Tuesday, February 21, 2012

A Meeting of the Minds

You know, I've been a little despondent lately because the Republican primaries are depressing me. I guess since there's some improvement on the economic front (Dow's in good shape, unemployment is a little better and manufacturing jobs are up, though much remains to be done), the talking points lately have been social ones. Hence, anti-gay, anti-women (arguments over birth control and abortion, battles that had been fought and won) rhetoric is back in the headlines, along with crazy accusations about the current President not being authentically Christian--as if the very fact that there are evangelicals, Catholics, Protestants, Mormons, fundamentalists, etc, didn't prove right off the bat that the Christian Church has ever been anything but divided.

But on the way to work this morning, I remembered rehab a couple years ago, which made me remember that really, the nonsense that politicians spew really doesn't represent the views of the average American. I know a good many long-time Republicans who really do wish the GOP would shut up about social issues already; unless they are diehard religious (dare I say fanatics?) themselves, they really don't care about gay marriage and they actually do support a woman's access to birth control and want women to maintain their right to choose a safe, legal abortion if she deems it necessary. Most Republicans I know actually do want the government out of our private lives. Many are long-time fiscal conservatives who just want to see the government get spending under control. Consequently, they are every bit as mad at George W. Bush for his out-of-control spending (tax cuts we couldn't afford; two wars we couldn't afford; a prescription drug benefit we couldn't afford) for which we are now paying the price. They're also mad at the bailouts (one implemented by Bush, a second round implemented by Obama).

Anybody with eyes to see knows full well that Romney and Obama are essentially the same on fiscal policy, with the exception that Romney would keep the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy. That's not flying with the base. The fact that Romney is a Mormon is not flying with the evangelical part of the base. Therein lies Romney's problem.

They don't like Gingrich because of "been there, did that." Gingrich did not make things better as Speaker of the House; his ethic violations hound him; he's widely perceived as a narcissist and despite his Pauline-like conversion to Catholicism, nobody likes the way he treated his first and second wives. They got sick; they stopped being pretty; he ditched them and traded up.

That leaves Santorum--who is plugging his social issues, with which (as stated above) many in the base largely disagree.

(Ron Paul is seen by the GOP as "too libertarian, too out there, and unelectable"--they will never give him the nomination and he will have to run as an Independent or as a Libertarian Party candidate if he wants to run.)

But, back to rehab. When I was in rehab, about halfway through my stay there, because people were constantly coming in and out of there, I got shifted to a new room when another patient left. I'd be sharing the room with a woman who was a staunch Catholic Republican. We initially eyed each other a little suspiciously, because on paper, we should've hated each other. I'm a gay Democrat.

We got along famously. We had some good heart-to-hearts and we shared the same wacky sense of humor. (Every time she came back to the room after smoking a cig outside at the smoking area, she'd greet me with her Hannibal Lechter impression: "Hellooooo, Clarice.") After living together for two weeks, we decided we should run for political office together because we found that we had much more in common than we had different. We found that after we both talked about something for a while, there was never a time we couldn't come up with a compromise that satisfied both of us. We found we could respect each other's views while granting each other the right to human dignity.

Politicians can do the same; I think the talking points they come up with are largely phoney. They just say things to make us hate the other side in an attempt to get us to support their entire agenda, even if we disagree with parts of it.

It is time for politicians to knock it off, to negotiate with each other in good faith, and to listen to the will of the people.

My rehab roommate didn't do so well once she got out and went home. Within a few weeks, she was back on the bottle and landed in the hospital, requiring surgery for esophageal varices. I know she was also battling cirrhosis. I tried calling her a couple times, but she never returned the calls. It's hard for a person who's fallen off the wagon to talk to someone who hasn't--so, I do understand. I hope she's okay. But one thing's for sure. If two drunks on different ends of the political poles can find common ground, so can the people we elect to represent us.

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