Monday, November 08, 2004

Am I blue?

Am I blue? You bet I am. In my anger over the election outcome I've spoken and posted harsh words. And I've offended members of my family with what appear to be insults to their intelligence for their votes. One of my sisters called, barely able to contain her anger with me. I deeply regret the wedge I've driven, and I've spent the last few days wondering exactly how I do feel about them in this context. I've tried to match my boundless love and high regard for them with my disappointment in their—and America's—choice.

My previous post castigated many Bush voters as people who believe sound bytes and do not do critical thinking. This upset my sister the most, and I can see why. She thought I was questioning her values, her decision-making, the very ideas that make her who she is. At first I didn't have a satisfactory answer for her, and couldn't offer a convincing excuse for my ugly words. But I wanted to be able to.

The answer came to me while reading an article in this morning's Philadelphia Inquirer. The distinction lies in the turn the Republican party has taken from fiscal conservatism to social conservatism. The former is the party of my sisters and their husbands and friends. They hate taxes, and see Democrats as tax-and-spenders. That's a position I can respect, and have respected, about their political affiliation. (Arguably, it's really the opposite, but that's a debate for another day, when our tempers have cooled.)

The latter—the social conservatives—are the people I was accusing of being non-thinkers. People in Ohio without jobs or health care, whose interest clearly isn't served by electing George Bush, but who did so because they were whipped into a fundamentalist lather over red herrings like gay marriage by Rove's lie machine. Reliable surveys show that a majority of Bush voters actually believe Saddam Hussein was behind 9/11, and you can bet this lot contribute highly to that number. These are the ignorant people I meant in my post, not you my dear sisters.

I think you voted for Bush because your party affiliation is so strong and reinforced by your peer groups that you'd never consider a Democrat, for any reason. Hell, you guys don't even really like Bart Peterson, I suspect—an angel of a Democrat if there ever was one. I think you overlooked (or forgave) the massive failures of the Bush presidency out of partisan loyalty.

I'm sure you're saying I would do the same if the tables were reversed, and until this election you're probably right. I learned a valuable lesson about partisanship. That's when your guy has abandoned your principles, you abandon him. You might be surprised to know that I split my ticket and voted for a Republican for state senate because the Democrat is an ass.

Not wanting to turn this apology into a lecture, I need to explain why I think your guy abandoned your principles. You love his tax cuts and his aggressiveness, but in times of war, Americans don't seek tax cuts. Remember victory gardens and all the other sacrifices made in World War II? People reached deeper into their pockets and paid for the war themselves. This time, we're reveling in lower taxes while the deficit soars out of control. It's like using credit cards as if there's no tomorrow. Eventually you get to the point where you've reached the limits, and the payments alone drive you to bankruptcy. Bush is doing that to our children. And their children. The next generation will have their own problems to solve (a large part being the cost of our old age), and we're handing them a fiscal black hole on a silver platter. Your party has left fiscal conservatism in the ditch.

A newly-elected senator from Oklahoma believes that women should be put to death for having an abortion. The defense of marriage act uses the constitution to take away people's rights rather than expand them for the first time in our history. The right to open jury trials is being replaced by government tribunals where they decide in secret whether you're guilty and what happens to you. That's the brand of social conservatism which now controls the Republican party. I always respected fiscal conservatism, but I hate social conservatism with a passion and thought you would, too.

Finally, there's the war. If you want to know why I am way more passionate than you about this, go ballistic and say things that hurt your feelings, it's because I am the only one among us whose child is at risk of being sent to Iraq. This war is wrong, profoundly wrong, and it's in a state of meltddown. History will judge it as a bigger mistake than Viet Nam. Your children are grown, too old to serve. That makes supporting the war very much an academic exercise for you. But it's not academic for me. I see Damon in fatigues, and I know he'll be in Baghdad next year trying to prop up this colossal mistake. Jackson's soulmate from kindergarten could lose his life in a pointless fuck-up. Jack is equally at risk. I didn't raise him for that kind of fate and I'm going to do everything in my power to make sure it doesn't happen.

I hope this tortured explanation helps heal our differences, or at least start a dialog. I love you all and really don't want to leave America.

Your brother (in arms)


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