?” It’s time for change, right? So how does that happen? One thing is certain: Obama will have to work very hard to right this sputtering, smoking plane that we call our country. But we’re all passengers on that plane, and its up to all of us to fix it.

Over the past year, I think what amazed me most about Obama’s campaign was the unique, unprecedented support he received from individual voters. He made an effort to interact with voters in a way no other has. Yes, his outstanding speeches and a well thought out policy for change certainly resonated with citizens. Those two points were impressive in their own right. But what truly inspired me was how many people took charge and decided to give this election momentum by their individual actions.

Patrick Levine Rose wrote an insightful article about his experience working on the Obama campaign. Once again, it is a testament to how many people went door to door, how many phone calls were made, personal emails sent out, new voters registered, millions of donations (offering as little as $5.00 a piece) were given, large rallies and small get togetherswere organized. There is no doubt in my mind that this election was won because of powerful, individual grassroots efforts. He will be President not because of one brilliant campaign manager and a ton of loot – he will be President because thousands of regular people heard an important message and were called to action. Regular folks, with hardly much political clout other than their right to vote, are the ones who ushered Obama into the White House. What an inspiration.

So now we live in a country that has seen the power of individuals focused on a common goal. We know a grassroots effort can work. Thanks to every individual involved in his campaign, Obama will become President at the start of this upcoming year. And he has one hell of a mess on his plate. Obama Zombies aside, should we retire our Obama pins, put our feet up and breathe a sigh of relief exclaiming that everything will now be taken care of? Um, I don’t think that’s such a good idea. If we ever needed to get organized and do our part, it would be now. In my opinion? We have to keep up this kind of momentum if we want to get our plane running smoothly on all cylinders again.

Here’s the first step. Consider some of these questions and think through ways you might be able to make a difference on a local level:

What do you expect of our country? What do you expect your responsibilities are as an American citizen? What can we do as individuals withbusy lives? What can we do as mothers? How can we come together with Americans who didn’t vote for Obama? (Because guess what, we need their help too.) What can we do on a daily basis to change our environment? Can we stop hate on a local level? What can we do to fix this economy? (I can’t help but wonder if more shopping will stimulate our economy or just get us all in more debt?) What do we teach our children or how do we involve them at their schools? How can our place of business make a difference?

Now I need your feedback. I am going to list some spots where we can go online to get involved and make this exciting new concept of “change” actually start to happen. But these are certainly not the only places we can go to make a difference. Check out my list and then comment back with some of your suggestions. Think about those questions and remember that individuals working on a grassroots level can actually move this country forward. Yes we can because… yes we did.

Change.gov: Obama is offering Americans a platform to “Tell their story”. Take some time to write your perspective, your ideas and how you might want to see change happen.

BarackObama.com : If you volunteered for his campaign or would like to volunteer in the future, log in and take the survey offered.

Momsrising.org : A bipartisan group promoting mother’s rights.

MoveOn.org : A progressive, liberal group bringing individuals into the political process.

Dividedwefail.org: The AARP, SEIU and NFIB have created this group to bring about bipartisan change.

Wecansolveit.org: Founded by Al Gore, a non profit, bipartisan group focused on climate change. There is currently a petition asking you to support the EPA’s regulation of carbon monoxide pollution. If you are interested, click here. You have until Friday, November 28th to sign the petition.

HRC.org : A civil rights organization advocating on behalf of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered citizens.

What groups or websites would you add to this list?

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Causes, Communication, Economy, Educating myself, Election, Equal Rights, Getting green, Government, Inspiring people, Obama, Partisanship, Politics, Raising Awareness

Yes, We Did It: My Thoughts the Day After Obama’s Victory

It happened. Obama was elected president last night. How could I possibly express how extraordinarily proud of my country I am right now. It is a new chapter in our history and a moment I will never forget.

But I gotta tell ya. I am completely overwhelmed and utterly exhausted by it all. Its as if my emotional mainframe has been entirely blown out. There is so much to process about what this all means for us. In fact, as soon as I start thinking about all of it, I get choked up and totally distracted. So I stop myself and stay on task. Life must go on here – off to drop of T. at school, off to wal-mart for a new trash can, off to get flu shots…

Still, I can’t resist saying a few things today. Just a few thoughts. And then I will be on my way, to regroup and be back refreshed to post on another day.

First of all, I am struggling to really truly understand the depth of what it means to have finally elected an African American president. As we watched Obama’s speech last night and Congressman Lewisthis morning, my husband said he never thought he would see the day. I thought about it and said I had thought I would see such a day. Then I wondered why I have been so optimistic about that possibility. Well, I think its because I have seen another impossibility happen before.

