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Friday, August 31, 2012

God help us.

Hi, my name is Elizabeth and I'm a political junkie.

My addiction is so bad that I confess that I have been on a three-day binge. I actually watched most of the speeches at the Republican National Convention. Yes, I listened to Rick Santorum, John McCain, Chris Christie, Tim Pawlenty, Ann Romney, Condoleeza Rice, Jeb Bush, Paul Ryan, Marco Rubio, and, last night, God help me, Clint Eastwood and Mitt Romney.

I admit that I am powerless over my addiction and that the last three evenings have become unmanageable.

I suspected that I had reached my limit after hearing the Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan, aptly nicknamed "Lyin' Ryan," say things that were so untrue even Fox News commentator, Sally Kohn, said his speech could be described in three words: Dazzling, Deceiving and Distracting.

True addict that I am, I pressed on. I could handle "just one more" night. I promised myself I'd stop after that, turn off the television set and try to sleep.

I knew I had gone "over my limit" when Marco Rubio took to the stage.  I'll be honest: The man scares the beejeesus out of me. He's like a 'boilermaker' - a mug of beer with a shot glass of whiskey at the bottom - for the true political addict.

I knew I was getting in trouble when he started talking about "American Exceptionalism". I could feel my stomach getting full from the beer when he said, "This country was founded on the principal that every American has God given rights.....that power belongs to the people ('Except reproductive rights for women and marriage equality for LGBT people', I heard myself yell at the TV, as Ms. Conroy called from the other room, 'Don't you think it's time to turn off the TV and read a book?)......we should be free to go as far as our talent and our work can take us."

And then the shot of whiskey hit when I heard him say, "We're special.....And Almighty God is the source of all we have! ('Oh, God help us', said out loud) ....We're special because we know that faith in God is the most important American value we have......And, we're special because we understand the scriptural admonition that to whom much is given, much will be required."

"Right!" I yelled at the TV set, startling the dogs, "Which is why the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy have to go! Seriously! Are you kidding me right now? Are you listening to yourself?"

I could hear Ms. Conroy groan. My head started to pound.

As Rubio blathered on and on about "American Exceptionalism" and how "uniquely blessed we are as a nation," I could feel myself start to get a bit woozy. I mean, he's not the post-Revolution anti-Castro refugee Cuban he pretends to be - his family came prior to the revolution because of casino business problems! 

It's not about a pristine ideology of 'freedom'. It's about the freedom to be as greedy as you wanna be.

I got up to get a glass of water. I fully intended to come back, turn off the TV and go to bed. True addict that I am, I got hooked by the fact that Clint Eastwood was next on the agenda.

"We are delusional and detached. Vote for us!"
"Good!" I said out loud.  "I loved 'Million Dollar Baby' and 'Grand Torino'. At least this will be entertaining." (Addictions can alter your perception of reality.)

Well, if your cup of tea is watching an 82 year old man talk to an empty chair as if the President were sitting in it, I suppose you were entertained. The crowd seemed to love him.

They even cheered him loudly and with enthusiasm when he talked about Afghanistan and said, "I think Mr. Romney asked the only sensible question, you know, he says, "Why are you giving the date out now? Why don't you just bring them home tomorrow morning?" Eastwood said.

I mean, at this point, I had enough self-awareness left to know that, while I was absolutely hammered on political speeches, even I was aware of the awkward spectacle of a Republican convention roaring for the immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from the battlefield.

Look, I haven't been physically drunk since my early 20s. I clearly remember vomiting in the back seat of my husband's car on the way home from a New Year's Eve party and still had to get up in the morning to tend to the kids. I swore I'd never drink that much again.

I hate to admit it, but as I have gotten older, my tolerance for alcohol has seriously diminished. I simply don't drink the way I used to because I can't. I don't like the way it makes me feel.

I haven't been tipsy or even drunk in a long, long while, but I do remember clearly that, when you are drunk, there often comes one sobering moment when someone says something and the words hit you like an ice-cold glass of water thrown in your face.

