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November 03, 2008

Why I Want Obama for My Daughters -- and My Country

1 Parenting magazine recently did a fun little survey asking which candidate you'd trust to babysit your kids. The outcome? One I'd love to see on Tuesday -- a 61 percent victory for Barack Obama. I honestly believe that, even if I were a Republican, I would still choose Obama over McCain in this election, for the sake of my girls and our country. Here's why:

1. I want them to be safe.

I don't want my daughters to be the first generation of women drafted into war. I was against the Iraq War from the start, and so was Barack Obama. John McCain, who served his country bravely in Vietnam, seems to see Iraq as a do-over for that war. He's determined to stay in Iraq until he "wins." It took 18 years and 58,000 American lives for the United States to figure out that Vietnam was unwinnable.

I also want a government that will protect their health and safety. Under eight years of Bush, we have seen one government agency after another eroded until powerless -- and disasters have cropped up on all sides. The Food and Drug Administration was shaved, and we suffered outbreaks of E. coli and Mad Cow disease. The Consumer Product Safety Commission was stripped, and we had babies dying unnecessarily because lethal cribs were left on the market after authorities knew about them. Then there have been Bush's industry-friendly appointees leading agencies that are supposed to fight for consumers, not industry. I don't want my children to be the next victims of a natural disaster because another friend-of-the-administration political appointee drops the ball. They will already suffer because of the disaster in the deregulated financial market. It's very clear which candidate prides himself on being a deregulator.

I also know that Obama is the candidate most committed to ending global warming, who will not put the demands of corporations ahead of the needs of people like us who need this planet for living on. I've been changing my ways to combat global warming, but I want an Obama administration to lead us into a a greener future.

2. I want them to be healthy.

The most striking difference between the two presidential candidates is in health care. Both recognize that the American health care system is broken -- we pay more than any other nation for worse results. McCain's plan seeks to change the health care system by dismantling it -- by taxing employer health benefits and encouraging individuals to shop around, he will weaken the employer-based system and add 5 million people to the uninsured, according to the journal Health Affairs. Obama, by contrast, would build on the employer-based health insurance system, making the premiums more affordable and filling in the gaps to work toward an America where everyone is covered.

A lot of Democratic campaign literature, like Obama's half-hour TV spot last week, focus on the plight of the working poor. My family is not poor, we are middle-income, regular people. We have done what we can to cushion our family from possible hard times. And yet, McCain's health plan scares the heck out of me, not just for the uninsured -- for whom we end up paying when they turn to emergency rooms for needed care -- but for us.

It's a tough economy out there. My husband, a software developer, worries about losing his job. If that happens, suppose he is lucky enough to get another job within a few months. I am pregnant. I have no guarantee that the health carrier at my husband's new employer would accept me with the "pre-existing condition" of pregnancy. And what about my daughter's asthma? Obama promises to stop insurance companies from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions, but McCain does not. Suppose McCain's taxation of work-based health benefits had already taken effect, and my husband's new employer decided to just stop offering health coverage. Would I be able to find an insurance company willing to cover my delivery? What if I need a cesarian section or other expensive intervention?

Now, I know that even if Obama does win, any changes in health care policy would come too late for me and my current pregnancy. But do not want my daughters to grow up to work as hard as we do and still worry about losing everything to a health crisis.

The details of the plans aside, I have confidence that Obama is the candidate who cares more about families' health. This became crystal clear during the final debate. Listen to Obama reach for common ground on reducing abortions. Then listen to the derision with which McCain mentions "the mother's health," and watch those now-infamous air quotes. Pro-life or pro-choice,  I think most people can pick out, from that exchange, which man really cares about the health of American women AND their children.

3. I want them to be inspired.

I grew up in a cynical time -- the Reagan '80s. The atmosphere was a shrug and a sigh -- there's a trillion-dollar deficit, but we're all going to get nuked anyway so who cares? I envied the heady politican atmosphere in which my parents grew up, with their Bobby Kennedy and Martin Luther King Jr. I want it to turn out better this time, so much better.

I want my little girls to grow up hearing that yes, they can. I want a leader who will challenge them to serve their communties and change the world, and Obama will do that. Obama is a great role model -- I'd be so proud to see any kid of mine get an Ivy League education and then work as a community organizer and a civil rights lawyer. There are good reasons that Republicans are crossing party lines to support Obama; these are the best.

So, Nutmeg, Pebbles, and You, That Tiny Embryo Inside Me: This one's for you. You'll be in the booth with me on Tuesday when I vote for Barack Obama, and that's as it should be, because everything I'm hoping for in this election, I'm hoping for you.

Original Chicago Moms Blog post. When she's not phonebanking from home, Carrie Kirby blogs at My Funny, Funny Family and Shoplifting With Permission. Photo by Philgarlic.

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