An open letter to the Presidential candidates

Dear President Obama and Governor Romney,

I’ve cut short my watching of your debate and I probably will not watch the remaining two. While our country is more polarized than perhaps it has been since the Civil War, I find that my disillusionment with both of you is equal.

When you talk about classes in the United States, you talk about those poor people who make $250,000 or under and then people who have done “very well for themselves” like you both have. I do not see that you understand what happens at wage levels below $250,000. There is a world of economic levels under that bar. There is the level at which I once lived, when I had to forego hot dogs for Memorial Day because I couldn’t afford both the hot dogs and the buns. There’s the level I and many people I know inhabit, grateful but not necessarily comfortable. There are people who have nothing at all. To me, $250,000 would be a massive life change for the better. To me, $250,000 is “doing very well.” You are not talking to me.

You both talk about the creation of jobs but you do not acknowledge that the times have changed. Many of the manufacturing jobs will NOT be replaced because automated programming has replaced the need for trained machinists. Customer service jobs have been outsourced or have been replaced by social media. People who have been out of work have tuned into social media gurus who have sold them snake oil sold in a bottle labeled “Fake it till you make it.” I’m not sure either of you have any idea what any of that is all about. You are not talking to me.

You both toss about the term “pre-existing condition” as if it was just words. Do you understand what that means? I could tell you. Many people I know could tell you. Pre-existing condition is a great way for insurance companies to label you as risky. It’s a great way for them to charge you more. It’s a great crutch the healthcare industry uses to get you on more medication and to get you to more appointments because your health is at more risk than the “normal” person. If you are not wealthy, you can end up doing things like cutting pills in half to make them last longer. Do either of you have any experience with that kind of scenario? You are not talking to me.

Gentlemen, I am not yet 35 years old. When you talk about “younger people” needing to approach medicare in new ways, you reference people in their mid-fifties. You assure the American people that current retirees are fine. What about me? What about my generation? You might remember us as the generation who had to leap into jobs six months after graduation because our college loans started coming due. We started our adult lives deep in debt. Your plan extends to kind of cover people who are ten years away (maybe, if they’re lucky) away from retirement. Do you not have any plan for me? Is it just assumed I will have nothing to cushion me in my old age? You are not talking to me.

You equate Donald Trump to a small business. My family owns a small business, sir candidates. I can tell you about the vast chasm that separates our reality from that of Donald Trump. But if something like that needs to be explained, you simply don’t get it. Neither of you. You are not talking to me.

Your words may be pretty, your faces may be splattered with smug smiles, and you might enjoy, Mr. Romney, telling Jim Lehrer all about how you want to cut funding to his PBS employer. But you both lost me and my confidence tonight. Both of you. If I was not a woman, had women before me not fought and been ostracized for the right to vote, I would simply skip the privilege of going into the voting booth. I am left bereft of hope for my future after this debate, gentlemen. Whomever of you wins will take me nearly to my 40th year of life, and you are not talking to me.

A leader must understand, in my opinion, the people he or she is leading. Not just the people who attend the $50,000/plate dinners. All of the people. Even scumbags like me who go to work every day, 7:30-5, who don’t have fancy cars or more than two rooms to my name. I’m one of the people you’re supposed to touch with your ideas. And your touch has done nothing but left me cold.

You should have been talking to me.

You should both be ashamed of yourselves.

Image Credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/jeannerene/4907249541/ via Creative Commons

20 comments
gagasgarden
gagasgarden

Margie,

Neither of the candidates are talking to me either. Having worked my entire life outside the home and raising children, I also took care of my mother as she battled inflammatory breast cancer for 10 valiant years. My 401(k), and IRA took so many hits during these years that profligates & wastrels ran our government that like many it's been decimated. Now if one will need what theses out of touch politicians declare as "entitlements" spat out of their mouths like we are a pariah on society we are made to feel like 2nd class citizens. I care about the future because I watched as corporations circled the wagons on their compensation packages and refused to hire and pay younger people any type of wage that they can prepare for their future. I might add some of those companies were taken over by genX that have an even more carefully crafted greediness. I care about social security and Medicare for you and my children. Margie most Americans are a job away from not being able to make it whether they make 40k or 250k. Both candidates are out of touch with real life in America. I usually vote for smaller government only because I believe most of the elected officials now are in it to win it for themselves.

In the same boat,

Yours Truly,

Susan

 

jan de graaf
jan de graaf

Agree with you "To me, $250,000 is “doing very well.” You are not talking to me." I really can't understand how they see $250,000 as not doing well.

