by JESSICA ENGLISH
I used to be Chair of the Big Stone Republican Party, and Paul Ryan is cute and he’s from my former neighboring state of Wisconsin, so, I thought I’d give his ideas “equal opportunity.”
However, as a woman, I admit that I entered the Vice Presidential debate with bias. I like the fact that Biden represents most Americans’ view on contraception and abortion, and has fought to fund the only place I can afford healthcare – Planned Parenthood. I love the fact that he has been in my shoes as a single parent, and, as a result, has dedicated his public service to defending the middle class. When I was a student in my local community college, I appreciated his championing of my education. Most of all, I respect the fact that his team’s first act in office was to protect and bolster equal pay for my daughters and me. So, to be honest, I went into the debate with the hope that Biden would have the chance to talk about his record.
The one theme that surprised me in the first half of the debate was Joe Biden’s visible commitment to (and defense of) thoughtful diplomacy. As the daughter of a disabled Viet Nam Veteran, I was honestly encouraged to see his unequivocal commitment to working with our allies in countries like Iran and Syria and getting out of Afghanistan by 2014. I think during the Bush years, I got so used to the beating drums of war, that to see someone give such a bold answer to the argument that “we can’t alert the terrorists to an end date cause they’ll wait us out” was awesome! I agree with Biden, it is time for Afghanistan to step up and for us to draw down our military response and, I would add, send in the humanitarians! Let’s be honest, the Afghan people - life expectancy of age 32 and 70% of the population unable to attain potable water - need our soldiers, guns and war just as much as the Iranian people need to be bombed on top of being starved.
Ryan’s statements regarding Iran, Syria, and the Afghan fighting season, along with his attempt to paint the Obama administration as careless in their handling of our national defense really lost a lot of points with me. What I saw was the unraveling of the effect of Paul Ryan’s hair.
Let’s spend less on war and tax the wealthy to pay for the first two before we start criticizing Obama’s foreign policy. As far as the questions and the moderator go, I was disappointed, as usual, that we did not have a question about wages. I don’t care about jobs and job creators as much as I care about wages and those 1 in 5 Americans earning poverty wages. Also, why was Ryan given so much time? Was he really telling us anything specific? I would like to have heard an equal amount from the Vice President.
Maybe Ryan could have been stronger in this debate, if he had specific answers to the questions regarding his plans. At times I felt that Ryan’s statements were clearer, more concise and less complex, but that doesn’t mean that he was able to educate me on his positions. Instead, it felt like a sales pitch. Irreverent of the policies that lead our country into a Great Recession, with a “so-called” plan devoid of historical context, Paul Ryan was the candidate running from the record. After all, isn’t it time that tax cuts put in place during record surpluses expire, so that we can pay for our wars? Great point, Joe!
Finally, I really appreciated the question on faith and abortion. As a Christian, it was refreshing to finally see the mention of Christian Social Doctrine in a thoughtful response on abortion. As a woman who has suffered from three miscarriages, I could relate to Ryan’s bean story, but I could respect Biden’s choice to honor his faith, while honoring the beliefs of other Americans.
I honestly, missed the closing remarks because my seven year old piped up with this question, “Mommy, can women be president?”
“Why do you ask?” I asked her.
“Because all I ever see for president are these men.”
So, I missed the end of the debate to explain to my daughter the hopes I have for 2016.
All in all, I would have liked to have heard something concrete from Ryan, but what I took away, was some canned statement about fear and running from records, which he illustrated well.
While Biden, lived up to my hopes of detailing successful policies that have benefitted the middle class and seniors, I felt he missed a couple of opportunities. Sure, the VP could have done a better job rebutting Ryan’s strange assessment that unemployment rates going down are not an improvement to an economy that was losing 800,000 jobs a month under the last Republican President. What is up with Republicans and math? Sure, Biden isn’t perfect, but while some are doing everything in their power to maintain their power… after the debate, I truly believe that Biden is working on behalf of me - a single mom, committed to peace, in need of healthcare, hoping to one-day graduate from community college, while striving to create equal opportunities for my daughters.