Trumping Liberal Shaming

feltgood_notmypresident

The anger, hostility, sadness, apprehension and general feeing of hopelessness that pervades America right now is astonishing. Astonishing, because USA is a seasoned democracy that considers itself leader of the free world. Election verdicts are accepted, maybe grudgingly, with a lingering heartache if your side lost, but life goes on. However this time around things are different. The demonstrations refuse to abate, discussions seem endless, people refuse to let go of the anger. Inflamed emotion is spilling over a collective cauldron of disbelief. Donald Trump is President-elect.

Like most of America, my excitement at waiting for results morphed into rabid unease before finally dissolving into wretched helplessness as I watched state after state turn red. All logic pointed to a game lost but I stuck in front of my flickering TV waiting for some miracle. But no, Wisconsin did not turn blue and Pennsylvania went red. That left me, much like most people I know anguished, astonished, ambushed, atrophied.

An unexamined life is not worth living said Socrates and I have been wondering why these results have impacted so many of us so viscerally. I’m old enough to have lived through multiple elections now; in fact the results of the last one in India (my home country) were especially hard to swallow. But once out, ideological differences notwithstanding, most people wished the new Prime Minister well and let democracy win. I’m afraid with this election, I cannot find it in me to wish Trump well. Many of us cannot.It’s been fascinating to see how parents anguished over breaking this ‘news’ to their children. I have several friends who had to console crying kids at home because their little ones were scared at the idea of a Trump presidency. Definitely a first in my lifetime. I will not get into the details of how qualified, sane and right Hillary was for the job because that’ll take away from what I really want to say here. And all my experience tells me this is not a regular conservative vs liberal argument. On one hand it can seem to be a complex and layered equation but on the other, its as simple as telling day from night.

Pundits are now falling over themselves trying to identify gaps they missed, Trump supporters (can’t say conservatives, because many conservatives are not Trump supporters and many Trump supporters are not conservatives) are clapping their hands in glee and liberals are being told they are undemocratic people living in their cocoons… sore losers who ought to move forward as if this were just another election. Except that it wasn’t.

I could really write another blogpost on all the reasons why Trump is so despised. But I’ll succinctly postulate that  the abysmal standards this campaign sunk down to was 99.99% Trump’s doing. He consistently showed himself to be a repulsive bully, racist, xenophobe, misogynist and by inference therefore, a despicible human being. Everything we don’t want our children to say, think or do, he did. I can never forgive him his deplorable attitude towards women, my friend Stacy cannot forget his categorical dismissal of climate change. My son finds it abhorrent that he always called his rivals names and that his 9 year old muslim friend was crying on the school bus the whole time after the results. A family I know in the midwest is still stunned that he referred to his genitals in the primaries and that he was incredibly insulting to Ted Cruz’s wife.

These are pertinent enough reasons to question a candidate’s fitness to be POTUS. Trump is a role model alright, but he is a role model for everything we do not want our children, spouses, families or neighbors to be. Yes there are people who elected him in, they are disgruntled with the way things were. They want a change. My reading is that the blue collared American white male (yes, male)  is unhappy with/scared of the rapid changes America is embracing. Black president? LGBT marriage? Furore over police shooting a few African Americans? Legalizing marijuana? Women’s reproductive rights?  FEMALE PRESIDENT? That’s where it had to stop.

Instead of shaming liberals and telling people like me to extend a hand to Trump supporters, to ‘feel their plight and bridge the divide’, media and pundits would do better telling Trump supporters to expand their blinkered horizons. They want me to support a POTUS who said he would throw his opponent in jail if elected, that he would not accept results if he lost, that the media is partisan, the system rigged. But now that he has won, all is hunky dory. I am supposed to endorse and quietly watch as this bombastic sexual assaulter, third grade reality TV star with zero policy knowledge, zero record of public service takes on as the supposed leader of the free world.

Sorry, not going to happen.

#NotMyPresident

 

 

Advertisements

Feminism and Nirvana

Screen Shot 2016-01-15 at 11.49.52 AM

Prologue: Someone on Twitter airily noted “Maybe feminism isn’t the ultimate nirvana for all women. I think we should trust individuals to make the best decision for themselves. THAT is freedom.”

 This is my answer not just to him but many others that think like him, unfortunately.

