So Much To Say ...
Someone I've known since I was four.
She identifies herself as a conservative.
Given my recent spate of Facebook postings, I suspect she got tired of reading my liberal political bias.
That's fine. I had hid her in my news feed for the very same reason, conservatively speaking.
We will never agree politically. Such is the legacy of George W. Bush. When he famously said, "You are either with us or against us," he removed the possibility of middle ground, not only in the war against terror but in relationships of all stripes.
Politics in the United States has never been more black and white, and I'm not talking about race. Not at the moment, anyway.
I believe that those who voted for Bush the first time truly believed in what he had to say.
I also believe that those who voted for Bush the second time were misguided. But I also believe they were afraid.
And that fear has grown into dread.
I understand that politics has always been a touchy subject, but I clearly remember a time when those who identified with different parties could talk to one another. Politely. Rationally.
But there is no possibility of debate in this climate. When a Representative of Congress called the President of the United States a liar during an address to the joint session, we reached the political nadir. We reached the civil discourse nadir, too.
I understand that people will have differing ideas. That's a good thing. If we can come together and discuss things, we can understand an issue from many angles and form good policy.
But painting swastikas on the signage of an elected official? Shouting down anyone who tries to voice an opposing view? Shouting down those we elected? Openly displaying guns at political events? Hanging effigies? Suggesting that a military coup might be necessary to deal with the "Obama problem"?
There is no way any reasonable person can defend that behavior.
Yes, people marched on Washington during Bush's reign, most notably to protest a war based lies.
Then, folks were ejected from events for wearing anti-Bush T-shirts. Now, protesters are showing up at Obama events carrying automatic weapons.
Yesterday, someone on Facebook posted a poll asking whether Obama should be killed.
I'm not saying that everyone who is a conservative is so extreme, but what we've seen escalate in these recent months is beyond the pale. There are blatant lies and distortions that do nothing to advance finding a solution that will help all of us, and all of us need help.
Rush Limbaugh recently called Jimmy Carter, former President of the United States and winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, "a hemorrhoid."
And it was recently revealed that 35 percent of New Jersey conservatives think the President might be the anti-Christ.
Hemorrhoids and Obama the anti-Christ.
Just two topics that the Right has added to our political discourse in recent weeks.
I will not – I cannot – stand idly by while this insanity rages on. I will call it out, on my blog, on Facebook, on Twitter, because Fox News and Rush and all the other right-wing pundits and even elected Republican officials are so busy offering up if not outright lies then distortions and half-truths.
Obama's speech to schoolchildren was not "indoctrination." It was, for all intents and purposes, a pep talk. Yet from the moment it was announced, never mind that no one had yet seen the speech, hysterical talking heads immediately started comparing Obama to North Korea and China's Chairman Mao.
For those who will accuse me of extreme bias in the other direction, let me assure you that my primary source of news (and spare me the citation of the "Obama lovefest" – a report out last week points out that the media has become markedly more negative toward Obama) is ABC, specifically World News with Charles Gibson and This Week with George Stephanopoulos. I also watch MSNBC.
I know that many consider MSNBC to be the other side of the Fox News coin. It is not. Keith Olbermann and Rachel Maddow spend a lot of time combating the inaccuracies being spouted by the talking heads on Fox. I mean, somebody has to, right?
I read the New York Times as well as the Washington Post, Newsweek, and local newspapers.
My point is: I read and watch a number of sources.
Because I want to gather a number of points of view, I want to read assorted analysis and reportage.
And then – here's the key – come to my own conclusions, understand the issues of the day in context.
Blindly following the radical Right, absorbing everything it spews at face value without taking the time to understand whether it is in fact news or, as it is in so many cases, propaganda, is the height of irresponsibility, now more than ever.
As part of the health-care debate, many are revisiting a recording Ronald Reagan made in the early '60s. In it, he warns of impending socialism if the country begins down the slippery slope of Medicare. (You can
This August, in town-hall meetings, nearly 50 years after Reagan's dire warnings, many shouted "Keep your hands off my Medicare!"
Of course, the shouters don't understand that Medicare is government-run health care, the very thing of which they're so afraid. They also don't understand that Medicare has not led to socialism, as Reagan warned.
Mind you, people should indeed be angry.
They should be angry that more than 44,000 people will die in the next year because they don't have health insurance.
They should be angry that health-insurance premiums have continued to rise at the same time as health-insurance companies continue to deny more and more care.
They should be angry that even if they pay their premiums, they are not guaranteed coverage when they need it.
They should be angry that the plan set forth by Senator Max Baucus requires every American to buy health insurance but does not provide a public option. Baucus's plan is nothing more than a gift to the insurance companies, the insurance companies that have brought us to this harrowing and deadly place.
Health care should be a right, not a privilege.
Consider flu shots: You can get one just about anywhere. For $25. But what if you don't have $25? Do you think it's fair that you should be more susceptible to the flu this season because you don't have the money to spare while those who have the money should be protected?
It is absurd that health care in this country is a for-profit business.
It is absurd that families are forced into bankruptcy in the wake of an unexpected illness.
It is absurd that we spend more money on health care than any other industrialized nation yet nearly one-sixth of our population has no insurance and among those who do have care, we have worse outcomes than countries in which all citizens are covered.
It is absurd that last year, a member of my family was in the hospital for fewer than 36 hours for nothing but tests and observation, and received a bill for more than $10,000.
Health care is the issue of our time. It has been an issue for more than a century, but the crisis is at hand.
It saddens me that our nation has become so divided that rational conversations are no longer possible, that neighbors are shouting down neighbors, that friends are defriending friends.
But I also believe that the day will come when we will have moved beyond this.
I look forward to the day when this national schism will be healed.
Until then, I will continue to find my voice.
Because I cannot stay silent. Too much is at stake.