I hope... I have a series of hopes I want to say aloud. (Well, write down, but it feels like aloud.)
I saw the last 30 minutes of the movie The Miracle Worker on Sunday on TCM. It always makes me cry. Not because it's sad, but because it's so moving that that teacher tries so, so, so hard to teach a deaf-mute-blind child the concept of words so human communication can open the world for her, and then she succeeds.
After the film, I thought how sweet its communication was - it touches a very idealistic part (and heart) of its audience.
(The talented people who made this 1962 film were director Arthur Penn, screenwriter William Gibson (based on his play), composer Laurence Rosenthal, and Anne Bancroft and Patty Duke, both of whom won Oscars.)
My playwriting has often used a sharp and biting tone to make its points. I think it's effective as a tone (especially when it manages to be funny). And I have mostly chosen a harsh tone in my pieces on the Huffington Post - I feel it's an appropriate counter-balance to the daily venom on the right-wing radio stations that I allow myself to hear in brief dollops a few minutes at a time. (I have to turn the channel after a bit so my head doesn't explode.)
But we have the mid-term elections coming soon, and I'm still thinking of The Miracle Worker (and its title too).
And so I wish to speak my hopes without the edge in my voice. So here goes.
I hope that voters will vote for change.
For several years now, the polling has shown that a sizable majority thinks the country is "going in the wrong direction." The latest poll shows that 62% think the country is going in this wrong direction.
When you keep going in the wrong direction, you get hopelessly lost, and then sometimes you never find home again.
I hope that voters will vote to stop the country from continuing in this wrong direction.
I hope America will find "home" again. I don't think we're there. We have forgotten too many things we used to believe.
I hope Americans will start to re-believe in fairness.
You can't stand by and say, oh sure let the government lock up people they "think" are terrorists and just never give them a trial, and never let them see a judge. And you can't stand by and say, oh sure let Bush personally decide what's torture and what isn't, and let him decide who is or who isn't "aiding and abetting" the enemy - INCLUDING AMERICAN CITIZENS. What kind of law is this?
America used to dislike kings. That's what the American Revolution was about, no?
I hope Americans will start to see through this "imperial presidency" that Bush/Cheney/Gonzalez claim they have and deserve. The President is the President, but he is not the King.
(Garrison Keillor writes an eloquent piece on the un-American detainee law. And he also warns parents who have children traveling abroad that if a country locks their children up without any due process, don't expect the U.S. government to be of much help. We can no longer say we don't do this. With this new law, we officially can and do.)
Gosh, I can't explain some of these things without getting a negative tone back in my voice. Let me try again.
I hope America will rediscover its idealism.
I hope America will care about what happens to the "little guy" for real. Economically, but also for those who might be unjustly imprisoned.
I hope the phrase "live and let live" comes back as a belief embraced by Americans. "Live and let live" is a good, default position.
When I was growing up in the 50s, "live and let live" was often said about people who were different, and even about people whom one disagreed with. It seemed an American value. I don't feel I've heard that phrase in a very long time. I hope it returns to the voices and thoughts of my fellow citizens.
I hope that voters see that our government needs checks and balances. That's how the country and the constitution were designed.
I hope the voters will see that 24/7 government of all Republicans all the time has done damage to our country. It is not good to have the Republican House and the Republican Senate basically rubber-stamp the Republican President.
I hope my fellow Americans will once again admire the honorable.
Karl Rove's famous dirty tricks are very effective, and the media likes to praise him for this. But it is not an honorable way to win. It didn't used to be American to admire people who won by misleading and manipulating.
I hope the voters will see through the attack ads.
I hope the voters will especially see through attacks on the service of Iraq war veterans who are now running for office and are against the war.
To swift boat these veterans and to unjustly call into question their service is not honorable. If you are for the war, let that be the argument. Don't make up false attacks on men and women who have served in the military, and try to win the argument that way. If you can't defend the war on its own merits without DISTRACTING with false accusations, well then... you probably are having trouble defending the war.
More attack ads: I hope the middle class will stop reacting in fear that Democrats will raise their taxes the second they get in office. The Democrats actually LIKE the middle class, it's that other party that doesn't.
Plus in terms of taking back some of the tax cuts, listen to what Bill Clinton said in Iowa.
After he pointed out that the tax cuts had created enormous deficits, he said: "This is not class warfare. I've been poor and I've been rich and I like rich better. I want to pay my share. I don't need another vacation home."
