Sunday, July 1, 2012

Where Is Captain Kirk When We Need Him?


In the wake of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the ACA this week, I’ve been seeing a lot of chatter. Some are decrying it as the end of freedom in America. I’d like to take a moment to share my thoughts.

Hur-fucking-ray.

Where some people see eroding liberty, I see advancing progress. We are evolving into a better society. True, some folks have to be dragged along kicking and screaming (I’m looking at you, congressional Republicans), but we are evolving. Because to do otherwise is to lose our special place in the world. Do you know why America is a great nation? It’s not because of our public schools, or our kick-ass military, or even our Constitution. It’s because we keep looking forward. We keep reaching for the next step on the ladder—in exploration, in technology, and in social equality. The same energy that freed the Africans from bondage funneled into the women’s suffrage movement; it led to the civil rights era of Martin Luther King; and today it fuels the LGBT movement. That’s freedom. That’s fucking freedom you can believe in and be proud of.

By 2012 I thought we’d have flying cars and vacations on the moon, and enough goddamned sense to treat each other with basic respect. I thought that Blacks, Asians, Hispanics, Whites, Gays and Straights, would all be working and living together like we saw in the old Star Trek series, boldly going where no man has gone before. Instead, we bicker over whether people should have access to healthcare and contraceptives so that they might pursue a little happiness in this life. We wage wars over oil and religion without blinking an eye, but if you have the gall to suggest we actually put some resources toward erasing poverty here in America you’d better be ready to defend yourself. We have people—some successful, some just lucky to have popped out of the right vagina—who possess enough wealth to purchase medium-sized nations; and some of them use their fantastic fortunes to buy politicians so they can get special favors. We have citizens who can’t deal with the idea that a Black man sits in the Oval Office, or that – oh no! – gay people want to get married and be treated like normal human beings. It pisses me off that there are men in this country who still think of women as property, to be told what to do with their uteruses, to be impregnated at will and kept on a short leash.

Why is this allowed to go on? Kindly turn your attention to the angry people on the radio and television who bleat about how the government is trampling on their freedoms. It’s a lie, a vicious lie born of greed and desperation. The government has exactly as much power as we – you and I – give it, and not one whit more. President Obama isn’t the death of freedom; he’s the next step on a journey that began in 1776 when a handful of people signed a little declaration against tyranny. That Declaration and the Constitution were meant to be the beginning of the American conversation, not the end. The Founding Fathers weren’t looking back to the old ways; they were looking forward to new opportunities.

You, today’s generation, are less restricted by the shackles of bigotry and misogyny and tribal labels than your ancestors. Or at least you should be. And if you’re not, if you long for those good old days when women only spoke when spoken to, and non-whites were relegated to the back of the bus, and poor people just suffered quietly in their shacks down by the river, then fuck you. You don’t get the benefit of the doubt. This is the twenty-first century. Grow up or shut up, but either way this country is progressing forward.




10 comments:

Doug Brown said...

Very well said, Jon. Unfortunately, those who agree with you will simply compliment you here and move on while those who disagree won't hear a word you say. Yes, they will read your words, but they will take issue with each and every one of them without giving them the weight they deserve. You and I see progression while others see socialism and tyranny. (BTW, a little socialism can be a good thing. I work for a fire department which could be considered socialism to some degree. And most people like their fire departments. Damn socialists.) The republicans ignore that the healthcare bill is virtually identical to their nominee's own plan. One that works, I might add. I don't mean they try to explain the difference, I mean they flat out ignore it. Dick Chaney is for gay rights, but only because his immediate family is affected by it. Marco Rubio is more sympathetic to immigration because of his heritage. These two examples are but a few that, to me, expose the very hypocrisy of any one group (republicans)limiting anyone else's rights. If it doesn't affect them then it seems to be OK to be hateful and closed-minded.
OK, I'll stop now before I hijack your well-written blog.

jrlindermuth said...

As we used to say back in the '60s, "Right on, Jon."

Jordan said...

I would like to disagree. And just to be clear: I'm not rich, I don't think of myself as Republican. I work hard for the small living I earn, and I receive 0 benefits from my job. I have an infant that I pay to insure. Life is a struggle, I know. I still think what happened this week with healthcare is going to harm our nation in the long run.

I get what you're saying, and I agree with a lot of it. Yes, America is the place where people ought to be treated as equals, where black, white, gay, and Christian work together to forge the best damn country on planet Earth. But don't think of all conservatives as wishing for the good 'ol days of segregation and white oppression. I'm all for equal rights and equal opportunity. What I'm not for is government redistribution of wealth, and higher taxes. I believe solutions start in one's home and community. Leave the Federal government out of it.

I am a conservative--big shock, I know. That doesn't mean I'm a dick. What it does mean is that I believe is smaller government, in a system based on merit rather than handouts. It doesn't mean I want the poor to go hungry, for gays to be treated like second-class human beings. It does mean that I acknowledge we have many issues in this country that need to be solved--but I don't think government is the solution. Oh, and I have absolutely no problem with a black man in the oval office. I just don't like his policies.

I respect that you have different views than I do. And we can agree on the problems. It's the solutions that will forever have the left and the right in opposite corners. This doesn't mean that I'm an asshole and you're a douche bag. It means we are people with different ideas.

And in response to Doug Brown: calling someone "hateful and close-minded" for their views seems a lot like... I don't know... hateful close-mindedness. You see, Doug, there is a huge problem with the two party system we use in this country. A lot of us on the right aren't happy with the Republican party. But who the hell else are we supposed to vote for? In politics we must, as they say, "choose between the lesser of two evils." I honestly think that if we used a coalition government like so many other countries we'd be much better off. Then we could get people together who agree more often on various policies, and wouldn't have to be so divided down party lines. The truth is that we can't continue as a nation if we remain so partisan.

