Sunday, February 2, 2014

Because I don't have Stockholm Syndrome...

Downtown Grounds
16oz Soy Lavender Mocha
Lemon Muffin

It's Sunday and it's my Out Day.  My week is askew.  But I saw a post on my fb page from one of my many coffee roosts - they are open today and if enough people come visit, they can justify being open Sundays from now on.  I hear your call, oh, coffee sirens...

So, I have about an hour, before their experiment concludes and my battery dies, to make my political perspective clear.

Ooo - even my blog bots just got their hackles up...

I call myself an "Independent Blue."  I don't believe in dogmatic adherence to any party.  I think it gets in the way of objective reasoning.  Maybe it's the scientist in me, but I believe the only way you stand a chance at getting to the truth of any situation is by allowing yourself to be wrong.  It becomes less painful to your ego to just assume that you are probably wrong about at least some of what you believe, and it's much more healthy and productive for everyone in the long run.

In the truest sense of the words, without any fear of their current word-associations, I would consider myself a "conservative progressive."  Conservative in my approach, but progressive in that I think we've still got a long way to go to live up to our sacred charge of being a free and equal society.  In other words - do big things, but don't do big things dumb.

I am guilty, though, of filtering my votes based on political affiliations.  I used to say that I could consider voting for a reasonable, middle-of-the-road kind of Republican.  I can't say that now, because all Republicans vote too regularly down the line, even on the most unreasonable measures.  So, when I look at a ballot and see a tight race, I almost always vote defensively for the Democrat, because I consider it too directly risky for my family to allow another Republican vote.

And I don't mean that in a hyperbolic way (like those Dish commercials that start with you having cable and end with some outrageous conclusion, like your dad getting punched over a can of soup, or you selling your hair to a wig shop).  I mean that Republican policies have directly affected the life of my family.  I have talked about receiving SNAP and WIC benefits.  Those have been slashed - no, really, slashed - over the past few years whenever Democrats failed to stop Republican policy measures.  And unless the Senate votes down the Farm Bill, they are going to get hit again by another $8.7 billion.  The really sick thing I just learned today is that those cuts target blue states - including mine.

This is some of the comment I just sent to my two otherwise decent senators...

I am angry that the Farm Bill would cut food stamps by $8.7 billion, at a time when soup kitchens are running out of food.

My husband and I are the working poor.  We receive food stamp benefits which have already been slashed.  We've lost almost $100 as benefits keep getting chipped away or outright hacked off.  Even with our tax refund coming up, it will not be enough to get out of the hole we've already had to dig this year.  How bad will it be by next year?

How does anyone think this is a liveable compromise?  All this will do is hurt us and hurt every business where we would be spending our precious few dollars.

I'm tired of being vilified as a "taker" for utilizing a service I have already paid for.  We are "makers" too - we "make" the market for these so-called "job creators."  Without us, there will be no one left to buy their products and services.

I know it's hard to prolong this stupid battle and delay all the good things that are in the Farm Bill.  But this is not a compromise - this is capitulation and my little boys are the ones that are forced to deal with the consequences. 

Please, reject this bill.

...Okay, that was my entire comment.  I should note that the first line was not mine but part of the pre-written suggested message in the comment field of the petition thingy I was signing.

As for other Republican policy that I consider directly dangerous to me, to be flippant, let me just say: "MY uterus - MINE!"

And now, here are the caveats...   Being averse to Republican politicians does not make me pro-Democratic politicians.  I have about zero inherent love for any politician and, if I consider it "safe" to do so, I will generally vote for a third party candidate. 

And I don't disparage any person who calls themselves a Republican.  It's the politicians I have a problem with.  If the actual policy-makers made policy that reflected the rhetorical principles of the party - responsible investment of public funds, protection of peoples' personal liberty - I could totally get on board with that.  But when you examine what they are actually doing - restricting my rights to my body, restricting voting access and rights, undercutting fair pay and overall economic stability - that is the exact opposite of what they are supposed to support.

The problem is that both sides are guilty of waging war against strawmen.  I'm sure some of my facebook re-posts about marriage equality and economic inequality can probably chafe some of my conservative friends and relatives, just on principle.  I do make a point of trying to avoid the ones with the more snarky titles or gross generalizations (really, I do).  But, frankly, if you use the term socialist, or dictator, or anti-Christ, you've lost your seat at the grown-ups table.  I have plenty of criticisms of Obama, but none of those terms apply.  They are empty words by people who are trying to gin up your emotions so they can manipulate you into attacking the people who don't back their agenda.  When you have made liberal use of a dictionary, and a little impartial history, I welcome an objective discussion on the matters at hand.

Okay, that sounds a little snarky, but I am really not being dismissive.  I really, really do want a conversation - many conversations - with people who don't think like I do.  I regret the amount of MSNBC I watch because I think it's intellectual laziness to approach every political discussion with a default bias.  Unfortunately, CNN has made itself generally unwatchable, and PBS News Hour (probably the least biased you can get) isn't running when I'm looking for an update on the days events.  And, of course, I can't stomach FOX "News" because I don't have Stockholm Syndrome.

But as much as I want to bring all my friends, relatives, and respectable strangers to the table to talk, I just can't expend the energy defending myself against views I don't hold:

I don't hate the 1%.
I don't hate capitalism.
I am not a tax-crazy "libtard."
I don't want big government.
I don't hate the troops.
I don't hate freedom.
I don't hate religion.
I am not a Communist, socialist, or fascist.
I don't want to impose my views on anyone.
I don't want to emasculate men.
I don't want to murder the unborn.
I don't want to take your guns away.
I don't want to take anything away from anyone.
I am not a taker.
I don't hate work.
I am not lazy, immature, or inherently irresponsible.
I don't think I'm entitled to indulgences of any kind.
I don't want anyone else's money - I want my money back...  All of us, who have worked and worked for years without full compensation have a right to demand fairness... to demand change.

Oh, I'm sure there's more.  The point is that it's not just me who defies the Strawman stereotypes.  I cannot think of a single Blue-minded friend of mine who actually espouses any of those beliefs.  And if I wanted to, I could easily come up with a counter-list of all the stupid, hyperbolic things people say about "those right-wing nut jobs."  But if you find that hard to believe, that the Other side is not, in fact, out to destroy America, you'll have to stop shaking your pitchforks at the Strawmen and sit down at the table... and speak... and listen.

The truth is there are no "Others."  We are not members of warring clans, or ancient football (or futball) rivals, forever to be locked in battle... or until we get traded around for a sweeter endorsement deal.  What we are is family.  Human beings.  We are logical and unreasonable, angels and demons, to our own varying degrees.  And we all can, and should, change our minds from time to time, if you'll let us...

No comments:

Post a Comment