Sunday, November 13, 2016


The 2016 American election has proven we need to have a conversation. We need to hear each others' concerns and try to bridge the massive divide that has been created here. Join the conversation. Introduce yourself at

I am Jane, a 56 year old woman. I was born in the mid-west and grew up in New England. I live on the East Coast.

I am ever single, with no children of my own, but cherish my roles as “other mother” for a young adult living in Brooklyn, third parent for a teenage boy, and "aunt" for a six year old girl.
I was born of privilege – white, Catholic, educated parents, who had sufficient finances for full time nanny/maid services to support raising seven offspring while they both enjoyed professional careers – lawyer and nurse.
It didn't last.
I grew up in chaos. My father died when I was three, my mother remarried, offering an eighth sibling.  We moved to a community property state, which yielded a full loss of wealth with the divorce from my abusive step-father. 
I was raised by a working single mother in financial circumstances vastly different than those I was born. We lived in small towns that were largely conservative and struggling economically. We had the basics covered, yet not much to spare for major expenditures, vacations, etc.
I have worked since I was 15, providing for myself, including my college education. 
I did not own a car until I was 30. 
I lived through the loss of all personal belongings in a fire when I was 33 and rebuilt my life. I was supremely fortunate to have a friend who took me in. During that time, I was without a job (laid off days before the fire) and a place to live, understanding that I was inches away from being homeless. 
At 33, I had employer paid health insurance for the first time in my life. I also began contributing to a retirement account. I made less than $30k a year until I was 38. Since that time, I have contributed 15% of my earnings to some mode of 401k/IRA. 
I paid off my student loans and credit card debts without declaring bankruptcy.  
The year I turned 40, I understood that I had emerged from survival mode to a basic level of financial security – meaning I did not live pay check to pay check in fear for the loss of my job, I was able to pay my bills and I had a savings account. I made a conscious decision to remain free of consumer debt  and maintain a standard of living on par with the median income which has informed nearly all financial decisions since. 
I bought my first home in my 40’s. It was not one of those crazy mortgage deals.
Due to hard work and opportunity, I have done well professionally, working as an independent contractor for a number of years (paying out of pocket for health insurance) and now working for a Fortune 500 company. 
I somehow avoided layoff during a series of work force reductions, but lived for several years in peril of losing my job. I have felt more secure in recent years since gaining enough personal savings to cover 6+ months without work. 
Politically, I am an odd mix which crisscrosses party lines. I have considered myself a democratic socialist since college in Burlington VT, influenced by my education in political science and the elected mayor, Bernie Sanders. 
I am fiscally conservative, largely stemming from personal necessity/practice, where I firmly believe it is best to spend wisely and not live beyond one’s means, making me far more akin to traditional conservatives than liberals. 
And, I am socially progressive, with a few blind spots where I could learn and understand more. 
I am a staunch advocate for the separation of church and state, believing religious values must be held sacred apart from government. 
I am starting to feel the same about separation of (big) business and government.
My social construct is influenced greatly by John Rawles’ Theory of Justice. I believe all citizens of a civilized society should be provided a social safety net, ensuring basic necessities such as food, shelter, clothing and health care, as well as education and opportunity for meaningful employment. I don’t think we should be discussing whether or not to do this, I think we should be well past that and figuring out how it is done. 
I believe that all citizens should contribute to this system and those at the top should enjoy no more wealth/income than is sustainable while fully ensuring the social safety net for those at the bottom. This system is to cover all citizens irrespective of ability, ethnicity, religion or creed. 
I believe it is perfectly reasonable to expect public service in exchange for public assistance. I believe some mode of public service should be a requirement for all citizens, whether part of the military, government, social welfare program, etc. at some point in their lives. 
I believe everyone should be allowed to retire from paid work WITH a pension and healthcare after a reasonable number of years. That is the framework.
In some ways, I am representative of middle America, despite living a very different existence. I have worked hard all my life. I have lived through hardship, paid my bills, lived within my means and saved for retirement. I have paid my taxes and not relied on government “handouts”, aside from 3 months of unemployment, in nearly 40 years of working. 
I paid into a system for Social Security all of my working life, it has been pushed out 7 years and it remains in jeopardy, depending on the source, of bankruptcy, defunding, privatization. 
I paid into my own retirement account, that I am not allow to touch without penalty until my 70s, also pushed out,  where I have watched my hard earned money/savings disappear, while we give bailouts to Wall Street where folks make more in a year than I will see in my life time. 
I have done everything right – arguably better than most. AND, I am at the mercy of a system where I pay, behave like a good citizen, but have no say and no sense of guarantee or security. I will not be able to retire until my early 70’s if I want to avoid living in poverty. That is 50 years of work!
I don’t have a problem with public assistance for those in need, although I suspect our current welfare system would benefit from a financial and policy overhaul. 
My pet issue is retirement and pensions. Public sector employees get to retire after around 30 years, some sooner, fully pensioned with health benefits. I don’t begrudge them this benefit, I resent that I do not get to enjoy the same. 
This is a great inequity, but with most public sector folks this is an entitlement they have earned, while they fail to acknowledge that others in different circumstances might deserve the same. 
I find this particularly vexing with regards to our US elected officials, many whose wealth and income far exceeds mine – in part due to corporate connections after working as an elected official. There is no wealth/income eligibility check on this. Ex. Why should billionaires Bill and Hillary Clinton receive government checks from tax payer dollars? AND many of PS workers who retire return as contractors, receiving both a pension and a paycheck. This is one example of where we need a more balance/checks on government spending and citizen safety nets. 
I view our political system as corrupt – run by corporations, elected officials who are beholden to them, and career politicians who are more concerned about re-election than they are about policy. 
I believe the American people have been forgotten. Politics has obscured issues and outcomes. 
I want term limits. I want government to return to service of the people. 
I want single issue bills where citizens understand what is being voted on and can hold their elected officials accountable. 
I want publicly funded elections that are about the issues and not advancing a particular political party platforms or corporate agendas. 
I want a brand new political party that erases traditional party lines, seeks to return government to the people, actually addresses the issues Americans are most concerned about, AND that seeks to engage the 46% who did not bother to vote.
And, I want some level of sanity with regards to who and what we legislate. How do we even let legislating public bathrooms become a viable issue, when a crumbling infrastructure is not? 
How many times do we let a body of government vote to repeal AHCA before we say “Uncle”?
 And, at what point can we just say that abortion is decided? 
Funding for ridiculous ventures should not be allowed unless statistically relevant – drug testing for public assistance?! And perhaps folks should first apply for eligibility to run for office with a test that demonstrates knowledge of how government actually functions, of world religions, political systems and geography, and scientific concepts/methods – ex. 
The weather today does not equate to climate and evolution is not a belief, there is empirical data that supports this and it is not a Chinese conspiracy. 
We expect folks to pass a test to become citizens, why would we not want a test for elected officials? Who knew this would ever be such a problem?!
I fear this sounds like a rant. So, I will end with this thought…
I want the notion of government to be rooted in service to our country and its citizens, not an opportunity for wealth, power, or a lucrative career. 
I want folks to get paid, but not profit from service to our country. Can we shift to this paradigm?

I accept the election results, but I strongly protest Trump as being morally unfit to run this country. He has deeply offended me as a woman, possibly sending the country back decades, he has made a mockery out of our democratic process, and he has thwarted the core values we hold as Americans. 
I believe we need to get busy on right action to respond to a Trump presidency and start work on a long range solution to ensure this never happens again.

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