Archive for the ‘my personal journey’ Category

I’ve heard from so many former Republicans who, like the author of this article, feel that their party has left them.  Thanks to my friend Bill Rogers for bringing this article to our attention.  Although I don’t share the same experiences as this writer, I too feel that I had to leave the Grand Ol’ Party – or rather that it left me.  (I voted for Reagan!)

images-117When I began writing this I was overwhelmed with the desire to hit something…or vomit. Over the coming weeks that desire has lessened to a slow simmer of absolute disgust and dismay at what has become of the party that I used to love and support. I was once a Republican living in a red state. Today I’m a registered Democrat living in a blue state. This is my story and why I left the Republican Party.

It all started in 2007. I was a 27 year-old divorced woman with no children. I was a survivor of severe domestic abuse. I was single with no money, no home and no plan other than to try and be something more than what I was. I had a car, my clothes and hope.

After moving to a new state with the help of friends, I found a very cheap apartment in a part of town that I still cringe over. My 2 jobs at minimum wage didn’t bring home enough for luxuries like choosing where to live and what to eat. There were days that I had to decide whether I was going to put gas in my car so I could get to work or eat. I always chose work. At least at one of my jobs I would get breakfast and lunch 2 days a week. I could make a $3.99 pizza with 8 slices last for 7 days. I could eat on a can of beans and a pack of crackers for even longer.

I applied to the local university in my town and went back to school while images-116maintaining my two jobs. I took between 15-18 credit hours each semester while working. All of this was possible because of government loans and scholarships.

I went to counseling 2 times a week to work through my PTSD that was caused by the domestic violence I experienced. The church that the counselor worked out of paid for my appointments because I was too poor to pay for them and my counselor said I wouldn’t improve mentally without them.

The biggest fear during this time was that I might get physically sick and need to go to the doctor. When you’re poor, healthcare is something that you dream about. It’s something that you pray you won’t need. It’s the anxiety of “what if” that keeps you awake at night. I went to work sick. I took finals while running a 104 fever. I ruptured 3 discs in my back and couldn’t walk for a week. I wasn’t able to get it treated for 3 years. I lost one of my jobs. I found another minimum wage job. It didn’t offer health insurance.

incredible-shrinking-republican-partyBasic healthcare is not a luxury. It is not just for those that “deserve” it. In the country of abundance that we live in, healthcare should be affordable for every citizen. It’s reprehensible that I can buy a DVD player for less than what it would cost me to go to the doctor and get an antibiotic. Here in the United States we have some of the best medical technology and doctors in the world. Why do we think that only a few of our citizens should be entitled access to them? Why didn’t my Republican party see that? I was left with no answers.

The day I went to sign up for food stamps opened my eyes and changed everything. I had grown up in an upper middle class family. We were traditional, conservative and religious.

I need to break here for a moment and ask that as you read the “religious” part; that you would not confuse it with faith. These are 2 vastly different concepts. What some hold as religion is not the God of the Bible.

My family believed one pulled themselves up by their own bootstraps and never asked for help. It was a family that held firm to a Republican ideology that those on food stamps or “government handouts” were poor, uneducated and lazy individuals that just wanted to stay home and watch tv. These types of people were of the lowest kind. They were to be distrusted and almost hated. However, as I sat in the overcrowded room I looked around and saw people from all walks of life. You could see the desperation on their faces and the worry in every word. “I need help now. What do I do? Please help me.” There was something else that was there too…something so tangible it was overwhelming. It was shame. That oppressive shame of having to say, “I can’t do this on my own.”

I left in tears never returning. My Republican roots and their mantra echoing in my ears…”Lazy, poor, ignorant….Shame!” I told myself I would rather starve.

Throughout this time I had been listening to the candidates’ speeches in preparation for the 2008 election. I came from a very politically active family and there hasn’t been a single election that I haven’t known about and had an “opinion” on (even if it was only given to me by my parents) since I was 8 years-old and my father ran for his first public office as a Republican.