Imagine:

You are a man, father to an adorable little boy, about to have another baby and your father says, “God willing it won’t be a boy again; we will be blessed with a girl.” You look at your little son, smiling at you from a corner of that room. He was born male. Big fault. Whose? The one who birthed him of course. You.

An ambient reality is that your country doesn’t allow sex determination before birth. Boys are killed in-utero because they are, boys. But the really incredible part is that nobody dwells much on it. This gristly fact just sits there, gathering dust in the very rooms it should be dissected and discussed.

As a little boy, you are told to cover up modestly, to never sit legs apart. Knees together or crossed. You adapt quickly because rebukes drench you hard and relentlessly like tropical monsoons. You laugh, but with a hand fluttering over your mouth, daintily. Such a modest butterfly! Holding books against your chest as you walk to school is second nature. Are you subconsciously shielding your breasts? Whatever the reason, you never learn to carry them quite like those carefree girls – you know, dangling to the side? You “run like a boy”, “walk like a boy”, and that’s a funny way of doing things. See, girls run and walk differently, correctly; the way God intended things to be. You and your sex my boy, just didn’t get the memo.

You must learn to cook at an early age because it’s the No. 1 skill for a boy to possess. Soon it’ll come as handy as a smartphone is and let’s face it, those smartphones sure are handy! You, the little b(r)other, cook for and serve your elder sister who doesn’t enter the kitchen because she needs to concentrate on more important things like sports and school. She also needs more milk than you.. actually make that more food in general. She’s the girl. You’re the boy. Remember.

Like waves lapping beaches in myriad ways unfailingly, you will be reminded of your sex and its place in society by The Agreement .Whereas you (the second sex) will be in agreement with all societal considerations (The Rules or Traditions) applicable to your gender. For societal good, for civilization, for the earth to keep spinning it is agreed that you and your lot are where and how you were meant to be. Internalize. Embrace. Never forget.” And whereas you, my boy, will sign this Agreement without reading because (i) When every male around you is blindly signing up, it can’t be all that bad (ii) Understanding lengthy agreements takes far too much time and effort (iii) Who reads agreements anyway?

You may or may not attend school. You may or may not graduate. But that is not important. A pre teen you is walking down the street when your building watch-woman whistles as you pass by. Shocked, scared, confused and angry you continue walking, heart beating fast. On an early morning walk in the neighborhood park with your buddies, a middle-aged woman bares her goods, licking her lips, looking you in the eye. What to do? Run I guess. Returning from school, a driver from in a parked car calls out to you. You look. She is masturbating. Sigh, run again. In a crowded train someone presses against your privates. Who was that? Couldn’t even see! Groped under the garb of Holi revelry. Scream? Can’t share your shame. How embarrassing. How scary. Mostly though, how scarily routine.

You could panic but this is benign “adam-teasing”. “Cat-calls” are girls being girls. Those calls from dirty talking-hard breathing women may make you want to disappear off the earth, but everything passes. The trick is to overlook it all. (The real trick is to internalize that girls can overwhelm, overpower. They *are* stronger.) We won’t teach girls how to behave but you, we control. Remember that in the end, YOU, the boy, are inflaming these passions.  Ensure that doesn’t happen. Take control.

So. Cover yourself head to toe, like a beautiful pearl protected by the oyster. Only loose fitting clothes, nothing too tight or short. Wear a burqa actually, that’s the best; an ingenious way to stay sublimely secure. Cover up, it’s what your father does, your uncles, your grandfathers, your neighbors, the men of your city, your country. They guard their modesty like that dainty pearl. It’s their choice. Hell, men fight for this restrictive lifestyle *because* it defines their identity. By the way, Dolce and Gabbana now have a line of designer burqas. So sexy. You can have your cake and eat it too! (note: just don’t say sexy aloud.) Don’t look up, walking down the street, come straight back home from school. Don’t step out in the evenings. Don’t talk to girls in class, girls only want one thing and it is bad, bad, bad (note: just don’t say what it is aloud.)