That moment came when Eastwood said, "I'd just like to say something, ladies and gentleman, something I think is very important. It's that you - we - We OWN this country!"

I sat up in my chair, stone-cold sober, and gasped. There it is, I thought. In 'the good and the bad' of this country, there was 'the ugly', staring at me, right in the face.

The crowd roared its approval. He mumbled a few more things about politicians being our employees and then he repeated the jingoistic mantra of this political party: "You are - we are - the BEST in the world....and we should not ever forget that."

I thought sure he was going to put on a Brown Shirt and everyone would start singing, "Edelweiss".

I know, I know. You're going to tell me that I've slipped into the point in the conversation where Godwin's Law kicks into effect: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches."

Anybody remember history? Anybody remember the 1930s-40s? Anybody remember a humble painter from a small village in Germany who rose to power by telling the people of that country that they were the best. Indeed, they were the 'superior race'? Anybody remember what happened after that? To Jews and Gypsies and People of Color and LGBT people and handicapped people?

This is not hyperbole. Listen to these guys. Read the Republican National Platform. No to reproductive justice for women. No to marriage equality. No to immigration. No to the Affordable Health Care Act. No to Medicare and Medicaid. Cut assistance like Food Stamps and WIC for the poor. No to eliminating tax cuts for the rich.

Which is all fine. Really. This is a free country. You and I can disagree. It's part of the process that our founders knew would make us a "more perfect union". Add the jingoistic language of Manifest Destiny and American Exceptionalism, all sprinkled with talk of God and draped in the American flag, and you'll understand my concerns.

Look, I know many Republicans. I live with one. The Republicans I know don't think like that. They are deeply concerned about the economy, as am I. The reasonable ones even admit that four years is not long enough to turn things around after the eight year debacle that was the Bush Administration.

They visibly cringe when they recall Pat Buchanana's "Culture Wars" speech twenty years ago. Many think I should be "satisfied" with Civil Unions and not Marriage. There are many who are firmly opposed to abortion but can find compassion when talking about victims of rape or incest or in situations where the life of the mother is in danger. They understand my position on immigration but fall into predictable rhetoric about the need to 'secure our borders'.

And they hear "American Exceptionalism" as necessary to restore the "hope that brings change" we need in order to get this country back on its feet. They hear the Romney-Ryan rhetoric about the economy and tune out all the rest.

I think that's what Romney was hoping for in his speech. Yes, I watched it and listened carefully to it. I was stone-cold sober at that point. He was clearly going for the Republicans who did not vote for a Republican candidate four years ago.

As Steve Schmidt, the Republican strategist who advised McCain, said, it was not the best speech he's heard and it wasn't the worst speech he's heard, but it was the best speech he's ever heard Romney give.

Which, actually, is damning the man with faint praise.

I was absolutely outraged when I heard Romney say, "If you want to get the job done, get an American to do it." I mean, was that absolutely necessary? Are there really that many 'Birthers' in the Republican Party?

Don't answer that. I think I know. There many not be many, but the ones there are have full, deep pockets. Money talks, and that was the money talking.

Bad form, Mitt. Bad form.

What I want to know is this: When did "liberty and justice for all" become "money and power for some"?  When did "This is our country" turn into "We OWN this country"?

When did the sacrifice our parents and grandparents and great-grandparents make to establish a life in this country become a political prop when it is not a cover for political greed? Where is our remorse for the injustice of the "First People" - those who continue to sacrifice THEIR country to our sense of what God wants for "us" - or African-American people who were brought here to work as slaves and continue to suffer the highest rate of unemployment and experience the greatest degree of poverty?

I may well be addicted to politics but it seems to me that a few people in this country have a serious, debilitating addiction to money and wealth and power.  A 12-Step Program may be in order.

I'm happy to work on my addiction. In fact, I think this last binge may have helped me to hit the "bottom" many addicts need in order to seek sobriety and recovery.

