Tag Archives: Paul Ryan

I’m Coming Out of the Closet

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No, not THAT closet. The closet in my front hallway, which is where I like to hide out when propaganda-laden neighbors try to beat down the front door and my kids come home from school.

You think you’ve got it hard? Try living in a subdivision where only .00019387% of the residents support your candidate. It’s like The Hunger Games around here just trying to put up a lawn sign.

Katniss Everdeen’s got nothing on me when I’m putting an Obama bumper sticker on my car. (Image via the fantasy dreamlike sequences that often invade my brain.)

Colorado’s electoral votes may be up from grabs today, but everyone knows that’s based largely on the growing prison population in Canon City and all of those weirdos who live in Boulder.

“What? I’m at a college football game? I thought this was an Obama rally!” (Image via some lady in Boulder sitting next to me at a college football game.)

Out here in suburban Utopia, where unicorns fly children to school every day and teachers would rather be paid in happy face stamps than cash, things look a little different. 

That’s my neighbor, taking a little joy ride in his Gulf Stream C-37. (Image via my unsuspecting neighbor, who didn’t know I took this picture, but would nevertheless approve this message.)

So at the risk of having my house egged, TP’d, and someone stealing the limited edition Barack Obama bobblehead doll I have buried upside down in the front yard for good luck, I’m coming out of the closet. Someone has to be the voice of reason around here, and since the other three Democrats in the neighborhood are riding out the election in their state-of-the-art political fallout shelter/wine cellars, I’m stepping up to the plate.

Who cares who wins the election? I’m getting tanked down here! (Image via someone with a lot of cash.)

Why I’m Voting For Barack Obama:

1. As much as I like to talk about my big balls I was, in fact, born with a vagina. 

2. Contrary to what liberal-leaning Supreme Court Justices want you to believe, Ruth Bader Ginsburg may in fact be nothing more than the airbrushed image of her former self. According to someone on the radio who sounds a lot like Rush Limbaugh, Tupac and Justice Ginsburg are the two most famous holograms ever to appear at the Coachella Music Festival.

Tupac’s from Kenya too, right?

3. Because Donald Trump isn’t.

4. Since I was blessed with a vagina at birth, I want it to be happy.

That’s my vagina after two margaritas. OK, that’s not really mine, but isn’t it cute?

 

5. Because I believe in giving back. Take for instance, my neighbor down the street with the ginormous Romney sign tattooed onto the back window of his A8. He’s a retired CFO who works at H&R Block four months out of the year and then collects unemployment benefits to cover utilities and taxes for his beach house. He’s too busy customizing the shaft of his seven-iron to even realize he’s part of the 47%!

I found this by googling “Old guy swinging golf club.” I’m serious. Try it. (Image via guardian.co.uk.)

6. I’m voting for Barack Obama in honor of my mom. As a teacher, principal, and VP for a non-profit family literacy organization, she chose a career of service rather than one lined with stock options. Even though she could have set me up with a sweet trust fund, and instead gave me, like, a college education (whatevs!), gravity dictates that the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree.

Don’t mess with my mom.

And for all of my well-intended Republican friends who are plotting to take me to lunch this afternoon and slip me a ruffie so I can’t make it to the polls? Too late. Just like you, I’ve already cast my vote.

So that’s it. I’m out in the open, and even though I’ve now put my life into your hands, I’m not worried. My uber-supportive husband picked up an awesome disguise at the WalMart after-Halloween sale last week so I can leave the house unharmed.

My husband knows a patriot when he sees one. (Image via victoriassecret.com)

Did My Words Help Ann Romney Connect With Women At The Republican National Convention?

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In her speech last night, Ann Romney passionately claimed an ability to hear the voices of women around the nation. Is it possible, as she worked through the chatter of children, careers, and the background noise of everyday life, that she somehow picked up mine?

On August 13, 2012, I wrote a piece asking Paul Ryan to pay particular attention to the distinct and powerful voices of women around the country as he took a huge leap onto a national stage. Something about my post struck a chord, and it became the most popular essay I’ve ever written. Over 10,000 people read it, and hundreds more took the time to share their thoughts on my blog, via Facebook, and through texts and emails. As a fairly new writer trying to find my way through the daily ebb and flow of millions of words, I was happy to have written something that seemed to matter, even if only on a small scale.

Surrounded this morning by the same chatter of children, careers, and background noise of everyday life that Mrs. Romney successfully navigated to reach her target audience, I heard a brief clip of her speech on T.V. Something about it made me stop in the middle of a moment and pay closer attention, and unfortunately, it wasn’t the message that caught my ear. If there’s such a thing as peripheral hearing, mine kicked into gear, and I honed in on phrases that seemed eerily similar to those I recently wrote.

Mrs. Romney’s Speech:

“And the working moms who love their jobs, but would like to work just a little less to spend more time with the kids…”

My Letter to Paul Ryan:

“As mothers and wives, we’re often the emotional backbone as well as a financial anchor for our families. What we earn in a paycheck we give back in time spent away from our children.”