First period? Can’t cook on “those” days, can’t enter a temple. Can’t even water Tulsi (what the holy basil) Defiled every month now on, you will stay in your territory, a territory marked by others. Dirty. Soiled. But hey young man, don’t lose heart. The beauty business loves you; it wants your skin radiant and hair shiny. Just that things aren’t ever good enough. Sigh. But keep buying; your confidence depends on it. Only when you are confident will you get that wife or job, you know the one where the prospective wife or interviewer are enamoured by your aforementioned radiant skin and shiny hair. Hope you’ve seen advertisements that clearly demonstrate how impeccably colored nails matter more than credentials. Learn that self-esteem is rooted in appearance, not ability. Keep buffing your nails, ego and self-worth, staring vacantly into space at fancy beauty salons.

You (are asked to) fast regularly; it’s good for you. Not so for your sister because fasting is a Boys-Club special. Monday for Shiv ji, Thursday for a good wife (most important), Saturday for Shani Maharaj. Of course you do it, it’s what your father, uncles..et al. do diligently. Tradition. From the day you were born little boy, your parents have been buying (at least) one piece of jewelry every year. No one said dowry planning was easy, plus the wedding is an expense borne by the “boys side”. Sigh. Boys are such expenditure while girls rake in all the cash. Obviously everyone wants a girl! But first things first, when the girl’s family comes to “check you out”, cook up a storm. Walk like a dream whilst they listen to a litany of your skills. Always be bashful; never look anyone in the eye. If all goes well, you’ll catch yourself a big fish. Life’s mission accomplished. By the way, should anything go wrong with the marriage, you cannot return to your parent’s. “Paraya dhan”, you never were theirs anyway. Your “kumardaan” has happened, you’ve been given away, donated, you dispensable, bothersome creature.

You move in with your in-laws after marriage. As a newly wedded groom, you *must* sacrifice. Everything their way. Plus, wear one million chudas, chudiyan, sindoor, bichhu, mangalsutra et al. Basically even an alien in space passing swiftly past the Earth, sitting inside her spaceship should be able to tell you’re taken. Your wife on the other hand needn’t participate in such symbolism. Her marital status is no one’s business. Each year just like those dashing heroes in movies, you must fast an entire day, without water, for your wife’s long life. So what if she doesn’t fast for you? She married you, its enough. All of the above is your choice. Your father, grandfathers et al did it all too. It is To Be Continued..

When you get pregnant, everyone (including you) will wish for a girl. While the baby will carry forward its mother’s family name, you, the father will carry the baby. For 9 months. Months filled with nausea, vomits, pains, gazillion visits to the bathroom, blood checks, ultrasounds, weird food cravings and that penultimate manna from hell – labor. The baby is born with you at your parents’ and the birthing expenses are borne by them too. But again, the child will bear the mother’s family name because, The Agreement.

Mostly you aren’t allowed to work outside the house. That is not a man’s domain. If you do work, you must manage career and home equally well. It is acceptable for a woman to be ambitious, but not a man. Anyway, you live life kingsize because what does a househusband really do? Keep the household running by restocking refrigerators, keeping hot chapattis ready, doing the laundry, looking after children and their homework etc. Boring stuff. No big deal. Especially rearing children. Any fool can do that. And that’s what you are, always have been and always will be. A fool. A helpless, disenfranchised male.

—————————————-

Only that you really are a female. But the absurdity of patriarchy hits so much better when the tables are turned.

For ALL the women out there, don’t follow The Agreement blindly. Feminism is an ideal, and it is one worth fighting for. Equality and equal opportunity. Freedom from patriarchy and patriarchal baggage that all of us carry unknowingly or unknowingly.

Nothing is perfect, this isn’t a perfect world. But it can be bettered. I got lucky and have a good deal going, but age and experience have shown that blinders off, what’s out there is scary. I feel it my duty to call out bull shit when it’s smeared on my sex ritually, condescendingly, knowingly, unknowingly.

—————————————-

This note won’t be complete without stating that I don’t appreciate the brand of feminism that treats men like pariahs. Some of the staunchest feminists I know are men, just as some of the most regressive and aggressive women haters are women. Lets not give the world any more reasons to distrust feminists and feminism.

Arundhati Roy: The Only Dream Worth Having

I don’t aways agree with what Arundhati Roy has to say. Her analyses sometimes seem rabid and her world-view biased. I don’t partake in her philosophy, at least not the way she would want me to.

But, I admire her, a lot.

I admire her guts because it takes courage to take a stand and then stand by it – especially when it falls in the wholly unpopular realm. I admire her intellect, her moral strength and her tenacity. I admire the fact that she questions status quo, that she is an outlier in the best sense of the word. More than anything, I love her way with words, her imagery. I love her writing.