On February 11, 1990, I happened to be in Johannesburg visting friends (I lived and went to high school in Swaziland at the time). Do you know what happened that day in history? Nelson Mandela was released from prison. I will never forget the sound of that entire city raised up in celebration. During my years living in its neighboring country, the impossible happened for South Africa: Apartheid was abolished, Nelson Mandela was freed and he became president. While I certainly can’t really compare the politics and complexities of the United States and South Africa, I can compare the utter joy of that day. And since then, I have believed anything is possible.

Another fleeting thought in my mind right now is how much repair this country needs. This election tore us all apart. While I listened to the radio this morning, it was as if the DJs thought Obama being elected was a sign of the end of days. There are grumblings about socialism and terrorism and baby killing. While ridiculous, I feel its a sign of fear and misunderstanding about Obama’s potential for leadership. We need to figure out a way to reconnect again and, even if Obama was not your choice, find the strength to bring ourselves back together immediately.

The realist in me won’t let me forget another very important point either. Why is it so damn important that do we bring ourselves together right now? No doubt about it, we have a hell of a lot of work to do to fix our problems. While Obama will be president, it is up to ALL of us to take responsibility and put our country back together again. Lets stop pointing fingers (Bush, Obama, McCain, Karl Rove, Cheney, either Clinton) – enough already, lets get focused and fix ourselves.

And one more thing. Bans on gay marriage passed in California, Florida and Arizona. Discrimination lives on. This is a wake-up call for all of us that nothing can be fixed over night – even a night as amazing as last night. We need to keep working and pushing forward to assure equal rights for every American. It’s only a mandate in our constitution after all…

Finally I will leave you with this video of Obama’s victory speech last night. What a moment in our history. Once again, I am deeply proud to be an American this morning.

(Phew. And I am really so damn tired. More from me – more fun stuff from me, I promise – once I reboot this worn out, run down, over thought system of mine.)

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Filed under Deep thoughts, Election, Equal Rights, Obama, Partisanship, Patriotism, Peace, Politics, Racism, Reality check

Are Liberal Citizens “American” Citizens?

It is not the first time that my patriotism has been called into question for being liberal. However Governor Palin’s recent comments caught me in a vulnerable moment. On the cusp of casting what may be the most important vote of my lifetime, I have never felt more proud to be an American citizen. And yet, with a mere two weeks left in the campaign, my party and my beliefs may be deemed yet again as un-American. And I think it’s time I stand up for myself as a proud citizen of this country.

We believe the best of Amierica is in these small towns that we get to visit, and in these wonderful pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working, very patriotic, um, very, um, pro-America areas of this great nation. This is where we find the kindness and goodness and courage of everyday Americans.

Governor Palin said these words at a fund-raiser in North Carolina recently. Now, I would not argue that those she was speaking to were, in fact, “American”. But those folks at the fundraiser were certainly no more American than the families living here in the suburbs of Florida, or the Burroughs of New York City, or even on the icy plains of her own State of Alaska. Assuming that one group of citizens are “more” American than another is simply ridiculous. But her speech comes across as one more undeserved swipe at citizens who don’t fit into a certain narrow ideal of “Americanism”. In fact, liberal citizens (such as myself) have become quite used to questions about our patriotism. And raise your hand if you’ve heard the mumbled implication that you might be (cue the disgusted sneer on the accusers face): a communist. What is UP with this?

Throughout my life, I have continued an American tradition of sorts, something my forefathers did before me: I question those in authority. It is my right to do this and I consider it about as American as apple pie. And while I may have disagreed with certain politicians or some of their policies, I have never faltered in my own confidence as an American. Sure, I didn’t grow up in small town U.S.A. (I lived abroad in High School) or attend a senior prom or date a Joe Six-pack type. But I am still American, right? My perspective and background have just added to that whole “melting pot” idea, right? And as for questioning those leading this country – well, isn’t that the beauty of being American? As a democratic nation, I can question, I can express myself, I can be whomever I want to be here. God Bless this place, for real.

After September 11th, our country became very afraid and for good reason. We had been attacked and thousands of innocent people lost their lives. But the fear and hate which sprung from this attack has been frightening to witness. As the years passed and war was waged, the message was very clear: “You are either with us, or against us”. If I didn’t agree with the war, the policies of the current administration or my President: I was considered un-American. During these past few years, my American round peg has not exactly fit into this very limited, short-sighted variety of patritotic square hole. Our country’s definition of “Americanness” should not remain so simplified or single minded any longer.

