Why We Can’t Get Along
As the holiday season approaches, I’m keenly aware of the toll taken on my family by the political climate in the United States. My Republican/Religious Right Conservative brother will once again boycott the family gatherings due to his anger at our mother, Mrs. Jack, and me for voting for Barack Obama and his concerns, fueled by Pat Robertson’s 700 Club, that the anti-Christ is riding in on a wave of Democrat-inspired socialism. What a bunch of crap!
What is going on in our country? Why is “The Right” doing everything in its power to turn everyday Americans against each other like no time since the Civil War? I think it is very simple: Divide and conquer. While they keep pouring gasoline on the fires of disagreement between the various groups of society, they are helping Big Business, Big Banking and Big Insurance continue to take advantage of us by tying up any legislation that would enforce regulation and rein them in. It’s the oldest tactic in the book. Distract somebody while you pick their pocket.
The Republicans have very successfully used this strategy since the election of Richard Nixon to turn their minority status into a winner in more elections than they have lost. They have stirred the pot of racial hatred in The South. They have stirred up homophobia in the rural portions of our country. And they have made major hay out of the abortion debate. The Republican Party should call itself the party that calls for the founding of The Divided States of America, because that’s exactly what they are doing. And their influence—at least where I live—is doing just that. They are dividing neighbor from neighbor and sibling from sibling as well as child from parent. I see it in my community and in my family. The party of “family values” should be ashamed of themselves.
A lesbian friend of mine handed me a letter she had received from Michael Steele and the RNC asking for her support to “STOP the Obama agenda.” The letter rambled repetitively on for four whole pages asking for donations and issuing bold-face warnings against the “radical socialist agenda” that is being perpetrated by the Obama Administration. It also made the outlandish claim that “liberal media propaganda” says that “The entire country supports Obama’s agenda.” Those words are taken directly from the letter. I thought that was particularly rich considering the last telephone town hall meeting “staged” by my Republican Congressman, Kevin Brady, would have me believe that 100% of the callers did agree with his ideas even though he carried only 75% of the district. The letter from Mr. Steele was laced with misrepresentations and inflammatory language to stir up those who do disagree with progressive ideas for the future direction of our country. But not even the word “liberal” is deemed adequate and sinister enough for the Republicans; they have fast forwarded the rhetoric to “socialism,” and not just any socialism, but “radical socialism.” BE AFRAID! BE VERY AFRAID!
What this does is stir up the fears of an older generation that lived through the great worldwide conflicts between The West (the U.S. and its allies) and The East (the now defunct Soviet Union). It urges “people like you to stand up and make it clear that you are not ready to see the United States turned into a European-style socialist state by Obama and the Democrats.” You know, being gay, I’ve seen a lot of drama queens in my day, but this ranks up there among the most dramatic. While there is no proof of any kind to back up such an accusation, the RNC is completely willing to put it out there in order to stir up the uninformed and take their money to fill the campaign chest so the RNC can stop something that isn’t even real.
What is going on is the same thing that has been going on for longer than I probably even know about–pure politics. A powerful, rich group of entities are stirring up trouble among the uninformed masses for their own gain. They throw in a cup of fear of socialism, a cup of religious sanctimony, and a heap of distortions to distract people from their own agenda of allowing big business of every kind unregulated reign over the rest of us. And they are stirring up the very people who are most angry at big business by pretending to care about their issues when they don’t care at all.
First, let’s talk about abortion. After Republicans occupying the White House for 30 of the past 39 years, it is still perfectly legal to get an abortion in America. For many of those years, especially under Bush II, the Republicans even had control of both Houses of Congress, yet nothing was done to help the anti-abortion movement in this country. Now, that issue is being trotted out one more time by the same crowd to kill health care reform. Let me state as emphatically as I can, unless there is an issue of the mother’s possible death, I am AGAINST abortion. Most liberals feel the same way. HOWEVER, I am equally AGAINST the right of THE STATE to make that decision for women. That is a personal decision to be made by a pregnant woman and her doctor—and nobody else! It seems that the same people who are against THE STATE making health care decisions for them, are the moving force in pushing THE STATE to make a decision about someone else’s health care choices. I am amazed that anyone could be so unthinking as to rank the health care of a member of their own family—a child, a husband, a wife, a parent—behind a concern for what some stranger is doing in their life.
