2016 was my first full year of retirement. Over the 2016, my top ten best memories are:
10:Meeting my two personal goals for the year, writing a weekly blog and working out regularly. I managed to achieve both of these, posting 78 blogs with 2,782 views and 1639 viewers and loosing ten pounds along the way. For 2017, I have the single goal to loose 10 pounds more. I remind myself that my goal is the same as dropping my white cat Angel off my waist.
9: Growing my hair long for the first time in more than 30 years. I was able to compete with my son this summer in the man bun/mom bun contest. At a Christmas party, someone asked my sister for the name of her daughter (me). Fortunately, my sister has a good sense of humor and this made both of us laugh uproariously. My older sister, Jane, was my idol growing up and remains so today. I am three years younger than she. I have found people do view women with long hair as younger.
8: Taking up a new hobby, paper mache which I have now renamed paper sculpture. Late summer and early fall, I made whimsical cats, dogs, and angels, a statue of Trump and a Boo-tiful Witch scarecrow all of which amuse me. Along the way I raised a few dollars for charity. In 2017, I will be developing stories for my creations and working on showcasing them better. I am planning on making cats with cowboy hats. My productions may be called “Cowgirl Ugly”.
7: My pets continue to amaze and amuse me. I was so thankful when Violet, my rat terrier, was returned after she was stolen this summer by a marijuana dealer from Oregon. But since her return, she has transformed again to her Devil Dog ways. I have to remind myself sometimes that I felt really, really, sad when she was gone.
6.I have volunteered helping refugees learn English and been blessed to see how much we have in America from the eyes of someone who has just gotten here. I sometimes forget that I have coats for rain, wind, snow, and fashion. My car rolls out of my warm garage when I go to tutoring while some of the people I tutor have come by an undependable public bus system in inclement weather. They always seem to be so pleased to be in America and have the chance to better themselves.
5: I have had the opportunity to travel to Mexico, Canada, Colorado, Oregon, Washington, Montana, Utah, Wyoming, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Hawaii. I always enjoy these adventures but I love to walk in the door at Ashtree Way and feel the warmth of a home filled with love and kindness.
4: I find great joy in my friends who live both in Boise and far away. In 2017, I hope to get to Colorado, Wyoming, Portland, and Arizona to see friends. My best days in retirement are when I have Bible Study, lunch, coffee, or a project scheduled with someone I hold close to my heart.
3: My son graduated from college. Living in a state where only 1 in 10 students graduate from college, it has been wonderful to have him beat the odds.
2: My family and I stayed healthy. As I age, I am glad to wake up every morning and get out of bed. I struggle with some chronic conditions, particularly my declining ability to stand for any period of time but I can still walk, swim, dance and bicycle. I enjoy any day where I am able to move in the out of doors.
1: I have had the opportunity to be married to my husband for 27 years and have a kind, smart adult son and strong-will, brilliant, beautiful 17-year-old daughter. We are an inter-racial family. My daughter was adopted as an infant from China. In a country where race has become divisive, I am pleased to let you know that it makes absolutely no difference to the heart and should make no difference in our politics. Our family loves each other fiercely through good times and bad. We have shared many small and large moments of joy this year. We never consider race to be a factor in who we are. We are simply the Robinson/Kozisek Family.
Number 10:Hillary Clinton is not Donald Trump. I would support almost any reasonable candidate over Mr. Trump who continues to be a bully, racist and misogynistic. The concept of Mr. Trump as leader of the free world is terrifying. His campaign rhetoric has shown him to be a thin-skinned, unstable narcissist and a pathological liar. Since winning the primary rather than demonstrating he can be Presidential, Mr. Trump has shown a total disrespect for the U.S. Constitution’s separation of powers and continued on his path of “my way or the highway”. I deeply respect the Republicans who have refused to endorse him and publicly rebuked his commendation of Judge Curiel, the Mexican-American federal judge overseeing the Trump University law suit.
Most frightening to me is Mr. Trump’s strong support across a variety of income and educational groups in the Republican Party. The Economist in April reviewed Trump’s support and found that he has appeal to Republican voters across all income and education levels.
I have heard supporters of Mr. Sanders say they will boycott the election or write in Mr. Sanders’ name. I would argue this is a dangerous strategy. Given the sluggish economy and the fact that a Democrat has been President for two terms, past voting trends favor a Republican being elected. Mr. Sanders’ remarkable campaign and many victories have demonstrated that the future of the Democratic Party lies in a progressive agenda. We know, however, from Al Gore’s failed presidential run in 2000 that it is possible to win the popular vote and lose the election through the Electoral College. In my mind, Mr. Trump as President is too worrisome to waste a vote.
Number 9: Mrs. Clinton is a Feminine Warrior. I read recently that Hillary practices the yoga warrior pose when she is tired and needs to re-energize for an upcoming event. I was taken by the image of a strong woman rising to battle time and time again.
