Sunday, November 11, 2012

Election 2012 and Mommy Issues

I always try to avoid writing a post simply about politics or religion, but in any 4th year, the presidential election has enough gravity to warrant some discussion. This particular election-as noted in my last post, "Untitled," has been rather harsh, and there are many reasons why, all of them fixable, and hopefully we will be emotionally fatigued enough after this one to consider some of the things we can do differently going on. I suppose the Supreme Court of the United States started us on the downward slide in this cycle, though the notion of "corporate personhood" began with the 14th amendment to the constitution, though that amendment did not unleash the torrents of money that the Citizens United decision from 2010 did. After that decision several multi-billionaires decided that they would spend more money than many Americans make in a lifetime to buy this one election, and their money came very close to poisoning this election. These gentlemen were convinced that they could spend enough money on ugly commercials to make Americans hate President Obama as much as they did. The problem is that many of the things they said in all those commercials were lies, and the people knew it. "The People" do not like to be bullied or lied to, and they showed it by voting for President Obama to have a second term decisively. The popular vote was not a landslide, but it was clear. And now there is weeping, wailing and gnashing of teeth on the right, and they still refuse to be honest about the real reasons they lost, meaning that they will likely do the same things wrong in 2014 and 2016. We may have a democratic president and senate for a long time to come if lessons are not learned from this. But the right is not the only side that has lessons to learn, and I am in no way denying culpability on the left for the lack of faith the American people have in our elected officials and in the electoral process.

I've had some very interesting conversations with some people from the right in the days since the election, and read comments from other that have made me want to cry and laugh at the same time. I may have mentioned here before that there are few liberals in my Texas, Baptist family. And so I've become accustomed to "putting my Zen on" when we are together, mastering the smile and nod, muttering the line, "Yes, that's one way to look at it," or changing the subject. Thursday, November 8 was my dad's birthday, and I needed to ask my mother some questions about our family gathering this Sunday. I would not dare bring up the election with her, as she would have been deeply offended by my euphoria, and I knew she would not be happy to begin with. So I phoned her when I got to work and started to log in to my computer. Dad answered and after chatting briefly, he put her on the phone. "Hi, Mom! How are you this morning?" I knew she had not been feeling well, and it about to have sinus surgery due to an intractable sinus infection. "I'm sick." I assumed, naively, that her illness was due to this known sinus problem. "I'm sorry, what's wrong?" "The election." My teeth went directly on edge, and I wanted to stem the conversation without actually having it. "He won the popular vote and the electoral college. The people have spoken." I have know for some time, as a result of the conversations I described above, that she despises President Obama, and, though she denies that anyone does her thinking for her, when I ask her to tell me specifically why, the words that come out of her mouth can be traced directly back to Sean Hannity, of Fox News 3. I was not expecting the following lecture on how "those poor blacks and Hispanics who voted for Obama have no idea how bad things are going to be for them now. They don't know that they will have to pay tax on the over-the-counter diabetes supplies because of Obama-care, and so will you, because blacks and Hispanics have a larger incidence of diabetes." I noticed that my password had expired, and it wouldn't accept the one I was trying to put in. "Mom, I have to go choose a new password." "Fine." Click. The very notion that the "poor blacks and Latinos" were too ignorant to know what's good for them, and needed "Daddy Warbucks" to be elected and look after them seemed insanely antithetical to the republican notion that it is not the government's job to take care of anyone. My euphoria was only slightly deflated. The very next day Congressman Ron Johnson of Wisconsin made a similarly shocking comment, that the democrats won because of "an ignorant electorate." I can only say that my mother, who lives in a white enclave suburb of Fort Worth, goes to a white church full of conservatives who see the world as she does, and has never spent time with anyone non-white except when she was working, along with Congressman Johnson don't know the same black and Hispanic people that I do. But then, I went to an integrated school from second grade (1964) and have had a multi-cultural life ever since. So I know that all the stereotypes that she and her friends cling to about non-white Americans are essentially not true. Yes, there is always someone who fits a stereotype, and every time one who already believes those ideas sees one, he/she thinks, "See, it really is true." But the vast majority of people of any kind have some characteristics of the stereotypes of another group, or stereotypes of their own group. But to ascribe President Obama's win to an "ignorant electorate" is insulting on so many levels that I can't begin to express it. I voted for Obama. Twice. I would vote for him again. And there are many negative words that can be assigned to me, but I am not ignorant of political issues-I've followed politics since I was eight, and I've grown more liberal as I've got older. Please-call me ignorant to my face!

