I’ve got a bunch of thoughts coming out of the past couple of days in the political world. Many of them are of a similar theme, but I couldn’t figure out a way to join them clearly in a single essay…so I’m going to do it kind of like one of my usual “random” posts…but all of them are political.
Apologies in advance for the length of this post. And also for any contradictory stuff that finds its way through. In the highly-charged political atmosphere, there’s bound to be some of that…
- Considering the tone of the rest of this post, I want to address something before anyone else can comment on it (should anyone want to). I am very aware that I’ve been very critical of the Republican Party, George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and (particularly) Rush Limbaugh in recent and not-so-recent days on my blog. I’ve said some things that have been pretty harsh. I know that. It’s not worth your effort to point it out. I have, however, also made an effort in recent days to be more fair about it. I wrote a couple of posts toward the end of the last Presidential election that stated that I was going to try to be more fair and less aggressive toward my Republican friends/readers. For the most part, I think I’ve done pretty well with that. When I’ve been harsh toward a Republican, it has been a SPECIFIC person, (and at that a celebrity). Most frequently, I’ve trashed Limbaugh, referring to him as (***deep breath***) “That fat, deaf, racist, drug addled piece of crap Rush Limbaugh.” (I also wrote a very long post explaining that.) Whereas that’s pretty mean, I would like to point out that it is not giving a blanket description to the entire Republican Party, nor does it imply that if you agree with Rush and/or the Republican Party that you must be just like him and are a bad person or anything like that. I just want to point out, before all else, that as far as the whole of the Republican Party…I’ve tried to be nice lately. As far as I’m aware, any derogatory or heavily biased statements I’ve made have been about specific public figures and not about Republicans/Conservatives as a whole and I’ve tried not to dismiss anyone’s opinion based solely on their political affiliation lately. I’m saying that up front because I want to assure you that this isn’t coming from a place of hypocrisy…it’s coming from the same place I’ve been for over a year—I think.
- Like most people who care about political issues, I used to feel the need to be hurtful and aggressive about politics. I have more than once called the Republican agenda under the Bush Administration “evil.” I’m not prepared to retract that basic opinion, as I still think the Bush Administration (note again—I’m specifically referring to those who were IN POWER, not the people that voted for them) were motivated by goals and pursuits that I think were/are fundamentally wrong. I can’t change my feelings on that. However, I can avoid assuming that every Bush (or McCain, as it may be) VOTER I know is/was motivated by similar goals. I know a TON of Republicans (they outnumber the Dems I know, in fact). Let’s say I know 100 Republicans, though I’m sure that’s not accurate. Of those 100, there might be 1-2 that I think are a little bit out there or are bad people. The other 98-99 are people who I know and respect—some even love…so I shouldn’t treat them and their beliefs/opinions poorly just because I like blue better than red (with no offense to Sammy Hagar). We can disagree, but we don’t have the right to intentionally hurt each other based on actions of people in the government that we have absolutely no power to control (and don’t mislead yourself to think that you do).
- Okay… So with all of the above in mind… I posted the following as my Facebook status on 3/22/10, just a little bit after the Health-Care Bill passed. “Derek Brink thinks the Conservatives have every right in the world to be disappointed and the Liberals have every right to be overjoyed. But the name-calling, insults, and cruelty MUST STOP.” That got a bunch of “likes” from people on both sides of the political fence and generated a few nice comments as well. At the time, I was referring to specifically the activities and comments I was seeing among some of my Facebook friends. There were a lot of very harsh things being said and I was watching a lot of “de-friending” happening, too. I thought that was disturbing…so I posted that. But those words took on a deeper meaning to me when I found out that in the hours (and days) that followed, Liberal Congressmen had begun receiving death threats, and one of them even had a blogger dig up his home address and post it online telling everyone they should “drop by” and let him know what they think. That’s disgusting. I don’t care how much you disagree with someone on ANY issue, doing them (and their families) physical harm and encouraging murder makes you a terrible person and (far lesser than that) certainly doesn’t help people respect your chosen political party. Behaving like that doesn’t make you a good Republican (in fact it makes you a very BAD one as the majority of your party would NEVER do that kind of thing). All it makes you is a criminal who belongs in prison. I am in no position to speak on behalf of my Republican friends, who I KNOW are in the majority of the GOOD people in the party…but I do hope and expect that they are embarrassed and ashamed to have these radicals connected to the same votes as their own. Just as I’m embarrassed to have to take ownership of the extremists of my own party.
