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Monique Ruffin Headshot

It's the Economy Stupid -- Really?

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The media would have us believe that the upcoming presidential election will be decided strictly on the basis of the economy. I believe, however, that this election will prove to be a battle for the economy of the American spirit.

As Americans, we're not just frustrated with the slow progress of our recovering economy -- not to mention our government's inertia -- we're nearly hopeless, and it's my belief that this situation is largely of our own making. We elect our government representatives based on a platform that sounds good to us, and then we go home and resume our worker bee lives, giving them no further thought. Yes, we have bills to pay and mouths to feed, but those are not our only responsibilities. You don't see the Koch brothers sitting around waiting for the furtherance of their agenda. They donate money, time, and ideas to support the issues they value. They are counting on the rest of us being so bogged down with bills and worries, and so certain of our powerlessness, that we have no energy left for this election. This makes it all the more important that we participate. We must give our dollars. Of course we can't individually match the donations of those who can contribute millions, but donating three, ten, and twenty dollars makes a difference when it is pooled with the donations of others like us. Most importantly, we need to decide who we really are and what type of country we want moving forward. Do we want a country that completely silences the voices of those who aren't wealthy? When the media continues to tell us that the economy will be the deciding factor in this election, we must ask ourselves, do we want the economy that got us where we are today, or do we want an economy that serves all Americans?

We can begin by asking ourselves how we participated in creating this economic crisis. Did we spend more than we earned or shop for more things than we could afford? I'll be the first to point to a financial industry run amok as the primary cause of our country's economic situation, but each of us needs to recognize and own our contribution. Rich or poor, did we overextend ourselves trying to amass more money or things during the boom years? Did we think that the endless number of credit cards and the endless amount of purchases we could make would somehow soothe the ailments that plagued us? Our sick economy is a symptom of a broken American spirit.

In order to heal this nation, we must re-elect President Obama for another four-year term, and we must commit to participate, with our available time and dollars, in creating a country that works for all of its people. We must also elect a congress staffed by representatives who will work for our well-being. We need elected leaders who serve the spirit and strength of all the American people, not leaders who are solely interested in maintaining the status quo of their friends in the 1 percent.

Discovering our intrinsic value and knowing that we make the difference is the key. The president of the United States is a representative of the people. The work he does and policies he supports must be inspired by our endeavor to change the American value system. We cannot succeed divided and as the pawns of corporate greed. What will we become on November 6, 2012? The results of this election will say as much about the economy of the American spirit as they do about the economy of dollars. Whatever the outcome, only we are responsible for what comes next.