397087_10150519003533521_591238520_8690956_86137725_n_thumb[1]This election was different though. Not just because we potentially had our first African-American candidate, but because we had a candidate that spoke to the people about the everyday issues. We for once had a candidate who said not everyone can pull themselves up without a hand reaching out. I heard words of the civil obligation we have to each other, words of encouragement and of hope.

I went back and listened to every speech I could find that Senator Obama had made. I listened with new ears and a new heart. I was no longer the girl that had lived “easy”. I knew what hard was and I wanted a candidate that did too. I reevaluated what my own personal political beliefs were and I knew that I could no longer support the Republican platform.

In 2008 I watched as President Obama was elected. I clapped and shouted with fellow democrats at the headquarters’ watch party. It was my first election that I ever voted Democrat in. Everything had changed.

In 2009 I graduated from college with a degree in Political Science and History. I was able to get a better paying job and move into a slightly nicer part of town.

My feelings toward the Republican Party have not changed. They really are no longer Republicans. There are some moderates left, but the narrow, fear mongering voice of the party that has taken over drowns out all of those that speak truth. They have traded in a Christian belief of loving your neighbor for one that champions big business, the wealthy, and those that have no idea what struggle looks like.

Over the past few months alone we have seen how far gone the Republicans really are. 160 voted against The Violence Against Women’s Act. My party that I once loved deserted me. Not just as a woman, but as a citizen of this country. We even have a Republican, New Hampshire state Rep. Mark Warden saying “Some people like abusive relationships.” My response to him;

“I can answer truthfully that no, I didn’t like having my jaw broken or the bones in my face shattered. I didn’t like being dragged by my hair or strangled. I didn’t like the bruises, busted lips or black eyes. I didn’t like the mental and physical scars it left me with. And that’s why I left with nothing. I didn’t like having to choose between my life and my livelihood, even when your party makes it so hard for women to be on their own. I did. Now, can you please walk in my shoes for a while? My feet are awfully tired.”

When it comes to food stamps I have seen many of my Republican friends say how it’s so great that we have drug tests for food stamps and yet they’ve never given out food to the homeless or the poor. And they don’t care that the testing will cost Florida millions of dollars and thus far has only saved them $60,000. 98% of those tested have passed. It’s still the idea that everyone that needs help must be lazy and on drugs. Another lie that the Republicans would have us believe. I’m sure that there are some that fall into that category, but not all. Just like I know that not all Republicans are right-wing, gun-toting, women hating nut jobs…just some of them are.

There’s another issue that I’ve decided to add in here. I debated long and hard on it, but it needs to be talked about. It’s the issue of guns. On September 4, 1962 my grandmother was shot and killed with a .45 caliber automatic pistol. It was a gun that was obtained legally from our own US government actually. Because of this I have very strong views on gun control. Yes, I had them even as a Republican. I just kept them to myself back then. I don’t care what nationality, race, religion or party affiliation you are. When you believe that your right to own a gun is greater than another human being’s right to live, you have serious problems. I am at a loss for words as to how the very same people who wear the name of Christian are also the loudest opponents of gun control. “Jesus loves you, but please don’t take this deadly weapon from me.”

My grandmother was a model and an artist. She left behind 3 small children. One of them was my mother. How different her life would have been if our country had strong gun control laws.

People love to ask me, “How could you ever be a Democrat?” My response is always the same; “Because I know what it’s like to not be a corporation that has the ear of a well-connected Senator. I know what it feels like to not have a lobbyist organization to speak for me. I know what it’s like to be a second class citizen in a country that claims to protect the weak. I have been the woman in need of food stamps, the woman that the Violence Against Women’s Act protects. Obamacare was written for me and the millions of others just like me. I went to school on government ‘handouts.’ I want to live in a nation that values life above the cost of a bullet.“

My friends, I didn’t leave the Republican Party. They abandoned me years ago.

 

anne_lamottPerfectionism is the voice of the oppressor, the enemy of the people. It will keep you cramped and insane your whole life, and it is the main obstacle between you and a shitty first draft. I think perfectionism is based on the obsessive belief that if you run carefully Perfectionismenough, hitting each stepping-stone just right, you won’t have to die. The truth is that you will die anyway and that a lot of people who aren’t even looking at their feet are going to do a whole lot better than you, and have a lot more fun while they’re doing it.”

― Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Lifeimages-110

005211398I don’t come from a faith background filled with whack-job-fundamentalist-types. Most of the Christians I spent time with are caring, decent people who love God and others.

On the other hand, the tradition I came from was definitely not liberal or progressive in any way. The formula I use to describe the old version of my faith is something along the lines of 50% truth (believe the right things theologically) and 50% behavior (which mostly meant love people, be sexually moral, and share your faith with others.)

I let the belief part of the formula mess me up in some ways, which is the point of this article.

The behavior part did also, but that’s for a future article. (For example, I have painful memories of spending most of my teen years wallowing in guilt and shame and repenting from and praying for deliverance from “lustful thoughts,” otherwise known as “hormones.”)

But I digress.

And I must digress again. Before I go on, I have to say this. This is my journey, not yours. I am not condemning you or judging you. I know that many Christians have a really hard time when anyone breaks rank and looks back with a critical eye on the religious institution that Christianity has become. That’s all I’m doing. It’s not about you. And besides – I know that so many of you have struggled or are currently struggling with these same issues – we’ve talked about it! And I also know that many of you have learned to walk in a faith that’s beautiful and effective. So relax, bros and sisters – I love you.

So, anyway, to my point, which was supposed to be something about how my faith made it hard for me to grow up and become a man:

I believe that the way I was experiencing my faith in many ways kept me from growing and maturing as a human being. And I’ll go one step further: I believe that religion in general, and modern day evangelical conservative theology in particular, can have the unintentional consequence of keeping us from developing psychologically and achieving maturity. This happened to me in at least four ways:

images-61GOD IS IN CONTROL. Although the teaching I received on God’s “sovereignty” usually wasn’t along the lines of strict Calvinistic determinism, I did receive a constant diet of “don’t worry – God is in control.” Also: “When God closes a door, He always opens a window.” And: “I know it’s difficult to understand when bad things happen, but trust God – He has a plan.” And more. And all this rhetoric kind of messed up my head. The message was loud and clear: Whatever is going to happen, is going to happen, regardless of anything I do or don’t do.

393602_565000440190774_218801947_nHow did this keep me from becoming a man? Well, let me put it this way: You know what grown ups do when they come to a closed door? They open it! That’s how doors are made! They have hinges! Actually you don’t need to look for the nearest window! Push the damn door open!

I spent way too many years of my life outwardly disagreeing with deterministic theology, but inwardly, subconsciously, buying into it. I couldn’t really change things, or create my own future or prevent bad things from happening. I couldn’t really be a change agent when I saw injustice or tragedy. God is in control, and things are going to work out His way, regardless.

Don’t get me wrong – I didn’t sit around in a paralyzed state of inaction with my thumb up my butt. But down deep I had this weird internal, just-below-the-surface-of-my-consciousness belief that everything was going to work God’s way in the end, no matter what we as human beings did or didn’t do. Global warming? Bah! God made us and wasn’t going to let human beings wreck His creation! War? Nuclear destruction? No – this would only happen if and when God wanted it to happen. There was nothing I or we could do about it. Poverty, death, disaster? God knows what He’s doing. My own difficult life experience? Just trust God’s plan!

Do you see what a childish way this is of viewing the world? Modern conservative evangelism in some ways encouraged me not to step up, take responsibility for my life (like grown up men do), and be a tenacious and unrelenting force for change in a struggling world.

524906_441573029251224_1213553015_nGOD WILL LEAD. Another thing that grown ups do is make decisions. They decide if and where to go to school, if and whom to marry, if and where to move to, whether or not to accept a job…and more. They seek counsel from trusted people, they research, they think things through, they take chances, and they live with their decisions. And when their decisions don’t turn out so well, they learn from their mistakes, without either blaming their “lack of faith” or descending into denial (“I know God has a purpose in leading me into this dreadful situation…”)

And you know what children do? They let other people make decisions for them. They believe (usually rightly) that others are watching out for them and will make decisions for them that are in their best interests. So they wait, and trust, and when they get the word from above, they rely on it and move forward, or not, depending on what their “higher power” tells them to do. And you know what? Christianity doesn’t just subtly teach this approach to life – it’s a blatant and clear message. “Become like little children…” “Trust not in your own understanding…” and more.

