07. September 2008 · 3 comments · Categories: Politics · Tags:

Before I take a couple of days off from reading anything about the US election (I need an intervention after the conventions), I thought I’d share a couple of reasons why the strategy being used by the Republicans to get votes doesn’t sit well with me. Then I have promised myself that I wills top reading and blogging about political stuff for a while – at least until I stop dreaming about it.

First, I have to say that I haven’t yet seen many of their specifics of proposed policy changes that are supposed to make anything better in the lives of Americans, but I suspect that will come to light more at some point.

But what bugs me is the kind of ‘resentment’ politics that they seem to be playing to rally their supporters. Rather than discuss the policies, I heard Republican after Republican get up at the RNC and talk about some version of “how the liberal, elitist (meaning highly educated), European-loving, non-church-going, arugula-eating, city folks look down on us ‘real people.’”

This basically implies that, due to opportunities I have had and choices I have made in my life, I am somehow no longer a ‘real person’ and that this is, somehow, negatively impacting my country. It also implies that I don’t respect most of my family – who are bonafide ‘real people’ because they had different opportunities and made different choices about how to live their lives than I did.

The reality is that I have a lot of respect for most members of my family, and those few that didn’t make the cut….. well my feelings have nothing to do with the issues raised by politicians :-). I think, for the most part, the feeling is mutual; given the amount of baby gifts and well-wishes we have received from them so far, they seem to like me. Implying that working damn hard toward a PhD and making good money afterwords (when I can find a job) makes me an elitist is just kind of illogical – since when is working hard toward ones passions NOT an American virtue or even just a human one?

The attacks on ‘city folks’ gets to me for less personal reasons because A) most people in the US live in cities so they are bashing most Americans, and B) most people live in cities because THAT’S WHERE THE JOBS ARE. Not all of us have the option to live anywhere in the world regardless of how close it is to employment opportunities. To imply otherwise is a bit out of touch with how people survive today.

For obvious reasons, the issue Republicans have with Europe-lovers is a bit annoying. Having lived over here for a while, I can honestly say that I appreciate my country more now than I ever have. I care even more about the elections and politics as a result. There are some things that work better over here (don’t even get me started about health care), and it makes me feel frustrated that some of these great things aren’t available to the family back home (can anyone say affordable health care?). When I was living in the US as an adult, I lived very well, had good benefits, made good money, etc so I couldn’t complain about my own situation. However, I also realized and appreciated that I had it a lot easier than a lot of people, including family, who had far less than me, and it didn’t seem right that their lives should be so much harder than mine because of things that come up in life such as illness or unemployment. For example, it really makes me angry when I see people who owe thousands of dollars in medical bills for medical procedures that they actually need and the insurance companies refuse to cover them – what the heck is ‘insurance’ for anyway! Oh, wait, I am talking about health care again aren’t I? Anyway, there are also some things from the US I would LOVE to push for over here as well, but the politicians here don’t generally condemn my entire lifestyle for thinking that way.

I find the rally against the ‘non-church-goers’ offensive because they seem to imply that those who don’t go to church lack faith or even common decency. I was raised by parents who never took me to church, and I’ve never been baptized. They had been raised in particularly conservative christian homes and, from what I learned as an adult, vowed never to force their children into a religious organization the way they were. Both have strong feelings about their own beliefs, but they also supported my brother and me to define our faith from within. Now I can see what an amazingly powerful parenting choice that was given their own experience and I suspect that my own deep feelings of faith are the result. However, I have never been a member of an organized religion – the Republicans would imply that this somehow makes me a bad person or at least a bad citizen. I also don’t believe that anyone else should believe like I do, and I definitely don’t feel that my spiritual choices should be forced on anyone else – except Matthias :-) . Ironically, the same parents who raised me are Republican ‘leaning’ (that ‘leaning’ part is for mom who is still making up her mind on things). But they are more ‘real’ than me so that might be OK.

Of the few policy stances that are clear in the Republican agenda, abstinence-only sex education and teaching creationism in science classrooms to name two, I have to say that I am not impressed, and this may be because of my ‘biased’ scientific training (which makes me an elitist, of course). My parents were not scientists, but I grew up on science (and science fiction) because of a dad who also loved science; I am still pretty sure I became an astronomer because of being forced to watch Dr. Who! As a result, I have a lot of respect for the scientific process and it impact and need in policy making. Abstinence-only education has been studied repeatedly (by elitist scientists, of course) and has been found to fail miserably compared with actually educating kids on how to avoid getting pregnant and getting STDs using contraception. As for creationism in science class-rooms, well, I think the point of science classes is to teach kids about science. or did I miss something?

On a final note, what’s with the Republican Arugula bashing? I mean, if Republicans haven’t tried Arugula on pizza (Matthias’ favorite), they don’t know what they are missing! it’s a great plant. So please, Republicans, back off the Arugula!

3 Comments

  1. Great post – I could have almost written the same thing. I grew up in a small town then went to college and work in American cities, and now am in Europe. This gives an insight into all these places and how people in them think, and makes it all the more frustrating when these people all want to attack each other for being ‘elitist’, ‘stupid’, and whatever else. I wish everyone could have the same range of experiences. I think it would really change American politics.
    Here’s a good editorial on the matter. I’m placing lots of returns in the address to try to prevent this comment from being spam-filtered:
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2008/sep/04/sarahpalin.johnmccain

  2. Dude, I feel you. I’m going to take a brain sorbet for a few days before I start seeking out any more news.

  3. Everytime I hear the “USA! USA!” chant at the speeches, all I can think is “Two legs bad! Four legs good!”

    And it makes me sad to know that apparently the class-distinction really is so self-evident and easily exploited.

    I am sure there are some fiscal conservatives who are intelligent enough to see through the manipulation who want to keep taxes lower on their $250M/year salaries lower. But I wonder if there are enough of them who are principled enough to vote against their own checkbook. I fear they’ll lie back and let The Sheeple be herded as long as it’s convenient for them.

  4. Pingback: I link therefore I am. « God’ll get you for that, AKCB.

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