Thursday, October 02, 2008

Political Parties and Families

My extended family is a mix of Democrats and Republicans. You can imagine how it is not easy being a lesbian, with a wife and kids, with family members who are Republican. They support US, of course, but because of their other beliefs, still support Republican candidates. It is hard to not feel very offended that their candidates do not support my life and family, and would prefer not to offer any kind of protections for us, but I realize a party is more than a single issue. That said, I wrote a very long email to them today in response to a family member sending an email encouraging us to check out alternative media, like Fox News (?!) and other conservative choices for the real story.

This is really long, and may not be that interesting, but you will never know unless you read it!

Reasonable minds can differ, and I agree that the media has not been telling us the truth for a long time. However, I find it interesting that all of the sources you suggest we go to get alternative views either are, or recently were, Republicans with a mostly conservative slant. In fact, a quick Internet search on all of them quickly reveals the word “conservative.” O’Riley and Dobbs both call themselves independents or populists and are not happy with either political party. OK, that is certainly reasonable. Colmes, the Fox liberal, admits he is really a moderate and often takes conservative positions (his words, not mine). Alternative media implies a balanced view, but really it is “alternative conservative media” you suggest we turn to. I am sure alternative liberal media is no more balanced. Each side strongly believes it is right, and is therefore not good at representing the other side, or sides.

Among more liberal folks, Fox News is considered bought and paid for by the Republicans and/or the Bush Administration. Guess we cannot really separate the two. There was a 2004 documentary called Outfoxed: Rupert Murdoch's War on Journalism that criticizes the Fox News channel and its owner, Rupert Murdoch, claiming that the channel is used to promote and advocate right-wing views. Fox, of course, has taken issue with the documentary. What the truth is, we may never know, but I would be cautious about buying their stories hook-line-and-sinker.

Some of the folks I know rely on getting their news from the BBC or Canadian news sources. It is amazing how much more Canadians know about our government, politics, economy..etc. than most Americans. Sad, really. Another great source, not exactly for news, but for checking how accurate either side is being: factcheck.org. This is a really interesting site to read after the debates because they take candidates’ statements and explain, with citations, what parts were true, and which were false. Often it is not that the person was lying, but that what was represented was not quite accurate. From what I can tell, this is totally non-partisan.

Yes, we do all need to consider multiple issues and how they align with our own personal values – AND what the consequences of supporting those positions will or could be. Since without saying it, you are encouraging those of us likely to vote for Obama to vote for McCain, I will outline the facts for why this does not support my values.

I could make this even longer and explain why Obama’s stance on each of these issues is more palatable to me, but I think it is pretty each to see what the opposite of each of these issues is, so I won’t do that. The one thing I will say specifically about Obama is to seriously look at his views, put them in another body and another face –maybe a 56-year old white man and see if you still feel the same way. Casey and I have spoken with people that are afraid of Obama because he might be a Muslim. First, it seems to have been proven he is not. Next, what if he was? We do still have freedom of religion in this country. Not every Muslim is a terrorist. Most are not, in fact. Get over the fact the guy is black. We have racist roots going way back, so deep that most of us do not even see it when we are up against it. Don’t think it is not at play in this election.

OK – so this issues:
Woman’s Right to Choose – McCain is pro-life. That is a nice way to say it, isn’t it, because who isn’t in favor of life? What he means is he does not support a woman’s right to choose what happens with her own body. He supports repeal of Roe v Wade – one conservative judicial appointment, and it could easily be done. What does that mean? It means back alley abortions that used to exist become prevalent again. It also has other ramifications. Just yesterday I saw proposed legislation for a “pro-life” bill. In the fine print is prohibitions for physicians giving pain-relieving drugs at the end of life if the dose could be fatal. This is a right-wing, religious issue and most of the proponents don’t just want to control the beginning of life, but they want to control your decisions at the end of your life, too. Probably most of us are anti-abortion for ourselves, but I sure don’t feel like I should be able to make that decision for anyone else.

The War in Iraq – McCain intends to win the war. He has stated that. Is this a war we can win, and at what expense? He has backed Bush all the way in a war that we started under false pretenses. He is a war president. That is one of his main priorities – and a strength – if military victories at all cost are something you value. Can we afford to keep spending hundreds of millions of dollars (estimate seem to range from $343-750 million per day) that we do not have on a war when we still have not adequately helped the victims of hurricane Katrina? I have heard the argument that the Iraqi citizens want us there – sure – in any country where we go in and start building roads, and water systems and improving the level of poverty, the citizens will appreciate it. We cannot save the world. We are not even taking care of our own citizens. How many people are now homeless or soon might be due to foreclosures? How many people are or soon will be without jobs?

The Economy – No one can argue that McCain was not a part of what has happened. He has been quoted all over the place backing Bush and encouraging deregulation. (Now he is all for stricter regulation.) When asked during the debates how his plans as President would change in light of the economic crisis his first response was to take care of our troops and our vets. The military is his first priority. Yes, a strong military is important, but again, at what cost? It seems to me we have serious problems here at home, but the fact that his first response was about the war really concerns me.

