Monday, August 20, 2012

Can't we all just get along?

It's Crazy Season again - have you noticed?  Your friends' facebook feeds are full of political venom for whatever side they're not on, and the news is full of "talking heads" spewing vitriol and hatred.  I have been trying to bury my head in the sand and focus on things I like.  Like podcasts.  And Thomas Tallis.  And the UK Bachelor (Spencer Matthews seems like a total jerk, but he sure is a good looking jerk).  I've stopped listening to anything political.  I listen to Wait Wait Don't Tell Me to get the week's news, and that's it.  I listen to audiobooks in the car.  I don't look at HuffPo.  I basically live a life of blissful ignorance in my mountains.

But politics has come to me.

I have an Obama bumper sticker on my car from 2008.  When I still believed in the Hope and the Change.  I haven't taken it off because I still like Obama.  I'm just not in love with him anymore.  

So my friend Sandor is visiting from London with his girlfriend Lotta and her son.  Yesterday we're waiting in the car while Sandor goes into the grocery store to buy beer.  And these rednecks in a white Toyota Tundra drive past really slowly mouthing obscenities at us (two women and a 4 year old in the car - stay classy, rednecks) about how Obama is a F*cking A$*hole, piece of $hit, etc.  They are driving past all threateningly, and kept on with the yelling for a minute or so, I guess because I kept my sunglasses on and refused to show any recognition that it was going on.  Finally they drove away.

So here's the immediate result:
Obama got a higher weekly direct debit amount from me, because honestly, we need a Democrat to put more money into education so that the future generation isn't so fantastically and outrageously full of shit.

The secondary result is that I am becoming more and more aware of the vitriol in politics - on my facebook feed, for example, on any given day I see dozens of cartoons or bumper sticker slogans making it seem like we're at war with each other.  If the Aliens landed tomorrow, and saw this venom, they really would think that we were two countries at war with each other.   

Look: I'm a Democrat.  But more than that, I'm an American.  I am not ashamed to say that I love this country, and I tear up when I hear "I'm proud to be an American."  God, I love that song.  I think this is the greatest country in the world (even greater than Iceland) and if I were stranded anywhere on the planet with no money and no prospects, I'd be happy as a clam to be in a Wal-Mart parking lot, because I know someone would help me.  I'd take being American, even on the worst days, over any other country.  I feel truly blessed to live in this country because it's based on freedom; and I recognize that it doesn't always live up to those ideals.  But when I travel to other countries, my passport doesn't say, "Democrat."  My passport says, "United States of America."   

I love this country, and I am sick to death of all of us declaring war on each other.  There's a war on Christmas.  There's a war on liberty.  There's a war on free speech.  There's a bloody war on Christians.  There's probably a war on my socks being waged somewhere.  Why all the warfare?  Is it helping?  Does it help people to somehow feel victimized, like they're being attacked, and need to fight back from some enemy who is out to get them? Does that strengthen their resolve?  Why do we need to constantly feel so threatened?  Is fear the only thing we respond to?

Because honestly, I like peace.  And cozy security.

How many of us have ever stopped to think that it's in the media and elected officials' interest to have us all fighting with each other?  Because if we all got along, what would Fox or MSNBC report on?  What outrages would they uncover?  What culture wars would they discover?  If we all got along, what would politicians run for reelection on?  

Have you ever thought that it's just a big joke?  That the lobbyists in Washington sit around with news executives and segment us apart bit by bit, and it's actually in their interest to have us all hate each other?  

And so here's what I'm going to do.  I'm going to make peace.  Below is a list of 10 things I agree with conservatives on.  See, we aren't so different:

1)  If you have a better cell phone than me, you probably shouldn't get food stamps.
2)  You really shouldn't be getting food stamps if you're separately buying alcohol and cigarettes for yourself with cash.
3)  Abortions really shouldn't be handed out like candy.
4)  The deficit is a bad thing.  
5)  Terrorists are also bad.
6)  Illegal immigrants are, by definition, breaking the law.
7)  A family should be able to own a shotgun.
8)  The ACLU goes wonky sometimes.  If a town wants a nativity scene, for pete's sake, let them put up a nativity scene.
9)  The CEO of a company can believe whatever he wants to about gay marriage.  I don't care.  As long as he's not discriminating against anyone, he should be able to do business and create jobs anywhere he wants, and let the market decide if they want to patronize him.
10)  In a perfect world children would be raised by two parents.  Preferably one of them would be at home most of the time. They might have some kind of ritualistic worship of a higher power that unites them.  They would eat dinner together. 

Now, who wants to make peace back with me?  Any conservatives want to list things they can agree with liberals on?  Maybe we can realize that we aren't so different after all?  Here's an idea of places to start:

1) The planet's resources are finite?
2) In a country as rich as the US, no family should ever be hungry.  And the government might need to step in to help them if times are tough?
3) A lot of illegal immigrants come to the US because there are low-paying jobs waiting for them.
4) Things like roads, public schools, bridges, libraries and parks are generally positive things in a community.
5) We really spend a huge amount of our budget on defense.

Anything else?  

Can we start to focus on what unites us, rather than what we don't like about each other?  

Thank you for letting me rant.  That is all.  I'm done now.

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