Despite the fact that our state is below average, and often near the bottom, in health, income, education and other indicators of quality of life, they will vote for a president-vice president team that has stated plans to eliminate the extension of healthcare through what is called Obamacare, change Medicare to a voucher system that won’t begin to cover medical costs, and privatize Social Security, all of which most of us badly need.
They have stated they plan to pass down to the states responsibility for many federal programs, further overloading the beleaguered Kentucky budget and therefore requiring further cuts in services. Already, there have been teacher layoffs, higher education budgets have been cut, and other services have been curtailed. The University of Kentucky has gone so far as to carry out a major layoff and others are expected.
In other words, if the people of Kentucky get the people they vote for, a far worse economic situation will push us those last few steps down the ladder toward the bottom.
The candidates who will be chosen are trying to back off responsibility for drastic slashes in medicare and social security until after the election, but we already well know what they stand for because they have told us. And, “in order to get the economy going again” they plan to give us another slap in the face by seeking more major tax cuts to the rich, even though in the time after time that has been tried there is strong evidence that it hurts the economy rather than helps it.
And what of the urgency of addressing the national debt we have heard so much about. That isn’t planned for another decade, on somebody else’s watch.
One of the ironies in all this, of course, is that many of those same people voting for Romney-Ryan are the ones Mr. Romney has said are part of the 47 percent he has called leeches on the government who pay no taxes and who will not vote for him. Really? When he watches the election returns from Kentucky he will be surprised at the Kentucky message: “It’s all right. Kick me again, rich folks.”
Why do our people do this? Are they so totally ignorant that they are beyond hope and are now assigning themselves to the scrap heap? Is it because they listen to the rantings of the radical right, who label anything done for the middle class as socialism, call Obama a foreigner and a radical moslem? Have we heaped so much work on our teachers that our education system is failing? Is it because in listing the necessities of a good curriculum we leave out courses that would teach people the Bill of Rights, history, and the tools to become knowledgeable about public affairs so they would know when they’re being taken advantage of?
Will some people vote against Obama simply because he is black? Is it the work of the fundamentalist preachers (and priests) who simplify it all down to one issue while they “fight” abortion but ignore all the misery the policies of the corporate right shower down on us by shutting off help to the poor and downtrodden.
Is the reason a majority of my fellow Kentuckians will cast ballots against their own interests some combination of all of the above, plus other reasons we have not identified? In the process will they also throw out one of our few Congressional representatives—Ben Chandler—who represents their interests and can help break the impasse if, miraculously, Democrats should win back the House of Representatives?
Why, Kentucky, why do you choose to wallow around, having only winning basketball teams to be proud of, while the state sinks closer and closer to the bottom. I’d like to hear from you.
Lewis Donohew retired from the University of Kentucky College of Communications in 1999 after nearly 35 years of service and having earned a national reputation as a communications scholar and researcher. Now down on his farm growing grapes and living close to the earth, he contemplates issues of the day from a lifetime of experience and a love of the land.