When my faith changed to what it is today, I immediately felt myself growing up. Making decisions became less about waiting passively for answers from above and searching for a “feeling in my heart” or a “word from the Lord” and became more of a balance between rationality and intuition…a difficult balance to strike, for sure, but one that I’ve been practicing now for many years…and loving! (Although, I have to be honest, there have been times I wished I could crawl back into the safety of childlike dependence.)

GOD’S WAYS ARE BEST. Being part of the modern conservative evangelical movement can at times entail being told what to think and what to believe. I don’t mean to imply it’s like a cult. But when you really look at it, you do have to be sort of a black sheep in the family if you’re in the conservative Christian conformitymovement and you’re liberal politically, or support gay marriage or legalized drugs, or question the Bible’s absolute authority or come to your own conclusions about any number of things. Again, like children, you are told what the acceptable positions are to take, and you take them, or you risk being “disciplined,” usually symbolically.

Grown ups, though, develop their own opinions and carve out their own positions on the things that are important to them, even while listening to and considering the opinions of those they trust.

731434871_God_Love_You_answer_1_xlargeGOD LOVES YOU, SO YOU’RE OK. Don’t get me wrong – I’m not here to debate the theology of a personal God. But what I was told since I was a young man was (and this is paraphrased): You are a piece of crap, but God loves you anyway, so be happy. Ok, so it wasn’t put in exactly those words – but the message was clear. You are “broken,” “depraved” and “your heart is desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9), BUT – no worries! Because Jesus died for you, you are finally clean and God loves you.

This emotionally abusive theology is exemplified perfectly in a recent sermon by Mark Driscoll, the founding pastor of Mars Hill Church in Seattle, and one of the world’s most downloaded and quoted pastors (named one of the 25 most influential pastors by Preaching magazine in 2010):

You have been told that God is a loving, gracious, merciful, kind, compassionate, wonderful, and good sky fairy who runs a day care in the sky and has a bucket of suckers for everyone because we’re all good people. That is a lie… God looks down and says ‘I hate you, you are my enemy, and I will crush you,’ and we say that is deserved, right and just, and then God says ‘Because of Jesus I will love you and forgive you.’ This is a miracle.

Ok, so the messages I received weren’t quite that nasty. BUT the theology was in the same vein: depravedwretch_1337413134_600You’re only OK because God says you’re OK. Without God loving you, you’re worthless. (This is actually stated – I’m not making this up.)

Basically, my ability to love myself, to accept myself, and to feel ok about who I am was dependent on the fact that a transaction outside of myself made me ok in God’s eyes. I was acceptable because of an outside source – not because I was intrinsically valuable. Something about this just seems really unhealthy, in retrospect.

And, really, I can’t tell you the number of Christian friends I’ve talked to over the years who have struggled with heartbreaking self-esteem issues, in part, I now believe, due to this schizophrenic message of loathing and love.

As I moved on, I began to grow up in this area. This is ironic – but it wasn’t until I walked away from my old theology that I finally began to truly love and accept myself. I no longer looked outwardly for someone to love me and make me feel good about myself, like children do.

I finally started to become an adult.

A personal post today – just to let you all know that I won’t be active on here during the next 1o days (although I will be hosting a couple guest bloggers next week). I’ll be leaving for Africa Saturday morning.

Here’s why:

scan0002

Elijah age 6

IMG_0048

Elijah age 17

This is our son, Elijah, when we first adopted him. Is he not the cutest kid you’ve ever seen? Here he is again – he’s a senior in high school now. What a joy this guy is.