Latest blog post: audi occassion

gingerconsult
gingerconsult

I watched the debate, Margie. I felt that one candidate was more presidential than the other - and I agree we are a nation that is very divided. The vitriol and anger that was express in social media during and after the debate made it apparent that this country needs a President who will heal the wounds and gaps that become apparent in the last 4 years. We need to come back together as a nation that works as one united front, but sadly, I see this country more fractured than ever before.

susansilver
susansilver

I don't often express my politics, but I am with you here Margie. My heart breaks every day. I am an overly sensitive person, but it doesn't take much to see how people are suffering. Romney and Obama are out of touch with what the average experience is for Americans. You can't get that from data. You have to live it. 

 

I am so unsure of what to do in November. I don't want to abdicate my choice nor do I want to endorse a candidate who is simply the lesser of two evils.

ginidietrich
ginidietrich

When the Donald Trump as a small business reference was made is when I turned it off. Last year, when Congress couldn't agree on what to do with the credit crisis, I experienced something, as a business owner, I hope I never have to go through again. Because it was at the tail end of the worst economic crisis our country has seen since the Great Depression, clients halted payments. For four months. We went four months without a single dime coming into the organization. You know how I made payroll? I offered my speaking fees at a huge discount if conference organizers paid me upfront. And I didn't take a salary last year. Not one penny came out of the business for me. I was working my butt off to save the company because Congress couldn't figure out what to do with our debt and all business leaders were so scared, they were holding on to their cash.

 

Sure, I made a lot of mistakes. I'll never again rely on accounts receivables to pay our bills. This year I've been totally focused on saving enough money to cover expenses for six months. I'd feel better if I could get it to a year's worth. I learned a lot from that experience, including not to trust the government to do what's best for Main Street.

 

No, they're not talking to us. 

Faryna
Faryna

Let the presidential candidates eat cake!

Hajra
Hajra

This is the first time I am watching the US Presidential elections so closely. Though I am still having a tough time grasping many things I like the way in which you put the consumers opinion to the forefront. Not many "leaders" think that way. I do hope they read this.... ;)

barrettrossie
barrettrossie

Margie: That's a great lesson in knowing your audience. Or maybe, not knowing it. Politics has a lot in common with marketing in general.  Like a lot of companies, I think both candidates could do a lot better job of understanding the point of view of the vast majority and explain their positions in plain language and in ways that are relevant. They'd be easier to understand and it might even be good for their business.  

OptioneerJM1
OptioneerJM1

I watched the debate even though I'm Canadian Margie.  Why? We are similar, yet different, we Canadians from our American cousins.  However, we share the same concerns:  eductiona, health care, jobs, economy. 

 

Personally, I believe those concerns and beliefs are not restricted to one country.  However, America has been a leader in many areas like technology, freedom, patrotism, and so on.  Yet, very few countries are as outspoken! 

 

To speak in metaphores:  if the US were the hands down front runner to be the Prom Queen and she fell into a puddle of mud, the surrounding people would not be sure whether to laugh or cry or feel her mortification.  Few would be leaning forward to observe whether she would just hold her head up high and carry on, or decide immediately that with all the mud she should still be a contender for the crown any longer.

 

Look at Canada and the US -- where the US has always been the Bride and Canada the Bridesmaid.  We have some government regulations that many American consider socialism.  When you start to do side by side comparisons,  our universal health care is far from perfect and the waits are long.  But last week, I was in emergency for laryngitis having trouble breathing seated next to a woman and her teen daughter.  The mom was dripping in diamonds and the daughter had a bite that had swelled.  It was normal for we Cdns -- she was obviously more affluent (in the $250K above category) and some may have considered my need greater.   Yet due to our system, we both went in to the same queue and obtained equal level of health care.  I don't think you could describe "universal" more than that.

 

Our banks are regulated, yet make the most money, higher profits than any other singular industry in Canada, a head of the very close oil industries.

 

Lingering back to the Prom Queen ... I hope she has a friend like Canada does to the US ... one who will have a hanky close by to help remove the mudd, to allow the Prom Queen to take her crown ... or the Bride her day. 

 

I watch the debates and US election with interest.  There is much to be learned.  I was somewhat embarrassed for both participants and didn't agree that it was a landslide.  Definitely concluded that it is far easier to criticize what the encumbent has done and say how much better you'll do.  I also feel that Obama has done an amazing job after being handed a mess.  The irony of Republicans criticizing Democratsis astounding to me simply because the Republics were handed a clean slate when they were voted in, the same can't be said of Obama.  Frankly, Romney appears to be more Canada-friendly in that looking for the Keystone to proceed would benefit both countries, especially the province I live in.

