I have a confession:
I am a left-leaning moderate.
I don’t particularly identify with any political party that I’m aware of, especially because my focuses and opinions shift depending on a) what I do or don’t know about an issue or person, and b) what the current issues are to begin with. I just can’t say “I’m a member of the _____ party”, though, because I’m not. I disagree with at least one major stance of every party I know of, and so I refuse to be tied down by an affiliation.
That’s not to say I don’t have my opinions on things, however. I know what I think about a lot of stuff, and I know how much it matters to me, for the most part. What really doesn’t matter to me, especially in election years, is how much the other guy sucks. If you can tie that into how you’re going to be better, by all means, back up your statements with facts. But I am sick and tired of hearing “He was born in Siberia” or “He said pink instead of salmon”—we’re all human. We were all born somewhere, and we all mis-speak sometimes.
Okay, yes, I get the whole born-in-U.S.-necessary-for-presidency thing. I’m just tired of all the muck-raking and the sensationalism. Fact-checking would be so much easier if people just stuck to the facts and didn’t freak out over every single little thing. It’s a lot to ask, I know, since sensationalism is what makes news, but wouldn’t it be great if stories weren’t blown out of proportion?
On that subject, how about making promises that a candidate can keep? Saying you’ll dig the country out of debt and end homelessness and hunger in 4 to 8 years is admirable, and I wish it could happen, but, the fact of the matter is, that’s next to impossible, and we all know it. Or rather, it’s impossible, given that repairing such atrocities take time. Change takes time—it’s never instantaneous.
Gridlock doesn’t help. I get that everyone’s priorities are different, but sacrifices must be made. And I’m not talking about heaping more of a burden on the middle and lower classes to remain on top; I really am talking about cutting spending and (and I know someone will say I ought to be shot for suggesting it) paying more in taxes. But come on—if it’s obvious we can’t keep up our current spending, we can either pray that God/Buddha/the Treasury Department will shower us with money (which will not solve the problem, and, in fact, will likely make it worse), or we can actually take action. It’s like the joke about the guy caught on the roof of his house during a flood who keeps on saying that God will save him when people offer to rescue him, asks why God didn’t when he perishes, and God says “I sent two boats and a helicopter; what more did you want?!”
Cutting the little things, won’t work, either. PBS, NPR, and the like are atoms that make up peanuts compared to what we spend on defense, let alone on big political gatherings and conferences. I understand that all this spending does keep a lot of people in work, but that money could, if properly used (oh, how sad it is that this is wishful thinking at best!) help bring others out of poverty so that they, too, could share in the burden while still making livable wages. I’m not saying that they should be indiscriminately given to—not in the least.
I believe in frequent drug testing in addition to any other check-ups required to receive welfare. I also believe in putting those who are unemployed to work that they are physically able to do to fix our crumbling infrastructure, and I believe that prisoners ought to be put to work doing the same, and not just given a (relatively) cushy cell to live in rent-free. (I’ve heard of too many people going back to jail simply because it’s easier than actually making the effort to live outside.) I believe in education about contraception so that our nation’s babies (and all women, for that matter) aren’t having babies they can’t afford.
Finally, (and this is the part I will be absolutely crucified for, I’m sure, but I’m as entitled to my opinion as you are to yours), again, I do believe in higher taxes if one can afford them until we get ourselves out of this mess. Not insanely much higher. But this gaping financial chasm we’ve got going has two parts to it, as I said, earlier: out of control spending, and not paying enough to make up for it. But we can’t raise taxes by an unfair amount, and we can’t completely cut spending, so, it seems some of both is in order. Now, as to what to cut… I honestly don’t know. I’m no expert. All I know is that cutting programs worth a few million each won’t do squat, especially if they provide good service.
Speaking of being crucified for my views, though, I’m also of the opinion that McCarthyism is still very much alive and screaming and pointing in the U.S. It’s not always to the communists; it’s just to everyone else who doesn’t believe exactly what a vocal minority does. I mean, at least 75% of the time, it seems like our foreign policy is this: “The enemy of my enemy is my friend… or needs to be nuked from orbit. Still not sure on a good day.”
The point is, none of this has worked out very well for us, so why do we just keep it up? It makes us like little children who give their parents alternating silent treatments and screaming fits until they get what they want. Well, we all have the right to vote, so why don’t we exercise that right and vote these brats out of office? (I am a firm believer in “Didn’t vote? Don’t complain.”) And why don’t we put actual effort into figuring out what REALLY works to keep food on the table and people off the streets and corruption out of our halls of politics?
Okay, yeah, I’m REALLY reaching on the last one, and probably the other two as well, but realism with a healthy dose of optimism often does the trick, I’ve found. Also, righteous fury in small doses.
In summation, a quote from JFK: “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”