“Those less favored in life should be more favored in law.” – Powell

This quote by Thomas Reed Powell sums up all that is wrong with the current conversation about the deficit. So much of the rhetoric is about punishing the already economically punished and rewarding the secure and even the exploiters.

Liberal thought is that we are all part of a larger community that is willing to lend a hand to those in need. A hand of helping, not slapping further down. Liberals remember that “There but for the grace of God go I.” Fortunes can turn in an instant; won or lost in a day.

The Republican debates have been especially telling. I was dismayed about the audience reaction to Mr. Paul’s discussion of what should happen to a 30-year old man with no insurance who hypothetically needs medical care to live. The support for “let him die” tells me that this country needs some heavy duty re-education about community and the value of human life.

What does it say about the people of America (or at least that group of people) if we are willing to let those less fortunate die because they have no insurance, either by choice or necessity. If you have no insurance, you die in a situation where medical treatment could save a life? It’s so negative and nihilistic. (From Wikipedia – nihilism is “characterized as “emptying the world and especially human existence of meaning, purpose, comprehensible truth, or essential value.)

We all need help once in a while. It shouldn’t be a death sentence to not have insurance, nor should losing your job mean that you are forever unemployed and reduced to poverty. How does that build community, or country? It doesn’t.
It’s a rejection of human idealism and an acceptance of animal fatalism – survival of the fittest. It’s more war on the middle class. It’s political and economic extremism. Is this who we are as Americans? I can’t accept that.

I think that most Americans value life and want to enjoy the best for themselves and their families. And they are willing to work and contribute to achieve it. They are willing to lend a hand to those who are unemployed and struggling until they get back on their feet because we have all seen how easy it is to lose everything when jobs get cut. Most Americans want to be respected and are willing to extend respect to others, even in the hard times.

I think that most Americans want to move forward not backward and are being manipulated through the (conservative) media by fear, greed and big money. I think most Americans are more liberal than they give themselves credit for.

I have more faith in America than that. Let’s keep talking about who we really are and maybe the majority will awaken to their own goodness and start shouting down the exploiters.

Let’s talk about liberal living as a step forward, not backward. Let’s move toward optimism, not negativity and nihilism.

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Gay Marriage is a civil right

Yesterday a Federal judge corrected a huge wrong done by the badly manipulated voters of California in striking down the ban on gay marriage. Good for him.

In reading the comments in the NY Times I found many who still want to discriminate based on the Bible or some extreme version of religion. I couldn’t resist and commented as follows:

It amazes me that in spite of good reason given in this article to separate church from state, that several people here say that government should stay out of the marriage business. Yes, it’s a business, whether by churches or government or whoever, it’s a contract. The government is needed here to see that human and civil rights are held as law, not an accessory to whatever interpretation people have of the Bible. I want religion to stay out of my bedroom. I want protection from religion since it’s far more dangerous than the government when it comes to unjust and discriminatory judgments.

Someone stated that the Bible started marriage, but the point is that marriage is not strictly a religious notion. It’s civil. Lots of people don’t believe in the Bible and they still get married and they are still solid citizens of this country. Are their marriages null and void if they don’t believe as you do?

The other point is that the Bible is subject to extreme interpretation and is not the basis of our government. It never was despite what Fox news revisionists say. That book was written 2,000 years ago for a group of wandering desert barbarians. It discriminates in so many ways, including this one that it simply should not and cannot be the basis for law in a civilized society. Have we not progressed at all in those 2,000 years? PEOPLE! Move into modernity. We ALL have human rights and they are secular, as is this nation. Don’t ruin it with religion. Believe what you want but let equality under the law stand and be the guidepost for our country.

Polarization in US Politics

The article by Gail Collins and David Brooks in the NY Times usually gets my dander up because although David thinks he is being thoughtful and moderate, he usually sides with the trickle downers and the political right for really dumb reasons (IMHO). They both bring up good discussion points, but what I find really intriguing are the comments that follow the articles.

The article I read today was “Let the Polarization Begin” and was a discussion about what the primary elections say about US voters.

The comments range from stating that the Demos will take a drubbing because Obama is failing to be enough of a leader, to the Repubs will take a drubbing because they are too extreme, Tea Party is crazy and has too much/little influence and so on.

My question is what the bloody hell does anyone do about it? How do you fight with boatloads of political cash and extremist positions?

One comment that hit home to me was from Aaron in Newton, MA. He says it’s hard to draw conclusions about the meaning of the primary because, well, . . it’s the primary and things change including political loyalty. Witness Joe Lieberman losing the primary as a Demo and winning later as an Independent. (Still mad at him for killing the public option!)

He goes on to say that “ Sadly, there seems to be high level of denial in the electorate about the realities of special interest group politics. Do the Tea Party followers actually believe they are somehow not in a “special interest group”?” He’s right. We are now an electorate of special interest groups whether we like it or not. He also points out that each person is free to work within a special interest group and basically vote with your dollars – just like the corporations. Interesting idea.

He says:
“Rather than get worked up about which party is more corrupt, or more out of touch, voters should find special interest groups they agree with, donate to and/or volunteer with them, and stop thinking that any one politician is going to somehow fulfill all of their wishes. You actually want the least ideological person to win, because that person is going to be most susceptible to special interest group influence, which is where you can actually have an effect on what gets done.”

Bob in Cincinnatti comments that as far as Rand Paul winning in Kentucky goes, that KY is one of the least mature states and is therefore easily influenced by radical voices, however nonsensical the message. For example, KY houses the Creation Museum where dinosaurs are depicted as coexisting with humans, has forever elected disproportionately white males to local and national offices, and is stuck in the distant past. The rest of the nation, he says, is not so backward, and that Mr. Paul and his ilk will fade into the white, old boys club smoke in time. Gee, I hope so.

I agree that big money has too much influence on our politics. But it makes sense to me to join with a special interest group and collectively make a difference within a larger, targeted context. The little guy can vote, and that’s important, but we have to also recognize that political change is less likely to happen without money and lots of it. Until that changes, we have to work with it. Use the special interest groups to some advantage.

At least it is an action to take, rather than a complaint to lodge. Actions speak louder than words, and if we work it right, even louder than money. Vote, contribute, and take action.

Inertia won’t change anything. Move it and action has a chance.