Change I Can Be Livin' In; The Republicans Can Become Nice...or even Just Honest or Civil.
When I notice myself starting to feel helpless and afraid in the face of mob meanness and nastiness, I, in the good old American tradition, speak out before my fear deepens my sense of powerlessness. I've always loved the open political process of our country, even though it has meant, for years, having to listen to people who seem to have been born and raised on a different planet than I was...in terms of their politics, sensibilities and beliefs. But sitting watching the mob nastiness, the jingoist chanting and the sarcastic and mean comments of the Republican speakers at last night's convention, I was appalled and honestly, frightened.
I have been writing and speaking publicly for many years, and I have always, in both writing and editing the writing or speaking of others, objected to any comparisons to Nazism..because I think it is such a knee jerk extreme association that it can never be appropriate. Sadly, sitting there last night listening to the sneering mob, making fun of Barack Obama for organizing on the South Side of Chicago, making fun of good and decent impulses that have come out of the primary process which have attracted hundreds of thousands of young people to have hope in the American political process, I was reminded of the film "Swing Kids", one of the best portrayals of the seeping of nastiness, bullying and eventually extreme violence into the German social life as the Nazi's rose to power.
We watched mob bullying last night. We watched sneering and locker room style attempts to humiliate and demean the work of Democratic candidates who have demonstrated a creative and powerful impulse to change the nature of political discourse in ths country. Obviously one the things they'd like to change is this indecent nastiness. Rudy Giuliani was truly frightening, and I believe he should be ashamed of himself for behaving that way. I can't believe that there are not millions of moderate Republicans who are embarrassed and alienated by this behavior at their national convention.
Mixed in with all of this was some completely schizoid attempt to portray the Republicans as the party of feminism, while they paraded a poor kid who got knocked-up along with her high school sweet heart for all the world to see, and flaunt her predicament as some example of positive responsibility. Really, it's just a dime-a-dozen example of an unplanned teen pregnancy which will inherently get in the way of any life plans for education and career that young woman may have had. Given her highly visible family life, this young pregnant woman may in fact end up with options that your average pregnant teen doesn't have in terms of family support and future educational and career options.
So as we hear of how sympathetic many delegates are to the "son in Iraq", "the pregnant daughter", the "special needs baby", we can only say, "Yes, of course, I am sympathetic too":
I am sympathetic for a young man who may be killed as he is deployed to carry out a continuing senseless and wrong war that we never should have entered in the first place.
I am sympathetic to a young woman who now faces the tremendous responsibility of pregnancy and child rearing at least in part because she was not encouraged to learn about safe contraception and sane birth control and STI prevention by parents and mentors who encouraged an abstinence-only approach to sex education. That obviously didn't work, and should not be spun into something positive.
I am sympathetic to the needs of families and families with special needs families and was shocked that the Republicans..the great purveyors of family values and Mom and home, made fun of the question, as sexist, as to how a mother of five is going to adequately take care of five children including a Down's syndrome baby, while occupied 24/7 with a big job. The answer is that she'll have LOTS of support from her government....which is exactly what EVERY WORKING MOTHER NEEDS!!! This should include long term paid parental leave, such as exists commonly in more advanced societies than ours, where early bonding and breastfeeding are valued at a policy level.
I am not sympathetic to a reasonably intelligent woman being used as a willing pawn in a mean game.
So please, no more spinning of irresponsible behavior and failed policies into something good, no more violent nastiness and mean sarcasm. No more twisted lies!!! Barack Obama said, and many others are now saying, repeatedly........ ENOUGH!
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