Those of you who know me, know that I'm British. Which means that no, I'm not from around these parts.
This election though, I'm watching closely. If the Republicans win, I'm seriously considering leaving. And I love the USA - I've lived here for over a decade now. I never wanted to leave. But I'm really seriously considering it.
No, honestly, this picture is almost relevant...
I was just watching Mythbusters (see, I said the picture was almost relevant), and a McCain campaign ad came on, showing a regular family, and claiming that Obama and his liberal allies will increase their income tax.
"Obama and his liberal allies promise higher taxes on your income, life savings, your electric bill. They oppose offshore drilling. It's not change - it's more of the same."
Yes, Obama promises higher taxes on your income - if you earn more than $250,000 a year. If you don't, you will pay less taxes on your income than you would under McCain. Frankly, if you're making more than $250,000 a year, you can afford a bit of a hike. Under the current recession, everyone else can't.
Life savings? WTF? Are you kidding me? Your life savings aren't taxed. Interest on them is counted as income - which unless you're earning more than $250,000 a year will be less under Obama than McCain. But wait... what if they're talking about 401(k) plans? Surely those will have issues? After all, he's planning on reversing the Bush tax cuts on Capital Gains.
No. 401(k) plans are not taxed as capital gains when you withdraw money. They're taxed as ordinary income, which will be taxed lower under Obama than McCain.
Higher electricity bills? Not heard that one before. It would be nice to see why they think that though; Obama has a 10 year plan to move the US over to non-fossil fuel energy sources. (Finally! A president who might actually fund fusion research, unlike Bush who decimated funding for it). I live in Seattle. We have cheaper electricity here than most places in the US. Why? Because it nearly all comes from hydroelectric power.
Offshore drilling? Who cares. We wouldn't see the results for another 10 years. Also, see the previous paragraph.
I am sick of all the lying. I'm sick of the way every part of the media except the Daily Show is complicit with the establishment, and has no principles. I'm sick of the propoganda. I'm sick of backroom deals being made that make companies like Dick Cheney's Haliburton billions of dollars off the back of an illegal war. I'm sick of the Republican voting bloc being too stupid to realize when they're getting promised one thing, and fleeced at the same time. I'm sick of high health insurance rates from companies who then deliberately stall on providing payments to Doctors, and attempt to charge you first, in the hope that you'll pay out instead of them fulfilling their part of the contract.
I'm sick of feeling like a conspiracy theorist nutball. I'm sick of feeling like a complete and total Old Labor socialist. I'm sick of actually seriously considering going out and buying guns because I'm worried that the next step for this country is going to be a class-based civil war. I'm sick of the racism I see in a country that has only had the smarts to allow black people to vote for about 40 years (the UK has never had any laws against black people voting; the Magna Carta back ... ooh... about 1,000 years ago cleared all that up. Of course, for a long time, you had to be part of the landed gentry to vote, but we fixed that a while back too).
I didn't come to this country for that. I certainly didn't stay here for it, and I've seen everything I admired about it torn apart more and more over the last 8 years.
What can we do to change it?
Firstly, let's hold the media accountable. That would be a good start. That fourth estate thing? It only works when the media itself is creditable, and not in the pockets of the interests they're reporting on.
Let's roll back the equal-time requirements, so that the media is not allowed to be one-sided. The UK has strict rules on this in the hope that you can't turn the whole system into a propoganda machine. Does it work? Not entirely. But it works better than here.
Let's tighten the libel and slander laws in this country, so that campaign ads that are deliberately misleading or just plain out lying are illegal. I know that there's freedom of speech issues here, but people running for election should not be allowed to lie about their opponents. I'd be happy for it only to apply to political campaign ads. And not just the ones put out by the parties either - no more swift boating. If it's a political ad, you get held accountable, period.
Let's make it illegal for politicians to take money or bribes from sponsors of any kind. Pay them a solid living wage - the median for the country (I might be convinced to go higher... but no more than $140,000 a year for the president).
Let's remind them that they're not in this for themselves. They're our elected representatives, and they work for us. Going into Government should be a duty, an honor, and a privilege - and they must never forget that they work for us, the people. Not for special interests, corporations, or their own pockets.
I swear, I feel like I'm living in 1960s Russia right now. Something is wrong with this country. I fought hard for the right to live here... I don't want to be forced to question the wisdom of that.
Simon Cooke is an occasional video game developer, ex-freelance journalist, screenwriter, film-maker, musician, and software engineer in Seattle, WA.
The views posted on this blog are his and his alone, and have no relation to anything he's working on, his employer, or anything else and are not an official statement of any kind by them (and barely even one by him most of the time).