Tuesday, January 26, 2016

The Land of the Free?

in our house, we don't watch network television very much and are thereby spared most of the political advertising that appears there.  we watch a little local news and wheel of fortune in the late afternoon/early evening some and that's about it.  recently there was a governor's election in a neighboring state from which all of our local channels are broadcast and even in the brief network tv we watched, we were inundated with political advertisements and had to steel ourselves for them each time we turned on the television.

so far, we haven't seen any political ads for the upcoming presidential primaries, and we've refused to watch any of the debates.  maybe we are wrong to have already made up our minds about our candidate of choice without listening to what the other candidates have to say beyond what we hear and read in news reports, but i'm not sure we learn much from listening to them speak for themselves.  often we hear them say what they think we want to hear, making promises they believe will get them elected.

some of them are downright scary, using those who have come to our country to escape crushing poverty and oppression to elicit hateful responses from those who see anyone whose skin color or language is different as some "other" who is to be feared or making impossible commitments to strong-arm the country to a rebirth into a fascist state on the order of mussolini's italy.  those who follow these fearmongers have chafed during president obama's eight years in office, wanting nothing more than to see him fail or to remove him from office.  the embodiment of their fears in several of the current contenders for the republican nomination has emboldened them to say out loud what they've thought for many years, and we are seeing the dark underside of our body politic.

this is possibly the most important election of my lifetime.  the new president will have the opportunity to change the supreme court, either continuing its division between conservatives and liberals or creating a court where the extreme right holds sway.  we've already seen the damage that has been done by the citizen's united decision as big money has been allowed to move us toward an oligarchy, allowing elections to be bought by those who contribute the most to political campaigns.  we've seen the voting rights act decimated by the court, and every year we wonder if the court will do away with any semblance of protecting the voting power of minorities or will further erode the roe versus wade ruling.

if both houses of congress are controlled by republicans with a republican president, the country will move far to the right.  much of the social safety net will be undone, radical changes in health care and social security will be enacted, and we will live in a very different country that the one in which we now live.  immigrants, the poor, women, and people of color will have their lives made much more difficult.  the wealthiest among us will enrich themselves further at the expense of the rest of us.  it is a possibility that makes me shudder.

may we in the usa chose a future that allows everyone to prosper and to live in a country that honors and promotes diversity.  may we vote for those who will govern with compassion.  may we exercise our right to vote rather than allowing bigots and extremists to prevail.  shalom.

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