- Random thought… If you can’t say anything good about your party, don’t say anything bad about the other one. I get it… A lot of people hate Democrats. A lot of people hate Republicans. That’s been said. But if you want to convince me… Stop telling me how bad my party is (often getting the facts wrong) and try selling me on yours. What’s so great about your party or your candidate? Can you only say negative things? What’s your side doing that’s positive? This is already WAY too long…but in brief, I think mine is doing great things. I think the Health Care Bill will prove to be very good for America—especially for the poor and elderly. I think we’re going to make some major strides in education soon. I believe we’re going to get our troops home from Iraq no later than the end of Obama’s second term—God willing. (Also, it’s been very good to see Obama in recent days trying to shift our focus to AFGHANISTAN, where it should’ve been ever since 9/12/01.) I think we’re ALREADY making major headway in improving America’s foreign image. And I’ve personally been making about $100 more a paycheck since Obama got into office because of things he’s put in place. I’ll stop there…but those are a few the things I think my party’s doing that are good…
- I think a lot of the outrage right now comes from the same place it did under the Bush administration. Essentially, it just sucks to know that your side is in the minority. I know what it’s like to be on the losing side. I know how hard it is to invest in a political party/candidate and have the majority of America vote the other way (or whatever happened in 2000…but let’s just put that behind us…). It sucks, and the natural reaction is to strike before being struck. I get it. I’ve done it. I was wrong when I did, and those behaving that way now are just as wrong. Rather than assume that everyone who calls themselves a Democrat is out to destroy the American way of life…how about trying to work together? How about praying for and with one another? How about finding the places where we DO have common ground? That’s what I should have been doing during the Bush administration. My bad.
- I’ve got to say, kind of in line with #5… I’ve been called a Socialist a lot lately. I said some bad things during 2000-2008…but I never once called a Republican a Nazi like some of the idiots in my party have done…so I think it’s fair that I be at least a LITTLE outraged when someone calls me a Socialist. I love America. So do you. If we didn’t…we wouldn’t argue about it at all, we’d just let it go on without us. So let’s not call each other names. (And, I’m sorry…but if you want to call me something that I’m fundamentally NOT and want to force that kind of label on me…there comes a point where being nice and trying to find a common ground fails…and we can take it outside. Where you’ll probably kick the shit out of me in the name of freedom…)
- Okay… Specifically about Health Care. There are some MAJOR misconceptions about the bill floating around. People say it will fund abortions (whereas the truth of the matter is that Obama signed an executive order stating that it won’t—and people are trying to discredit that too, either because they don’t understand what an executive order is and does or they DO understand and just don’t want to admit that Obama met them on some common ground). People think it will mean an increase in taxes on small businesses. (I spoke with one person who complained that they will now face “up to” a 43% tax—and I asked what they pay now, and it’s about 39-40%…so I’m not sure that’s necessarily going to break the bank in the first place…but aside from that, there are actually going to be major tax CUTS for small businesses. I doubt this person will even be paying the 40% they’re paying now.) Also contrary to popular belief—if you’re already insured, you CAN KEEP YOUR PLAN AND YOUR PHYSICIAN. Your doctor isn’t going to lose his/her job because of this bill, and their appointment book WILL still have room for you. You are not obligated to accept the same plan as the homeless guy on the street…and I doubt that the emergency rooms will be much worse than they are now, as a side note… And this last one I’m going to mention is HUGE…I don’t know if it’s a misconception or not, exactly…but it seems like a lot of people don’t know about it. This bill means that preexisting conditions are a thing of the past. (Which means that my brother can start getting that thing in his lung that could be—but probably isn’t, God willing—cancer looked at again. You’ll pardon me if I think that’s good news.) I’m sure there are downsides that I don’t know about, or that I just think don’t outweigh the positives… But I think there are a LOT of positives.