Below are photos from The Hope International School in Liberia (where Elijah is from), a nonprofit that we started 6 years ago with several other like-minded friends. Currently we have over 1,000 children attending school.

Erin and me

This is my daughter Erin and me – we are traveling together on Saturday. I’m staying for a week to check on things, renew relationships, encourage staff and more. Erin is staying for a month! She graduated last year with a degree in photo journalism, and, along with a fellow graduate who will be joining her in a week, will be creating a video/documentary to help us with fundraising. She’ll also be working with several students, teaching them how to use a camera and working with them to create a yearbook for our very first graduating class ever.

101_0057

Snack time

Kindergarten teacher and kids

Jeanette and her students

100_9915Please send us your thoughts and prayers as we embark on this adventure. And if you feel so moved, please consider a donation to this worthy cause. This project is providing education, health care, clean water and more, and thousands of lives (children and teachers and their families) are being improved. Once we meet our monthly expenditures (around $6,000) we want to start providing a meals program. We are at: www.hopeproject.org.

100_9982

Liberia is America’s daughter country – established during the Monroe administration. Check out their flag!

The faculty

101_0154

Some of the local neighbors and parents

Schools out!

100_9941

Part of the senior class. Eric (on the left) wants to be a doctor.

100_9799

One of the 1st grade classrooms

100_9808

I know you’re not supposed to have favorites…but I have to be honest – can’t wait to get down there and see this little one again.

100_9827

10th grade classroom

100_9907

Everyone wants to touch the “pale man.”

100_9870

Matthew, my man! (Can’t wait to see him, too.)

100_9964

conservative-liberal-road-sign-cropped-proto-custom_28Potentially another coming out story, of sorts. I previously wrote (with some fear and trembling about what my many Christian friends would think) of my journey away from evangelicalism. Now here I am again, possibly coming out of yet another closet, with an opportunity to alienate a whole different group of friends.

For much of my life I was a closeted liberal. While a part of the conservative Christian church, I kept discovering that many of my personal convictions didn’t seem to line up with the party line. While immersed in the institution founded by the “they will know we are Christians by our love” itinerant first century preacher, I kept discovering that my own convictions seemed more compassionate, more justice-focused, more humane than those of my own religion. I know that sounds arrogant – and I hate that it sounds that way. I am certainly not saying that I myself am more loving than my Christians friends. Far from it. I can be kind of an asshole when I’m not careful, and I have so many Christian friends who are the most loving, kindhearted people I know. (The church I attended was also a very loving place.) But my actual convictions – my positions on social issues – just seemed to me to be more compassionate than those of the evangelism movement, and this was confusing to me for many years. I would want to collect money to support hungry kids in Africa, and I’d have Christians tell me they wouldn’t help out because we weren’t handing out Bibles or preaching at them. I would want to help low-income people who are being evicted from their trailer park, and some Christians would refuse to donate for fear of “enabling these people’s dependent lifestyles.” I would develop a close friendship with someone who was gay, and a Christian would warn me about not appearing to condone sin.

polls_Liberal_Definition_5202_544087_answer_2_xlarge

Eventually, of course, I embraced my inner-liberal, and have been a happy camper ever since.  But lately I’ve been experiencing some strange thoughts and urges that confuse me.  Last week I noticed myself cringing when I discovered the Facebook communities called “Republicans are morons,” “The Republican party makes me sick’” and “Liberals who hate conservatives.” Then I noticed feelings of empathy when I read about sincere, Christian employers who were put into a moral and ethical no-win situation when the government required them to pay for their employees’ “morning after pills,” essentially forcing them to fund what they believe to be murder.  And I’m suddenly uncomfortable with the black and white, reactive responses to nuanced issues that I sometimes see on liberal websites and publications – the same kinds of responses they regularly denounce conservatives for.

What is happening to me?

Is it possible that I’m bi-political??? God, what will my friends say when they find out?