Mrs. Romney’s Speech:

“It’s the moms of this nation, single, married, widowed, who really hold the country together.”

My Letter to Paul Ryan:

“We’re married, divorced, widowed, and single…We’re smart, dedicated, and we care about the future of our country.”

Mrs. Romney’s Speech:

“We’re the mothers. We’re the wives. We’re the grandmothers. We’re the big sisters. We’re the little sisters and we are the daughters.”

My Letter to Paul Ryan:

“I’m a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a friend.”

There’s a lot of heated dialogue floating around at the moment, from the corridors of our nation’s political leaders to the kitchen tables of family and friends. Within those conversations, important words like integrity, honesty, responsibility, and trust are repeated and consumed. When I write, and more importantly, when I read others’ work, those exact words are at the forefront of my mind.

I know Ann Romney didn’t write the speech she gave last night. When she delivered it, she looked like this:

082812_ConventionSpeech_011

Image via flickr.com.

When I write, I look like this:

Image via Stacie Chadwick.

But someone, more likely a team of people, wrote it, and if my words were recycled? I wasn’t at the table. If my work did in fact end up on some speechwriter’s desk and was repackaged into a pivotal piece of Mrs. Romney’s dialogue last night, I suppose I should feel flattered. I don’t. All that a writer has to offer the world is his or her voice, with the sole hope that someone will hear it and connect to a larger part of the lives we’re all trying our best to lead. If that gift is compromised, and a voice sanitized, it impacts everyone it touches, but no one more than the person who originally spoke.

I can’t substantiate my instinct any more than a woman can prove legitimate rape, but something about the cadence, tone, and word choice of the opening to Mrs. Romney’s speech feels too familiar. Last night, Mrs. Romney stated, “We’re too smart and know that there are no easy answers, but we’re not dumb enough to accept that there are not better answers.” I couldn’t agree more.

You can read the transcript of Ann Romney’s speech at: http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2012/08/28/transcript-ann-romney-speech-at-republican-national-convention/#ixzz24x7M6cIK

You can read the letter I wrote to Paul Ryan at: i-said-id-never-write-about-politics-but-i-know-paul-ryan-and-ive-got-some-advice

I Said I’d Never Write About Politics, But I Know Paul Ryan and I’ve Got Some Advice.

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Who am I to Paul Ryan? No one and everyone.

I’m a forty-two year old suburban mom who knew Paul in college. I’m also a registered Democrat who has voted for both parties over the last twenty-four years. I live in Colorado, a state that offers electoral votes crucial to the outcome of this year’s presidential race. I’m a bleeding heart who lives in a gated community. I’m self-sufficient, yet I feel a responsibility to help others who are in need. As a voter, I’m a pretty interesting mix, difficult to label and hard to define. In my experience, most women are, and from what I understand, our demographic will be a deciding factor in November.

Who is Paul Ryan to me? Someone to watch.

As a U.S. citizen, I’m troubled by the precarious spot our nation occupies on an international chessboard of pieces in constant flux. I don’t support finger-pointing and placing blame for an economy that was weakened by both parties as much as free will. I’m concerned about the future of my children. I dislike negative politics and am frustrated by the inability of our bipartisan House and Senate to find common ground. I’m an optimist who believes tomorrow will be a brighter day, but I see real storm clouds in my direct line of sight. I want our country to move forward, and I’m worried about falling behind.

I’m a daughter, a sister, a mother, and a friend. I vote with my head and I vote with my heart. I read. I listen. I debate. I decide. I’m a potential liability and asset to both campaigns.

Three generations of women who don’t always vote the same way. Image via Stacie Chadwick

And with Mitt Romney’s introduction of Paul Ryan as his running mate, I’m now engaged in this race in a way that I hadn’t been before. Maybe it’s the deepening differences I see in the platforms of the two opposing parties. Better yet, a curiosity around the potential impact of a clear, if not controversial voice. Perhaps it’s due simply to the fact that I know Paul. More likely, it’s my hope that he’ll take the time to reacquaint himself with me, and by that I mean millions of women like me who will vote in the upcoming election.

I also consider Paul to be a friend. Am I jumping on the bandwagon headed straight from Janesville, WI to a national stage? Probably. Although I’ve followed his career, I haven’t spoken with Paul in over twenty years. But something about his addition to the shape of our legislative landscape piques my interest. Regardless of political beliefs, I’m proud that we graduated in the same class at Miami, watched votes together in the Senate gallery when we interned in D.C., and hung out on campus. I’m betting on an accurate memory of the person he was when we were college kids masquerading as adults, and a time-honored belief that as individuals, we don’t really change. In the heat of battle, we often forget the people behind the politics. I knew him as a smart, ambitious, honest guy with Midwestern values and a focused vision. I’m sure he still is. And now? He’s running for Vice President of the United States of America. When I tell my children that they can be anyone they want to be, I can now point to someone I know who is.