Okay. Okay, so you don’t like to have your tax dollars go to help some woman get an abortion. I understand that, because I don’t like to see my tax dollars go toward blowing up women and children in faraway lands under the guise of justifiable warfare, but I didn’t get a choice in that. That choice was made for me by my government under George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. I also don’t want to pay for a bridge to nowhere in Alaska just because some Republican Senator has the power to get it built, but a Republican Congress okayed it anyway. Perfection is an aspiration, not a result. And anyway, what I would really like to see in the publicly funded abortion debate is some statistics on how many “welfare mothers” get abortions at taxpayer expense as opposed to well-heeled suburban women and teenagers who get their insurance companies to pay for them. I have a feeling those numbers would be particularly revealing. The way I remember it in my teen years once I was aware of such things and abortion was illegal in America, well-heeled white folks who attended church and were considered respectable members of society would fly their daughters to faraway lands at great expense to get their “little social embarrassment” taken care of, and women of less means sought out dangerous, illegal back-alley operations to help them with their decision. Just because it’s illegal doesn’t mean it can’t be done.
That brings me to my own personal favorite: gay rights. What is the problem here? When I was a toddler, there were indications that I might be gay. It wasn’t about sexual desire; it was about how I perceived myself. And when I came out to my parents in my late 30s, they both said they had known it since I was a toddler but didn’t know what to say back in the 50s, so they let it go and let me come to my own “decision” about it. You may wonder how they would have known that I was gay. Maybe it was because I used to drag around a baby doll that I doll-napped from an aunt who was four years older. Maybe it was because I was always putting on my aunts’ can-cans and twirling around like Loretta Young when visiting my grandma’s house. Maybe it was because I had “crushes” on boys and men when I didn’t even know about sex. I was GAY. There was no choice. That’s just who I was. Of course, society imposed certain expectations upon me that dictated that I hide that part of myself in order to succeed, so I did until I was 38 years old. BUT I was GAY!
This is an issue of religious freedom: not the freedom to impose your religion on me, but my freedom to agree with your religion or not. Your religion is a club you belong to, and when you don’t even invite me to join, how could you possibly believe you have the right to impose your religious rules upon me, a non-member?
This story is one told by countless numbers of my friends and acquaintances in the gay community. They knew from childhood that they were different way before they knew about being “gay.” Many have also reported that their families have expressed their lack of surprise when they came out. Whatever it is that causes us to be different from heterosexuals is there long before puberty brings sex into the equation. But like with all teenagers, puberty brings complications and emotional baggage that must be dealt with, and whether “straight” or gay, those issues often follow us through our lifetimes. But for a bunch of egotistical politicians to take advantage of ignorance and use us as whipping boys (and girls) for their personal advancement is shameful. This is an issue of religious freedom: not the freedom to impose your religion on me, but my freedom to agree with your religion or not. Your religion is a club you belong to, and when you don’t even invite me to join, how could you possibly believe you have the right to impose your religious rules upon me, a non-member? Now, them’s fightin’ words, pardner! Get out of my bedroom and tend to your own.
But that being said, it is even more wrong for politicians to exploit religion for their personal advantage, and that’s exactly what they are doing. They are getting a bunch of people to put the hatred of me ahead of doing what is in their own self interest, in the most current case, gaining access to healthcare for themselves and their loved ones. The party of “family values” is doing what it can to keep families out of the health care system unless they work at a job with health insurance benefits or buy their own, providing they don’t have some actual real need for health care which will disqualify them from purchasing private health insurance.
The other painful reality of all this is that my blog will not be read by my right-leaning brother or millions of others who are more interested in Sarah Palin’s latest revelations of her mistreatment, not only by the media, but by John McCain’s campaign staff. Instead they will be busy reading “Going Rogue,” watching FOX NEWS (NOISE), or listening to Rush Limbaugh as they sit in rush hour traffic escaping left-leaning, minority-run cities for the quiet comfort of mostly white, middle-class suburbia. Once there, they will begin the frantic life that they have left at the end of their long, frustrating days and wish that someone would do something to help them out. Unfortunately, they will most likely believe that Limbaugh, Palin, Beck, O’Reilly or Hannity really, really care about their problems and will ignore the REAL right-wing, pro-business agenda of the Republicans and keep on hating those who “drove” them out of the cities and onto congested freeways: minorities and gays, otherwise known as socialists.
As Sunny and Cher sang way back in the 60’s of my high school days, “And The Beat Goes On!”
I’m Jack, I am who I am, and I’m hitting back!
With Liberty and Justice for ALL!