Hurricane Sandy's blown away more than what could be $20 billion lost in damages and $30 billion in evaporated business. It may have blown Mitt Romney's campaign off-course, just a few days from the election. While President Obama is back at work, helping the East Coast recover and gaining praise from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a key surrogate for his opponent, Republican nominee Mitt Romney is being haunted by... Republican primary challenger Mitt Romney. His trouble comes from a June, 2011 debate where he strongly agreed to defund FEMA and have the states manage emergency relief. It's his latest cost-cutting idea that panders to his conservative base, but actually makes as much sense as a Real Housewife's conversation after a few drinks too many.
So, as we consider the political storm around his FEMA comments, here's my take on why I'm voting for the other guy, even though my tax return would probably be bigger if I didn't vote my conscience.
Don't sell your future for a windfall on April 15th -- Everyone has a price. An extra few thousand dollars is not mine. I look at the choice we have and wonder what price we're willing to pay for a tax break. What will it do to our economy if our leader's foreign policy leads us to another war we can't afford, because they'd choose conflict over communication? How many American lives will be lost and how long will it take to rebuild our credibility around the world? Peace doesn't come through war and Romney's strategy in the Middle East is being led by the same neocons who never served but forced us into a war of choice in Iraq by manipulating information. Governor Romney can't withstand peer pressure. He caved in the primaries (remember that "severe conservative" talk?) and he'll cave in the West Wing. I know he wouldn't choose war as a first option, but all of his wavering proves that underneath all that "leadership" is really a follower, telling people what they want to hear instead of what they need to hear. A people pleaser. It would be tough to think he'd stand up to the hawks around him and exhaust all diplomatic options. He's like the Real Housewife who could get talked into a table dance at a charity dinner.
Look, I know this is all "easy for me to say." I realize that I've been really lucky. I've got an amazing husband, an incredible son, a weekly spot on a hit TV show, and have had success beyond anything I could have dreamed in business and as a fundraiser for causes I truly believe in. However, that success hasn't entitled me to a sense of entitlement about the country. I know it's not all about me or the wealthy, for that matter. America has always done best when everyone does better, just like a strong economy builds from the middle class out. We know the middle class is the backbone of this country and its heart and soul. It's why the middle class is the target of so much attention in this campaign, like it's the one girl in a high school science club full of boys.
Economic Fairness is "elementary" -- Elementary school teachers always taught us that "majority rules" and the same rules apply to the economy. I may be in a higher tax bracket, but when people say the more money you give us around April 15th, the better our country will be, the more I call BS. I agree with George H.W. Bush when he called the trickle down financial theory, "voodoo economics" on April 10, 1980. We tried it before and our national debt exploded from $712 billion in 1980 to more than $2.05 trillion in 1988. I have seen what those years were like with a Republican president who gives a bigger tax return, but oversees a far less kind, compassionate America. Remember the lack of action during the first years of the AIDS epidemic in the 1980s?
So, I'm prepared to give up a healthier tax break with Romney for the ability to keep my reproductive rights in place with Obama. I'm willing to give up the extra cash from the IRS with Romney for tighter financial regulations with Obama so we don't have another financial collapse with unwatched greed on Wall Street and in the housing market. I'm OK to sacrifice some money around tax time with Romney to support Obama as a president who helped to guarantee equal pay protection for women with the Lilly Ledbetter Act. Now there are "binders full of women" making the same amount as men!
It's not class warfare, it's warfare on our kids' classes -- Think about all the mothers across the U.S. that live in fear. Fear that they can't properly feed, educate or get medical care for their child, because they can't afford it. Fear that they can get home to those kids with the $5 they are stretching until their next payday. Would it be too much to ask wealthy Americans to live with three cars instead of four? When is enough, enough? I am all for free enterprise and financial success, but we can also be smart enough to do it without making life harder on those who are less fortunate. Those of us in a higher tax bracket should consider ourselves blessed to be there. Money is a privilege, not a weapon. Why would we spend top dollar to send our kids to private schools, only to gut education programs for millions of Americans whose families don't make as much?
If our goal is to question science (Hurricane Sandy shows climate change is real!) and dumb down our education system, we deserve the future we're dooming ourselves to. What kind of values do we really have if we're willing to elect someone we know will say anything to get elected? By the way, conservatives, you have no idea if he'll sell you down the river just as fast, because nobody has any idea what he'll do! It all depends on who he surrounds himself with and if his foreign policy advisers are any indication, you can expect a return to the Bush years you've spent four years trying to distance yourselves from.
It's "one for all" not "all for the one percent" -- Just like his advice that young people should borrow money from their parents to attend college, many of these ideas just don't work for Americans who are less fortunate. Yes, the economy is still rebuilding, but we can't prevent a financial Chapter 11 by going morally bankrupt. We're all connected, so it's a false choice to say that you will vote your pocketbook or vote your religion. When everyone succeeds, that really does mean everyone. Just look at the rising wages during the Clinton years and the balanced budget we got from a bipartisan deal. Democracy thrives because the family that struggles to make a $10 political donation has the same say in the voting booth on election day as the billionaire Koch brothers. Democracy shouldn't be for sale. Are you listening, Sheldon Adelson, with that $1 million Super PAC donation to save Allen West's campaign in Florida?
We should all hope Romnesia doesn't spread -- Just like Romney seems to have forgotten his talk of defunding FEMA (or just hopes to avoid questions like he did after Sandy hit), he'll probably lose sight of what he promised for his first day in office. In his first 24 hours, Romney has to start to return all the favors he's received and fulfill the promises over those six years he's run for president. He'll be busy on day one. Romney pledged to: repeal Obamacare (he doesn't have the power as president to do it on day one), label China a currency manipulator despite the possible trade war it would start (doesn't have the nerve), begin cutting the deficit (doesn't have the plan) and start the push for tax cuts (I think you're getting the picture).
What type of people would we be to repeal Obamacare, which provides healthcare for the weakest among us, protects the elderly and their financial security? What about changes to Medicaid that could leave the mentally ill and physically challenged without help because their family doesn't have the resources to help? How about the Romney/Ryan voucher system they have in store for Medicare? They've left voters with more questions than Andy Cohen has on a RH reunion show!
A few closing thoughts -- Whether you're seeing the damage of Hurricane Sandy and thinking of Romney's FEMA plans or the perfect storm a few years back of AIG, Lehman, a collapsing auto industry and tanking housing market, you'll realize that with the wrong leader, our recession would have been a depression. At a time when we're at war in several countries with several crises on the way from Iran to Syria, it is hard to accept people rolling the dice on someone whose views have flipped more than an IHOP chef at breakfast.
He so desperately wants to get elected and is banking on a short-term game of flip- flops with voters he hopes will have short-term memories and even shorter attention spans. If he wins, it's easy to imagine his party molding him and his policies to fit their scary worldview. He'll have to repay all those political debts quickly and constantly. If you think I can go for that to save some tax money, then you don't know Black.
The Real Housewives of Miami airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on Bravo. Follow Lea Black on Twitter at @LeaBlackMiami.