January: My Life On the Road, Gloria Steinem

Here we are! The first review and discussion in the BIRL Book Club! YAY! I have to say, My Life On the Road was perfectly timed and it had absolutely nothing to do with current events. Whoops. The reason I chose it first was because I already had it from seeing Gloria Steinem speak, and in order to get this review out on time I couldn’t wait for the rest of the book list to get to me. Happy accident, though, because it was exactly what I needed to be reading at this exact time.

I started reading it the week before the March on Washington and this book filled me with incredible purpose and incredible drive to keep going on and on and on.

The books speaks on many levels, lest you think this is killjoy feminist drivel. It’s a memoir of Gloria Steinem’s life and career through all of her time traveling the world and the United States. The book is one of those that demands to be read from cover to cover. Don’t skip the dedication, don’t skip the appendage. It’s all good. Every last drop.

The paragraphs that I keep coming back to in my mind are some that I’m going to share here. (And for anyone who has read this book, please tell me what you keep chewing on. There are so many moments that Gloria has lived and thought about and bared witness to and I’m sure you are all chewing on something.)

[When speaking about her mother]

If I pressed and said, “But why didn’t you leave? Why didnt you take my sister and go to New York?” she would say it didn’t matter, that she was lucky to have my sister and me. If I pressed hard enough she would add, “If I’d left, you never would have been born.”

I never had the  courage to say: But you would have been born instead.

As a mother I have to work to still have a self. I have to work to not be swallowed up by my children while still doing my best by them. This part breaks me. It is too common that women are trapped by children because they have no choices. Because they have too many. Because they didn’t know there were any other options.

But where this book was its biggest educational win for me, was in explaining the history of intersectional feminism, and how second wave feminism was largely intersectional. BUT that getting the media, at the time largely run by men, to GET IT and run with it, was incredibly difficult. Second wave feminists have been pushing for intersectionality for decades, and our love of boxes has been making that message muddy. Betty Friedan didn’t help either.

I finished this book on the plane home from DC. I read the majority of it in flight, as I think it is best digested. It frustrated me just how much I did not know because women’s issues don’t make the news. It frustrated me how much what we’ve been pushing for we are still pushing for. It made me love Gloria Steinem even more for her ability to talk about her regrets, her mistakes, her personal shortcomings while also paying homage to the many women who helped her along the way. It made me want to listen more. Listen and learn and offer assistance.

If you haven’t read this book, you should read this book. If you have read this book, talk to me about it in comments!

My Women’s March Think Piece

…because there needs to be more of them, right? I actually think there does.

I woke up at 3am to catch my flight. I had my bags mostly packed and I grabbed a lyft to the airport, leaving my husband at the door and the kids asleep. I was happy that I would be on my second flight of the day during the inauguration so that I wouldn’t have to see it on CNN in the airport or watch the responses live on social media. I was not exactly excited when I got to the airport, I was mostly nervous and sad. If I let myself, I could pretend like I still lived in a vacuum where Trump wasn’t peacefully becoming the President, but the entire morning felt like the end of something.

In the security line I kept my eyes out for pink. Every single woman wearing any kind of pink I happily assumed was going to the Women’s March. That was probably untrue, but you’ll never prove it to me. I kept my pussy hat in my purse. This is where I’m going to admit to being a little bit too cool for school. It’s not a proud thing to admit. It runs through my whole life. I don’t like looking silly or standing out in public. I feel safest as an anonymous person. I don’t want people to see me.

When I made it to my gate there was a gaggle of women in pink hats over to one side. I went over and sat near them, I smiled. I still didn’t take out my pink hat. I watched as it became clear that they didn’t know each other, but it seemed like they did. They were taking photos together and sharing swag. Another woman came and sat near us. And another. And another. I saw one sheepishly take out her hat. “I’ve never knitted anything before,” she said. She was apologizing for the hat mess. But everyone just encouraged her and cheered. Literally cheered. Another woman took out her hat. And another. I took mine out and set it on my lap. I undid my pony tail and fluffed my hair. I slid my hat on and kept my eyes to the floor. I was a little embarrassed now that I had waited so long. One of the women in the original group asked all of us if we could take a group photo. On several women’s phones there is a group photo with me in it and a bunch of strangers.