Here is an excerpt I picked from an interview she did with Democracy Now! when she visited New York recently to speak about her new book ‘Capitalism: A Ghost Story’. I do not agree with her reading of the ‘Capitalist’ situation, well not entirely anyway, because I believe that Capitalism packs in itself the power to do good. It creates much more than it decimates or desecrates. But yes, decimate, desecrate and debase it does (also). However, the reason for this post is not an analysis of the interview. It is these few lines she reads from a time, when fresh in the throes of all the adulation that followed ‘The God of Small Things’, her friend made an observation…

ARUNDHATI ROY: Well, it was—it was really the first—in a way, the first political essay I wrote anyway, after The God of Small Things, and it was an essay called ‘The End of Imagination’ when the Indian government conducted a series of nuclear tests in 1998. In early May (before the bomb), I left home for three weeks. I thought I would return. I had every intention of returning. Of course, things haven’t worked out quite the way I planned.

Of course, by which I meant that India just wasn’t the same anymore. While I was away, I met a friend of mine whom I have always loved for, among other things, her ability to combine deep affection with a frankness that borders on savagery. “I’ve been thinking about you,” she said, “about The God of Small Things — what’s in it, what’s over it, under it, around it, above it…” She fell silent for a while. I was uneasy and not at all sure that I wanted to hear the rest of what she had to say. She, however, was sure that she was going to say it. “In this last year,” she said, “less than a year actually—you’ve had too much of everything—fame, money, prizes, adulation, criticism, condemnation, ridicule, love, hate, anger, envy, generosity—everything. In some ways it’s a perfect story. Perfectly baroque in its excess. The trouble is that it has, or can have, only one perfect ending.”

Her eyes were on me, bright with a slanting, probing brilliance. She knew that I knew what she was going to say. She was insane. She was going to say that nothing that happened to me in the future could ever match the buzz of this. That the whole of the rest of my life was going to be vaguely unsatisfying. And, therefore, the only perfect ending to the story would be death. My death. The thought had occurred to me too. Of course it had.

The fact that all this, this global dazzle—these lights in my eyes, the applause, the flowers, the photographers, the journalists feigning a deep interest in my life (yet struggling to get a single fact straight), the men in suits fawning over me, the shiny hotel bathrooms with endless towels—none of it was likely to happen again. Would I miss it? Had I grown to need it? Was I a fame-junkie? Would I have withdrawal symptoms?

I told my friend there was no such thing as a perfect story. I said in any case hers was an external view of things, this assumption that the trajectory of a person’s happiness, or let’s say fulfillment, had peaked (and now must trough) because she had accidentally stumbled upon ‘success.’ It was premised on the unimaginative belief that wealth and fame were the mandatory stuff of everybody’s dreams.

“You’ve lived too long in New York” I told her. “There are other worlds. Other kinds of dreams. Dreams in which failure is feasible. Honorable. And sometimes even worth striving for. Worlds in which recognition is not the only barometer of brilliance or human worth. There are plenty of warriors that I know and love, people far more valuable than myself, who go to war each day, knowing in advance that they will fail. True, they are less ‘successful’ in the most vulgar sense of the word, but by no means less fulfilled.” “The only dream worth having,” I told her, “is to dream that you will live while you’re alive and die only when you’re dead.” “Which means exactly what?” I tried to explain, but didn’t do a very good job of it.

Sometimes I need to write to think. So I wrote it down for her on a paper napkin. And this is what I wrote: To love. To be loved. To never forget your own insignificance. To never get used to the unspeakable violence and the vulgar disparity of life around you. To seek joy in the saddest places. To pursue beauty to its lair. To never simplify what is complicated or complicate what is simple. To respect strength, never power. Above all, to watch. To try and understand. To never look away. And never, never to forget.”

Right to Life

I haven’t painted figures in a while. More over, I haven’t used oils as medium for a long time now. But after reading this poem, the one you find below, this painting painted itself.

So.

photo-2

RIGHT TO LIFE ~ BY MARGE PIERCY

A woman is not a basket you place
your buns in to keep them warm. Not a brood
hen you can slip duck eggs under.
Not the purse holding the coins of your
descendants till you spend them in wars.
Not a bank where your genes gather interest
and interesting mutations in the tainted
rain, any more than you are.

