Let Us All Unite!

 

It’s depressing how divided my country has become. I look around and see more than just two different political views; I see two different realities. I’m not just living in a different country than those I disagree with; I’m in a different universe.

Has it ever been this bad before? Was it this bad during the Vietnam War? The Cold War? The Civil War? The Revolutionary War? I don’t like the fact that when I think of periods with intense division they are all periods of ‘war.’

A few months ago I did something I thought was really cool. I had to fill out a form to take a hearing test and it asked for my nationality. After thinking for a few minutes I put down what I felt was most appropriate: American. Sure, my ancestors came from western European countries, but that’s been over a hundred years ago and I never met any of them. It doesn’t make sense to say I’m ‘Irish’ or ‘English’ or ‘German.’

For better or worse I’m an American.

But now is a strange time to be an American. I don’t feel that I need to add a pronoun to say I’m European American. It’s only somewhat important at the moment whether someone is African American or Asian American.

What people care about is that I’m a Liberal American. An American Democrat. A Progressive American.

I have a part-time job writing for a local newsweekly. I try to focus on local politics in the area. I usually do a preview of county elections and I’ve covered the Mayor’s State of the City. It’s important stuff that doesn’t always end up in our local daily paper.

Something I notice about local politics as opposed to state or national level politics is that the D and R behind people’s names don’t matter quite as much. I can safely assume someone’s views and priorities by that letter, but it doesn’t define them to the point where I feel they’re an enemy. I know what talking points I’ll probably get during an interview, but they don’t seem like boogeymen in a lightly colored mansion hundreds of miles away.

Maybe that’s because the mayor is more likely to be my neighbor. A city councilman could be my waiter. If I want to say something to a county commissioner I can pick up the phone and dial the number. These aren’t people that are far away who I can easily dehumanize.

Maybe at the local level it’s just easier to remember that in spite of our differences we all want to make our community a great place to live.

It can be frustrating to browse Facebook anymore. A lot of the time I want to get into arguments. I want to know why people hold their views. I want to know where they get their information.

But for the most part, people don’t want to share that sort of thing.

So my New Year’s Resolution is that the next time I see something I find completely ignorant I want to write a bitchy comment to on social media I’ll ask “how does this help anything?”

Seriously, how does bickering about whether Democrats want to raise your taxes or if Republicans want to allow corporations to run the country help anything? You’d think having cellphones that connect us with every newspaper on the planet would make us more informed, but it’s still just the same thirty-second sound bytes I’ve heard my whole life. Only now they’re memes.

A good example is the recent tax cut. I don’t understand how anyone making less than $75,000/year can be happy about it. I’ll see my taxes raised within four years at my income level. Everyone under that threshold will see an increase at some point in the next few years, but I have coworkers who make the same wages as I do who are tickled pink by this.

What’s even crazier is that sexual assault and foreign interference in an election have also become partisan issues.

And you know what? They’ve already won. We’re arguing about whether Obama or Trump is better while they pick out pockets.

But it doesn’t have to be that way. Let’s work together. Let’s bridge that gap.

Like anything else in this world, I may fail. But goddammit I’m going to try.

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I Could Run for Senate!

On my way home from work the other night I was struck by a thought that hasn’t occurred to me for a while. I could run for office! I’ve always been partial to the idea. That’s why I made sure to get all my tattoos in places where a suit would cover them and I’ve tried very hard to keep all my extreme viewpoints to myself.

But after my third DUI I gave up on the idea. I mean, I probably wouldn’t vote for someone with three DUIs, even if they were in recovery and hadn’t touched a drop of alcohol since the last one. Even the people of Cleveland, OH wouldn’t elect someone with three DUIs as their mayor.

But obviously, there are some people who would! I was ecstatic that Doug Jones beat lunatic Roy Moore in the Alabama Senate race, but it really opens my eyes to the fact that literally any maniac can run and be considered!