 

I'm just glad I don't have to vote .... but as usual, and like many Canadians, we will continue to watch the elections, debates, media coverage -- it beats any reality TV show!

 

samfiorella
samfiorella

I hear you Margie. I watched the entire debate this evening and at no time did I ever get the sense that they were talking to the average American.  There was a disconnect between their discourse and the discourse of 'everyday Americans" as there is a disconnect between the mandates of the political parties and the realities of everyday Americans.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

 @gingerconsult yeah, there is a lot of tension in this country, no question. I find it odd that people blame that on Obama though. I think things were just as fractured when the Democrats had Congress and Bush was in the White House. It wasn't Obama's idea to spit on people in the opposition as was done down in..was it Georgia, I think? At some point, everybody needs to take responsibility for the vitriol. Posting memes to Facebook without thinking about what you are really saying - that's one huge jar of fuel being added to the fire in my opinion. I think it's getting too easy to sound off before actually thinking about what it is you're saying. That is a problem that plagues everyone, regardless of party or income level.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

 @susansilver It's a very uncomfortable situation. I was not real sure of Obama back in 2008 - I was really torn between him and Hillary (we're not going to talk about the fact that I originally liked Edwards because WOW is he a scumbag). When Obama was elected I got washed up in the optimism and excitement that surrounded what still is a great moment in American history. But you don't get to win the war just cuz you made history, unfortunately. In the end, Obama is another rich dude, and I just don't think he truly is aware of what most people in this country are about on a day-to-day basis. And I think Romney is even more clueless. It's a sad state of affairs indeed.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

 @ginidietrich I can't believe you had to go through that, Gini. That is just crazy. 

 

We watched a lot of clients get victimized by the economic fall-out, even with the torturous process of getting promised a sale and then the sale not going through because the banks were locked up. 

 

I often say that one of the best experiences I ever had was that moment where I couldn't afford both hot dogs and hot dog buns. I think everyone needs to experience some kind of moment like that, and I certainly think our leaders should. Until you're faced with a moment where you're kind of wondering how you're going to stay afloat economically, you can't really understand that clammy feeling you get every time you think about your bills coming due. 

 

Not long ago T. Boone Pickens said that he would trade places with anyone, walk into their lives, and make the same amount of money he has now, no matter what they were doing. I'd LOVE to see that happen. Why? I don't think he has any real idea what "normal" people have to experience. I'd love to see that moment of awakening in a lot of people who flap their jaws about stuff they clearly don't know about. 

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

 @barrettrossie That's a great point and a great analogy. The candidates, to me, are like the company that does nothing but post press releases to its blog site. At first it might be interesting to see what they're up to, but after awhile you think, "Huh. It doesn't even matter if I come by and read or not. They're going to keep on posting stuff, and they don't really care if anyone likes what they're saying."

 

I think both candidates are at that point. They seem so intent on winning that they are forgetting the people they actually would be leading if they win. Which seems pretty silly, if you ask me.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

 @OptioneerJM1 I love your prom queen analogy. I think, unfortunately, that the US has gotten the idea that we are the best country in the world just cuz. We have a real ego about us but factually, most of the world thinks we're kind of scumbags. Did you know when an American visits Europe we tell each other to pretend we're Canadian so people don't assume we're loud, ignorant jerks? :)

 

I'm not sure what the answer to the healthcare conundrum is, but I know that neither of these men are thinking about my generation. No offense but if 54 is young I'm in some SERIOUS trouble. We're barely thinking about people who are ten years (maybe) away from retirement - man, I'm not even on the radar. I find that pretty scary.

 

I talked to my mom about this and she said my generation simply doesn't squawk enough. That's possible. We don't have a Generation X equivalent to the AARP. Maybe we need one.

margieclayman
margieclayman moderator

 @samfiorella Thanks Sam. I'm glad to know I wasn't just seeing things, although actually I kind of do wish that was the case, now that I think about it.

gingerconsult
gingerconsult

 @margieclayman I agree - both sides have factions that are speaking without thinking on social media. I have to agree with one person - whom I won't out here who said they gain respect for many and lost respect for a lot on the night of the election in their twitter stream by watching the comments stream by - I felt the same. I had to cut out a lot of folks due to their lack of self control with their comments on the night of the debate. Not that I do not feel you have the right to free speech, but I have the right to not partake in the discussion. Politics is the third rail in business - and there is a time and place for the discussion, IMO.