I am a liberal American. I believe in equal and human rights in a democratic nation. I believe in protecting the limited resources on our planet and in our country – not destroying them. I believe in freedom of speech of every form – not intimidated silence. I believe in the right to vote, as a collective nation, to determine our leader – never denying any citizen this opporitunity. I believe in the unique diversity of this country – not polarized sameness, or fear of the unknown. I believe that all citizens, of every background, are in fact 100% American – no matter how I much I may agree or disagree with them.

Early voting has begun in many states around this country. It is time for our nation to excerise it’s right to choose it’s own leader. In the spirit of a new, redefined and multi-faceted brand of patriotism, please go out and do the most “American” thing you can do right now: vote. Let’s see what the “real” America is all about.

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Filed under Election, Equal Rights, Giving respect, Government, Partisanship, Patriotism, Politics, Sarah Palin

Political Burnout: Has the Election Taken Over Your Life?

I used to care about other stuff. I used to talk about topics other than the election. I used to go days – even weeks – without thinking too hard about my political values or hopes for the future of our country. But not anymore. This election has taken over my life, I tell you. I am feeling some serious political burn out. And how exactly has this happened? Let me share with you some examples. And then we are going to figure out a way for all of us to focus on something other than the election, even for a short while.

On a debate night, I almost always dream about the candidates. Usually, they are in some stressful predicament; once Obama and I weren’t able to find a voting booth on November 4th. And those dreams are exactly what I deserve for staying up well after the candidates have left the stage, watching all of the post-game pundit chatter late into the evening. In fact, my husband and I both toss and turn – there is rarely much hope for a fresh start the next morning.

Once awake, we face the computer or morning news. The pundits are still there: rehashing, replaying and repeating everything my nightmares were about. And I dread opening that full inbox listing political updates and reminders. Did you know Joe Biden is speaking in your town today? What are YOU doing to help win this election? Could you donate even $5 to make change happen? It’s barely 8:00am, and I already feel the weight of the world on my shoulders.

I usually find some comfort in a bowl of cheerios while I stare at Handy Manny on the Disney Channel. Of course, the next thought that pops into my mind is: Handy Manny could use a President like Obama who will stand up for middle class folks and small businesses. I mean, what if Manny can’t get the loan he needs to keep himself and all those tools employed? These are hardly lucid thoughts. My lack of sleep is apparent once again.

And even the stilted conversations at the playground have to work very hard to avoid the topic of politics. We all try but… really, what else is there to talk about? The Red Sox? Yeah, that’s good. My son’s math quiz? Eh, ok. “Did you hear that Obama and Brad Pitt are related?” “No way!” Red alert, politics approaching. “Did anyone see SNL?” Ok, here we go. I give up.

And have you tried to get a cup of coffee at 7-eleven recently? There is no escape there either. You can pick your own Obama or McCain coffee cup and declare your vote to the world. All of those Joe and Jane Six-packs, familiar after standing in the same convenience store line every morning, are suddenly having to “out” themselves politically. Will it get weird for them now? Will there be a throw down?

I am hardly the only one suffering from the tension of this election. While I have had some positive experiences with my Obama paraphernalia recently (“I love your t-shirt!”, “I love your car!”, smiles, waves, “woo-hoo”s) – other friends have experienced the opposite. And the spray painted “X” through the only Obama sign I’ve seen sent me into a woeful, angry tailspin this afternoon. It seems as if our nation is slowly fading into two shades of citizen right now: blue or red. A line is being drawn down the middle of our lives – a line I can’t seem avoid no matter how hard I try.

So help me out. How do we take a mental break from this election and spiraling economy? Certainly, we can not afford to give up on it all together – but what are some ways to regain our strength? How can we wake up with a fresh perspective, re-energized and ready for November 4th? Here are some of my suggestions that I will swear to try – simply for my own sanity:

  • Exercise. Lots of it. And don’t play any Ani DiFranco on the Ipod either.
  • Play with your children outside: the grass, the kids, the birds, the sidewalk chalk, the bicycles are all bi-partisan, I promise.
  • No news after 8pm. Say “No” to Keith Olbermann (which is hard for me) but say a heartfelt “YES!” to Project Runway.
  • Turn off the computer at night. (Even I am muttering out loud here,”You’re kidding, right?”)
  • Read a book. Something brilliant, funny and distracting. Perhaps something by Jennifer Weiner?
  • Take up a craft. I actually did some painting recently. Not good painting, but it was distracting.
  • While sitting criss-cross applesauce on a yoga mat with a candle burning and your eyes closed, repeat to yourself: “Everything will be ok…” until you actually believe it.

In the midst of all of this political and economic stress, what are your ways to remain calm? Or even better, how do you simply sane? Please share. I desperately need some help. We all do!

Cross posted at Type A Moms.

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Filed under Economy, Election, McCain, Obama, Partisanship, Politics, Reality check, Self-analysis