Children masquerading as adults. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

So surrounded by a cacophony of shrieks and giggles sung by kids who are stealing the last ounce out of summer on their way back to school, enough dirty laundry to fill a semi, and a stack of bills, I’m doing what I said I never would. I’m flipping my position and writing about politics. I’m offering unsolicited advice to someone who pays people to advise him. I do this because I’m a woman and a friend. It’s my nature. Humor me.

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Dear Paul,

Mitt Romney’s misspoken reference to you as “the next president of the United States” plays directly into what should be the underlying backbone of your political strategy. Run with a broader vision than the role of Vice President and set your own course.

Show us how you simultaneously lower government spending and make a real commitment to education and job creation. As mothers, we have children who are high school dropouts and can’t support themselves, and post-college boomerang kids who are underemployed. We understand that there’s a real chance their generation will reach a ceiling constructed at a lower height and of lesser materials than ours, buttressed by flawed trusses and support beams. Show us a concrete plan to correct a system that’s broken and produces students who continue to slide behind other countries in core curriculum, is rooted in the industrial age, and pays teachers much less than what they’re worth.

Addressing the economy is a given, so consider looking at it from our point of view. As mothers and wives, we’re often the emotional backbone as well as a financial anchor for our families. What we earn in a paycheck we give back in time spent away from our children. Dig deeper than budget cuts and tax reform in addressing our role in this issue, and show your sensitivity to our increasingly complex jobs.

The Wall Street Journal has championed your cause for years, but the majority of its readership is already part of your base. Embrace media outlets that will challenge your voice, but give you a long runway. With your intelligence and passion, a successful one-on-one with someone like Katie Couric could be a brilliant move, made more so by the failure of your predecessor’s endeavor.

Show us how you privatize Medicare without decimating it. We’re the daughters of aging parents and the mothers of children with disabilities, and often serve as emotional and physical lifelines to three generations of our family. We’re taxed and we’re tired, and yes, a little scared.

Disclose your tax statements. Immediately.

Follow your heart. The ugly side of bipartisanship is based on a world painted in black and white, when most of reality exists in various shades of gray.

Channel Alex Trebek and brush up on foreign affairs. You already know that Syria is further away from Wisconsin than Russia is from Alaska, so silence the naysayers.

Dial down the camo and the ammo. There’s a large group of undecided female voters who will roll their SUVs to save one of the thousands of overpopulated jackrabbits darting in front of their truck as they race off to the grocery store to figure out what’s for dinner.

Give us a small glimpse of the family behind the photo op. To the extent it’s not invasive, let us see the side of your life that we live every day…dropping the kids off at school after the tardy bell rings and staying up late to watch the Olympics as laughter turns to tired tears. We’ll relate to the emotions behind the smiles on your annual holiday card because we know how many tries it takes to get the perfect picture.

My family had to climb a fourteener, build a guard rail, and go without water for three days to get this pic. OK, not really, but it felt like it. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

You’re a well-versed, physical, engaging public speaker: use your open hand gesture and tone down the finger pointing. The first makes us feel included and the second one doesn’t.

You’re an athlete, you vacation in Colorado, and you love the outdoors. It might be a good idea to take a well-documented run through our great state. There are a lot of thirty to fifty year-old female voters who are athletes, live in Colorado, and love the outdoors.

Act like both a CEO and a salesman. Use your gut to champion causes and finesse to drive them home. Women follow people we trust and hire people we like.

Translate the budget deficit into a language we understand: a realistic picture of how the current trajectory will impact our children and our grandchildren’s lives is much more meaningful than rhetoric.

You’re at the heart of our demographic, and your youthful enthusiasm is appealing. Don’t run away from your age.

As women and constituents, we’re straight, gay, wealthy, and poor. We’re married, divorced, widowed, and single. We’re CFOs of corporations and Treasurers of the family budget. We’ve started businesses that have flourished and others that have failed. We’ve decimated our savings accounts and we’ve cut our discretionary spending to build them back up. We’ve sacrificed for our families and feel a twinge of guilt whenever we take time for ourselves. We’re smart, dedicated, and we care about the future of our country. We’re uneasy about the prospect of war but are passionately committed to taking care of our soldiers. We’re healers who want to leave the world a better place for our children than the one we gave them, and we’re not sure that we can.

We vote with our heads, and we vote with our hearts. Understanding the significance of that phrase is the key to your success in our demographic. Your introduction to this race has attracted our attention. My best unsolicited advice? Find a way to keep it.

Regards,

Stacie Whitten Chadwick

No matter where you go, your friends will always have your back. Image via Stacie Chadwick.

As always, please feel free to leave a comment. My only request is that you refrain from personal attacks and inflammatory statements. Due to the polarizing nature of the subject matter, this is my first and last foray into politics. I think.