Happy Fourth, everyone. I hope it's a holiday everyone holds dear. The fathers of this nation were in no way perfect, but they were exceptional men for their time. It's because of their great sacrifices that we can sit on our couches at home and disagree on policy. God bless.

p.s. Jon, love the books.

Valerie Douglas said...

Hurray!!!

Doug Brown said...

Jordan, I'd agree with needing more parties and that voting is the less of two evils. Id also agree that the extreme partinsanship on both sides is detrimental to our country. But I'd have to disagree with your assertion that my comment in itself was hateful and closed-minded. If you are against gay people getting married, I see no other possible reason than closed-mindedness. Someone believes different than you so you give them different rights. (I don't mean you personally.) I am also not against conservatives, I am just against the current republican party. I wish we could go back to republicans like Reagan who worked with democrats. The current republican party has lost its way, IMO. I don't see how my observation that Dick Chenney is one of the few republicans who supports gay marriage only because his family is directly affected is hateful. In my comment I qualified the term republicans as the republicans who limit other people's rights and not every republican. Perhaps I should have left out the word Republicans and left my statement as anyone who does what I described. We can disagree on policies, Jordan, but I don't see any of my comments as being hateful or closed-minded. If you took them as such, I apologize as that wasn't my intention.
Happy 4th everyone.

Jordan said...

Doug, I didn't take anything personal--only wanted to caution against using certain terms. I think it is easy to call someone close-minded only because we disagree. It's more complex than that, though.

I'm right there with you when it comes to Reagan. Wish more politicians could be like him.

Don said...

Well said, Jon. Absent a strong central government that levels the playing field, the strong simply take from the weak.

Jon Sprunk said...

Jordan,

Thank you for the thoughtful response. I'm so happy to talk with a rational conservative (b/c you are a dying breed imo). Just a couple things to rebutt.

The ACA. It sets up regulations to protect consumers from harmful practices, and it helps people to get affordable healthcase insurance. What's bad about that? I'd seriously like an answer because no one can give me a straight one. The republican party has made this a Big Issue, but they rely on lies and deceit when talking about it. When people learn about what's actually in the bill, and stop listening to the propaganda, they like it. A lot.

I don't think all conservatives are greedy, misogynistic bigots--not at all. But it's no secret that the GOP welcomes such people. Yeah, liberals can be intolerant, too. But they are intolerant of intolerance, which is pretty much the point. When I see republican leaders consistently stand up and take firm stands against hatred, then I'll start to take them seriously.

And per taxes, I don't like them much myself. So we should both be voting for Obama because he's lowered taxes for like 92% of Americans. The GOP won't tell you that, of course (they love to lie that he's raised them), but it's the truth. One of the main reasons I support Obama is because he's such a strong fiscal conservative.

Lastly, I don't know what to make of the redistribution of wealth comment. It's been a red herring for conservatives for so long, that you'll have to explain to me what you mean specifically. I think a lot of folks use it as a pc shorthand for class warfare. But it doesn't take much research to show that if we did have class warfare in this country, the ultra-wealthy are kicking ass and taking names while everyone else flounders in the mud. If you mean that you think the government is taking your money and giving it to poor people, then I'd challenge that assertion.

Happy 4th!

Jordan said...

Jon, respectfully, I cannot see how you can call Obama fiscally conservative. He has failed to pass a budget in the 3 1/2 years he's been president. Add to that all the stimulus money he's thrown out there (and damn Bush for starting the trend). I hear predictions that our deficit will reach 20 trillion by 2016. I'm not a fan of this.

Affordable health insurance is great. I'm all for it. There are many ways for the free market to solve this, but the government has put restrictions in place that prevent this. How about health insurance across state lines? Why can't we be allowed to buy health insurance like car insurance? Competition is a great way to drive prices down.

I can offer a very specific example of redistribution of wealth, and how I think it harmful. My brother-in-law and sister filed taxes this year. They qualified for an earned income credit because of their low earnings. They took advantage of said credit and went on a cruise. (Not what I'd call a conservative use of money :) .)Some people might not find a problem with this, but those thousands of dollars they were freely given came from somewhere--from someone else's earnings. I think it's a dangerous practice to get people used to. Soon, they start thinking all sorts of handouts are rights, rather than privileges. Then we get the exact opposite of JFK's great statement: Ask not what you can do for your country--ask what your country can do for you. This practice teaches people to be dependent, where I think they should be taught to be independent. Teach someone to fish and all, instead of handing them the fish.

Jon Sprunk said...

Jordan,

The president doesn't pass the budget. Congress does. And that stimulus.. yeah, without it we'd be living in another Great Depression. In fact, a lot of people with fancy economics degrees think we need another stimulus, especially to help states retain public service jobs that the country is bleeding.

Per the deficit, a lot of it is already baked into the cake. Not a thing Obama or anyone can do about it. We're paying for things bought in previous years. I'd like that to stop, too, but it would require a massive bump in taxes that we cannot afford right now, or cuts that would pretty much reduce us to a third-world nation.

You should research the ACA. There are some very good, commonsense ideas in it. But it's not perfect, but no program ever is. 50 years from now the ACA will be better, if we push congress to do its job.

Per your anecdote, that didn't sound like a wise purchase, but I don't know them personally so I can't judge. But what about all the families that use that money to feed their kids, or purchase health care insurance, or move out of a crappy neighborhood? We, as a people, are only as great as we treat our most unfortunate. Once upon a time, America took pride is its social programs and progressiveness. Now they are treated like curses. It's very sad.