One of the women, who said she was a teacher, started passing out stickers.

“Do you want a sticker?”

“YES!” I said.

“I have others that don’t have swear words, if you don’t like swear words,” she said.

“I love swear words,” I said.

As I walked on the plane I started out confident. But very quickly wanted to shrink away. Many men stared at me, glared at me. I heard whispers and hisses of “feminist.” I saw eye rolls and sneers. I stood straighter. The feeling was awful. I realized that the rareness of this experience is white privilege. I get to live anonymously, while many people of color never ever do.

On my second flight out of Denver there were so many hats. So so many. There were only a few people who were not going to the march on my plane. The flight had a buzz running through it of excitement. We were asked to all stand up (if attending the march), and turn for a photo. These photos ended up on a Buzzfeed list later that day. In my row all three of us were headed to the march. A 70 year old grandmother (who liked like she was 50, if I’m being honest), a 24 year old grad student, and 31 year old me. I got choked up when the older woman told us we had to keep fighting, that it would be ok, that we’d get through this, but that it was going to be hard. All three of us chatted for three hours.

I also want to talk about how I was afraid. It seems stupid to say now, but as I was headed toward DC no one knew how this would turn out. Would someone try to hurt large numbers of us to make a statement? Would violence break out? There were so many possibilities for something to go wrong. I had taken photos of my kids the night before I left. Purposefully. I looked at them before my flights. I was afraid, but I kept going. There were times,even though I could see the other travelers with similar purposes, where I felt like a lone soldier.

The morning of the march I was really excited. I wanted to get there, I wanted to see the people, I wanted to be in it. Walking over to the rally point the streets were absolutely filled with marchers. Women of every age, of every color, of every background were pouring in from all sides. As we walked close and closer the amount of people overwhelmed me in the best way. All of these women, on some level, had been gutted like I had been. All of these women, on some level, had decided to say NO. I had been fairly isolated in my fear/anger/despair. The internet is there, yes, but I mostly sit in my office all day, or sit with my children, or cry to my husband and pull at my hair, and worry that I am yelling into a vast empty hole. But this… tears fell out of my face as we walked by hundreds and thousands and then hundreds of thousands of people. I am not alone. We are not alone. There are many people who were there for a variety of reasons, but the uniting aspect was: THIS IS NOT OK. There really are more of us than there are of them. That has to matter.

OK, now I’m going to touch on a subject that is controversial. Hold on to your butts. I posted the photo of my coat as I was walking onto the plane and then turned off my phone. When I landed in Denver and checked my phone, I was beyond flabbergasted by the amount of support I was seeing. Comments and shares and likes and messages. Text messages, DMs, Facebook messages. I audibly gasped in my seat. The gasp caught in my throat. It is a very rare day where I feel so many people lifting me up, so many people proud of what I’m doing, especially because I initially felt the expense of going was selfish. I worried it was selfish to be doing something I felt more than ever called to participate in – even though it took me away from my family, inconvenienced Kamel, caused me to take a day from work, and cost us money we don’t really have. And then to have all of this support was just… a shock.

Now it has been a few days past the march. And though it may have been one of the biggest demonstrations nation-wide the country has ever seen, it is becoming really trendy to tear it down. Should we talk about why there were less POC? Yes. Let’s talk about it. Does it de-legitimize the purpose and the large show of resistance? No. I am now feeling immense pressure to apologize for the fact that I am a white woman and attended the march. I am feeling pressure to feel shame for attending an event that more POC did not attend. I wish I could have made the march feel more inclusive. I am resisting the urge to talk about how many Black Lives Matter signs I saw, I am resisting the urge to talk about how many POC their were, because it sounds a lot like saying “I HAVE A FRIEND WHO’S BLACK!” I struggle with how to talk about this because I am WHITE and I have FEELINGS and so I feel like those two things make any opinion I have either a cry of “you’re so privileged!” or “Stop putting your discomfort on the shoulders of people of color!”

