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May 9, 2008

It's Liberal Blogger Friday!

Wow, I can't believe I've got a guest spot on a conservative blog. Thanks to BoBo for the opportunity and his readers for being open minded enough to read something from a different perspective. I should warn you, I'm not some liberal stereotype that you hear about on talk radio or fox news. Most of us aren't, though of course some are because stereotypes don't just come out of nowhere. I hate those guys too. Don't get me wrong, I feel passionately about many issues and my worldview is definitely from a leftist perspective, class struggles and all. But I don't follow any kind of rigid dogma set by any political party, person or group. My biggest problem with people on both sides of the political aisle is absolutist thinking. The world is not black and white but many shades of gray.

I'm not here to bash conservatives. Sure, there's a lot about your ideology that I have a serious problem with, and vice versa. But what I have seen in the last 16 years is an intense polarization of our population. We have had two presidents who are completely loathed by the other side. In the 90's, I never quite understood the reason you guys hated Clinton so much, though seeing him on the campaign trail with Hillary has opened my eyes a bit. While I could go on and on for pages and pages trying to explain what it is about Bush and his crew that I find more loathsome than any other president in history, that would be a wasted opportunity. You've heard all of that before and not only do you not care, you kind of revel in it. And besides, bloggers on both sides spend far too much time discussing our differences. I could rant until I'm blue in the face about issues that we are simply never going to see eye to eye on. But now as we stand on the brink of a new administration, it would be a very good time for us to instead take a look at what we have in common and see where we can go with that.

First and foremost, we all love this country and want what we think is best for it. People are always going to be critical. You may not like the tone of the criticism. It may not be constructive, and it may even be factually wrong. Neither side has lock on patriotism, regardless of how many little flags you pin to yourself, and accusing the other of a lack of patriotism over petty differences is just a cheap excuse for not discussing the real issues. The question partisans on both sides need to be asking themselves is if they consider themselves an American before they consider themselves a member of a political party. When people act more to benefit a political organization than the greater good, democracy is the loser. And along those lines, I think we can all agree that Americans need to come first. It's nice that we want to take care of other countries, but not at the expense of our own. No feeding other countries while we have hungry people in our inner cities. No medical aid to other countries while we have millions of uninsured children. No building dams in the third world while the levies in New Orleans crumble. No liberating other countries while we have the highest per capita prison population in the world. I realize that it's the conservatives' job to be against the government doing anything for anybody, but if we're going to do it anyway, and we obviously are, I think we can all agree that it should benefit Americans first and foremost. Once we've taken care of our problems, then we can take care of others. And the same goes for symbolic measures like flag burning amendments. Can we all agree to have some priorities here? Is there an epidemic of flag burning that needs to take attention of our lawmakers away from things that might actually effect actual people?

Secondly, I think we can all agree that radical Islam is a problem. If we're going to try to solve that problem, we really need to put our heads together and figure out the right way to do it. I'm in no way suggesting we sit down with Osama, smoke a bowl and sing Kumbaya. What I'm saying is that the neoconservative echo chamber does a great disservice with their my way or the highway approach to dealing with problems. We need to start listening to all options and theories without all the name calling, backstabbing, career destroying and politicizing. We need to bring mainstream Islam to the table on this as it is as much their problem as the rest of ours. And as we look at the problems with religious fundamentalists, we need to see the danger of all religious fundamentalists. As a democracy-loving nation, we cannot tolerate any group who actively supports theocracy.

Third, Israel and Palestine... are you kidding me? I'm not touching this one with a ten foot pole in this post! Same thing with abortion, immigration and the gays. Now back to something we can all agree on... Scientology is weird and Tom Cruise is creepy. If we can't agree on that, what can we agree on? But seriously... sexual abuse of children is not a religious freedom. Believe it or not, there are people spouting off about the "religious persecution" of the FLDS cult. I understand that libertarian types will take issue in everything the government does. But what about the individual rights of these children who are born into a cult? Don't they have a right not to be assigned to their older cousins to be used as baby factories? Not according to their "prophet" they don't. The first amendment protects your right to believe whatever you want. But you still can't use that belief to break the law. Rastafarians believe that smoking pot brings them closer to Jah, but if they blaze up in public, they're going to get busted (except here in the San Francisco Bay Area! It's about time you people start speaking out for our State Rights for legal pot! States Rights: They're Not Just About the Confederate Flag Anymore).

And lastly, I think we can all agree that our children are the future. We need to leave this place in good shape for them. We need to educate them while having enough respect for their intelligence to make up their own minds about things. We need to keep them healthy. We need to make sure that there are good jobs for them. And we need to remember that they are more important than this back and forth squabbling over trivial and meaningless nonsense between people we disagree with about things. Remember, they have to take care of us when we're old. And if we can't get our shit together enough to try to work together for the sake our our kids and their kids and yadda yadda, than we are truly a failed society. If we can start seeing eye to eye on the easy issues, it might be easier to reach compromise on the harder ones.

Wow, you've made it all the way to the end. Congratulations. I look forward to continuing this in the comments or over on my blog.

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