Saturday, August 15, 2009

the left and the loons: why i am a liberal

Every once in a while it's nice to reflect on why you believe the things you believe and why you feel the way you do about them. Some of us are unfortunate enough to have personal experiences that directly connect them to left-wing causes. Some do not. But all of us have examined the political dichotomy in this nation and have come down on the Left side of the spectrum.

Why is that?

At the end of a long, thoughtful, interesting discussion about health care on facebook with several of my former students (now all in their thirties), we turned our thoughts inward a bit, and I found myself exploring what happened in my life that led me to feel these things so strongly.

Took me a long time to get to this point. Though I have personal issues (GLBT) that would naturally incline me to lean Left, I spent much of my life trying hard to ride the fence, trying hard to be "independent." In high school--at least before Watergate--I actually leaned right. (Good old NH upbringing.) But every time I did anything as foolish as vote for a Republican, I ended up regretting it big time.

As I watched them systematically refocus America on religious nonsense and economic philosophies that have (in yesterday's news) ended up creating the biggest divide between rich and poor in the history of this nation, and then do everything in their power to thwart a democratically elected President, including hounding him into impeachment, and following that steal the next two elections so that they could finish the task of reframing America into their vision of what it ought to be (a Christian oligarchy) and instead managing to disregard or outright shatter the very Constitution that their Supreme Court appointees claim to hold in such high regard, my disenchantment became disrespect became distaste became disgust.

If the true conservatives still ran the GOP in this country, I'd have no problem. We need two parties for balance, and there are indeed times when conservative ideas need to be heard, and even followed. But they don't. The neocons and the religious right took over in the eighties and nineties, and all that remain today are the wackos. To be fair, there are a few who sincerely try to hold true to the historical tenets of their party. Both Maine senators come to mind, as well as quite a few congressmen I could name. But when there is no room in the GOP for Arlen Spector, well, this is not your father's Republican Party.

In response to something someone posted, I said that we no longer have conservatives in any positions of power in this country; we have the Left and the Loons. I ought to amend that, pithy though it is. We do have conservatives. The thing is: they are now in the DEMOCRATIC party. The GOP had no room for them, so they migrated over to the only party that actually accepts alternative viewpoints. And that, BTW, is why Dems have such a hard time coming to consensus on things. The GOP is lock step because...well, LOOK at them: they could be the IBM folks in that famous "1984" Apple commercial. Better dressed, but still...

The Dems look, sound, and act like America, and it gets pretty sloppy out here sometimes.

Those folks in the town halls are scared, but they are scared because they are being fed lies and distortions by a well-honed lie and distortion machine that has been getting stronger and stronger since Willie Horton proved its effectiveness. It makes the disinformation in the Big Brother commercial look tame. Today it includes FOX NEWS as a media outlet (a channel with the word "news" in its misleading name to confuse people into believing that it is "fair and balanced"), most of the GOP leadership, and such pseudo-celebs as "Joe the Plumber," as well as a mind-bogglingly effective and well-financed behind the scenes group of lobbyists and PACs to do the real dirty work.

Dems don't keep their hands clean. They are not "holier than thou." (The single greatest unfair attack ad of all time is still the "daisy ad," after all.) But these days they look like a church choir next to the garbage that the right pulls on a daily basis. And there is something to be said for motive as well: when the right wing pulls this crap to retain or regain power, its goal is to pad its already plentiful bank accounts (or to wage random unnecessary wars to prove it does not collectively require Cialis). No one claims that left wingers are immune to graft, but I think it is pretty clear that the goals of the Left are far more altruistic.

So, after many, many years of just too much, I learned my lesson from, ironically, FOX NEWS. You can't be "fair and balanced" when one side is clearly wrong. You've just got to say it is wrong and speak up. Anything else is just a lie.

Back when my students were in school, I rarely spoke politics in the classroom, and whenever I did I always felt the need to give time to the other side. There were plenty of students who were unsure what my affiliation was (and I myself would have said "Independent" if asked). During the Bush years, though, that changed. If something is wrong, you can't just look the other way. I acknowledged (always) and respectfully listened to those students in my classes with dissenting opinions--though, as the years wore on, their numbers dwindled to almost zero--but I made no bones about where I stood and why. My bulletin board last fall filled up with Obama For President paraphernalia. I attended the Grant Park celebration. (So did several of my students.) I didn't preach politics in the classroom because that would be wrong--it's not my place or my job--but I didn't back down when the topic came up as I might have in the past. Not this time.

I'm holding this administration to a very high standard. It has already done a good job in some ways and disappointed me in others, but I'm a realist. It's only been six months, and the job is tough. And this is politics: the solutions will neither be pretty nor perfect. But if I look back on this President after his terms (yes, I'm assuming two terms) and fail to see Hope realized, then I will know that the American Experiment is truly waning, and I will begin to consider spending my retirement years in some other place.

Maybe France. That would piss off the neocons.

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it's your hair that i notice first
streaked with morning
it frames your face
you lying there eyes closed
soft breath not quite there
i follow its path as it bends the sheet
and i can touch you there
touch what i feel is you
in the spark of daylight
you'll rise
pull on the wrinkled shirt from last night
say something you think is beautiful
drink some coffee
from behind my paper
and drive away,
leaving a kiss on my lips
and a hole in my heart
where a fire ought to be

Favorite Films

  • The Wizard Of Oz
  • Amelie
  • The Princess Bride
  • Casablanca
  • Annie Hall
  • The Lord of the Rings
  • All That Jazz
  • Citizen Kane
  • Love Actually
  • Moulin Rouge
  • Big Fish
  • When Harry Met Sally
  • Almost Famous
  • Bull Durham
  • Notting Hill
  • Apocalypse Now (Redux)
  • Magnolia

All-Time Favorite TV Shows

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer
  • Gilmore Girls
  • M*A*S*H
  • The West Wing
  • The X-Files
  • The Daily Show
  • Ally McBeal
  • Picket Fences
  • All In The Family
  • Seinfeld
  • The Mary Tyler Moore Show
  • Star Trek
  • Firefly
  • Wonderfalls
  • Northern Exposure
  • Get Smart
  • The Dick Van Dyke Show
  • Twin Peaks
  • The Larry Sanders Show
  • Monk
  • Felicity
  • St. Elsewhere

Current TV Shows I Enjoy (in no particular order)

  • Perception
  • Major Crimes
  • American Horror Story
  • Louie
  • Suits
  • The Newsroom
  • Falling Skies
  • Franklin and Bash
  • Veep
  • Scandal
  • Fairly Legal
  • Girls
  • Don't Trust the B---
  • Justified
  • Portlandia
  • Psych
  • The Middle
  • Person of Interest
  • Happy Endings
  • Hart of Dixie
  • Real Time with Bill Maher
  • Nikita
  • Raising Hope
  • Castle
  • Drop Dead Diva
  • Covert Affairs
  • Elementary
  • Rizzoli and Isles
  • Revolution
  • The Last Resort
  • Alphas
  • SNL
  • Revenge
  • Community
  • Suburgatory
  • New Girl
  • Once Upon a Time
  • Grimm
  • Nashville
  • Downton Abbey
  • Smash
  • Homeland
  • Fringe
  • Glee
  • Haven
  • Community
  • Warehouse 13
  • Modern Family
  • Vampire Diaries
  • The Daily Show
  • How I Met Your Mother
  • The Colbert Report
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Leverage
  • Rachel Maddow Show

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