- This is NOT the ruination of America. It’s actually supposed to be beneficial. And I think it will be. I can’t back that up yet…but even if it doesn’t work, America is specifically designed so that if something doesn’t work, we can change it. If this sends America into a downward spiral…it’ll be changed. Don’t worry. Our system is specifically designed to prevent the overall ruination of the country. That doesn’t mean the dollar won’t lose some worth for a while or that we’ll always be the most powerful nation in the world…it just means we won’t collapse entirely. Take it easy. Your life will go on basically uninterrupted in most cases.
- What bothers me most about all of the hate and aggression flying around on the net right now is that it seems like the Christians are being the cruelest. (Shocking, huh?) Probably 95-99% of my Facebook friends are people that I know through St. Louis Christian College or through various church/para-church organizations. I’ve seen a lot of them say really terrible things about the Democrats lately. One person (not a staff/faculty member at the college—don’t want to get anyone needlessly in trouble) simply posted “F*** Democrats” as their Facebook status. Nice. Godly. Friendly. It always sucks when people drag religion into a debate that doesn’t HAVE to include it…but it’s so much worse when you’re of the SAME religion. I’ve had a number of my Christian friends play the Jesus-card trying to win an argument in recent days. I don’t think Jesus would like that, frankly. Seems abusive of everything He is to use His name to hurt people…but it’s not like that’s anything new. He’s probably getting used to it. Aside from the Pro-Life (non)-issue related to the Health Care debate, I really don’t see the need for religious objection in the first place. It’s just a cheap trick used by the truly desperate as a trump-card in a losing hand.
- …but if we ARE going to talk about religion… Last time I read the Bible, I saw that when Jesus was here, He cared for the poor and needy, giving all He could give to them, and that He asked us to do the same. I don’t know why people don’t get that. Even if Jesus didn’t say that stuff…doesn’t the fact that we’re all HUMAN mean something? Even rats huddle together for warmth.
- I dream of a world where we have no TV analysts to tell us what to think. I have been wondering for some time what would happen if the President of this country (regardless of who he/she might be) gave a speech that was not immediately followed by several hours of analysis (which, lest we forget, begins with the word “anal” which would seem to indicate where most newsmen have their heads in the first place). People might have to think for themselves and actually live with the words of the highest elected official for a while. It’s amazing how often I hear friends just parroting Chris Matthews, Keith Olberman, Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck…and so on… I would love to know what would happen if people had to express themselves with their own thoughts and didn’t have sound-bytes to fall back on.
- Okay… Now to boil this down… I know I’m kind of a jerk a lot of the time on the blog. To be fair, for a lot of what I write, I hear a jokey “tee-hee-hee” tone that may not come across in the post…sometimes sarcasm, satire, and goofiness don’t translate well without tone of voice. Or, contrary to that, sometimes I just say mean stuff about people like Rush Limbaugh—though I’m going to have to play the tit-for-tat card on that one. I’m not always fair. I’m not always generous… But I try not to blindly generalize, intentionally insult my friends, or be completely irresponsible and incite things that could get out of control. So…even though it’s coming from me, I hope it still means something… Words hurt. And, to quote Kurt Vonnegut, “God damn it, you’ve GOT to be kind.” Disagreement is fine. Criticism is fine. Unprovoked attacks and name calling… That’s just pointless.
…sorry for the length of the post and that it too me so long to post it. I’ll post something lighthearted tomorrow to make up for it. I hope there was something in this post that made it worth reading. I mostly just hope it’s taken in the spirit that it was written. I’m for a better America, as I think most people are. But the only way we can get there is to stop hurting each other.
The Ting Tings – “We Started Nothing”
David Bowie – “Diamond Dogs”
Johnny Cash – “American VI: Ain’t No Grave”