But here is my truth: Maybe this march brought together people who had never had a political awareness before. Maybe it introduced them to what it feels like to be part of something bigger than themselves. Maybe it inspired them to donate money to causes that help everyone. I think those things are true. What I think is really unhelpful are comments like: “I better see all of these white people at the next Black Lives Matter protest.” How does shaming people who are willing to step out of their comfort zones, who are asking questions, who are willing to learn, who are not career activists help the liberal agenda? And yes, white fragility. So sad, white people with their hurt feelings. But no one likes to feel like the thing they did that was hard for them was worthless. My truth is to have more compassion. Holding a person’s hand and helping them towards a path with more awareness and activism and woke-ness is way more effective than yelling at them and telling them how they still are wrong and uneducated and bad. Should POC be in charge of holding the hands of white people and leading them towards truth? No. And I am definitely not saying the experiences of POC should not be shared regarding the Women’s March. But instead of looking back and saying the march was meaningless, we should be encouraging everyone who participated on that day towards the next event. Towards the next call for social change and resistance of the Trump administration.  Tearing it down, writing think pieces about it’s holes, and turning the viewpoint on itself is on ONE HAND important but an ANOTHER only benefits those who are most afraid of a united women’s movement. Proceed with caution.

It’s Done, It’s Over

… that’s what I said to Kamel after I watched President Obama’s final speech. I know he meant to inspire action and civic duty, but this was my imperfect Camelot. And we’ve been defeated by the troll army. I’m watching a poised and graceful leader bow out to make way for a genuinely bad person who will represent us all.

“Why are you crying, Lauren?” Kamel said to me, with concern. Because how could I shed anymore tears? (How am I welling up just writing this?) How could I be holding my hands to my face and really crying, yet again?

“Because…” I stammered, choking back sobs, “…because this is it. It’s done.”

“No it’s not,” he said.

Sometimes I just want to scream at him that he doesn’t get it. YOU DON’T GET IT. How do you not see?

“Yes it is. It’s over. That was it. And now… and now it really is going to happen and it’s all bad things.”

“It won’t be that bad,” he says to reassure me.

“Yes it will,” I say as I walk to the bathroom to get my toilet paper because we’re all out of kleenex in our bedroom.

“It will be that bad,” I reiterated as a fresh wave of tears sweeps over me.

Because somehow, even if I don’t agree, even if he never had my vote and never will have my vote, we have ALL allowed him to be the leader of this country. He will represent us in foreign affairs, he will hold the pen that signs new laws, that takes away freedoms, that declares war. His stupid little fingers will spew nonsense on the internet that will mean more because he will very soon have the title of President of the United States behind his name. And everything he says and everything he has ever said will be immortalized because he will hold that office.

I know that President Obama wanted to inspire hope and action with his final speech, but I do not feel hopeful. I feel sad and tired.

There is a game being played and the players are too far away for me to reach. The outcome happens and I can’t change it or stop it or influence it. I’m not rich enough, I’m not powerful enough, I’m not important enough. My dissension is an annoying gnat on a hot summer day. I am David and the giant is so big that I am squashed by his giant foot before I can even load my sling shot.

I want to be proven wrong. I want to prove myself wrong. But the run away train seems too far ahead for me to catch.

I am the lone woman screaming in the gallery of Congress while they drag her away. The conversation pauses on the hearing floor. And Senator Graham chuckles under his breath before saying, “At least we’re clearing the room for you…” before continuing with his buddy-buddy questions to Sessions. Because they’ve known each other for years and who the fuck am I?

When Is It Beyond Excuses?

I have had several conversations with people who assert that Trump supporters had a variety of reasons for supporting him, the major one being economical. I have talked to smart people I respect. I have read articles from smart people who know more than I do about the struggle the middle class is facing. I have tried to understand and empathize with the fact that we have forgotten the working middle class, the white middle class, the rural/coal/industrial middle class. I think that a large group of people do feel forgotten in regards to policy and politics. The world is moving forward and they are getting left behind. Coal is dying, if not dead. The reality is that we have to move on to other means of generating energy and that means a huge amount of job loss in coal mining regions. What I want for those people is a job evolution. I don’t know if that’s possible, but that is what needs to happen.

