Thursday, November 29, 2012

Taxes Pay for Stuff

We came together in societies because we couldn’t thrive as individuals.  Taxes are how we contribute to that collective effort.  Taxes pay for shit that you use.   If you want to go back on your own, be my guest.  If you are going to stay, can you please drop this nonsense about never raising taxes and get serious about each of us doing our part to help solve the real problems we are facing?  

Monday, November 5, 2012

Voting For America

I love America.  I love it for what it is, what it has always been: an imperfect collective enterprise.  The Republican Party of 2012 has a very different vision.  For that reason, for the first time in my lifetime, I won’t give any consideration to voting for a single Republican candidate.  I don’t mean any disrespect to those who will be voting for Republicans, I just can’t reconcile the differences between the vision of the Republican Party for this country and my own vision of what this country has been, what it is, and what I would like it to be.   

I love this country, warts and all.  I don’t need to pretend that it is something it isn’t.  I don’t need to pretend that it is perfect.  I don’t need to overlook Jim Crow, the detention of Japanese Americans, our role in supporting despots in several continents, our misguided war in Iraq, our use of torture, or our current rankings in education, infant mortality, and violent crime.  I’m not threatened if my President acknowledges any or all of this, or even apologizes for it.  On the contrary, it makes me proud.  America isn’t perfect.  It isn’t always a beacon for freedom and democracy.  It isn’t always in the right.  That’s just the truth.  Good leaders acknowledge the truth.  Good leaders make me proud. 

I am proud of my country and I love my country, so I don’t have a problem acknowledging that other people love their countries.  I don’t have a problem acknowledging that other folks have reasons to love their countries and reasons not to love ours.  Not acknowledging that there are economies that are growing as fast or even faster than ours, cities that are as safe or even safer than our cities, health care systems that work as well or even better than ours, or young people that are getting as good if not a better and more affordable education than our young people doesn’t make it all untrue.  It just makes us obnoxious, self righteous, self involved bullies.  The truth is that America isn’t any more perfect than any other country.

Maybe I love my country because I’m not perfect either.   I don’t claim to be the only one who loves my country, or to love it for the right reasons or the only reasons.  I also don’t think that part of loving America is agreeing with me.  Part of loving America, for me, is being willing to raise my voice in opposition and being willing to listen when others do the same.  I’m not perfect and my country isn’t perfect, which means there are problems to be dealt with and I’m not going to be able to do it by myself or just with folks who agree with me on every issue.   I don’t love my country any less because I recognize its deficiencies or believe that they can only be addressed through collaboration, cooperation, dialogue, and discussion.

I do love my country, though, and I do want to address those problems.  I want to use logic and reason to solve them.  I want to rely on science.  My country is not on a world that is flat or was created in six days.  My country is not threatened by a communicable disease caused homosexuality.  My country is threatened by climate change.  My country is filled with animals that evolved rather than being created as they now find themselves.  My country evolved. 

My country is still evolving.  That is what I love about it.  There is a minimum wage.  Children don’t work.  Women can vote.  Slavery has been abolished.  There aren’t still drinking fountains for colored people.  There aren’t still Jim Crow laws, and when echoes appear in voter ID laws or in the actions of ‘monitors’ identifying voter fraud mainly in minority precincts in contested states … enough folks protest to warm my heart.  It makes me believe that in the future people won’t be called out as terrorists because of their religion, seen as less than full citizens because of their accent or skin color, and denied rights because of who they choose to love.

I love my country even if everyone doesn’t think homosexuality is right, maybe even because everyone doesn’t think homosexuality is right … as long as those preferences don’t intrude on people’s rights.  I love a place where folks can tell each other their morals are wrong, I don’t like a place that can bring the power of the courts behind those religious and moral preferences.

I do love the power of the state.  We all do.  That is why we joined a society.  That is why we abandoned the Articles of Confederation and rejected the Confederate Constitution.  That is why we like paved roads, bridges that don’t fall down, police forces that protect our children, health care for our families, and a helping hand  when we have fallen behind.  I don’t see that there is much to love about a state that leaves us at the mercies of the market and corporate interest, while telling us what we can do with our bodies and who we may marry.  I don’t hate government.  I love it.  I love the promise that rests within it, unfulfilled as it may be … the promise that rests at the center of America … the promise of equality of opportunity … the promise of a fair shake.

I love my country because of that promise of a fair shake, above just about everything else.  I love the idea of that fair shake, because underneath it is the idea of a common goal.  I love my country because underneath the John Wayne me-first veneer, I see something else.  I see it in the footage of folks marching over the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Alabama.  I see it in the stories of the Boston Tea Party, the crossing of the Delaware, and the winter at Valley Forge.  I see it in the flickering light of television screens the world over when Neil Armstrong stepped out onto the moon.  I heard it in Al Michael’s voice as he asked “do you believe in miracles?”  I felt it in my bones when a Black man was elected President.  Talk all you want about the independent streak in the American character.  I see something else, something more important.  I see a togetherness, as tortured and imperfect as it may be, and that is why I can’t vote for a party that denies it.  I can’t vote for a party that doesn’t acknowledge, let alone love, America as it is.  That will change.  I won’t have to boycott the Republican Party in 2014.  It may be na├»ve of me, but I am sure of it.  I love this country too much not to be.  For now though, it is what it is … and so is love.  So, I’ll be voting for Obama for President, and against the Republicans in every other election.  Don’t hate me for it … I’m just staying true to my vision of the country I love.  What about you?