How I make political decisions

As many people do, I tend to avoid political topics both here and on my social media pages.  It isn’t because I’m afraid of offending people, though.  It’s mostly because I get incredibly passionate about the subject and I end up going on and on and on, and I get discouraged when it feels like the end result is that I am either preaching to the choir or will be ignored.

However, I do feel the need to get into facebook arguments with my conservative friends – or, more accurately, their conservative friends – because I figure if no one voices an opposition, then they all get to live in an echo chamber where they all agree with each other.

And so, with the idea of spirited but civil discourse in mind, I’m going to spend today’s ten minutes on politics, and I more than welcome your thoughts on the matter.

My politics these days tends to be based on two deep, underlying beliefs.  The first is that facts are important and should drive policy decisions.  Facts can be slippery, tricky, taken out of context, put into an incorrect context, and misused.  However, in general, if one is paying enough attention, there are some relatively unbiased sources of factual information.  For example, the Congressional Budget Office.  I love the CBO.  They don’t care whether you are Republican or Democrat or Green or Couldn’t-Care-Less Party.  If you give them a proposal, they are going to whip out their calculators and start plugging and chugging and coming up with some numbers.  So when I hear that the CBO has evaluated someone’s budget plan, I pay attention.

I could go on and on about fact-checking and how to find reliable sources and my related deep-seated belief in science, but then I’d never tell you my second underlying belief, and it is the more important one by far.

My second deep belief is that we are honor-bound to take care of the children.  I evaluate every policy proposal I hear with this in mind.  We do, in fact, owe children food, shelter, health care, education, community, and love.  Yes, we do.  It is not their fault if they are poor, so there is no system on earth that I would support that would let children suffer in the name of “reducing government dependence.”  I support early education, free health care for all children, free and reduced school lunches, and decent salaries for the teachers, social workers, counselors, and coaches with whom we entrust our children on a daily basis.

It also turns out that one of the ways you take care of children is by taking care of their parents.  That looks like maternal care, low-income housing, and parent-education classes, just to name a few.  If people have children who rely on them, they need enough support to take care of themselves at a basic level so they can take care of their children at a level a little above that, or we will have only ourselves to blame when their children grow up ignorant, hard, uncaring, poor, or even criminal.  It costs more to jail a person for life than to educate her for one.

If we want peace in this world, we must start with the children.  So said Ghandi, and so say I.

If we want justice, progress, tolerance, innovation, or compassion, we have to start with the children.


To me it is obvious, but I wonder if it is to you: which candidate or which party would you say is more concerned about children and with using facts to create sound policy?

4 Responses to How I make political decisions
  1. Aunt Lori
    September 19, 2012 | 5:11 am

    Bravo! This is put in a very succinct, intelligent manner and will be difficult for anyone to argue against. I am currently listening to conservative Joe Scarborough right now—he is saying almost the same thing as you are, Jessica. Interesting how we are all more alike than different…until it is election time.

  2. Alexander's Rachel
    September 19, 2012 | 6:21 am

    Your Aunt Lori took the words right out of my mouth, ( or at least my keyboard,) “Bravo!”

  3. humanmama
    September 19, 2012 | 6:52 am

    Nice. And, excellent points. The system is flawed, but cutting programs AND taxes on the rich is not the answer.

  4. Gramma
    September 19, 2012 | 8:30 am

    I would add the elderly to the list of those entitled to shelter, food, medical care. The loss of pensions due to companies closing has removed a safety net that many depended on. The option to work more years is not always available as health, energy, and age-bias can work against older workers.

    Had never thought about CBO and I appreciate the tip. Also, I absolutely love your new 10-minute posts. I have missed your voice and these have been awesome!

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