Anyways, that’s only 1 part of the problem. There is also the idea of values. I know many people voted for Trump because of his supposed stance on abortion. That’s a big issue for many people. I don’t agree with that, I will never agree with that, but being a 1-issue voter is a big problem. Unfortunately we vote for the whole package. It’s not always 100% what I agree with, but it’s always moving in what I view as the right path. That path is about inclusion, expanded liberties, helping as many people as we can, and pushing out policies and politics that are racist, bigoted, nationalist, and fear-based.

And though I find it very very hard to believe that those who voted for Trump somehow missed the rampant racism at his rallies, his disgusting sexual comments to reporters, about women in general, and in his past, and his bullying, inappropriate behavior – I do believe in the uninformed voter. The single issue voter who isn’t reading news articles online, who maybe reads only right-leaning opinion pieces poised as news, who lives in a fear based world where everything is a conspiracy. I’m wondering when we draw the line in the sand on understanding.

Ok you voted, you were razzle dazzled. I don’t know if I’m able or willing to give anyone the benefit of the doubt in this information age. Even if you don’t agree with how the news covered Trump, the words coming straight out of his own mouth should have been enough to vote NO. But – I digress. Some people were sold false hope. Some people were in love with a bully that spoke for them. Don’t yell at the voters, angry liberal elite! They say. Yelling at them will only make the divide worse!

But at what point are there no more excuses for supporting him? 

3617642711

For those asking for understanding and empathy towards those who voted for Trump and for those who continue to support him, tell me when it’s ok to say that it’s wrong. When can I stop being understanding? Where is the line?

Even if Trump isn’t actively on TV giving a Hitler salute, a lot of people are in his name. If anything, he has lit a fire under an ant nest of white supremacists and neo-nazis and is doing jack shit to put it out. I’m not seeing Trump voters outraged about his cabinet appointees. I’m seeing a ton of criticism for demanding better of our president, I’m seeing a ton of criticism over protests. Where is the critical eye on the person in charge of pushing all the buttons?

And I do have a critical eye on those supporting Trump. A little less than half the country chose to ignore actual words and sentiments coming out of his mouth and hoped it was merely campaign rhetoric. It was a job interview! If you’re a person who is willing to ignore injustice, to ignore the worst parts of a person who is going to lead the free world, to ignore the treatment of those who disagree with him, to ignore his behavior on a public stage as he vies to represent an entire country…. if you’re that person, then I do look at you with judgement. I am holding you accountable. Saying, “Oh, I didn’t realize.” Is not good enough.

And for those pushing me to tone down my outrage, I will not.

**Edit, also THIS. 

What To Do In The Face of #NotMyPresident

We have had our day of mourning. We cried at Hillary’s concession speech. We went to work pissed off. But now it’s the 10th and there is work to do. Don’t feel helpless or disenfranchised, push up your sleeves and focus on what can be done.

1.) Donate to Planned Parenthood

2.) Reach out to the people in your lives who are even more disenfranchised than you, let them know you see them and hear them.

3.) Buy a feminist t-shirt. Wear it. Give 0 fucks.

4.) Understand who the women are in the senate, follow them on twitter and facebook, write them letters, be proactive and support them.

5.) Support other women wherever and however you can. Here is a list of good organizations to help you do that. 

6.) Demand more for yourself and for others. Don’t get trapped in the default habit of being the primary caregiver for your kids if that is not what you want. Ask for a raise. Fight to not feel guilty when you need time for yourself and only for yourself. Don’t let anyone encroach on your seat on the bus. Take up all the space you can.

