Friday, November 2, 2012

My "Sandy" View of Politics

I've never been one to heavily deal in the stress-inducing game that is political discussion, especially around the Presidency. Maybe it's because it's not in my nature to believe any one person could have that much power. Within my daily life, the only person who can really "change" anything (for better or worse) is me.

So I'll admit that the first time I ever voted was in the 2008 election. And yes, I voted for Obama. There were two main reasons; I believed in him and I wanted to see something unprecedented happen in our history. Oh, and I also thought Sarah Palin was batshit crazy and feared that McCain could die while in office, allowing her to take over the Presidency... And after watching Obama take the win, I returned to my little non-political world and continued life.

Four years later, another election rolled around and I often found myself avoiding water cooler talks about the candidates and Facebook arguments about policies. To be honest, I wasn't convinced anyone could undo the damage our economy has suffered, but I also wasn’t sold on the idea of jumping ship and into the arms of a guy who only seems concerned with money. “But that’s what we need!” some of my left-siding friends cried. They aren’t wrong. I recently learned the value of property I bought four years ago has tanked and I nearly had a heart attack. But the economy isn't the only issue our country faces, and knowing that left me with this question: is it better to vote for a guy whom I feel entirely unconnected to, but who MIGHT help the economy grow a little bit in the next 4 years? (And I say a little bit because if anyone takes over and drastically changes our economy it means at least one class of people is getting totally screwed.) Or do I reelect a man who did ok (not great) with the hand he was dealt? Up until a week ago, I really wasn’t sure.

Then Sandy arrived.

Like pretty much everyone on the East Coast, I shooed away the idea that Sandy would bring us anything more than some rain. Friends in Florida told me she had barely bothered them, so really, what could she do to the North? Well, a whole lot.

She arrived near my birthday, turning my celebration into (at first) a three day weekend. I only flinched slightly when the Mayor announced he was shutting down our transit system. “It’ll be OK ” I told myself. The next day, as we sat watching preparations unfold on the news and the wind starting to whip passed our window, the power went out. I slept restlessly that night.

Twelve hours later I left my apartment with a suitcase and a hope that I’d be able to return home the next day. With power on in my temporary home, I once again returned to the news and what I saw left me speechless... Lower Manhattan was dark and under water... Staten Island was submerged... And the Jersey Shore was almost non-existent. Images of the Jersey Shore were what made my heart stop. Having not spent much time there prior to this summer, it's ironic that just two months ago I was experiencing it almost for the first time.

This is a photo I took of Casino Pier where I ran around like a child in August. 

This is the roller coaster on that pier that I rode and made me scream like a little girl.

This is that same roller coaster after Sandy...

(unknown source)


And these are the streets I walked...

Source: (Saed Hindash/The Star-Ledger)

I found myself curling further into a ball as each image became increasingly more disturbing. "How could this happen?" I asked to no one in particular. And I realized then that unlike the economy, it's going to take a lot more than money to fix this tragedy. It's going to take patience, leadership and heart.

Like many others, I was glued to the TV during all the press conferences. And while I applaud Governor Cuomo and Mayor Bloomberg for how they handled New York's crisis, I was most affected by Governor Christie. He was clearly devastated by the destruction of his state, but he was also strong and humble. And when President Obama came to New Jersey's aid in record time, he pushed aside his political affiliations and was gracious and appreciative. More so,  when he was asked about the campaign (for which, up until this point he'd been a strong and loud supporter of Romney) he sternly replied, "“I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics, and I could care less about any of that stuff.” I wanted to hug him. 

On Wednesday, when the President toured New Jersey's coast with the Governor, there was a genuine concern shared between them and photos like this emerged.

Source:  Pablo Martinez Monsivais, AP
And as they took the podium side by side to address the crowd of pained but coping shore dwellers, it suddenly occurred to me that they were a team I would vote for. I don't care that Governor Christie is Republican or that President Obama is a Democrat. I care that they care, and that I believe they care. And I have faith that they want and will do all they can to help rectify what nature's fury has left behind.

And I wish that is what politics were really about - nominating someone you could believe in on every level instead of nominating the person that might help your wallet. Because, as we learned from Sandy, it doesn't matter how big of a house you have, it can be gone in an instant. And when the dust settles, it's not just a check you need, but a leader who will help instill the faith you are searching for to make it through the very hard times ahead... 

To donate money towards recovery to all areas affected by Sandy, please visit 

And on November 6th, when it's time to choose a leader for this nation, no matter who you cast your vote for just make sure you go DO IT.