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As I begin my new column, the television is showing Anderson Cooper standing waist deep in flood water reporting on the fate of property and the thousands that did not heed the call to evacuate. Hurricane Ike's landfall is now history. Its aftermath isn't. Again, millions more are without power joining others still in heat and darkness as a result of Gustav ravaging at the time of my last column here. Again, thousands more are homeless, and many lives are again in shambles. Billions of dollars in damage will add yet another burden on public emergency services, and yet another dredge on the economy's already crippling deficit.  

Thirteen of the Nation's refineries are shut down and gas prices are threatening to soar once again. Food prices will soon follow as fuel costs increase. Again, insurance rates will threaten to rise for those in areas of risk already strained to meet them. It is, definitely, a trickle down effect. But, as the ponderer that I am, I'm also very realistic. In a week, this latest crisis will take a back seat to a new story, new headlines, or a new crisis. This isn't my opinion; it's simple fact.  

Within a few days, we'll all be caught up, again, in the rhetoric of the ongoing political campaign. Both candidates will jump at the chance to voice their concern for the victims, quickly moving on to the future and all their solutions to the Planet's catastrophes. It's the American way. But what really is our future? Not just as one nation on the globe, but as a citizen on a shared Planet? I think it’s time to speak out.

If one regards our nation as a world leader, a light for freedom and example built on the principles of a founding constitution that sets us apart, isn't it also our responsibility to know the basic workings of that Planet, that world, and our founding document? Is it not our responsibility to question thoroughly before casting a vote for the carrying out of the policies we embrace in making America that leader and that light unto the world?

Do we need to diligently seek alternative energy or will more drilling off shore alleviate our energy problems? It is necessary to invoke personal faith in the legislation that affects all of us? Is religion a choice of family or should it be dictated by law? What does our constitution say on the matter? Can morality be legislated? It is the responsibility of parents to teach and mold their children's character, or is that the job of curriculum in public education?

Do we, as a powerful nation have the right to dictate the mores and values of other cultures with force or tyranny? Or do we influence human dignity through example and a helping hand? Do we defend our shores and our citizens with strong policies and adequate national defense, or do we show our might through preemptive strikes and threats? What does the constitution say about that role of government? Do we negotiate through global organizations of allies or do we occupy and coerce with permanent military bases in foreign lands? Do our corporations and businesses participate in a fair and equitable global trade or do they look only at profit for shareholders while hiding behind tax breaks under the ruse of providing an expanding job base?  

Do we, as cohabitants in a realm requiring biological diversity, have the right to slaughter other species in the name of progress, profit or sport? Should our right to cast a vote override our responsibility to vote based on real issues not on personal passions, political rhetoric and spin, religious beliefs? And now, race, gender or even age? What should be more important to me personally, the fact that I am a thinking, liberated woman or that although the new Vice Presidential nominee is also a woman, she stands for everything that goes against what even represents good common sense?

Should my enthusiasm for feminist equality and respect include voting for someone who is in favor of banning a list of books including works of Shakespeare and Steinbeck while claiming global warming is a myth? Who would thwart family planning and the use of condoms in a world of explosive population and poverty and sexually transmitted disease, and yet claim that is a 'pro-life' stance? Who promotes shooting defenseless creatures from airplanes as a great tourist attraction for trophy hunters? Who honestly believes being able to see across the Bering Strait constitutes sound foreign policy experience? Who would promote more offshore drilling, more tax credits to oil companies while that happens to be her state's most abundant energy resource and her husband's employer? All the while watching the nation's refineries sputter in darkness along the Gulf Coast as Anderson Cooper stands in waist deep water amidst the destruction?  