After more than forty years in politics and advocacy, Americans certainly know all her professional and personal baggage. We quite literally know her dirty laundry. Anyone who was an adult in the late nineties links the names Monica Lewinsky, President Bill Clinton and impeachment proceedings. Former President Clinton’s bimbo eruptions are a tawdry stain on his policy accomplishments as President. More unfathomable to me than President Clinton’s behavior, a known womanizer is Hillary’s ability to get through that dark period still married to the man and to have emerged with an amicable marriage intact.
On the professional front, Hillary has been beaten many times but she never accepts defeat. In 1993, Mrs. Clinton received a bludgeoning for her leadership on a proposed national health plan, a precursor to the arduous battle we are still fighting to provide health care to all. After a grueling primary campaign in 2008, she politely endorsed then Candidate Obama and later agreed to serve in his administration as Secretary of State. Time and time again over her political career, Mrs. Clinton has been pushed down and like a phoenix she has recreated herself and risen again, a proud, regal female warrior ready to do battle for what she believes in.
Number 8: Mrs. Clinton is fallible (and that makes her more human). As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton took responsibility for not providing enough security in the Benghazi Attacks (September, 2012) that led to the murder of Ambassador Christopher Stevens, a friend of Clinton’s. Eleven hours of Congressional hearings on the subject never directly implicated Clinton but given her position of Secretary of State the responsibility for her staff did and should fall on her shoulders.
The Benghazi Hearings subsequently led to the investigations into Mrs. Clinton private server hosting her email account while Secretary of State. Apparently, this was common practice by other high ranking officials in other administrations. For example, Colin Powell used a similar approach to email when he served as Secretary of State. With the gift of hindsight and the Snowden (2013) leaks and numerous mass hacking of corporate accounts such as Target, the naiveté of keeping a personal server for government business seems absurd. But for those of us carrying Blackberry phones for business during this period, these choices don’t seem Machiavelli.
As recently as June 9th, 2016, the email debacle was still being raised as an election issue in Mrs. Clinton’s candidacy. Possessing the warrior spirit, Hillary politely told a reporter she would not be indicted and the email problem would not interfere with her presidential bid. She rose to the question with grace and aplomb.
To vote for Mrs. Clinton, I do not have to agree with all of her decisions or actions. I would never assume this level of support for a male candidate. I find it maddening when talking to potential voters who do not support Hillary because she is “untrustworthy”. Would they say the same about Colin Powel (a man I greatly admire) who testified that there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq before the U.S. went to war? After all, we didn’t find any weapons but that was the opinion of experts at the time.
Mr. Trump, on the other hand, has managed to stick the moniker of “lying Hillary” on Mrs. Clinton with some ease. Yet we see Mr. Trump revising his version of the facts and his comments at almost every turn. Only recently has the media begun rapidly and accurately checking his statements. Many of which have proven to be false.
Number 7:Mrs. Clinton is a policy nerd and incrementalist. When campaigning against Mrs. Clinton, Bernie Sanders cited Hillary’s incremental approach to most policy issues as a fault. As a student of public administration, I can tell you that we are a nation of incrementalists. With few exceptions, Americans tend to respond the best and most creatively when in crisis or at war. For example, the transcontinental railroad had been stymied due to bickering in Congress on whether to follow a southern or northern route. The railroad only became possible with the succession of the southern states from the Union allowing Lincoln to authorize a northern passage. Once a decision was made, we were able to overcome all engineering stumbling blocks and become a nation united.
A less successful example of American incrementalism is health care. As a country, we implemented Social Security in response to the Great Depression. But even popular four-term President Franklin Roosevelt was unable to get universal health coverage because of opposition from Republicans, conservative Democrats and organized medicine. President Truman was the first president to strongly advocate for universal health care and his proposal was stalled in Congress. President Lyndon Johnson was successful at getting Medicare approved in 1965 (thirty years after the first discussions began).
Since then, Congress has been slowly expanding Medicare benefits including covering qualifying disabled individuals, improving quality of nursing home care, adding hospice care, drug benefits (with a donut hole) and encouraging preventive care and providing the option to purchase private insurance.
The problems of Obamacare are a direct outgrowth of our nation’s inability to implement the “Grand Idea”. Harris polling indicates that a large majority of Americans believe every American should have access to health care. Unfortunately, we are unable to agree on the details. The same poll found that 87 percent of Democrats and only 33 percent of Republicans favor a universal health care system (Harris Poll, September 8 2015).
While Americans may want to hear grand ideas in presidential debates and speeches when it comes to moving a policy agenda forward Americans proceed at a snail’s pace (thirty years to get to Medicare and almost fifty years of refinements have not resulted in full coverage for Americans). The fact that Mrs. Clinton is an incrementalist is not an indictment of her politics but rather a high compliment to her clear understanding of the difficulties of implementing policies in a large diverse nation with many viewpoints and a fractious, politically divided, stonewalling Congress.
