Category Archives: politics

Where did all the sane people go?

Disclaimer: I consider myself moderate and sane. I am in no way promoting any political party in this blog.

Watching politics for the past year I have several times been inclined to ask, “Where did all the sane people go?” Although I do not identify with either major political party in the United States completely, the side that bothers me time and again are the Republicans.

First it was the radio and television personalities such as Newt Gingrich and Michael Savage, host of the Savage Nation. I recently moved to a somewhat rural area of the Inland Northwest and I was suddenly catapulted into a world where the Savage Nation plays on the radio like clockwork at 5 p.m. everyday and congressmen fight against having young men and women live in the same residence halls.

Then comes the new breed of Republican politicians. People who disrupt the President when he is speaking during a national address much as a third grader would interrupt a teacher. People like Sarah Palin, who insist on distorting facts and using scare tactics to lure people to her side (think death panels). People who paint faces on the President’s portrait and liken him to Adolf Hitler. Then there are the everyday citizens who seem intelligent enough until they accuse the president of not being born in the United States. You’ve seen the town hall videos–some of these people are crazy.

What I am confused about is what all of the commotion is about. Why did all the crazies come out of the woodwork all of a sudden?

Some people say it is because there are many whites who are afraid that a black man is in power. That may be true in some cases, but I feel a large majority of people lack the facts. Many people have core values, which I will not deride. These values include anti-abortion and Christian values. I do not think this is wrong. What I think is wrong is that the leaders of a party that tries to portray itself as “Christian” commit acts daily that are un-Christian. How is fear mongering, accusing someone of not being a citizen and plain lying “Christian?” The problem here is these leaders are very good at persuading certain groups of people that they are right and they are taking care of them when they are simply taking care of themselves.

Another problem I have with this “Christian” cover by this party is the lack of support they have for other people. Case in point is the outcry against socialized programs.  Would not Christ himself favor “socialism” over letting people fend for themselves? If someone is truly Christian, I would think they  would be supportive of systems that help those less fortunate than themselves.

So I will suggest a call to action to all the sane Republicans left out there. Please speak out against the crazies in your group and put them in check. Right now they are representing you all poorly and making people like myself second guess the intelligence of anyone who would choose to be associated with a party such as this.

How far must we take our moral obligations to the earth?

I am an avid protector of the environment, but I find myself facing daily struggles about how to live my life. I think every environmentalist inevitably faces certain hard decisions every day. On one hand, we want to care for the environment and the world’s wildlife and human populations. On the other hand, this makes life very difficult.

Should I bike to work for 30 minutes in the snow and 8-degree temperature? Should I stop eating the french fries I love so much from McDonald’s? Should I buy only local even though I can barely afford it?

Today I read an article about the effects of birth control hormones when they are flushed down the toilet. According to a University of Idaho press release, “James Nagler, professor of biological sciences, recently discovered that 17α-ethynylestradiol – an active chemical in birth control pills – causes cells in rainbow trout to have an abnormal number of chromosomes.”

There have been studies on the effects of birth control hormones on human populations as well. One study stated that the estrogen that entered drinking water as a result of flushing the toilet could affect the gender of an unborn child, thus causing a positive spike in the birth of female babies.

It would seem ethical then, to cease the use of birth control pills. This, however, fails to address the world’s problem with overpopulation. It also fails to recognize the many health benefits that are offered by birth control pills such as controlling the severity of endometriosis and interstitial cystitis.  Many women even use birth control to lessen the pain of their menstrual cycles.

How do we find a balance then, between protecting the environment and protecting ourselves? I personally suffer from a condition known as interstitial cystitis and have been successfully using birth control as a method of controlling the pain and discomfort associated with the condition for more than a year.

I feel horrible knowing that by treating my condition, I may be negatively affecting human and animal populations. So what are we to do?  Should we all just try to do what we can to help save the environment and worry a little less about the not-so-good things we do to contribute to the problem? Is it enough that I use reusable shopping bags, buy organic, recycle, start a carpool club at work, and write this blog? Or should we all sacrifice just a little more?

Young voters more flexible in a partisan world

 

My voting history has been quite the ride.

In 2000, at 18 years old, I voted for the very first time – for George W. Bush (grimace). I like to think that I knew no better. After all, I am from the strongly conservative state of Kansas, and even at the university, Republican values seemed to rule among my classmates. Wait – let’s face it. At this point, I had barely graduated from high school, and I suppose I was not exposed to the other political possibilities. All I knew is that Bush seemed like a nice guy, and he opposed abortion.

In 2004, it was quite a different story. As a registered independent, I was now a political rebel. I was gaga over Ralph Nader and the possibility for change. I hated the two party system, and I even convinced two of my friends to jump on the Nader wagon. This is about the time that I really concerned myself with the environmental movement, and I saw Nader as the only committed candidate to this cause. Needless to say, I was heartbroken to see that Bush won a second term. Perhaps even more so because I knew that a vote in Kansas for a non-Republican candidate has often meant a wasted vote.

It’s 2008, and it’s quite a different story once again. Tomorrow is the 2008 Kansas caucus, and I have decided to give up my independence so that I can vote for a Democratic candidate. And I’m not the only one flipping ship. I have read countless accounts of former Republicans going Democrat this time around, as well as accounts of independent voters registering with a party.

At first glance, I may seem like an erratic, unpredictable voter. But if you scratch the surface, there is so much more to my choices. It was a growing process. I went from one conservative extreme, as a Republican supporter, to the complete epitome of anti-government with no party affiliation, and back around to partisan politics by associating with what I like to call conservative leftism.

So what drew me back to partisan politics? Certainly not political parties. To its credit, the Democratic Party has done something that hasn’t been done in decades.

It has given us hope, no matter who we are. It has shown us that this country does not have to be ruled by a rich, white man. It has shown us that there is still hope to join the global community instead of continuing our old defeatist ways (as opposed to Bush’s Us vs. Them paradigm). And that’s refreshing.

The logic is simple. Not even Nader, with all of his big ideas, could bring the emotional movement that is present in just considering that we could be on the don of electing a black or female present for the first time in United States history. Think about it, we are getting further and further from those old sexist and racist paradigms with each generation, so it seems natural that candidates such as Clinton and Obama would appeal so much to 18 to 20-somethings. We are fed up with the status quo, and we want change.

My generation is much unlike generations that have come before us. We are open-minded, worldly individuals with humanitarian, environmental and ethical concerns. We are not so much concerned with reversing Roe vs. Wade as we are with curbing global warming. We are not as concerned with allowing concealed firearms as we are about changing the world (an inherently youthful trait, I suppose). We are becoming less and less concerned with the almighty dollar, and more concerned with what we can give up to assist others. We have quite the social conscience, perhaps because we are terrified of what lie ahead if we don’t.

I’m not completely satisfied to be registered in one party, but I am very satisfied about the possibilities I see with Clinton and Obama. Surely, if elected, either candidate will still conform to the business as usual paradigm that rules Washington, but I see both of these candidates as people who are willing to get back to what’s important for American citizens: things like healthcare, the environment and creating catalysts for peaceful worldwide alliances. Bonus: they are not old, rich white men with their pockets in the oil industry.

So I will give up my independence. I will conform in my quest to elect the most capable candidate for president. But I will not retreat. I will continue to fight for the things I believe in. And I have a feeling that many of my contemporaries will do the same.