I will choose what enters me, what becomes
of my flesh. Without choice, no politics,
no ethics lives. I am not your cornfield,
not your uranium mine, not your calf
for fattening, not your cow for milking.
You may not use me as your factory.
Priests and legislators do not hold shares
in my womb or my mind.
This is my body. If I give it to you
I want it back. My life
is a non-negotiable demand.

Mujh Se Pehli Si Mohabbat ~ Faiz Ahmed Faiz

While my father gifted me a book of Faiz’s 100 best works (curated by Sarvat Rahman) photo-69only about 6 months back, my introduction to Faiz happened as a child through music that always played in our home. Dasht-e-Tanhai, which remains not only a favourite poem of love but also a favourite ghazal, was my first exposure to Faiz. For a while he occupied the pedestal of most romantic poet ever… and then I came across works of his that boldly called out on & questioned several existing societal customs and norms. And then I loved him more because if there’s one thing I adore, it’s a rebel with a cause.

The nazm shared is Mujh Se Pehli Si Muhabbat (Don’t Ask Me Now, Beloved). While I understand it’s nuances best in Urdu, this English translation is pretty good.

To me the nazm is about coming of age, growing into this world we live in, understanding life in all it’s shades & hues. To me, this nazm is about Love

Urdu, written in English, translated into English

Mujh Se Pehli Si Mohabbat Meri Mehbub Na Maang
(Don’t ask me now, Beloved, for that love of days gone by)
Maine samjha tha ke tu hai to darakhshaan hai hayaat
(When I thought since you were, life would always scintillate)
Tera gham hai to gham-e-daihr ka jhagra kya hai
(That love’s pain being mine, the world’s pain I could despise)
Teri soorat se hai aalum mein baharon ko sabaat
(That your beauty lastingness to the spring would donate)
Teri aankhon ke siwa duniya mein rakha kya hai
(That nothing in the world was of worthy but your eyes)
Tu jo mil jaye to taqdeer nigun ho jaye
(Were you to be mine, fate would bow low before me)

***

Yun na tha, maine faqat chaha tha yun ho jaye
(But, it was not so; it was only my wish that it were so)
Aur bhi dukh hain zamaane mein muhabbat ke siwa
(Other pains exist than those that love brings)
Rahatein aur bhi hain wasl ki raahat ke siwa
(Other joys exist than those of lover’s mingling)

***

Anginat sadiyon ke taariq bahimanaa tilism
(Dark fearful talismans come down the centuries)
Resham-o-atlas-o-kamkhwaab mein bunwaye hue
(Woven in silk, damask and cloth of gold)
Jaa-ba-jaa biktey hue koochaa-o-bazaar mein jism
(Bodies that  everywhere in streets are sold)
Khaak mein lithrey hue, khoon mein nehlaaye hue
(Covered with dust, all their wounds bleeding)

***

Jism nikley hue amraaz ke tannuuron se
(Bodies that have passed through the furnace of ills)
Peep behti hui jaltey hue naasuron se
(With putrid ulcers which their humours spills)
Laut jaati hai udhar ko bhi nazar kya ki jiye
(How can I but turn my eyes sometimes that way?)
Ab bhi dilkash hai tera husn magar kya ki jiye
(Your beauty is still ravishing, what can I say?)

***

Aur bhi dukh hain zamane mein muhabbat ke siwa
(Other pains exist than those that love brings)
Rahatein aur bhi hain wasl ki raahat ke siwa
(Other joys than those of lovers’ mingling)

Mujhse pehli si mohabbat meri mehboob na maang
(Don’t ask me now, Beloved, for that love of days gone by)

The nazm has also been immortalized by Noor Jehan; have a listen.

Acknowledgement: 100 Poems by Faiz Ahmed Faiz ~ Sarvat Rahman

A Change That Must Come

[I’ve been quite too long and in the spirit of many things that have been long time coming..]

475338-india-gang-rape-protest

Just as the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand was not the cause of WWI but a catalyst, this ghastly Delhi gang rape is a catalyst for I hope, broad societal introspection and a change towards the better in India.