7.) Remember that people can change, but it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable for their actions. It’s ok to draw your own line in the sand between you and friends and family who voted for ideas that are anti-YOU. Whatever that means for you is ok. It’s ok to say out loud that voting for Trump was both racist and misogynist. Because it was. You are not required to hold everyone’s hand and sing the national anthem after every election. And you don’t need permission to feel angry or say enough is enough. I’m giving it to you, but you don’t need it.

img_3711

Our responsibility does not start and end with 1 vote every 4 years. Educate yourself. Sign the petitions (the internet makes it so easy!), write letters (the internet also makes this so easy!), be loud. I’ve seen so many people boasting about “not saying anything political on facebook this whole election.” That is not something to be proud of. Be someone’s champion. Have convictions. Especially if you have friends and family who don’t agree with you. It’s ok to challenge people and it’s doable without being mean, we just need to practice.

We’ll have four years of practice.

This is Real

i-cant

Misogyny Lives Here

Today is election day. It’s one of those iconic moments in history where it could either go one or or another and the ripples will be felt in either direction. I’ve had a post brewing for a few weeks now so I thought today would be a good day for it. As the nation faces yet again the unmistakable glass ceiling and this election that was more about the treatment of women, and especially women in power, more than any other issue. This election that was in so many ways a slap in my face, the daughter of two generations of strong working women. That we are still fighting this fight and being told we are less than, is un-fucking-believable.

My own mantra has been that if I expect the world to be a certain way, then it better also be that way in my own house. And guess what, world… misogyny lives here too.

It creeps in. It’s sneaky. It happens when my husband tells me how to make myself happy even when I strongly disagree with him. When he insists that the things I want are not the things I want and the reason I am pissed/frustrated/annoyed are really because of something completely different.

It’s how I know where the baby socks are. Or where we keep the crib blankets. Or where the baby wipes live. And my husband has to ask me.

Its there when it is assumed that I am home with the children even though I work full time, sometimes more than full time. But I work from home, so that must also mean I can watch the kids.

It’s there in the gas lighting. THE GAS LIGHTING. That I try to battle by calling it out when I see it. To which my husband shrugs off, “I hate when you say that…” I know a fix for that.

It’s there when I have to work late and my husband is annoyed by this, tells me it shouldn’t be this way, that I work too much. But when he is on a deadline, and oh how he has been at the most inconvenient of times, we make that work. Not that I am a saint and have not been annoyed at last minute solo-parenting, but in general? It is, “you need to push that button at 3am? No problem. You need to go to that work function at 7pm? Totally ok, I’ve got it. You need to work through dinner with your laptop on the table next to your plate? I get it.” Where is my career support? I’m sorry me being tired is an inconvenient.

If misogyny lives here, then it lives most everywhere in the hidden nooks and crannies of our lives. And sometimes not so hidden. It’s in the assumption of primary care give for the children, or the uneven distribution of household chores, or the ability for partners to have hobbies outside of work or home that are just givens to their happiness without there being a balance.

Kamel told me a few days ago that he is voting for Hillary Clinton, not for himself – because he is a privileged man whose life wouldn’t change that much in either direction – but for me. Because he’s seen the bullshit. He’s seen the grotesque inequality and how much harder I have to work at it all. And these are kind, loving, empathetic comments. Even though they are wrong. He’s right about the privilege. But a world that is fairer and kinder and better for the most amount of people, is a world that benefits him too.

Even if we get our first female president today, there is still so much work to be done. And it starts at home.

Tuesday

I don’t have Trump supporters on my facebook feed or in my real life. THAT I KNOW OF… secret Trump people, step forward now! (Just kidding, you can privately vote for whichever ass hole you’d like, but just know you’re wrong.) But! Some of my friends have friends who are apparently fans of the big T, the Don, etc. And I was super snarky in someone else’s comment thread about Donald Trump as a viable candidate. Since he is a racist, xenophobic, fear-mongering, nationalist, TERRIBLE PERSON.

The Trump supporter pulled the “I’m in the military and I’ll continue fighting for your ability to have free speech” bullshit on me. It’s totally a self-congratulatory, false way to say that being in the military makes you a better American than anyone else. I think military service members should be supported, they should have proper healthcare, they should have jobs when they are discharged, they should not end up poor and disenfranchised. No one should. But I also do not believe that the current military strategy has anything at all to do with my freedom of speech. Anyway….