The Environment – McCain says he is pro-environment, and the fact that he was against some of the Bush administration policies is hopeful. HOWEVER, his conservative bias tend to indicate he will appoint conservatives to the Supreme Court, which could be disastrous for our environment. Also, of great concern, he chose a person who does not even believe that man has contributed to global warming as his running mate. (She has done nothing in the area of clean energy in Alaska.) That means he supports her views, or wouldn’t believe she was a good choice. She is pro-drilling, supporting expanded drilling in Alaska, including the Arctic Wildlife Refuge. She opposes listing polar bears as a species threatened by the effects of global climate change. She leads the National Governors Association Natural Resources Committee which works to promote the expansion of oil and gas usage.

Equality for Gays – of course I could not leave this one alone. While McCain is not as conservative as his running mate on this issue, he did vote for the CA proposition 8 of marriage being defined as between one man and one woman. He feels gay marriage should be left up to each state and does not favor a constitutional ban on gay marriage. He feels “Don’t Ask-Don’t Tell” policy works fine. Tell that to the veterans who after having served honorably are kicked out when their sexuality comes to light. A lot of people support the idea that marriage should just be between one man and one woman, but that gays should be allowed equal domestic partnership rights. That is still discrimination because there is power in language. The word “marriage” automatically means something to people. It legitimizes the relationship. McCain not really supporting and not really opposing gay rights in general is more of the “if you aren’t with us, you are against us.” If we let states VOTE on civil rights, the day might not be far away where Casey and I are not even allowed to live together, same sex adoptions are made illegal (not legal now in many states), and my rights to Boy Wonder and our Litle Princess could be severed. That is extreme, but when we let extreme religious conservatives start running things (Palin, for example), that is a path we open up. That is not a value I can support.

Worse than McCain on gay rights though is his running mate. Sarah Palin claims to be a friend of the gays, but when the Human Rights Campaign went to Alaska, they couldn’t find any of her friends. Her record reveals that she not only is very concerned about preserving marriage for one man and one woman, but also that she supports denying benefits to same-sex couples. She actively sought to ban books about LGBT topics from the Wasilla library . (Sound like censorship to anyone? Is that ever OK?) The GLBT people in Wasilla are very frightened that she could become VP – check out this video with the people in Wasilla made by HRC. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SfL2l1dk8nA

Sarah Palin – no, she is not a political issue, but she can’t be ignored. She could be in the number 2 position in our country. This is frightening people, it really is. A lot of people worry about McCain’s health, and what if he dies in office and she become President? She doesn’t even have to die. What if he just needs to undergo surgery? At his age, that is not unrealistic. Sarah Palin becomes Commander-In-Chief until he is able to resume his duties.

Please, please, listen to her interviews with Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson. They are on Youtube. The woman does not have the knowledge and experience to lead our country. You can see she is desperately trying to remember the words on the flash cards she’s been provided. She struggles for answers. She says things she probably should not say. She is out of her league. We all know that she is being tutored and prepped like no other candidate ever before. Do we as regular citizens get to prep for a job interview like that? I want to know what she knows NOW, what she thinks NOW – she could be governing in just a few short months and we need to know real abilities that do not just reveal how well she crammed for the test of the debates and other public appearances.

Want to know where people stand on the issues? This is a really helpful site: http://www.ontheissues.org/default.htm

We all have to make our own decisions when voting, and they should be well-thought out ones. They should be informed by multiple sources. They should not be just because we have always been a Democrat or a Republican, but because the party and the candidates embody our values. Casey and I have been talking with a lot of people and it is shocking how many people vote with a party just because their parents did, and their parents before them. Times change. Issues change. Parties change. The Republican and Democratic parties of our grandfathers, or our fathers, are not the Republican and Democratic parties of NOW. Be an informed voter, because then, when we disagree, at least it really is reasonable, educated minds disagreeing about real issues.

If you stayed with me this far, thank you for your time.

6 comments:

Lynilu said...

Dakota, an amazing post, literally takes my breath away. Thanks. I'm going to refer readers, so be prepared.

The link to fact check did not work, and I'm assuming it should be as follows: http://www.factcheck.org/. Is that the correct site?

I appreciate your presentation of the facts on the issues. Very clear and concise. I'm so tired of facts being twisted and maligned, and in my family, it is much like yours, inadequately informed people with blinders on to their own (narrow) views. It is so frustrating when I try to read a variety of viewpoints, only to be stunned with some bit of crap which is forwarded to me while still halfway down the throat of the sender. gah.

Again, thanks, Dakota for a clear post.

Dakota said...

Thank you, Lynilu! I appreciate your support. Also, I have fixed the link to factcheck.org.

-Dakota

Monogram Queen said...

You are welcome!

Betty said...

Thank you for your clear assessment!

Hugs,
Betty

word to your mother(s) said...

Very well said, Dakota. Considering all that you have on your plate at the moment, I can truly appreciate the time it took you to write that email. If somebody cannot take the time to read it, shame on them.

Monogram Queen said...

I don't talk about it with my family or in-laws because most of them do not agree with my views. Very close-minded.
I can't like close-minded.