I had MSNBC on tonight in the background (Hi, I'm Andy, and I'm a liberal) while I was unloading the dishwasher, making dinner for E, etc., and I eventually got to the point where I had to turn it off after about the fourth reference to Rick Perry and his ridiculous comments because it was just so. Damn. Depressing.

Really? This is what we're back to? Questioning Obama's patriotism? Sending out dog whistles that he's not like us and that we need a Commander in Chief that our military can be proud of? Dear Rick Perry: if you want to run against Obama, I think you've got just about all of the ammunition you need with "It's the economy, stupid," without having to drag in all of that tired old crap again about how our military is run by some socialist, un-American-type (black) guy.

And it's just making me so tired, the prospect of having to listen to this shit for the next 14+ months. Rick Perry, Real American (TM). And the man you'd most want to have a beer with. And don't even get me started on the prospect of Rick Perry actually winning and becoming our president. It's enough to make me feel nauseous.

I just don't know if I can do all of this again. I was hyper-vigilant during the eight long years of the Bush administration. Because every time I got over the latest thing he'd done, he'd come up with some new horror. Legalizing torture. Tapping our phone lines without a warrant. Implying that those of us who were against the war in Iraq were traitors. It got to the point that I couldn't watch him on television and would have to turn the channel before my skin started crawling. I had to resort to getting all of my televised national news from The Daily Show. And here we go again with Bush 2.0.

And then I get so frustrated, listening to all of the people who call into WWL radio with their extreme views and their deep-seated hatred of all things liberal, especially Obama (I don't know why I listen to WWL, either). And I just don't get it. I don't get the total hate and loathing towards a man who, to me, at least, seems like a pretty reasonable guy. I try to understand it, but I just don't. All of this because he wanted all of us to have healthcare? And really, if anyone should be mad at Obama, it's those of us who actually thought he might have meant it when he said he wanted to bring change to Washington. We were the ones who were sold a bill of goods--the Republicans were convinced he was Hitler incarnate from the moment he broke into the national spotlight. (He's still inordinately better to me than, say, a President Bachmann or a President Perry--but needless to say, I've been somewhat disappointed.)

I don't get the hate. I don't get the anger. But then I have to look at myself and think about all of the hate and anger I carried around during the eight years that W. was in office. And I know that the other side couldn't understand my hate, my anger. And I wonder, where does that leave us, other than at a complete and total impasse?

And then I just get depressed all over again, thinking about how we are on such opposite sides of the aisle that we'll never be able to come together as a country again. I blame Rush Limbaugh. (No, really--I do.)

My husband and I have dear friends who are staunch, dyed-in-the-wool Republicans (and, thankfully, social liberals). We made the mistake of trying to watch the 2004 presidential debate together and wisely agreed to turn off the television about 20 minutes into it, when we all realized that the hate we felt towards each other's candidates was coming out in our conversations with each other and that we might say some things that couldn't be taken back. We haven't really discussed politics since then (other than to all agree that Sarah Palin is a whack job). They give us joke Christmas gifts like George W. Bush commemorative coins, but other than that, we leave it alone. Because we learned back in 2004 that politics is a topic we simply cannot discuss with each other, our views are so discordant in some areas.

I have a brother-in-law who is a strident libertarian. He truly does believe that Ayn Rand got it right and that the "invisible hand of the free market" should control everything, from healthcare to education. And believe it or not, I absolutely love debating the subject with him. (Although everyone else in the family hates it--we usually wait until everyone else is involved in something else and go out on the porch by ourselves to host our own personal debating society.) We get quite heated with each other, but we also like each other enough and enjoy the "fun" of the debate enough to put it all aside at the end of the day and agree to disagree.

But at the same time, I wonder--how can we, as a country, ever learn to agree or compromise with each other ever again when our views are so drastically different? If you firmly believe that government is incapable of providing anything for us, while I firmly believe that it's the job of government to protect and provide for its citizens, where is the middle ground? If you firmly believe that the rich, aka the "job creators," must be protected at all costs while I believe that we all need to give more to help our citizenry as a collective whole, how do we reconcile that?

I believe that education and healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. How do you say that something as vital as education should be left to the free hand of the market? How do you justify the belief that the haves are entitled to an excellent education, while the have-nots should just work harder, and if they don't, well, that's their problem? How is it that our population can't even agree on that? Why are we the only freaking country in the Western world that doesn't make sure its citizens are educated and healthy, while many of us all insist that they're the ones who have it wrong? The people in some "socialist" countries pay about 50% of their taxes to the government to pay for healthcare for all, for free education through college for all. And if you even think about trying to give everyone in this country some semblance of a healthcare plan, everyone screams socialism.

How about this? Do the math for yourself. Add up the amount you pay for private school tuition for your child, or, if you're one of the lucky Americans who actually have access to excellent public schools in your area, the amount you pay for property taxes to cover the costs for those schools. Now add in the amount you pay each month in insurance premiums for medical and dental coverage. Now add in the deductibles you have to pay each year before your insurance coverage kicks in. Don't forget to add in the amount you have to pay for things that aren't covered by your insurance. Now, if you can afford it, add in college tuition for your children. Finally, add in your income taxes. Have you reached 50% of your income yet? I certainly have. And even if I hadn't, I'd still be willing to give more of my taxes to the government to help others. Because we're all in this together. And there but for the grace of God go I.

But 50% of the population doesn't even pay taxes! Yes they do--they pay into Social Security and Medicare. They pay sales taxes. They pay the national gasoline tax. And, if they're homeowners, they pay property tax--and then there's not enough left over for them to pay federal taxes, because they make $8 an hour.

But the government doesn't even function! The government spends too much on pork barrel projects and cronyism. The government is inefficient. The government is run by a bunch of crooks (except, of course, MY senator, regardless of whether he was frequenting the D.C. madam or engaging in wide stances in an airport bathroom or getting high-paying jobs for his mistress--that's between him and God). All of these things are true, but somehow, other countries seem to have figured it out.

How, in 2011, can at least a third of our country have the attitude that we shouldn't take care of anyone, because if we do, a couple of cheaters or "lazy welfare queens" might slip through the cracks? Are we really that uncaring, as a country?

We are all responsible for each other. It is our job, as a "civilized" nation, as a society, to take care of one another. We are only as strong as our weakest link. Blessed are the meek. Etc., etc., etc.

Hi, I'm Andy. And apparently, I'm a socialist.


Anonymous said...

I read your entire blog but it was the first paragraph that caught my eye. I too have finally turned off my beloved MSNBC due to chronic disappointment in everything I believe in. I was on my feet cheering you on all the way to the end but my TV is still off.

esphixiet said...

Come to Canada. We have our problems too (mostly our Prime Minister trying to emulate your more recent Bush), but happily, my voice has been getting louder over the years in my admitting that I, too, am a socialist. I agree, we should take care of each other. I never understood the rally cries we heard up here over the US getting health care. What is so awful about a healthy(/ier) population!?

I honestly am beginning to believe that this downward spiral western society has been in for the last few decades is nearing the end. Something radical MUST happen, and if we expect to survive, it MUST happen soon.

ALM said...

Agreed--a change is going to come. I'm just afraid that the change may be in the complete opposite direction of what I would hope for.