Friday, August 31, 2012

Why Are We the Way We Are? (Politically Speaking)

Politically, I am a die hard liberal. I am pro-environment, I strongly believe we have to regulate big business, I'd like the money out of politics, I believe in a woman's right to control what happens to her body, I believe we should have universal health care, I believe in gun control, I believe consenting adults should be able to marry whom they choose, and I'm a softie when it comes to immigration. But why? Why do I believe these things, and why do people who are die hard conservatives believe what they believe? And why is it getting so nasty now, so that I'm even losing friends over politics? It's like we're at war, with clear battle lines and even casualties. (Gabby Giffords and the people who died around her that day, for instance.) Neither side seems willing to listen to the other any more. But why? Why are we so at odds with each other now? Why are people picking sides and standing their ground with no room for compromise? Why is the rhetoric so hateful?

I don’t have any answers but I do know it's truly sad. I kind of wish we had Vulcan Mind Melds so we could see other people's thoughts and understand each other better, because we are all the way we are for a reason. Or many reasons. Maybe I can explain some of my thinking. The only problem is where to start! I disagree with the Republican/conservative agenda on so many fronts and for so many reasons it’s hard to break it down. Since there are two major components to any political platform these days, the social and the economic, I’ll start with that. (There’s a lot more of course, but those are the big ones.)

Socially, I believe in letting people live their lives with NO DISCRIMINATION. If consenting adults, be they men, women, aliens from another planet, black, white, purple, or whatever, want to marry each other, then they should be able to do so. I understand that it may offend some people due to their religion but when I went off the deep end about it a few posts ago, I pointed out that we don’t govern our country by religion. We have a constitutional separation of church and state in this country. To govern by religion would mean we are sinking to the level of the Taliban, and that is not acceptable on any level.

I’m also pro-choice. I understand that from the point of the conservatives, too; they think life begins at conception, so to abort those cells would be the same, in their eyes, as ending something God allowed and against their religious beliefs. Once again, we do not run this country by religion, nor should we. I do NOT believe life begins at conception, I believe it begins when the fetus would be viable outside the womb. (And thanks to advances in medicine that gets earlier all the time.) To force a woman to endure the sacrifices that have to be made to carry a baby, and some of those sacrifices are life long, when she doesn’t want to for whatever reason/s, is unconscionable. It is far worse to bring unwanted children into this world than to allow legal, safe abortions. Of course, reducing the number of unwanted pregnancies through education and access to contraception is the better option, but abortion is ultimately between the woman and her doctor. I don’t even think the father should have a say in it. We have so many unloved children in this world; the crime would be bringing in even more. Looking at my own three beautiful, amazing children makes me mourn for those children who are unloved, uncared for, unwanted, and in many cases unfed and uninsured.

Once they are born, I believe all of our children need to be cared for. If parents don’t have the means to provide health care or food or decent housing then we as a society should make sure that happens. This also seems to be counter to the conservative agenda which favors a “pull yourself up by your own dang bootstraps” kind of approach. This is where I don’t understand the conservatives at all. If the conservatives claim to be all religious, then why wouldn’t they be the most ardent advocates of government social programs? Jesus believed in helping the poor, after all.

That brings me to economics. I went at it with a conservative Facebook “friend” a while ago (he was rude about it and has since been unfriended) about Obamacare. His argument boiled down to “we can’t afford it”. Well, we can afford two wars readily enough, so if there’s a will, there’s a way. This is the United States- we can work things out if we choose. It all depends on what our priorities are. We can’t afford not to provide healthcare for everyone- we lose too much in the face of overwhelming medical expenses for our middle class as a whole, and for someone to die for lack of ability to pay for medical care is criminal. When good people have to die or declare bankruptcy due to medical bills something is wrong. Access to decent healthcare should be the right of every person in this country. Yes, that will create problems, but I believe in our ability to solve each and every one of them if we let our government know it's important.

One final point about economics. I STRONGLY believe we need to regulate big business. If we don’t they’ll kill us all in the name of profits. My awareness of this issue came about when my son was younger. He had Thomas the Tank Engine toys that were recalled due to lead paint. Now he has learning disabilities. While I can never be sure that those toys were the cause of his problems, I can never be sure that they weren’t, either. I can’t express how betrayed I feel by the toy company that sold those contaminated toys. I do my absolute best to keep my children healthy and safe and give them mental stimulation to help them develop into happy, well adjusted adults, and I spend extra to buy quality toys, and then this happens. How? How can that be allowed? Thank goodness for the laws that required the recall so that I could take the toys away from him before he died from it.

That betrayal led to an awareness of how big business can harm us. The toy manufacturer decided to cut corners and have their toys made in another country in the name of profits. That decision could have cost me my son, so when I say profits before people this is something I have experienced personally. Other businesses that I have come to distrust include the oil and gas companies (BP in the gulf, Exxon in Alaska), financial institutions (who caused the mortgage crisis and our subsequent economic free fall) and Monsanto, because they have such a blatant disregard for human life. This post is already long enough so I’m not going into what Monsanto is up to, but it’s scary. These betrayals of my trust leave me with one alternative- I want to see businesses regulated. I want the government to stick up for me and my children and protect us from that “profits before people” mentality. I voted for Obama originally because he put forth legislation as a senator to regulate the toy industry and get the lead out of toys. Conservatives say they don’t want business to be regulated because they don’t want anything to hinder the free market. The free market won’t do us any good if those companies lie to us about the safety of their products, make us all sick, destroy our environment, and cheat us out of all our money.

This is not a comprehensive post by any means but it is getting long so I’m going to end here. I may revisit the issue; things are getting so heated now with the election coming up. I usually try not to post anything inflammatory here or on Facebook but these issues are so vital now. There’s too much at stake to be silent.

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