Should I trust that serving as a mayor of a town with a population of 7,000, whose biggest contribution was a sports complex, gives a woman the right to belittle the capabilities a man who worked for years in community organizing in a hurting urban neighborhood with a population larger than the entire state of Alaska? Not the entire city of Chicago, but just the neighborhood! As a former resident of the city of Chicago, I can assure anyone that was no easy task free of responsibility for anyone who'd made such a commitment without benefit of public office. That took dedication, courage and an abundance of 'smarts'.
Should I trust a candidate based on securing a governorship which is already being investigated for improper use of power in the first term? Should I trust someone saying they want change and an end to lobbying earmarks when her state is in line for more of such earmarks than any other? Including one to  study the reproductive habits of a crab while at the same time, damning the scientific education of children in schools?  I'm supposed to trust this choice simply because she's a mom and dons the occasional 'skirt' in lieu of a parka and an ammunition belt? If being a mom, holding down a career, and as a widow, being no stranger to hardship, running a household, balancing a budget, prioritizing spending, being an outdoorsy-type woman with a close proximity to a foreign border,  and having a penchant for human rights and equality equates to having the qualifications and experience suitable for occupying the white house, I'd daresay I'm, as well as many of you are, much more qualified than Mrs. Palin.

Too, I wonder, if I should trust a man who after months of negating his opponent's worth due to lack of experience and his audacity in claiming a better plan and a new hope and change for America, then turned around and blatantly pandered to me, a woman, with his choice of a running mate with even less.

A few days ago, I was absorbing the energy of a majestic Coastal Redwood forest in beautiful northern California. It really made me truly realize just what is at stake here. This election quite possibly may be the most important decision we've had to make in a long time. There is no room for politics as usual, only a clear understanding of the passing into not just a relatively new 21st Century, but a new Millennia. Old loyalties, old mindsets, even our passionate personal beliefs simply will not save us in a whole new era. That's not opinion, girls, that's fact.            

Susan Haley, Author
RAINY DAY PEOPLE – A Novel
FIBERS IN THE WEB



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Member Comments

    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Midnightmom wrote Sep 13, 2008
    • I find it Completely incomprehensible that McCain chose Palin as his running mate. My first thought was ‘good’ with a chuckle. McCain must Want to lose - or, this would clinch a loss. Then I hear and see that the Republican party wholeheartedly supports her - even though she could be a heartbeat away from the presidency!!  

      Can you imagine that? I mean Really imagine that? What are they thinking? NOT!

      The most unbelievable thing to me, though, is that he did this to reel in the votes of women, as if we women only want a woman (anatomically speaking) no matter what kind of person she is. I find that completely Insulting! Come on!  

      Great article!



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Lois Stern & Patty Kovacs wrote Sep 14, 2008
    • Susan,

      All I can say is Ah_men. Of all your wonderfully thought proovoking columns, this one is the Best. I am sending it to one of my staunt Republican friends right now.

      Keep up your fantastic work.

      Lois W. Stern
      Beauty Expert for Fabulously 40
      Author of SEX, LIES AND COSMETIC SURGERY



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Sep 14, 2008
    • Hey Su!..you go get‘em Girl!......

      Wonderful column....you’ve done the trees justice....

      You spread the mulch yet?

      happy
      T & Co.

      ****Mystery solved! I was surprised to see this comment posted by my friend in California with MY name and logo. Kind of scary, actually, and I contacted him. Then, we discovered how it happened. As I had used his computer to access my ‘account’ while out there last week, it ‘remembered’ me and posted as me. A word of caution: When using computers other than your own, be sure to close and sign out of all access accounts when you finish!!  

      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Susan Haley wrote Sep 14, 2008
    • ??? I didn’t write this but thanks to “T” anyway. :))

      Susan



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Suzann wrote Sep 14, 2008
    • Susan, I am grateful you are writing, and I am so grateful for your talent. The questions you ask, the observations you make, all are completely on point. I, too, think this is the most important election our country will ever have. I pray that as Americans we do go back to the Constitution, re-read it, and then vote with our intellect and not our emotions.

      Keep up the great work.

      Suzann



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    • 0 votes vote up vote up

      Almostfive0 wrote Oct 12, 2008
    • How is it I missed your article?! Thank you for posting such and insightful and truthful piece. I appreciate and feel everything you said and pray that more people will wake up and realize that this election is not only one of the most, if not the most, important in our history as a nation but it may well be the most important of this planet.
      People need to put aside petty, tired and old beliefs, stop arguing about things that don’t really matter in the big picture and judging people based on whether or not they wear a flag pin on their lapel.
      This is the kind of insanity that keeps us from becoming the nation that we can all be proud to be citizens of and keeps us from focusing on doing what we need to do to take care of this planet.
      Peace.



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