I know that a lot of people want to get back to the simple days of talking about “Jersey Shore” and “16 and Pregnant” or the new Honey Boo Boo trainwreck when they get on the interwebs, but I’ve got to keep it real.

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It’s important to remind my readers that I was a registered Republican for most of my life before voting for Barack Obama in 2008. If you know me at all, you know that I’m decidedly “non-conformist”, which means I despise the idea of a two party system in the first place. I don’t feel that either party represents me or what I want, and the American people are forced to pick between airline food and hospital food as the only two options presented to them.

When Ronald Reagan beat Jimmy Carter in 1980, one of his campaign slogans was “Are You Better Off Now that You Were Four Years Ago?” It was highly effective, and helped Reagan win. It’s a different time now but like many of the components of the Republican way of thinking, the GOP slogan hasn’t changed a bit since 1980.

Here’s what has changed: We are a country of selfish assholes now focused just on our individual lives instead of the country as a whole. Did you know that we are involved in the longest and most costly war in the HISTORY of the United States RIGHT NOW? You didn’t realize we were at war? That’s ok, because a lot of people don’t seem to remember that. In fact, both Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney failed to even MENTION the soldiers in Afghanistan in their Republican National Convention speeches. Not. Even. Mentioned.

We did get Clint Eastwood talking to a chair, so I guess that’s a solid trade off. I mean who better than Clint to give the GOP that Hollywood rub… Except that he’s pro choice, pro gay marriage, and has 7 children to 5 different wives. If Clint wasn’t an old rich white guy the GOP would be trying to take away his right to vote right now instead of celebrating his decision to lose a debate to a chair.

Is Alzheimer’s covered in Obamacare?

I digress. The column is entitled “Are You Better Off” – implying that America (you) are doing worse than you were when Obama took office at the beginning of 2009.

This to me is a complete no-brainer. Let me rattle off some things:

– First and foremost, for 30 million Americans who now have health insurance who did not, 2012 is a lot better.

– For 5 million children with pre-existing conditions who were denied coverage in 2009, 2012 is a lot better.

– For a 4 year old girl who has a congenital heart defect and who had a lifetime cap on her insurance that would literally be dead now if not for the Affordable Care Act, 2012 is a lot better.

– For the 4 million people who have gotten jobs since Feb 2009, 2012 is a lot better.

– For the stock market that has gone up over 70% since September 2008, 2012 is a lot better.

– For the brave men and women not in “the suck” in Iraq any longer – 146,000 Americans, 2012 is a lot better.

– For GM and Chrysler and the over one million jobs that were saved in 2009, 2012 is a lot better.

Now look, I know there is a LONG road ahead of the country as it recovers from the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression. We are still dealing with crushing debt, a trillion dollar a year deficit, a Congress that is completely inept, an expensive and (in my opinion) unnecessary war in Afghanistan, and so on. Republicans have spent their time trying to restrict voting rights, defund Planned Parenthood, redefine “forcible rape”, ban abortion, contraception, and family planning, and so on.

This is not to say that Democrats aren’t also stuck in the minutia. They are spending their time talking about Mitt Romney’s tax returns and Paul Ryan’s time in the marathon.

YOU might have lost your job a few years ago. YOU might still be struggling. YOU might not see the recovery because the Great Recession is bigger than you understood and the recovery is slower than you want. But this isn’t about YOU: It’s about AMERICA. It’s about our troops being home safe (and more coming home soon). It’s about students getting affordable educations, Pell Grants, student loans with low interest rates, and an opportunity to compete in an increasingly global market. It’s about millions of Americans able to see a doctor for the first time, and their children who now can’t be denied coverage because they have cancer. It’s about people like me who have gotten REFUND checks from our insurance providers because they were charging us too much. It’s about women who still have access to family planning and inexpensive cancer screenings, mammograms, and more at Planned Parenthood.

So are we better off? No question. Are we where we need to be? Not even close. We are on the right track.

Stay on track. Don’t get distracted by non-issues. Ask specifics about what Romney and Ryan want to do. Understand that when they want to cut Medicaid what that means to America. Understand not everyone is going to think the same way, and that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. You can BELIEVE what you want, but if you BELIEVE that the Earth is flat, and the FACT is that it is not – I’m going to rip into you.