Unprecedented Mass Protests

The immediate issue at hand is that of us females, the scorned second sex, being deprived of basic rights – using public roads & public transport without the fear of being molested. In fact, the issue is of female fetuses being denied the right to live; of entire villages now existing without girls enough for their boys to marry. These unfortunate practices continue to thrive. I could write a separate blog post (or three) on the amount of harassment I have faced from the time I was 8/9 years old. And no, I did not grow up in Delhi, I’m a Bombay girl. The state of affairs is the same everywhere, the difference is in degrees. And having known the kind of mental trauma any kind of sexual harassment causes, death by hanging for each and every rapist is only fair. That’s what I think. But anyway, this post is not about that.

What is bringing about a change, (from the time India ‘opened up’ in 1991 with my generation) is the realization that all this subjugation need not, should not be the case. It’s a clash of mindsets – the old versus the new – the stodgy & dogma ridden old versus the fresh & progressive new. What comes of this churn can only be a change for the better. This, I completely believe in. It may not be as immediate as we want it to be, it may not embody everything we wish it to, but a change will come. I can smell it.

The larger issue behind these protests however is that of the establishment’s apathy and disconnect with the larger populace. It’s connivance with all that is tainted. Anger one feels not just at the government, but also at the opposition, the bureaucracy, the system is reason why this catalyst has sparked a movement so huge. The common Indian is (has been) frustrated and wounds that cut deep have been left to fester far too long.

Potholed colony roads that never get repaired

Load shedding that never ends

Water shortage with water tanks that need to be bought

Daughters that are not safe.

Jobs that are so scarce.

Prices that keep rising

Nursery admissions that send mind into a spin

People with “connections”

Terrorist attacks that keep occurring with regular impunity

National shame of Commonwealth Games

Sport organizations that are headed by politicians

Police that one fears – would I ever approach them? Never

Traffic police that never really challans but is ever happy to ‘adjust’

Corrupt politicians that never, ever, ever, ever get caught

Highways that never get made

Garbage piles that never get cleaned

Gunda’s that freely roam roads

Gunda’s that sit in the parliament, wearing white kurtas.

These and many  other issues that affect us on a daily basis remain unresolved despite 65+ years of independence.

Globalisation has brought with it many a thing – mostly good. When the ‘globalised’ youth of India now hears of/ sees/ experiences developed countries where elected governments are held accountable and answerable for goings on, it questions why that should not be the case in India. When it reads of countries that have progressed beyond basics of roti, kapda aur makaan, it asks why these three remain luxuries back home.

History is riddled with revolutions and hindsight is always 20/20. When we read today about the French Revolution, we wonder what King Louis XVI was thinking about with all that writing on the wall. Well, Indian government, the ball is in your court and from the looks of it, you are playing King Louis right now.

However, this note cannot and should not end without a note to us – the people of India.

We who always want the easy way out ~ we who pay bribes ~ break red lights ~ tell our sons “to be a man” ~ tell our daughters to keep their gaze down on their wedding day ~ make our 10 year old daughters serve dinner to their 18 year old brothers ~ we who start buying gold for beti ki shaadi from the day the beti is born.

We who want to buy properties in black (money) ~ we who brag about that “top person” we know from the passport office. It is us that treat our house-help like slaves ~ it is us that employ 10 year olds to take care of our 4 year olds. We litter, we spit everywhere like there’s no tomorrow ~ we text and speak no holds barred with little concern for others in a movie theatre. It is we who drive on the wrong the wrong side of the road for that shortcut there ~ we who let our 14-year-olds drive the scooter just around the corner because, who will see that?

It is us.

And it is we who need to change, collectively as a society. We need to accept the fact that we come from a morally corrupt place. Then and only then will we find the ways and means to cross over to the other side.

[And rural India doesn’t even make a scant appearance anywhere in this post. *Cold Shiver*]

Adding My Two Bits

A lot of folks dislike Romney because of his money, because he was born into riches. For the record, I don’t hold that against him. That he is exceptionally bright, much more than most, that he accomplished many a thing, only one of which was successfully establishing & running Bain Capital at a young age may invoke a twinge of envy in many. But again, that’s inconsequential to my argument.

What makes me uncomfortable (apart from his cyborg vibe) is Romney’s lack of integrity – that unique value separating the mere admirable from an admirable leader.