I hope the voters will not be afraid to keep Bill Clinton or Bill Gates or Barbra Streisand or some CEO or other from buying an additional beach house.
I hope the voters will also remember that taxes are SUPPOSED to pay for things we need and want. And presently almost nothing is being paid for - the United States is borrowing money from China (and other countries) like an out-of-control teenager.
According to the New York Times in an October 5th article, the interest the U.S. will pay to creditors in 2006 will be $220 billion. Or as I like to put it, the country will pay $220,000,000,000 in interest, all on George W. Bush's Visa card. That kid! Always was the dark sheep of the family.
But don't worry, that kid/that kidder George won't have to pay off that interest debt. I guess that'll be the job of your children, particularly those presently between infancy and, oh I don't know, 16-17 years old. That'll be fun for them, paying off that interest.
I hope Democratic candidates will speak from their hearts, and shut out the handlers who insist they "court the middle." Honesty is very powerful.
I hope the elections will be fair.
I hope that if the outcome of the elections seems out of whack with polls or exit polls that the American voters and members of Congress on both sides will rise up and demand a revote in any suspicious state.
The notion the new computer voting machines (including where I live in PA) mostly DO NOT HAVE PAPER TRAILS so it is not possible to do a recount - this is nothing short of madness.
The people in favor of no paper trails with computer voting are either wanting there to be fraud, or they are wildly ignorant of the dangers of how computers work. And the Democrats have been like blind children, ignoring this issue. What's the matter with them?
(Senators Boxer, Dodd and Feingold did offer a recent, rather-too-late emergency "Confidence in Voting" bill that would have allowed paper balloting wherever requested, but Bill Frist wouldn't let it go to the floor to be voted on. Good job, Bill - thanks, good thing to keep from going to a vote. When are you being voted out? Soon I hope.)
I hope the American people will look for smart and nuanced ways of figuring out how to handle the dangers from terrorists we and much of the world face.
Calling the terrorists the "evil doers" and telling us "they hate our freedom" is the way you speak to not very smart kindergarten children.
They don't hate our freedom. They barely comprehend it, because the Islamic fundamentalists are convinced their religion says we are the infidels and that we should be converted or killed. Very serious indeed, and yet "they hate our freedom" barely touches the topic.
Furthermore, if such people think we are infidels and we're out to destroy them, how smart is it to invade a Muslim country that didn't attack us - ever - and then create a big, whopping mess there? Why, our invading this Muslim country becomes a rallying cry and creates more terrorists, doesn't it? Yes, it does.
And going into the war was seemingly done with no knowledge or interest in knowing about the long history of Sunni and Shiite animosity against each other. (Well, Colin Powell's State Department did have knowledge and wrote up studies about this history, but those reports were ignored since the main players didn't want to hear any negativity and knew we'd be "greeted as liberators.")
I hope Americans will recover their feelings of fair play.
If we decide to "spread democracy," we can't just say: oh, it's okay if we kill 30,000 people as "collateral damage" while we bring this democracy. (And that's the low figure Bush "agrees" with. It's a much higher number. A new study from the Lancet says it may be as much as 655,000 dead. Two links are here and here.
It's not for us to make such a fearsome decision - we think you "deserve" democracy, so we think it's acceptable that we kill men, women and children who are innocent as we "shock and awe" the country. (Plus, of course, "spreading democracy" wasn't the original reason given for going to war anyway.)
I'm sorry, I've done medium well writing in a positive tone, but it becomes hard to say much about almost any topic in all the kingdom without bumping up against something upsetting.
I hope the American people re-find idealism.
I hope they re-value fairness again. For all of us.
I hope they become re-interested in balancing the budget and not borrowing like a drunken sailor.
I hope the American people realize that Bush should not be given powers that are more appropriately given to kings.
I hope that they realize the only hope of controlling Bush's impulse to be king is to vote out all the people in the House and Senate who have been docile and agreeing with him about almost everything. Even the ones who act like they disagree with him sometimes (McCain, Graham, Specter) still end up giving Bush almost exactly what he wants.
I hope the importance of checks and balances is foremost in the American voters mind. And the fact that a Republican House and a Republican Senate and a Republican president has made for NO CHECKS AND BALANCES for six years.
I hope American re-finds its core values.
I hope America finds its way home again.