Torres Barden: What’s a decidedly undecided voter to do?Written by Julia Torres | | firstname.lastname@example.org
Barack Obama or Mitt Romney? It’s pure agony to remain an undecided voter during this, the 2012 presidential election season.
As a lifelong registered Democrat with “connections,” a graduate of two prestigious political leadership programs where my nickname was “Liberal” and as a hipster mom of four young metrosexual urbanites, this Puerto Rican girl from the Bronx should already be toeing the party line.
Heck, by now I should be spending countless hours at my local Obama campaign office doing whatever it takes to secure four more years for our president and, trust me, his people are calling me all the time.
But, to my surprise and nagging irritation, I remain an undecided voter. Further, I’m feeling the pressure, especially since it’ll be the first time I’m voting here in the crucial battleground state of Ohio.
For a trained political wonk like me, how I wish I could quiet my intuitive voice that says neither presidential candidate in the upcoming 2012 election is exactly what our nation needs right now. Just like Bob Woodward concludes in his new book, “The Price of Politics,” I’m not sure our president has earned my vote for another four years. However, I also know the pundits are famous for saying, “As goes Ohio, so goes the nation.” So I know I need to get with the program and make a decision, pronto!
Imagine my excitement last week when I realized both candidates would be holding rallies in our neck of the woods, even scheduling them on the same day. “Wow!” I thought. “How convenient is this? All I have to do is travel 60 miles round trip to have both candidates pitch me on why they’re the one I should vote for. Problem solved. I’ll have chosen my candidate by dinner time Sept. 26, leaving me a whole month to campaign for my guy — because, of course, we’re gonna have to wait again, at least four more years, for a female presidential candidate.” But, I digress…
I immediately raced to both campaign offices Downtown, praying I’d score tickets to each rally and I did. The countdown to indecision relief had begun.
My self-proclaimed, “Decidedly Undecided” tour began with Obama’s rally at Bowling Green State University. I crossed my fingers and did a little rain dance on that cloudy and drizzly morning, hoping the candidate I’d been in the same room with twice in 2008 would now be someone I could trust.
During the 2008 election I had the amazing opportunity to be in the same room with both Obama and Sen. Hillary Clinton before Hillary conceded defeat right before the Democratic National Convention (DNC).
By that time, I’d already determined Obama scared the bejeezus out of me based on his lack of experience, unproven record and especially on the company he kept. You know that old adage, “Tell me who your friends are and I’ll tell you who you are?” Well, as a 9/11 survivor, I simply couldn’t get past Obama’s relationships with Bill Ayers, a former domestic terrorist (founder of the Weather Underground who admits trying to blow up the Pentagon), and the hate-spewing, anti-American pastor Jeremiah Wright, whom Obama claimed as a father figure. Added to the mix was Obama’s chummy friendship with my ex-political mentor – a man who, let’s just say, violated my personal space, making it very difficult for me to trust Obama’s judgment.
I became confident in my assessment that I could not trust him as my candidate for president of these great United States. I also felt Mr. Obama irreparably slighted female candidate Clinton and her sisterhood voters with debate quips like, “You’re likeable enough, Hillary.” Further, his spiteful decision to not even consider her for vice president (for fear of having to deal with her husband, as reported in the astonishing political playbook, “Game Change” by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin) left me reeling.
Feeling tremendous disappointment in my political party, I tried to embrace the Republican candidate for president – a true American hero, Sen. John McCain. I entertained the hype when he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate for maybe 72 hours, after which it became clear that his lack of sound judgment in choosing her would torpedo his candidacy.
As all my political training had cautioned third-party voting is a wasted vote, I felt coerced into drinking the proverbial partisan Kool-aid after seeking counsel from Democratic heavy hitters like Terry McAuliffe (former DNC chairman and Hillary Clinton campaign manager) and other high-ranking elected officials in Virginia I had access to at the time.
Fast forward to the present state of our dismal economy, the frightening and deadly anti-American sentiment growing in the Middle East, the uptick in domestic terrorism and the ruminations of Obama administration choices gone awry — including the debacle of the U.S. attorney general’s bungling of Operation Fast and Furious, the downgrading of America’s AAA bond rating and Obama’s recent executive order delaying deportation of illegal immigrants (now eligible to compete for American jobs) — it’s obvious to me the change Obama promised isn’t the kind of change our country can withstand much longer.
While I admire Obama’s repeated fawning about how he eats dinner with his family “every night at 6:30 p.m.,” he doesn’t appear as dedicated as he once claimed to building bipartisan relationships in Congress, as noted in the book “The Obamas” by Jodi Kantor.
Further, during his recent trip to New York to address the United Nations General Assembly, the president made time to appear on “The David Letterman Show” and hang out with the ladies of “The View,” while declining a request to meet with our important U.S. ally, Israel, and skipping out after his U.N. visit without taking the time to host meetings with crucial countries like Egypt and Libya, where our U.S. ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans were recently killed in what appears to be a premeditated attack intended to correspond with the anniversary of 9/11. Yes, I’ll give the president credit for “getting Osama bin Laden,” but now comes word he’d been warned about the lack of acceptable security at the embassy where the attack just took place.
Then there’s also the film “2016: Obama’s America.” In the movie, the film’s moderator, Dinesh D’Souza – a controversial conservative — presents a compelling case in defining President Obama’s anti-colonial views as ideals inherited from childhood and his parents and as the driving force behind Obama’s internal machinations and conflicted American compass. The most startling and troubling detail revealed in the film is Obama’s fatherly relationship with the self-proclaimed communist Frank Marshall Davis, who remained on the country’s FBI watch list until his death. This same man was also a collaborator with Obama adviser Valarie Jarrett’s family, working with both her grandfather, Robert Taylor, and her father-in-law, Vernon Jarrett. I met Valerie Jarrett in D.C. this past March and found her less than pleasant.
So, let me just say that as I listened to Obama at BGSU on Sept. 26, I really, really wanted to hear from a changed man – a servant-leader I could trust with my patriotism and love of country. Unfortunately, I didn’t see enough change I could believe in.
I then raced up I-75 to Downtown Toledo with great anticipation to attend Gov. Romney’s campaign rally. Acutely aware of my concerns about his Bain Capital days (when outsourcing American jobs was company sport), I did my best to remain open-minded, while giving the creator of the universal health care plan in Massachusetts — who now vows to repeal “Obamacare” — the benefit of the doubt.
As I arrived at the rally, I was dwarfed by the humongous national debt scoreboard that serves as the interactive reminder of the fiscal crisis plaguing and threatening our country. As I listened to Romney speak, I also wondered what his true and consistent beliefs are with regards to reproductive rights for women. He never really cleared that up for me. Then, of course, there is the minor issue that he’d be our first Mormon president. I know too much about the successful Broadway play, “The Book of Mormon,” not to be a little bit curious about that fact.
It also strikes me this is the first presidential election in my lifetime where prior service in the military is a nonissue and it’s taking me some time to adjust to that.
And so, my “Decidedly Undecided” tour wrapped without a verdict or strong conviction, leaving me still undecided. Plan B will now take effect, as I count the days until the first presidential debate scheduled for Oct. 3.
While I consider both President Obama and Gov. Romney awesome Americans whom I admire as great family men willing to accept the extreme hardship of unrelenting scrutiny – thus far, neither seems to generate for me that indescribable spark, that feeling you get when you just know you’ve met the one.
Julia Torres Barden is a graduate of the Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership at the University of Virginia and the Minority Political Leadership Institute at Virginia Commonwealth University. She has worked with corporate media, public relations, nonprofit organizations and advocacy groups for more than 25 years. She is currently a freelance writer living in Toledo.