Mike's liberal/conservative issues list

Mike’s liberal/conservative issues list

Ok, here’s what I’m going to do…right now, as I write this article. I’m going to creative a self-administered political inventory to help me figure out where I really stand. I’m going to choose several issues in which liberals and conservatives tend to disagree (see graph on the left), then assign positions along a spectrum (see below) ranging from a negative five (totally liberal) to a positive five (totally conservative), with zero representing a “middle of the road” approach, as in “I see equal validity and truth on both sides.”

political spectrum
(Of course, this is just my list. If you decide to try this yourself, feel free to come up with different issues.)

Again – I’m doing this in real-time. You are going to see the result of my self-administered survey just a few minutes after I do. Here we go!

1. Abortion
I’m starting out with a tough one. (And this is one of the reasons I started to suspect I was bi.) Weirdly enough, I am against murder (as I kind of hope you are). So the question does seem to come down to when a “fetus” becomes a “human,” and thus a being that can be “murdered.” I have to be honest – I have trouble with the whole “a trip through the birth canal magically makes you a human being” argument. So then the question becomes…well, when? When does the baby become less an extension of the woman’s body and more an actual person? And this isn’t a religious question for me: If anything (for what 6105123it’s worth) I think the Bible supports non-personhood for the fetus, as in Exodus 21:22 where killing a woman is a capital offense, but causing a miscarriage leads to only a monetary fine. For me it’s a matter of the “slippery slope.” Is it morally justifiable to kill a baby one second after birth? I think not. Well, what about one second before birth? See what I mean? I feel stuck on this one. But I also think it’s ridiculous to extend “personhood” back to conception or the zygote. But on the other hand, what about abortions for preferred sexual orientation, gender, and other physical preferences? That makes me sort of sick. But on the other hand (how many hands am I up to here?), I have a real hard time with the government mandating what is right for women in terms of their own bodies and their own health care. It seems like this needs to be the woman’s decision…not congress’s. And I definitely feel anger toward conservatives who call themselves “pro-life,” but really only care about the life of a fetus, and don’t seem to give a shit (policy-wise) about what happens to the life of the child after it’s born.  And don’t even get me started on the war on birth control.  I give myself a +1 on this one.

2. Guns
I’ve written extensively about this elsewhere on this blog, and I’m pretty solid in my position. While I don’t view the second amendment as granting a right to individuals to own guns (the whole “well regulated militia” thing), I do think it’s unnecessary and even tyrannical for the government to outlaw guns completely. But (pay attention, here, right-wingers) no one is trying to do that! People do have basic rights to own things, including guns (although not Wayne LaPierrenecessarily constitutionally granted), but I also have a basic right not to be shot by you. I believe that what Obama is proposing is right on target (pardon the pun). Ban certain assault weapons (whose actual purpose is to kill as many people as possible in the quickest way possible), beef up regulations around background checks, provide better mental health services, deal with early prevention, and more.

So, where do I fall on my scale? My gut tells me to get as far away from the NRA nuts as possible…but that’s not actually difficult, since they are at probably a positive 7 on my scale. I give myself a -3

3. Gay rights/gay marriage
I don’t care who people have sex with, or who they marry. However, this one took me awhile to get here. My traditional way of thinking kept me back for many years – and I have to admit, I still have a little nostalgia for the old “man and wife” idea. But the bottom line for me is human rights. Being gay is not a choice – our sexuality is an ingrained, integrated, deeply personal and even sacred part of who we are, and to deny someone even one commonly enjoyed privilege due to this aspect of their personhood to me seems immoral. I’m a -4. (I’m only not a -5 because I’m still “letting go” of my old sense of propriety and my years of Biblical moralism.) (Writing my “truth” articles helped me a lot with this, by the way.)

4. Religion in the public sphere
The separation of church and state is an essential component of our constitution and our system of government. The framers church-and-statewere very specific about this. The bill currently being considered in Arizona requiring high school students to take a loyalty pledge ‘in God’s name’ in order to receive their diploma is just the latest symptom of the slow erosion of Jefferson’s “wall of separation,” and I applaud the ACLU’s watchdog work in this area. This country is not a theocracy, thank the gods. Your religious beliefs are personal, and no matter how important they are to you, you do not have the right to impose them on me through government action.

