You can’t get here from there.
I used to be a Moderate, a centrist who, when faced with the issues of politics would give each side the benefit of the doubt, give each side equal consideration, give the black and white of the red and blue the consideration that makes up the 256 shades of gray that textures our thoughts. Something changed…maybe just so I wouldn’t have to explain myself with that extremely hard to diagram sentence. Actually it was several somethings over time and I believe they changed me for the better.
For background, I don’t quite fit into the far left mold that many try to put me in. It’s OK, those on the left are equally perplexed at times. I have been a small business owner for decades, doing consulting work for Fortune 50 companies [The Man], I have firearms, though I don’t hunt and I fully understand that we don’t live in a world of unicorns and rainbows – there is a need for the military, intelligence services and even the new technology of drones. On the other side, I will walk away from very good paying work if their preference is to offshore rather than utilize more expensive American labor, I will fight for the long term environmental survival of an area over the short term economic benefit of some of its residents…like a Facebook relationship status: It’s Complicated.
There is Just ONE Commandment
I used to be a Moderate. Then things changed. A few political groups began to rise up and demand that the civil laws of the land reflect that we all, that would be ALL AMERICANS act and be treated using the laws set down by The Bible. Now, I have nothing against The Bible. It is a good book with good lessons for everyone. It teaches folks a personal belief system that guides their lives. That can be very good. But then…politics. At some point that few political groups decides that if it was good enough for their PERSONAL belief system then by damn, everyone should abide by it – whether they liked it or not.
Over the next 30 years the objection to gays became more vocal…more folks wanted it codified into law. More folks wanted to insure that folks that were gay could not have the same CIVIL RIGHT as those who were not. Having done this marriage thing I knew that my marriage license came from the state, not the church. What did the church have to do with issuance of licenses? What did churches have to do with wills, with insurance, with all the things that us “normal” folks take for granted?
And about being segregated into a group that was called “NORMAL”. That just pissed me off. And so it began.
At some point “those people” came up. Now you really have to pay attention because, unless you follow the very textured context of the conversation you might not realize just who “those people” are. [Geographic etymological disclaimer: in the South they may be known as “them people”] Those people…and they were always described in gross hyperbola. If they were on welfare they were, “driving fancy cars with expensive stereos, with a cell phone, new cloths, cable TV…” If they are Latino they are Illegal Until Proven Otherwise. Period. Reading conservative and libertarian voices as they justified authorities stopping someone just because they were brown would have been amusing if it had not been frightening. Suddenly the mean ol’ police state and big government was just fine, hit the blue lights. Show your papers, please.
“Those People” took on a completely new face in 2008. I was active on several fora then and as the political season heated up and Obama became the Democratic Party nominee the usual political sniping and snarking began. Then it changed. It became less about his ideas and more about his identity. His name brought up assertions that he was a Muslim even though at the same time the same people criticized the Christian church of which he was a member. He was born in Kenya even though his birth certificate, his public birth announcement all said he was born in Hawaii, and the hundreds of lawyers of the Clinton campaign and McCain campaign found nothing to make their campaigns a “slam dunk” if that little “secret” was just revealed. And then there was the absolute, outright racism. Photoshops of lynchings, Uncle Toms, every possible insult based on race that could be considered was thrown on-line. And nobody within the Republican Party said a word to stop it. And nobody in the cadre of Republicans stood up and said it was wrong. Things had changed.
Rights for Women
I thought this was on the way to being settled. I grew up in a household where equal pay was demanded. It was enforced by the Butcher’s Workman’s Union and since my father was the state steward…I watched it first hand. The fact that my mom was the senior seniority member of that union in the state showed how that worked. Later I watched my wife and other friends as they worked through the ranks of IBM as engineers. It was not always a smooth climb up the ladder and as has been pointed out many times there are always remnants of the “good ol boy” network in any organization but efforts were always being made to solve the puzzle. It was [and is] a big puzzle.
Then the voices came back…businesses should be able to pay what they want…”free market”, if folks don’t like it they can go someplace else to work. The workplace was again becoming a minefield for many to navigate through. At the forefront was the ridiculous apples to bicycles arguments trying to discredit “equal work”, saying “Why should a woman just starting get the same money as a man who has worked there for 25 years???”. Nobody ever suggested that but it proves the desperate nature of the argument…when you can’t win with reason, bring out the absurdities.
Now, please tell me how, in the 21st Century, 236 years into our experiment in democracy RAPE can still be a subject for which there is a need to explain to adults that there is NO GOOD RAPE. It simply doesn’t exist. There are no biological or divine shields to change outcomes of rape. NONE. If there is anything good to come of this mindnumbing conversation it is that half a dozen national level Republican politicians staked their reputation on these unbelievable, Neanderthal notions. And each and every one lost.
I Hope You Change
I used to be a Moderate. Something changed. Actually two things changed. First, over a 30 year period the folks who populate the Republican Party moved to a position where it became OK to deny rights to others…to decide that pay should not be equal, that marriage should not be a state licensed contract, unfettered by religion, that it is still OK to think of African Americans as less than equal.
And second…I decided that being Moderate meant letting one set of folks be hateful to another set of folks and I have way too many friends who are African American, women, gay. And that doesn’t sit right. So I changed. I moved to the left…pretty hard to the left and I did so because of what the Republican Party had become. Because of the Party that would allow someone to yell “LET HIM DIE” at a Republican Presidential Debate and not a single one of seven candidates said a single word. The Party that tries to rationalize hate and rationalize bigotry and rationalize [and I can’t believe this is even a topic] demanding victims of rape have the results of a pregnancy.
So, if you are a Republican and ever wonder why I am hard on you, demanding that you back up dogma with facts or that I don’t accept parroting of talk radio, the answer is YOU. Maybe not you personally, but you the Republican that let your Party become one of hate and one that has tried to harm my friends.
When you rationalize the loss of the 2012 election, you blame the candidate, that he was not strong enough or not conservative enough. Or you say that the voting public just doesn’t understand, that they don’t know how “serious” things are. They do. You lost because of hate and bigotry. You lost for the very reasons I [and many others like me] moved hard to the left.