Here's the latest comment on the election by Jonna Naylor of Mt. Airy. For the original story, see below.

Wednesday, Oct. 17 

Jonna: "I thought President Obama did a great job of hammering 'Romney will help the wealthy.' [He was] willing to let GM go belly up, will put tax cuts in for them. [He] said over and over it was reverting to what got us into this mess. Why was gas so cheap? The policy gutted our economy. He'd put them back. Tax cuts took us from surplus to deficits... he'd put us back in that position.

"He talked about his lack of advocacy for women's issues. The assault weapons ban ... before he was against it, he was for it. He pointed out his flip-flops on several issues. And he nailed him in the end on the 47 percent issue and the rose garden terrorist statement.

"So I thought President Obama wiped the floor with him!"

 


It's just minutes into the first presidential debate and Janet Gilease has rushed home from work in Princeton, N.J., to watch it on MSNBC with her partner of 17 years, Jonna Naylor.

Having caught the opening on car radio, Gilease settles in on the sofa in the couple's West Mount Airy home, flanked by their pet pooches Winnie and Murphy Brown. Mitt Romney is on the air, speaking about how he intends to create jobs and help the middle class.

While receiving dog kisses, Gilease immediately makes her scorn for the GOP candidate clear: "He hasn't been saying anything people want to hear for the past 18 months."

Long-time Democrats and self-described political junkies, the lesbian couple aren't buying anything Mitt Romney is selling tonight.

They're not too pleased with Obama's pitch, either.

"Our beef with Obama is that he doesn't go for the throat," like Bill Clinton, Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden would in a debate, Naylor says — and she reaches that judgment before the debate's first segment is done.

As the debate progresses, the couple clearly gets more and more annoyed with the President.

Obama "needs a 'There you go again!' line," Gilease comments with arms crossed, referring to the quote made famous by Ronald Reagan during the 1980 presidential debate.

Both agree Obama also needs a dose of Clintonesque empathy and charm. 

"He stays so intellectual that he loses people," Naylor says of Obama.

"Smarmy" is the adjective Gilease chooses to describe Romney's confident delivery during the debate.

"It's hard for us to be completely objective, because we're so partisan," Gilease concedes after the debate. Gilease feels that Romney's closing speech "absolutely" gave him an edge in the debate. "I worry about that," she divulges.

The evening leaves the two hard-pressed to say kind things about anything to do with the debate. The format? "So staged."  Moderator Jim Lehrer? "Disappointing."

Lifetimes on the ramparts

One photo on the sill of their living-room bay window says a lot about Gilease's and Naylor's political heritage. It's a portrait of President John F. Kennedy. The couple inherited it after Gilease's mother died.

Gilease, who hails from northern New Jersey just minutes from Manhattan, identifies as being a native New Yorker. She says she's voted in every election big and small — "even for judges" — since she became eligible to vote at 21. She's the daughter of a construction worker and she feels "the Ayn Rands of the world" are doing away with key protections that labor unions secured for workers. Most people alive today have no memory of what life was like before those protections were enacted, she says, adding, "My father remembered it."

Naylor became politically active in her late teens when she served as a delegate in the state Democratic convention in Texas in 1980. That year, she cast her first presidential ballot for Jimmy Carter. Naylor grew up in rural Texas, the child of Lyndon Johnson Democrats, but found the state becoming less and less congenial to her views as the years went by.

The couple, who met in Dallas at a friend's tree trimming party, settled in West Mount Airy in 2002. The two transplants are very active in their community. Naylor runs the Mount Airy Learning Tree program and is a board member at the Weaver's Way Co-op. Both said they love the neighborhood for its rich diversity — an enclave where people with a wide variety of ages, races, religions, cultures and economic backgrounds live together as one interactive community.

The diversity stops at politics, though. The neighborhood is overwhelmingly liberal. Gilease and Naylor are fine with that.

As she did in 2008, Naylor has again volunteered to drive people to polling stations during this election. "It's as important to vote for the downline ticket" as it is to vote to re-elect Obama, Naylor says. "Obama can only do so much. Overall, he's going to need help."

Recently, Naylor and Gilease hosted in their home three young men from London, England, who came to the United States as volunteers for the Obama campaign.

Key issues

The economy and the health of Medicare and Social Security are key issues for Gilease, 60, and Naylor, 52.

"Anybody in the 40 to 55 age group is screwed," Naylor predicts if Obama loses.

The viability of Medicare is key to Gilease: "It's a system we've been paying into for years. We earned it. We need to be able to count on it."

Naylor knows the economic fortunes of the middle class will determine the health of her Learning Tree program: "If people can't afford their house payments, they're sure not going to take a class in line dancing."

"You can't cut your way to growth," says Gilease, who works in human resources for another non-profit, Educational Testing Services.

Gilease says she is also very troubled by how radically opposed, in her view, the Republican Party has become on civil rights for gays, women and minorities. Naylor, however, has faith that the strides made in recent decades will not be easily dismantled because a younger generation has grown up with those rights in place.

Both expect a barrage of misleading, Super-PAC funded political ads will assault the airwaves in the month before the election. They hope the voters can see through all the hype and distortions come Election Day.


Still to come Monday, Oct. 15

The Zauns of Downingtown, Chester County (on WHYY-FM and NewsWorks)