Number 6: Mrs. Clinton is inclusive. My family is inter-racial. I have an adopted daughter from China. My sister has an adopted daughter of Mexican and Native American descent. My sister’s daughter was married for a period to an undocumented Mexican man. Together they had 3 darling Hispanic children, ages 7, 8, and 9.
These children are American citizens. While my niece is now divorced, the ex still has joint custody of the children. In summary, we have a very complicated multi -cultural extended family. But we represent the future of America. We are a diverse nation and becoming more so by every day. It is our very diversity which has traditionally made us a strong country. Mrs. Clinton attracts large numbers of black and Hispanic voters because these groups see opportunities for economic and social equality consistently pushed by Mrs. Clinton. Mr. Trump, on the other hand, is interested in developing road blocks to forward mobility of all while creating a divisive culture. Other countries have discovered to their peril that exclusionary policies lead to social unrest and ethnic violence. We are already beginning to see this response by Hispanics at anti-Trump rallies.
Number 5:Mrs. Clinton recognizes that women’s issues are family issues. The demographics of American families have been shifting for many years. The Pew Research Center (Census data 2013) has found that four in 10 American households with children under age 18 now include a single mother who is either the sole or primary of these breadwinners. The median family income for single mothers — who are more likely to be younger, black or Hispanic, and less educated — is $23,000. The transformation of black families clearly highlights the changing dynamics of American families. In 1950, 18% of black families were headed by a single woman today that number is 68% of families. This is the reality of American children, especially low income children. They are growing up in families headed by their mother with an income at or below poverty level. Federal Poverty Level (FPL) for a family of three in 2016 is $20,160.
Mrs. Clinton throughout her forty year political career has advocated for expanded, high quality day care, expansion of pre-k education, educational opportunities for women and equal pay for women. The issues on the surface appear to be “women’s issues” but with the transformation of the American family these issues are fundamental to providing a strong beginning for most of America’s children, particularly America’s low income and ethnically diverse children.
Number 4:Mrs. Clinton wants to build bridges not walls. There are two primary philosophies about how to approach U.S. foreign policy. The first is protectionism and isolationism. The second is that our community is the world and we must be strategically engaged globally. The isolationist/protectionist approach worked well for America when we were a young nation, expanding across a vast continent. But Pearl Harbor and our entry into World War II was a wake-up call that United States could not depend on the boundaries provided by the Pacific and the Atlantic Oceans for its primary protection. Our safety as a nation required that we develop strategic alliances globally. The arrival of the internet has brought further globalization. The destruction caused by 9-11 was a devastating way for Americans to learn that we sometimes harbor enemies on our own soil. We know from Orlando this week, that we continue to harbor home-grown enemies within our borders.
The choice this election is unequivocal. Mr. Trump has emphasized repeatedly his protection/isolationist approach to foreign policy. He has been clear about building a wall to keep undocumented Mexicans out of the U.S. He has suggested that entire ethnic groups such as Muslims are not welcome in our country. I believe both proposals, a wall and mass screenings, will be extremely expensive and cumbersome to implement. Assuming these polices were implemented, I’m not sure that our country will be any safer. I am sure both proposals will create further enemies both within and outside of our country. I personally do not believe that isolationism/protectionist approach is the way to keep America safe. Developing strong allies across borders and creating a global community with shared goals united against terrorism both within and outside our borders seems like a better approach to me.
Mrs. Clinton has consistently demonstrated her willingness to reach out to other nations and cultures. When Mrs. Clinton served as 67th Secretary of State, she became one of the most traveled Secretaries of State in American history. She visited 112 countries during her four-year tenure, and logged enough miles to span the globe more than 38 times.
Number 3:Mrs. Clinton has vast experience at the state and federal levels and executive and legislative branches of government. President Obama in his video endorsement of Mrs. Clinton for President said “I don’t think there’s ever been someone so qualified to hold this office.” (June 8, 2016). Need I say more?
Number 2:Mrs. Clinton is a well-respected international icon. Hillary is well known throughout the world for her roles as politician, diplomat, and as an international champion for opportunities for women and girls. Her list of awards throughout her forty year career fills pages including many honorary degrees awarded worldwide. The awards vary from having a tulip created in her honor in by The Netherlands (1994) to receiving the Mother Teresa Award, the highest civilian honor given by Albania (1999) to the Chatham House Prize, Royal Institute of Internal Affairs, London (2013) for “driving a new era of diplomatic engagement and for her particular focus on promoting education and rights for women and girls.” Of particular interest to me was that Mrs. Clinton topped the list in Gallup’s most admired man and woman poll in 2015. This win was her fourteenth in a row and twentieth overall. She has held the top spot in the poll longer than other woman or man in Gallup’s history of asking the question.
Number 1:Did I mention, Mrs. Clinton just happens to be a woman.