That being said, I have to be honest – I get really cranky when liberals go all spastic about public nativity scenes and crosses and such. Give it a rest, guys. Live and let live. I’m giving myself a -3.

(One more note: FOX news’ “war on Christmas” is a freak show. Has anyone told them that the word “holiday” – as in “happy holidays” – is from an ancient word meaning “holy?” Back off, FOX, and maybe try to find some actual news to report.)

5. Legislating morality
I’m a mess on this one. As stated previously, I don’t care who people have sex with. I also don’t care what people smoke. I do care, however, how you treat people. Liberals want the government to stay out of their bedrooms, but they demand that the government punish people who say mean things, as in “hate speech.” I’m pretty torn on this one. I hate racism, I despise the Ku Klux Klan, I’m passionate about stopping bullying…but I also believe in freedom of speech and think the liberal “thought police” sometimes go a little too far. So…where do I fall on my numerical scale? Stay out of my bedroom…I’m a -5. Stand against racism and hate speech…I’m also a -5. But how we stand against such speech…maybe I’m a zero, because I’m still struggling with the whole freedom of speech thing. I’m going to give myself a -3. (Readers, feel free to educate me on this.)

6. Economic philosophy
I’m a liberal here, no doubt. Our country has never done better economically than under Roosevelt, then again under JFK, then under Clinton. The Democrats have this nailed. I don’t for a moment buy into the crap on the internet (and FOX news) about Obama’s free-spending, reckless, America-killing ways. Under Clinton we actually had no deficit! He left Bush a surplus, which was quickly squandered on wars and tax cuts. Our country is still suffering bipartisan-struggle(although in recovery) from years of bad economic policies. And guess what? Cuts in spending have never brought our country out of financial crisis. Just look at what the austerity measures have done to the European countries. It’s the Democrats that have consistently brought us prosperity. Why is the media not reporting this?

A few facts: (check out Bob Deitrick and Lew Godlfarb’s great, easy to read book; “Bulls, Bears and the Ballot Box”)

  • Disposable income has grown nearly 6 times more under Democratic presidents
  • Gross Domestic Product (GDP) has grown 7 times more under Democratic presidents
  • Corporate profits have grown over 16% more per year under Democratic presidents (they actually declined under Republicans by an average of 4.53%/year)
  • Average annual compound return on the stock market has been 18 times greater under Democratic presidents (If you invested $100k for 40 years of Republican administrations you had $126k at the end, if you invested $100k for 40 years of Democrat administrations you had $3.9M at the end)
  • Republican presidents added 2.5 times more to the national debt than Democratic presidents
  • The two times the economy steered into the ditch (Great Depression and Great Recession) were during Republican, laissez faire administrations

I’m a -4

(Ok, I’m already starting to suspect that I’m not as “middle of the road” as I was afraid of…so far there have been a lot of negative 3 to negative 5 ratings.)

7. The government’s role in providing for the poor
Cardinal Roger Mahony recently stated (1998):

“Any society, any nation, is judged on the basis of how it treats its weakest members ; the last, the least, the littlest.”

lincoln-lincoln-welfare-political-poster-1272242819

This article is getting too long, and there is much I want to say about this…I’ll save it for another article. I do believe there are plenty of “welfare queens.” I do think that the system is abused and must be made more efficient, fair and less prone to fraud. But I also believe that institutional racism and classism exist and that we will never be able to cut the poor loose and “leave it up to the churches” to care for them. I have a friend who constantly claims to have “lifted himself up by his bootstraps,” and he complains about people who “soak the system.” His grandparents left him a house and a car and some money. There were no bootstraps. He has no idea what it’s like to experience misfortune and have no safety nets, no emergency “go to” people, no resources. Read Barbara Ehreneich’s Nickeled and Dimed: On (not) getting by in America – she goes “undercover” as a minimum wage earning single mom just to see how possible it is to make it without help. Great book! I give myself a -3

8. Health care
Socialized health care policies in America? Hell, yes. And soon. I’m a -5 on this one.

In the World Health Organization’s ranking of the world’s health care systems, based on a series of performance indicators, the United States comes in at number 37, behind such countries as Oman, Greece, Costa Rica, Cyprus, and Morocco.  AND our health care system is the number one most expensive in the world!   I want socialized medicine, and I want it now. People are dying.