Romney made money but how much? Where is it stowed? We don’t know. Did he deploy exceedingly smart, albeit not entirely moral tax planning? That, we do know.
I have this argument with the husband, a Romney supporter, who argues that Romney’s tax breaks are provided for under the law. To which my question is – Why then is Romney so closed about letting the public see how much he lawfully paid? Yes, Romney may not have indulged in anything wholly illegal, but what he has indulged in is not something a leader with integrity would do. Constant flip-flops on health care, women’s rights, pro choice-pro life debates do not help his case; he comes off seeming more an opportunist than a man of beliefs and principles. And that, is a problem.

But.

Mitt Romney is the best that Republicans have to offer. In today’s day and age when folks want to move forward, Republicans are adamant on pulling America back. My list of grouses against them is longish &  it is easy for me to imagine why people might want to vote anti-Republican; but the good thing is the Democrats have Obama, whom I admire on certain issues.

——-

Republicans want to shrink the size of the government, get it out of people’s faces or so they say. But they also want the government to mandate what a woman should or should not do with her body. It’s 2012! Where is the option for not considering a pro choice argument? But of course the Grand-Old-fuddy-duddy-seriously-out-of-sync-Party does not get it. Reproductive choice should be left to the woman who is to become a mother (along with the man who is to become a father). Government has NO place in this equation. Politics has NO place in it. Period.

——-

Equal pay for equal work was the first bill Obama signed. What is galling is that  such a bill was signed recently. Sigh. For every dollar that a man earns, a woman still only  earns 77 cents. At least someone took notice of this. And a stand to fill this gap.

——-

When I came to the US from India, it took me a looong time to understand the US health care system. In fact, it is still WIP on that front, so convoluted is the subject. Let me put it in gently here, I fall in the much derided 1% bracket, with possibly one of the best insurance policies there is. I am well read and understand the fine print well. Yet , it’s extremely trying to peel this unholy nexus between health care providers, insurance companies and employers. So what becomes of the 99% ? Having lived & worked in Switzerland, with friends and family in developed countries around the world, I know that health care in US needs serious reforms. Obama pushed for it. (as did Governor Romney, but shhh!) Sure things can be improved, but Obama set the ball rolling despite unproductive theatrics of the Republicans. That takes serious balls. He’s got them.

——-

An under rated but path-breaking legacy of Obama’s first term will surely be his foreign policy: Prudence in matters of war and peace. He got out of Iraq, has a plan to get out of Afghanistan, took a tough stand vis-a-vis Pakistan and got Osama, chose carefully to not involve directly in Libya and Syria. He’s cyber-sleuthing Iran, but not attacking it to start another macho war. God knows the world & US can ill afford another one of those. He also understands one thing most Americans do not – that fostering further ill will with the Islamic world will not benefit either side in the long run. God and Jerusalem were kept out of DNC’s Day 1. Co-incidence? I recall watching Republican Primaries where all candidates (except Ron Paul) driveled on about how the entire world was colluding against America & needed to be shown who the boss was. Foolish, shortsighted and frankly, funny.. that is how they sounded. From what I have seen, Obama is not interested in showing American muscle off like a buffed up jock is wont to do. He uses it when it is required, as he did with Osama.

——-

Steeped in religion and prejudice Republicans cannot empathise with the plight of the LGBT community. By repealing Dont Ask Dont Tell, Obama has undone a mental barrier, just as he did with his pro gay marriage stance. Again, while the Republicans are loath to “government”, should they form one they seem really keen to interfere in what should be a strictly private space – an individual’s sexual preference.

——-

Now, the E word. Economy. Romney’s claim to fame is that because he has turned around corporations he can turn around America. The rich America believes him, wants him. Of course it would. Here’s what Obama did get done – having inherited 2 wars and a devastated economy, he reigned-in the free fall, supported & helped revive the automobile industry that many had given up on, helped banks at a time when not doing so would have led to far worse implications, recovered all the money he lent to those banks – with interest – within 3 years. Instead of cutting back on public expenses and embracing austerity like Europe, he pumped public spending. Of course the economy has not turned around fast enough for those impacted. It will take time, what with strained global dynamics at play. But as is obvious to see, economic indicators are on the upturn. Obama will not be cutting my tax rate (and that damn tax rate of nearly 50% hurts), but what is good is that he will not increase tax rates of the middle class. I respect that. Inclusive growth over partisanship has my vote.

Without slightest co-operation from the Republicans on critical issues like fiscal debt, health care, women rights it is obvious that Obama’s first term has checked some important boxes. And I really hope he gets a second one.