Sunday, July 26, 2009
Enough With the Conspiracy Theories!
It has a name now. The people who are absolutely certain that our president is some kind of a foreign-born 'plant' from left wing revolutionaries or an international 'one government' cartel are now known as "Birthers." Please give me a break.
The questions about Obama's birth certificate have been answered. Several times. But if you want to buy into hysteria, you don't care. You continue to demand to hear the answers again. And again.
Knock it off. There are more important problems to deal with.
We have a health care system that leaves out millions of Americans. We have children, adults and seniors who are forced to wait until a symptom is an emergency because they have no insurance. Then they flood emergency rooms; the only place where the government insists citizens get health care regardless of insurance coverage.
We take jobs based on benefits, not on whether the job is a good one. We narrow our choices to work that provides coverage for us and our families. If we're not married but are in a committed relationship, we turn down work that doesn't cover our domestic partners. Our college graduates choose a career path based on security and benefits, not the work they dream of doing.
Let's talk about our college graduates. They start college needing remedial writing classes. They spent twelve years in schools that are underfunded, poorly managed, teach to tests and reward mediocrity with teachers who are underpaid or unmotivated. Their parents mortgage everything they have to help with college tuition or the students assume backbreaking loans which they will spend at least a decade paying off.
We work in jobs that pay far less than the cost of living. We buy homes with loans loaded with fees. We pay taxes that, in many states, are as high as the principal and interest on the home loan. Then we pay income tax, too.
If you are creative, prepare to starve. The one percent of the artistic population that manages to live well on earnings from what they do are just that - one percent. The rest either work multiple jobs and create in their limited free time or they give up. Our culture pretends to value talent. We don't.
We watch people on TV scream about what's wrong with this country. We hear people on the radio act as though they've got a divine line to the truth. And we sit on our increasingly wide butts and echo the hysterical drivel we hear.
We elect people we believe may be the least bad option to our legislatures. Everyday people are less and less able to participate as government has become a career. Try to run for office without the support of either major political party. Good luck.
Our career politicians are courted by the organizations interested in whatever they're voting on. They cannot afford to run for office without their financial support. Once elected, they can't help but consider that when votes are cast.
They run again and again - it's a great job. It pays well, it's got prestige, it's got power. The benefits are great. And the list of people they owe grows longer and longer.
Don't tell me this president is the problem. Don't tell me his election is the result of some conspiracy. He is the latest in a long line of politicians who have successfully navigated an increasingly corrupt system. No matter his intentions, he comes carrying the baggage every modern politician carries. Don't tell me the president is responsible for problems that have taken decades of bad policy to create.
I had an interesting conversation with a filmmaker from Germany recently. She told me that health care isn't even a concern for people in her country. Everyone's got health care and they're okay with it. I heard the same thing from a family from Belgium.
"Americans," they observed, "have a reluctance to take care of each other. You have this 'every man for himself' philosophy that makes you resent giving up anything to help other people unless you choose to do it. In Belgium, we know we're all in it together. If we all give up a little to help everyone, we all benefit."
Lou Dobbs would disagree. So would Rush Limbaugh. So would Sarah Palin. And if you look at them, I rest my case. My idea of a strong, growing, healthy and admirable America doesn't include the narrow minded hate they spew. Neither does the Christianity I was taught by my very religious parents.
So I am officially putting in my two cents. I am tired of conspiracy theories. I guarantee you there are conspiracies out there and they come from all sides of the philosophical spectrum. It doesn't matter. What matters is what we do now.
I do not believe anyone, including our new president, has the corner on good ideas or answers but I'm willing to listen. And I am convinced that the hysterical hate that comes from any ideology is a dangerous distraction to the real issue, which is that this country is in need of a major reform. And only smart, thoughtful, clear-thinking people who LISTEN and then DO SOMETHING ABOUT IT are going to make a difference.