9. Immigration
If I had a magic wand, I’d make it impossible to get into this country illegally. And I would give everyone who is already here amnesty, and get them into the tax-paying workforce as soon possible. And three cheers for the Dream Act! I’m a -1.

10. Intervention in other countries
Yes – intervene for humanitarian reasons (genocide, chemical weapons used against citizens) or when American lives are at risk. Use force, if necessary, but always start with efforts toward diplomacy. No – let’s never again use force to protect American financial interests. We’ve done a lot of damage in the world in the last 100 years (Guatemala, Iran, South America, Iraq) by trying to shape the world in our own image. We’ve acted immorally many times. I give myself a -2

11. Business versus individuals; Management versus unions
This is a tough one. Here’s my score:images-18

  • Corporations are people? Hell no. The Supreme’s 2010 Citizens United decision is one of the court’s lowest moments ever, almost as bad as the day they handed the presidency to Bush. (See – I’m still a Liberal!) Thankfully, however, it didn’t actually end up swaying the 2012 election. -5
  • Collective bargaining. Yes! -4
  • Union involvement on the job? +4 (As an organizational development consultant I’ve come to dislike unions and the sense of entitlement they bring to the workforce. I have spent 17 years helping management learn to create high-moral, positive workplaces, and whenever I’ve dealt with union shops, it seems that no good deed on the part of management goes unpunished.) My final score for this item: -2

12. The environment
98% of scientists believe in global warming. Climate change really is a thing. Rep Jim Sensenbrenner, who sits on the congressional science committee, is a renowned climate change skeptic who has alternately decried “scientific fascism” and described research on climate change as an “international conspiracy.” He’s not alone – it seems that science-denial in general, and denying this particular scientific fact in particular, is a hallmark of conservatism. Why? Is it because you have objectively examined the science and for some inexplicable reason find it wanting? Or is it because it’s so damn inconvenient – because you and your causes are funded by big business, including oil, and without them you wouldn’t have enough money to fuel your campaigns? If that’s the case, then shame on you. The truth is we’re in trouble, by our own making, and it’s up to us to do something about it. -5

surveysays1 I’m actually a little nervous about the results! Am I bi?  Or am I a flaming liberal?


the issues results

political spectrum

So, I’m a -2.8. Apparently I’m on the high end of “moderately liberal.” Am I too liberal for my conservative friends? Too anti- religious for my Christian friends? Too conservative for my liberal friends? Too spiritual for my atheist friends? Am I the only one in my camp? And do I even care anymore?

Well – I guess I’m not bi. I’m only bi-curious.

20130123-212441.jpg

happy new yearHappy New Year to all of you!

This year I resolve to:

  • do something kind for someone every single day.
  • write far fewer Facebook posts that offend my friends.
  • give up control much more often.
  • eat veggies three times a day.
  • grow my hair longer. A little.
  • listen to music at night with the lights out more often.
  • tell my kids I love them several times each week.
  • do nice things for my dad, even though I get annoyed when I’m with him.
  • tell the truth, even when it’s uncomfortable. Or keep my mouth shut.
  • find the good in people. Don’t complain about them. Only say nice things about people behind their backs.
  • stop doing “age math” in order to convince myself that I’m not old.
  • play the piano more often.
  • grow spiritually, whatever that means at the time.
  • not pick lint up off the carpet.
  • only say “fuck” at appropriate moments.Happy Crazy New Year cr Joanna Harmon 3
  • give myself grace. (I’m not a bad guy, actually.)
  • send at least three birthday cards this year. (I’m terrible at this.)
  • save a little more money.
  • moisturize.
  • ask for advice.
  • ski and hike much more than I did last year.
  • enjoy the hell out of the second half of my life.
  • buy a sex toy.

How about you?