Sunday, November 4, 2012

Swing State Hell (In the category of Be Where You Are.)

Virginia is now a swing state. If you already live in a swing state, you know what this means, and you have no sympathy. If you have never lived in swing state you couldn’t care less. But this is my first election year in a swing state, and I am in hell.

I, as far as I can tell, am the first Tweeter to use the hashtags #JustHitMute and #BoycottCampaignAds. I developed the mantras during the 2010 mid-year elections. They currently serve me well. But nothing, not even Derecho-induced power outages, or Super Storm Sandy can insulate me from barrage of political ads. The dollar amounts being spent in Virginia are vast, roughly $131,000,000.00 to date, second only to Florida, and leaving Ohio (who, frankly, should be used to this by now) in third place. Christmas has come early for the local TV stations. They are the only ones happy about this. The Washington Post has a nifty web page that clearly illustrates where the ad money is being spent.

I find it all quite nauseating, and not just because I have worn out the mute button on no fewer than three remote controls. Can you imagine how many hungry people this kind of money could feed? According to the folks at No Kid Hungry -- Share Our Strength, every dollar helps connect a kid with up to 10 meals. $131million could buy a lot of mac & cheese, and properly nourishing our future leaders feels like a better way to spend the money. Beyond feeling that the money could be better expended, I can’t help wondering what it says about us as a nation, this notion that the best man for the job has to outspend his opponent in TV ad dollars? Are we so shallow that we actually make our choice based on a TV ad? Do politicians really think that commercials are the only message to which We the People will respond? Really? I’m insulted.

But the kicker was a slick ad insert I received in last Sunday’s paper. It looked like a magazine; the title was “Who are the Romneys?” On the next to last page, the editors had placed a crossword puzzle that could only be successfully completed if one had read the entire insert. Very slick indeed. It’s all a puzzle to Mitt, a game. “See how silly you are? You’ll read my propaganda just to work a crossword puzzle.”

I’d vote early, but it wouldn’t end the commercials. God bless the United States of America.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Right To Vote (In the category of Want What You Have)

Now that we have a presumptive Republican presidential candidate, the current election year is only going to get more interesting.

Damn, I forget sarcasm is tricky in a blog environment, especially if the reader doesn't actually know the writer. You might interpret a sincere voice from the use of the word "interesting." I shall speak more plainly.

Now that we have a presumptive Republican presidential candidate, the current election year is only going to get more obnoxious, mean-spirited and divisive. I can't ever recall a pleasant election year, but this one feels out-of-hand already, and the conventions haven't even come to their prospective towns.I blame Congress, who have proven to be more interested in filibustering the current administration's polices than actually doing the work that We the People need them to do.

Is there any hope in the fact that many of them are up for reelection? (I despair that some of the more moderate members are just walking away from service, perhaps out of frustration.) I contemplate Virginia's choices for senator with something less than enthusiasm. Neither was my favorite governor. I doubt whether one can stand up to the partisan bullying that dominates Capitol Hill. I am certain the other will enthusiastically throw in with the folks busy doing absolutely nothing right now and bragging about it. (As though preventing the passage of sound policy on the country's debt ceiling or student loan interest rates was good for America.)

The country's choices for president reflect this same divisiveness. On the one hand, the President has made little headway against a Congress so extreme in its partisanship that I am surprised they even know each others' names. On the other hand, his presumptive opponent looks and quacks A LOT like the lame duck president that we just replaced. One wonders if, with a new heart, Dick Cheney isn't in the wings waiting for his moment to swoop in and guide another young inexperienced, over-enthusiastic naive etc. etc ad nauseum through the machinations of running this country, all the while nurturing the slide toward a have-vs-have-not culture clash where 1% earn 90% of the GDP and the other 99% get arrested, deported, held back from coming anywhere near the gated communities of equal opportunity for education, wealth and security.

As I brace for the onslaught of negative campaign ads (#JustHitMute #BoycottCampaignAds), I try to remember to want what I have: a form of government that allows me to peacefully debate the issues and cast a vote for the persons who come closest to reflecting my values to represent my voice on all levels of government. I can only hope that the next four years shows us a path forward and out of the morass of bigotry, stubbornness, and intolerance that has buried the wheels of progress.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Lent (In the category of “Mean What You Say”)

Twitter microblogging (@KimHNorris) has distracted me from macroblogging, but yesterday a cool cat reminded me that both are important if I am going to keep my 2012 New Year’s Resolution of writing more. Yesterday, Ash Wednesday, I found myself tweeting the following: For Lent, I am giving up staying silent when I could speak up and be a force for positive change. Equality, tolerance and kindness for all!
Now that I have put it out there, my challenge is to mean what I said.
I first will admit that this will not be the greatest thing I have ever given up for Lent. I’m pretty mouthy, a fact that has not been missed by any school teacher I ever had. I would much rather give a speech than burn to death in a fire, which puts me in a minority statistically. I am reasonably opinionated, but I am a staunch believer in Live and Let Live and a committed follower of the Golden Rule, so I like to think my opinions are inoffensive. (In truth, I believe my opinions do offend bigots, racists, and intolerant a**holes, but they hate everything, so I don’t feel like I am special.) So it’s really not a huge leap to say that I will speak up rather than stay silent. But there is still a question of what to speak up about?
It’s an election year in the U.S.A. Finding ways for positive change is challenging in these times. Being a force for positive change is all the more so. Even as we find ourselves in a country potentially enlightened enough to re-elect a POTUS of color, the dark forces of intolerance and bigotry continue to appear at every level of local, state and national politics. Let’s take my home commonwealth, Virginia, as an example. Somehow, while my attention was elsewhere, those who wish to impose their own belief system onto the entire population have proposed and PASSED legislation that discriminates against LGBT people who wish to adopt a child. Adoption agencies that disapprove of homosexuality may now refuse to allow LGBT couples to adopt. Think of all the children missing out on quality forever homes because hate was more important than love. Virginia has already squashed any hope for marriage equality. Apparently that inalienable right to the pursuit of happiness is only for a select few. I think that is wrong, and I am going to try to find ways to open minds to tolerance. I will say, “Let love be your guide. It’s what Jesus (or Buddha or Allah) would do.” And I will mean it.