8/16/2012 10:00 AM ET|
Politics is 'poisoning this country'
A career-changer says both candidates have demonstrated a lack of courage, and he wishes they would offer ideas instead of personal criticisms.
Bobby Casino of Port Jefferson Village
To look at Bobby Casino, you wouldn't think he'd just had his life ripped out from under him.
Sitting on a sidewalk bench on a drizzly summer morning in Port Jefferson Village, N.Y., sharing a bagel with his puppy Angel, the 49-year-old was all attitude as he joked with passing dog owners and took phone calls from friends.
"I'm in lightning round, brother," he told one caller. "I'm going to be Bobby Casino again!"
Only a few weeks earlier, Casino's wife had announced that she was leaving him. Semiretired for nine years, Casino gave her the house and the money -- they have two young boys -- and started over.
"There's no reason I'm in the situation I'm in right now, because I'm a great father, but there's a reason this is happening," he said. "I can't tell you why. I'm under the impression I'm supposed to save someone's life."
Casino has always managed to reinvent himself professionally, first as an optician, then as the owner of a stock brokerage and, most recently, as a restaurateur. Throughout, he has remained positive. He wishes national political leaders could do the same.
"They're out there bad-mouthing each other, and it trickles down through the economy. What it tells me, as a citizen of this country, is that I can say anything I want without any validity, without any facts to back it up. There are zero repercussions," Casino said.
"We're poisoning this country. We're poisoning everybody."
Casino decided to reposition himself in a new line of work: restoring people's credit. When he began, he was bursting with optimism, eager to do his part to stimulate spending and boost the economy. But a few weeks in, the proliferation of scams in the credit-repair industry wore down his faith.
"I just think the country's in a situation right now where it's every man for itself," Casino said. "There's no more looking out for the other guy. That's gone."
And, he said, "It's coming from the top," evident in the negative presidential campaigns.
"This isn't about who is the most qualified or who's best to run the country. It's about who can raise the most money to buy the most advertising to bash the other guy in public," Casino said. "And it's trickling down to one of the most sloppiest, ugliest times in American history."
A lifelong Republican -- his 89-year-old mother remains active in Republican politics on Long Island -- Casino remained undecided about his own vote in late June. He respected President Barack Obama and thought he deserved four more years to accomplish change.
But by early August, Casino had changed his mind, after seeing advertisements criticizing Mitt Romney's past.
"Because Obama is focusing more on Romney's personal stuff and not on his own plans for the country, he lost me. Because he didn't take a stand in Colorado, he lost me," said Casino, referring to the president's failure to question the proliferation of guns after the mass killing at a Colorado movie theater.
Casino is just as disappointed in Romney, who also failed to take a position on guns.
"Nobody has the balls to say the right thing, because they're afraid they're going to lose votes. They're afraid they're going to offend the National Rifle Association," Casino said. "How do you not condemn the whole thing in Colorado and all the guns and the rifles?"
Casino called the unchecked proliferation of guns one of the biggest problems facing this country. He worries more about his children's safety than about their financial futures.
"Kids are getting shot, and nobody's doing anything about it," he said. "Why do you need an assault rifle? And they're debating it. How are we still debating that?"
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