My friend did not appreciate me starting fires on her lawn. Fair enough. She removed the post and then today had a big status about why can’t people from opposite sides of the aisle just get along. Why does disagreeing on political policy lead to personal attacks?

And here is where I am an angry, radical, cynical bitch. And I give 0 fucks about it.

If you love Trump then we are not friends.

This is not a fight at Thanksgiving. This is not  how one of us is a tree hugging hippy and the other is a fiscal conservative. This is not even pro-life vs pro-choice. This is about supporting a person whose vision for this country restricts the rights of certain religions, who supports racist policy, who is anti women, anti anyone who isn’t rooting him on. (And he is secretly, not so secretly, anti those people too.)

It’s ok to stand up and say no. I will not allow the bullying. I will not sit by and say, “oh well that’s just his opinion.” I will not hold hands and say it’s all alright and we’re one big melting pot. No! It is not ok to support a hateful, bullying leader. If that’s who you want representing you to the world, if that is who you are cheering for and not embarrassed or horrified by? Then my response is NO. And my response yesterday was bitchier than just a “No.” It definitely put someone who is already on the defensive, totally on the super defensive of facebook jeering. I don’t feel bad about it.

There is no perfect candidate. People are human. We make mistakes, we change our minds, we make bad choices, we learn, we hopefully grow. And I am angry and embarrassed and horrified. I am disappointed and scared. What does it say about this country that we could possibly elect a dismissive, rude, selfish, demagogue as our leader?

There are a lot of people who believe stereotypes are to blame for their own misfortune. There are a lot of people with a lot of angry, finger-pointing thoughts and feelings. There are a lot of people who want to stand behind a person like Trump because he seems to want to fight for them when it looks like no one else is. I am sorry those people feel that their best hope lies with him. I want to prove them wrong.

But we’re still not friends. I’ll continue to protect your right to make stupid choices out of anger or desperation or whatever but continuing to vote for the people who want to expand social freedoms and see our society with a global vision. But hopefully in the near future, everyone who felt so in need of a Trump presidency will find out things turned out ok in the other direction. I hope it is not a situation of regret when he takes office.

Returning Soon! But First a Status Update

The podcast and the blog have fallen silent because I am in a deep dark transition hole.

You guys. Moving has been so hard. And the move itself was probably the easiest move Kamel and I have ever had together. We are pros at this packing thing. The movers arrived and we had the entire apartment cleaned out and all of our belongings (except for the pans under the stove, whoops, and the wall mirror behind our bedroom door – extra whoops) in 12 hours. And everything was ok. I was ready to get out of there, all I wanted was to get into our house and start settling in and setting up. The kids were with my parents overnight and we were focused and pumped for unpacking, rebuilding furniture, finding our life again.

And it was all good, I felt progress, we were humming along. Until I didn’t feel that way anymore.

Once the kids got home I realized just how big this space is. And this sounds initially like “my tiara is just too shiny!” but, that’s not it. You have to understand that my family has been spending it’s entire existence in a space that is the same size as our current den. There were never any stairs, there was only 1 exit, if I shut all of the doors to the bedrooms and the bathroom I was never more than three wide strides away from my bolting kids or a fallen toddler. We cooked, we ate, we played, we snuggled all in the same space. And now we have a 2,000 square foot house. With an upstairs, two living rooms and three exit points. The kids got home and the family SCATTERED. How do you cook dinner and keep the 3.5 year old from running out the front door? When he can open locks and open doors and we don’t have enough baby proofing – you can’t. How do you manage their transitional feels while also needing to find pajamas and where are the paper towels? And do you remember where we packed the baby shoes?