Bill O'Reilly, also of Fox News 5. made some comments which were strikingly prescient, if he hadn't muddied up the points by keeping on talking when he said that "the white majority establishment in this country is over." There was much kerfuffle about that remark being racist, but I said then, and still say, he was right. That is the problem; that is why the Tea Party is so afraid of, not only Obama, but all motions on the left that include acceptance of the "other." Change is always hard, and giving up entrenched power is even harder. And now, the establishment is becoming more and more diverse. There are Muslim congressmen, there are lots of women, some homosexuals, and many people of many shades of brown in positions of power. Another Tea Party supporting (former) friend of mine said to me after President Obama's first election that "he wants to CHANGE America." No, Dear, I'm sorry. He isn't changing America, he is reflective of the change that has already taken place in this country. We have always been a colorful country, the difference now is that women and people of color have advanced their own claim to the same protections and freedoms promised to all Americans. Gays have those same rights too, but they are coming more slowly to full citizenship in this country. Hopefully soon they will be considered "real," "complete" citizens with all the rights due to them under the United States constitution. But the Tea Party is in denial about what it means to be a "real American," and they are in denial that we never actually had a country anything like "Leave it to Beaver" or "The Andy Griffith Show." During the years of the 1950s that they long for a return to, women and children were still essentially considered "property" of the "man of the house." Blacks were considered second-class citizens, and could not eat at the same lunch counters or see movies in the same theaters, or swim in the same public pools as their white counterparts. Nor could they vote without fear of harassment, or in some cases, death by lynching, they were confined to "urban," read "inner city, poor" neighborhoods and low paying, low skilled jobs. When it came to "who you know," rather than "what  you know," not many white managers knew any black people, and therefore, black people were not able to advance their economic class. This has changed, in part because of social programs such as The Pell Grant, which helps the poorest attend college. I can remember working in the financial aid office of a major state university, and many white families would complain that poor people got a break their children didn't get. And while I was prevented from replying honestly, I couldn't help thinking that if those poor people did not get a college education, they would remain poor, and would need government assistance going forward, and these white people would also complain about that, accusing the poor of "not wanting to improve their lot, just wanting the government to pay their way." If education is the key, then working class people becoming educated is the only way to balance the class system in this country, and pull themselves up from endemic poverty. This has nothing to do with race, but class and economic circumstances.

This election cycle was particularly scary with its attacks on women through the attempts to limit women's reproductive choice, and the attacks on the poor and people of color, attempting to go back to the pre-Civil Rights era and deny them the ability to vote. This one is a BIG lesson for the right to learn. It does not work. The men who made anti-woman comments lost in large numbers. And all the people whose right to vote the right attempted to deny voted in large numbers. The right "pissed off" the majority, and paid a large price for it. I would suggest that you don't try that again, Governor Rick Scott 6. 

The religious right is another group that has been particular disenheartened by these election results. They have fallen for the lies that President Obama is not a Christian, and is likely a "secret Muslim." I must say thank you to comedian Larry Wilmore 8. If President Obama is a Muslim, he is a very bad one. He has been the most followed president in history. The crazed wing of the right has been trying to find anything they can to discredit him, and if he were a Muslim, he would, at least once by now, have been caught dropping to face the east and pray, as is required by the Muslim religion every day, five times a day. There is no way on earth that President Obama is a Muslim. I'm sorry, get over that one-he is NOT A MUSLIM. And if he were, who cares. We have religious freedom in this country, and he can worship, or not, ANY WAY HE CHOOSES. But the comments I have found offensive are the people who talk about how they prayed for Obama to lose-they now believe God has a lesson for them to learn because they didn't get what they wanted. One friend though commented that she prayed for "the right man to win." So now, she says, she has to admit to herself that God is in control, and the right man won. I probably shouldn't find that comment as offensive as I do. At least she is using her prayers as a lesson to accept that Obama won, and she is to behave like an American, and support him whether she agrees with him or not. But it seems so arrogant to me to think that any one person's prayers have that much power.