Hell, I even forgot what a madman Roy Moore was until a coworker brought it up last night. I completely forgot about his extreme anti-LGBTQ views, his open Islamophobia, his being a leading voice in the Obama birther movement and other conspiracy theories, his claim that NFL players kneeling during the national anthem were breaking the law, or that he was removed from the Alabama Supreme Court… twice.

All of that was completely overshadowed by the fact that he pursued romantic relationships with and allegedly assaulted girls as young as 14 while he was in his early thirties. It’s strange to think that the thing about him I find the least disturbing is his pedophilia.

I suppose the only problem with me running is that I would have to change my party affiliation. I fit pretty comfortable on the left side of the political spectrum and don’t see that changing anytime soon, but Democrats have shown they are less willing to protect scandal in their own ranks. Sen. Al Franken has been forced from office “while a man who has bragged on tape about his history of sexual assault sits in the Oval Office and a man who repeatedly preyed on young girls campaigns for the Senate with the full support of his party.” 

I suppose it shouldn’t be too hard to run as a Republicon. I don’t think many people pay a whole lot of attention to anything to anything other than the D or R after someone’s name. I could still keep all my beliefs about equality and the need to fight against the concentration of wealth and power into the hands of few people, but I’d just say things like “jobs” and “freedom.”

Come on, Donald Trump has built a political career on saying he’s working to help the little guy and then has supported legislation specifically designed to fuck him without exception. If he can do it, I probably can.

Unite or Die

I was really excited a few weeks ago when the Trump Administration announced “Infrastructure Week.” I thought, “Great, here’s something everyone can agree on. Republicans and Democrats can work together on a plan to get our roads, bridges, and utilities up to snuff.” Of course, that’s not what happened. 

 

It’s really sad that every issue in this country is now political. You would think there would be a few things we could all agree on. We’re all Americans right? We all want to make our country a great place for ourselves and our children right? So why is it that we cannot work together to solve these problems like adults. I think bipartisanship would help us to make a better world if we could just find some common ground.

 

I have absolutely no evidence to back me up on this theory because I can’t remember the last time we had any bipartisan issues, but I’m going to stick with it until someone proves me wrong.

 

I really don’t understand the question of whether or not we should protect the environment. This seems like a no-brainer. Sure, profit and money are nice, but it doesn’t do a whole lot of good without air to breath or water to drink. We shouldn’t look at the EPA as the bringer of job killing regulation; we should look at it as an entity that challenges us to create jobs while protecting the environment. I don’t see why we can’t do both.

 

(Courtesy of Yes! Magazine)

I have to give props to my Republican Senator who has fought for the Great Lakes Restoration Fund to help clean up Lake Erie. He and many other senators resisted Trump and Obama’s efforts to cut funding to the program.

 

I can understand why there is some friction in the health care debate. This is where I’m reminded that Democrats are for working people and Republicans support big business. I just don’t understand why they can’t get together on a plan to make healthcare more affordable for everyone. I constantly read politicians say Obamacare is not working and we have to do something so we can make insurance more affordable while also fighting the current opioid epidemic, but then Mitch McConnell presents a bill that would do the exact opposite. This shouldn’t be about helping mega rich corporations make more profit, it should be about helping people.

 

And it doesn’t help a whole lot when the president is talking about “victims” of Obamacare. We’re all aware that the law hasn’t worked for everyone, but words matter. If you paint your predecessors biggest legislative accomplishment as something working to hurt people it doesn’t instill a lot of good will to unite people to work on a solution.

 

I’m glad I can say that both sides are starting to stand up to the Russian meddling that occurred during our last election. Many people don’t believe this (or simply don’t care), but unless you’re working for some sort of intelligence agency please don’t argue with me. It’s nice to see bills on Russian sanctions passing Congress with only a few brown nosers voting against them. It’s great to see the Senate working on a bill that would make it harder for President Trump to fire the man investigating him. I will say that it’s taken too long for everyone to get on the same page about this, but it’s great that we’ve all finally gotten there.

 

I just hope we can find some common ground on other issues. We all want to see America succeed and be great, we just disagree on the methods of getting there. But that’s no reason we can’t all come together.