It’s herding cats and narrowly avoiding 3 alarm fires and feeling like I’m drowning drowning drowning 95% of the time. All while working. All while supervising light construction and maintenance. All while trying to do laundry and find my bras and oh shit the kids have no clean pants for school. I am generally very orderly. I know where everything is and everything has a system. Except here. Not yet. There are no systems, only surviving. Only 50 million trips up and down the stairs. Only hour long bedtimes to get Gabe down. Only dinners frantically made with the 2 pans I can find and thank god for yogurt snacks. Thank god we’re 5 minutes from a target.

As Kamel and I manage the daily things, the working and the feeding and the dressing, we are also trying to manage our kids’ transition. We started them at a new daycare that is Spanish immersion and I know its hard for Gabe. He is exhausted. So many things he is figuring out and learning. And I worry about them so much. He says he misses his friends. He names them. I feel so guilty. Is this the right thing for them? It cut down their time in the car from 45 minutes to 7. It gives us an even better chance of creating bilingual kids – a major goal of ours. But I still worry. Is he sad? He was at the same daycare since he was 10 months. Is this what he needs? I trust that it is, but I worry anyway.

All the while Kamel and I are not giving any attention to our own transitioning. This is hard. We have new routines on top of a new house on top of the dysfunction of having everything you own scattered about in boxes. I am so tired. I am never not tired. I am painting on my lunch break. I am dropping the kids off and picking them up. Running out the door late because a work call ran long. Our bedroom is a mind-field of half unpacked boxes and piles of clothes.

It will get better. We’ll get things unpacked and find our way. But in the mean time I am scattered and sad and tired and I have no more output. This is the year of running on empty. Somehow I’m still doing all the things, though my enthusiasm wains and my attention span is minimal. I forget plans and schedules, to do lists and tasks I genuinely intended to complete. This can’t keep up. When and how does the recharging happen? I’ll let you know when I figure it out.

The Difference

For my entire aware pseudo-adult life, the two party system has been explained to me like this: Democrats want more regulation and bigger government and Republicans want less regulation, more free market, less taxes, less government interference. The parties have evolved in the last two hundred years, but this general idea was the standard catch phrase for these modern political times.

My friend, Amanda, asked the world and then we chatted about it briefly off line, how we all decide on who to vote for. What are the sticking points? What if you don’t agree with them 100%? What matters most? The ability to function in today’s political system? Ideals? Religion? What wins?

My biggest problem with the republican party is not their philosophies on free market, it is not their tax policies (though it’s a ripple effect issue that I’m not a fan of), these things are differing economic plans of attack. It’s good to have disagreements on how to govern and have the ability to come at a problem from a variety of angles. But this kind of difference is not what the republican party stands for and it is not what they have stood for for years. That is why I don’t understand those who identify as a republican. If you’re looking at things from a “purley fiscal angle” you need to look a little harder.

The republican party is not for less regulation, unless you’re only talking about big business who certainly don’t need more free money, unless you’re talking trickle down effect – which didn’t work when Reagan tried it and continues not to work today. The republicans are pushing for more regulation in the worst places – my house, my bedroom, my body. It generates leaders and politicians and supporters who are fueled by the “I’m right and you’re wrong” mindset. The issues are not, “here is my plan to create a better life for everyone,” the issues are, “my way of living is more right than your way of living, so you should be punished until you agree with me.”

I don’t want to hear about their christian values. I don’t want to hear about making families strong again. I don’t want to hear about restricting women’s health, overturning same sex marriage, and all the finger wagging bullshit that comes with social conservatism. Where is the compassion and empathy for people who don’t have your same options or opportunities? Where is the desire to raise the bar for lowest quality of life. I’m done with constantly needing to prove that we’ve all earned it harder and better than the next guy. No one should have to earn the right to pay your bills and live somewhere clean and safe and have the ability to feed your kids and go to the doctor. That’s the stuff basic human dignity is made of.

So that’s how I choose. Who runs on a campaign of compassion? And who runs on a campaign of fear and anger and blame? I’m not interested in finger pointing and demonizing. The government should work to make the business of this country run without it impacting my world. It should not be concerning itself with my bedroom or my body or my personal freedoms. There are way way more pressing matters to be concerned with.