The fact of the matter is that President Obama won the majority of the popular vote, and a large majority of the electoral college. We can debate all day about whether the electoral college is still relevant, but for today, we are about to enter four more years of an Obama/Biden administration. This means that gay people's rights are advancing, which is a good thing. It means that women's reproductive rights are safe for another four years. It means that, like it or not, more people are about to have access to health care. There are many ways The Affordable Care Act 9. could be improved. But access to health care without costing consumers to pay huge prices for the uninsured visiting emergency rooms instead of having a family doctor, is a step in the right direction. It is not socialism-people are required to buy insurance, if they can, just like in Massachusetts under Romney, but the government is not taxing the American people in order to give universal, single payer health care. Rape is not a gift from God, nor is the potential pregnancy that may come from such a horrible occurrence. Some women who get pregnant through rape may decide to keep and raise the child, and love it despite its tragic beginnings. Some may choose that they cannot. The choice belongs to the woman, no one else, and that choice is intact. Since my first election, in 1976, I have voted for some winners and some losers. Sometimes a presidential candidate I voted for lost. Twice. So, as I said on election day to those whose candidates didn't win this year, I have been there. I feel your pain. But there will be another election in two years, and perhaps your side will win. Perhaps not. Well, probably not, if you continue to lie to yourselves about the real reasons you lost. Don't tell women how to think about rape and contraception. Don't tell people they can't vote. Don't make hateful comments about, what you must not have realized is the majority of the American voting public now. America is changing. Change is inevitable, and it is up to any given individual whether to embrace change and make it positive for themselves, or continue to fight it in ugly, hateful ways, and make yourselves ever more irrelevant.

1.In Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad - 118 U.S. 394 (1886), the reporter noted in the headnote to the opinion that the Chief Justice began oral argument by stating, "The court does not wish to hear argument on the question whether the provision in the Fourteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which forbids a State to deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws, applies to these corporations. We are all of the opinion that it does."
2.The Supreme Court held in Citizens United that it was unconstitutional to ban free speech through the limitation of independent communications by corporations, associations, and unions,[21] i.e. that corporations and labor unions may spend their own money to support or oppose political candidates through independent communications like television advertisements.[22] This ruling was frequently interpreted as permitting corporations and unions to donate to political campaigns,[23] or else removing limits on how much a donor can contribute to a campaign.[24] However, these claims are incorrect, as the ruling did not affect the 1907 Tillman Act's ban on corporate campaign donations (as the Court noted explicitly in its decision[25]), nor the prohibition on foreign corporate donations to American campaigns,[26] nor did it concern campaign contribution limits.[27] The Citizens United decision did not disturb prohibitions on corporate contributions to candidates, and it did not address whether the government could regulate contributions to groups that make independent expenditures.[22] The Citizens United ruling did however remove the previous ban on corporations and organizations using their treasury funds for direct advocacy. These groups were freed to expressly endorse or call to vote for or against specific candidates, actions that were previously prohibited.[28]
The majority opinion, written by Justice Kennedy, was relatively short, less than 30 pages; the dissenting opinions of Justices Kennedy and Scalia in Austin v. Michigan State Chamber of Commerce and McConnell v. Federal Election Commission actually provide a more complete picture of the majority's thinking, in many respects. Chief Justice Roberts wrote a concurring opinion to address concerns about stare decisis, and Justice Scalia wrote a concurring opinion about the history and meaning of the First Amendment. Justice Thomas wrote separately to announce his disagreement with the majority's decision not to strike down the mandatory disclosure requirements in BCRA. Justice Stevens wrote a lengthy dissent to analyze the development of First Amendment doctrine and campaign finance restrictions and to rebut the arguments of the majority and concurring opinions.
4.Johnson attributed Obama's win on the heels of those Republican gains in Wisconsin to an uninformed electorate who voted in this election but not in the [Scott] Walker recall.
"If you aren't properly informed, if you don't understand the problems facing this nation, you are that much more prone to falling prey to demagoguing solutions. And the problem with demagoguing solutions is they don't work," Johnson said. "I am concerned about people who don't fully understand the very ugly math we are facing in this country." Huffington Post
5. William James "Bill" O'Reilly, Jr. (born September 10, 1949) is an American television host, author, syndicated columnist and political commentator.[3] He is the host of the political commentary program The O'Reilly Factor on the Fox News Channel, which is the most watched cable news television program on American television.
6.The Tea Party movement is an American political movement that advocates strict adherence to the United States Constitution,[1] reducing U.S. government spending and taxes,[2][3][3] and reduction of the U.S. national debt and federal budget deficit.[2] The movement is generally considered to be partly conservative,[4][5] partly libertarian,[6][7] and partlypopulist.[8][9][10] The movement has sponsored protests and supported political candidates since 2009
7.Richard Lynn "Rick" Scott (born December 1, 1952) is a businessman and the 45th and current Governor of the U.S. state of Florida
8. Larry Wilmore (born October 30, 1961) is an American writer, actor and television producer, and is the "Senio Black Correspondent" on Jon Stewart's "The Daily Show." 
9.The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA),[1] commonly called Obamacare[2][3] (or the federal health care law), is a United States federal statute signed into law by President Barack Obama on March 23, 2010. Together with the Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act, it represents the most significant regulatory overhaul of the U.S. healthcare system since the passage of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965.[4]
**Most notes come from Wikipedia

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