the november election that determines the future of the united states for the next two years, and perhaps for much longer, promises to be a bitter one. the political soothsayers currently give the edge to the "party of no," but there are a few rays of hope for those of us on the other side of the political divide. a few days ago, i read an editorial by a democratic commentator concerning the food fight being waged in congress. on the one side are those, including the first lady, who support providing healthy meals for children in public schools; on the other are those who suggest that we should give children what they want to eat, no matter how unhealthy. what the latter really believe is that the commercial food lobby ought to determine what goes into children's school lunches, so that their bottom line is kept healthy through the sale of processed foods, despite much evidence that such fare leads to increased levels of obesity and diseases like diabetes.
we see such positions being taken over and over between those claiming that regulations that make people safer and healthier impinge on individual freedoms. for instance, mandating that all citizens have health insurance is decried as the ruination of health care, but no alternative is proposed by the political right to give all our people access to health care. the governor of texas vetoed legislation outlawing texting while driving as an invasion of personal liberty, despite the clear evidence that this practice is a leading cause of automobile accidents. republicans are all for the right to choose except when that right is a woman's right to choose what happens to her body; these anti-choice politicos see no irony when proposing legislation that dictates what a doctor must say to a patient or mandating invasive procedures for women considering terminating a pregnancy. yet, we hear lots of noise about the right to choose to carry instruments of violence without restrictions of any kind. how two-faced it is to place onerous restrictions on women who are facing difficult decisions about their bodies while refusing to consider requiring background checks for sales of firearms at "private" sales such as gun shows. were i a tourist considering a trip to the united states, the repeated mass killings and the push for unrestricted access to guns would convince me to find another vacation spot.
if we allow the extreme right to be in the majority in both houses of congress, we can blame no one except ourselves when only the president's veto has the power to block the abolition of social security and medicare as they now exist, to stop further shredding of the social safety net, and to prevent the abolition of regulations that protect workers' rights and safety. may we americans wake up to the grave danger we are in when our apathy and our failure to stand up to the forces that put profit ahead of compassion allow religious zealots and foes of science to exercise control over our destinies. may we use the power of the ballot to elect those who support human dignity and reason. shalom