I do have a modest proposal, however, for politicians - Republican and Democrat. Instead of ending every political speech with "And God Bless America", perhaps we should say, "God help America."

Okay, to appease the Republicans, we could say, "In God we trust". After all, it IS what's written on every piece of US- minted currency.

We ARE blessed, as a nation. That's not the point. We need to share more of our blessings with others.  We need just a little more humility, a little more focus on servant leadership in our politicians and law makers and government representatives, in order to make this country great again.

I think we need to remember that "pride goeth before the fall."

We can do better. Yes we can. With God's help.

But, maybe no one will really know the truth of that until after the elections in November.

God help us!

11 comments:

Tracie Wilke said...

RE: "WE BUILT IT"

No you didn't, GOP.

My coworkers built that entire show around you people, and union labor installed it. You people, GOP, wouldn't know how to roll carpet and do pipe & drape or I&D on a trade show floor if your lives depended on it.

OK that just had to be said. :)

Marthe said...

Oh ye who long for the days of feudal lords and ubiquitous deference to a landed gentry, read, actually read the history ... the rabble rises, the rabble always rises, and the rabble always outnumbers you, especially when you force them to have unwanted babies to "build" your cheap, poor, un-educated labor force ... they outnumber you and get very very tired of you and your privileged arrogant attitudes ... better enjoy yourselves now, 'cause baby it just don't last ... the rabble always rises.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thanks, Tracie. You're right. That did need to be said, although there is the possibility (not probability) that some of those workers were Republicans. Takes all kinds.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Elizabeth, if we'd had TV service, I'd have probably looked in, but I doubt that I would have lasted long. I'd have got too bored or too angry to watch. The party sank pretty low to prop Clint up there without a script. The whole operation sounds buffoonish, but we can't get complacent and count the Republicans out.

God help America!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Not bored. Angry? Absolutely.They were clearly pitching to those Republicans who voted for Obama and trying to woo suburban women. It was pathetic. And yet, we must remain vigilant. And, pro-active.

JCF said...

"WE BUILT IT"

As Stephen Colbert said, "I assume they meant *Mitt Romney*: he's so life-like!"

;-p

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

JCF - If that weren't so sadly true, it would be hilarious. Some pols are predicting that Obama will have the popular vote by only .4 of a percentage point but will walk away handily with the electoral college vote. He only won by 3% of a point in 2008.

I find comfort in the fact that Bill Clinton didn't win the popular vote but got the electoral college vote.

I feel more desperate thinking about a Romney-Ryan election than I ever did about a McCain-Palin election. Gives me nightmares.

Grandmère Mimi said...

Elizabeth, I don't know how you did it. I tried to watch three speeches, Romney's, Ryan's, and Eastwood's. I couldn't get to the 5 minute mark on any of them. I was bored.

My moment of anger came when Romney talked about America coming together after Obama was elected. I'd like to know how long before the first racist commentary or poster came on the scene. Was it seconds, minutes? What BS. Obama did not get a break.

The crowd at the convention, like the candidates and their families, were blindingly white. And they, no doubt, think they represent the "real America". Kudos to you for sticking it out.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I'm an addict, Mimi. I can't help myself. You have to read Margaret and Helen. FABULOUS http://margaretandhelen.com/2012/08/31/i-wonder-if-clint-eastwoods-imaginary-friend-speaks-to-michele-bachmanns-imaginary-friend/

Marthe said...

Hey, let's not pick on imaginary friends ... I have some very very nice ones and they don't ramble or swear or talk to empty chairs or plot to mess with a president (not out of spite or greed or plain old ignorant self-interest ... my imaginary friends are waaaaaay nicer than that). But for the next convention, I recommend very old scotch, never more than one on any night, just for the reaming of the arteries properties 'cause the Dems can be every bit as intellectually lifeless as the others, even when they're on the right track. Oh, and Grandmere Mimi - am now a fan - be safe in your lovely city!

Matthew said...

I wonder how native Americans feel when we use words like "own" to describe this land.