Archive for the ‘Politics’ Category

(3) Thirty Days of Grateful Praise: Freedom

July 4, 2012

Even though I sometimes despair of the devious and divisive nature of much of what passes for political discourse these days in the United States, I am still keenly aware of how blessed we are to enjoy the freedom that we do.  I am especially grateful for the freedom to write, unfettered, whatever I please on this blog.  I take that very seriously and am ever mindful of my good fortune.   I’m also very grateful that I have found common ground with all of you, my dear readers, even though we may have different political views (or live in different countries).

So I say a prayer of thanks today for that freedom and a prayer, too, that rather than fighting each other, we here in the U.S. may come together and fight for the common good, so that we may all enjoy the blessings of good food, safe shelter, and adequate health care.   As we celebrate the birthday of this great country, how can we wish otherwise for our fellow citizens?

A very happy, restful, and peaceful Independence Day to all of you.

Wise As Serpents and Innocent As Doves

August 3, 2011

A few weeks back, not too far down the road from me, a huge plywood sign appeared in front of the little house that sits square in the middle of a sharp curve.  In large, uneven, paint-dripping letters, someone had scrawled, “GOD SAW YOU TAKE THAT BIKE.  GOD WILL MAKE YOU PAY.”

Now, I’m sure some folks snickered as they passed that sign or maybe smiled condescendingly, but not me.  In fact, every single time I passed that sign (and I passed it a lot because it was up for a long time), I breathed a prayer for my neighbor.  I think I understand his rage, his need to feel that even if the scales of justice are not balanced in this world, they just might tip his way in the next.  I remembered him well because soon after we moved here, I waved at him as he sat on his porch, and he was one of the few in this neighborhood that ever waved back.  But he doesn’t wave any more.

Years ago, when we lived in another trailer far out in the sticks, we had a burglary.  They cut the phone lines, damaged both our doors trying to get in, and pretty much cleaned out the few things we had of value (monetary value, that is).  Ariel and Benjamin were 6 and 7, and we picked glass shards out of Ariel’s stuffed animals for weeks, since the perpetrators ultimately broke the window above her bed to gain entry.  I discovered all this when I came home alone.  I quickly left and drove from neighbor to neighbor, looking for one who would let me use their phone.  At least half of them were home (I could hear them inside), but not ONE would come to the door.  Later, we had evidence that it was probably one of our own neighbors who broke in, but we could never interest the sheriff’s office in pursuing it.  After all, we were just poor trailer trash. 

So, I think I understand how my neighbor down the road feels. 

There are a number of admonishments in the words of Jesus that are a real challenge to our baser human tendencies (such as turning the other cheek when someone strikes you), but one of the most difficult to me are his instructions to his twelve disciples upon sending them forth to minister to the world.  He tells them (in Matthew 10:16), “Behold, I am sending you out as sheep in the midst of wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves.”  I’ve thought a lot about that lately as Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I have faced a number of things that have made it hard not to slip into a dark state of disillusionment and cynicism.  Our struggle to get Worker’s Comp benefits without hiring a lawyer (ultimately unsuccessful), our realization that neither his employer nor the state Industrial Commission seem to be there to help us, and even looking at the bill for his recent hospital stay and the ridiculousness of the charges ($3.33 for a single 81mg aspirin!) are just a few things that make us feel disheartened about the state of the human race.  Not to mention the goings-on in Washington, D.C.

Sure, the “wise as serpents” part isn’t all that hard.  Wariness comes easy now.  We are very much like watchful serpents these days, gazing warily through our narrowed eyes, watching for those that might tread upon us, and hoping we can strike before they do.  But if you live constantly on guard, suspicious of everyone, your vision will become narrow and jaundiced.  And a jaundiced eye never sees clearly. Neither is it possible in this world for a reasonably intelligent adult to be completely “innocent as a dove.”  If you don’t  feel a little cynical these days, you’re not thinking.  I always love watching the mourning doves in our birdbath, but, clearly they’re not the sharpest members of the avian community. When a hawk comes around, all the other birds clear out.  Not the doves.  I worry about them.

So, to be both “wise as serpents” and “innocent as doves” is one of the many spiritual challenges that I fail at daily.  But I keep trying, keep struggling against complete cynicism and bitterness, keep holding fast to faith.  Because cynicism may come from facing certain facts, but it doesn’t come from facing truth.  Because the real truth is—there is always hope.  And the real truth is, there’s still a lot of goodness in this world.  Lord knows, I’ve seen that, too.  In friends who stick with me (thank you!), even when I’m sad and a little bitter.  In my immediate family, who loves me as I am.  God is there, whether in the hearts of my beloved or in the mockingbird that sings at night. 

So I struggle against darkness—both in the world and in my own head.  Cynicism may be an intelligent response to this old world, but there’s nothing particularly wise about it.  In darkness, we lose our vision, and it’s easy to conclude that there’s no way out.  Real wisdom, I think, sees things as they are, but believes they can be better and looks for ways to make them so.  It seeks a way out of the darkness.  I’m no theologian, but I believe that may be what Jesus meant.  To be wary and discerning, but always open to goodness.

So may we see things as they are but keep a vision for how they can be.  May we know real truth when we see it. And may we keep our wary, weary eyes fixed always on the light.

Of Fireworks, Fireflies, Fingers, and the Fourth of July

July 6, 2009

bird in the clouds blog

I wonder if the things you see in the shape of a cloud indicate (like Rorschach ink blots) something about your personality and your sub-conscious mind.  Just for the record, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man often sees cars and other motorized conveyances in the clouds. And I often see…well…food.   I’ll leave you to speculate on what that might mean. :-)

Anyway, like most people, we also frequently see animals, especially fanciful ones. Like the big bird we saw in this cloud from our porch.  Can you see it?

We spent a good bit of time over the holiday weekend on our porch. At least when we weren’t busy mowing grass or tending the vegetable/herb garden or trying to stay one step ahead of the weeds that spring up in my flowers when I turn my back for even just a second.  Regrettably, there was an unfortunate incident involving the ring finger on my left hand and our little electric hedge trimmer. Don’t worry, I’m not posting pictures here of the aftermath, but there are a few observations I’d like to make:

1. I was under the impression that a hedge trimmer would do minimal damage if it made contact with one’s skin. I was wrong.

2. It’s not a good idea to let your mind wander (as in daydreaming, bird-watching, or watching the clouds float by) while you’re using a hedge trimmer.

3. Electric hedge trimmers do have a safety mechanism that’s supposed to cut them off  (I mean the hedge trimmer, not fingers!) if they make contact with non-vegetative material (such as fingers).  However, apparently it takes a second or two for the safety feature to kick in.  It apparently doesn’t recognize fingernails and skin as non-vegetative material.

4. Slicing a third of the way through one’s finger makes it bleed…and bleed…and bleed. A lot.

5. Fingernail beds have many very sensitive nerve endings.

6. Black pepper (as I wrote in this post  about a year ago) truly works in an immediate and almost miraculous way to stop bleeding. It is astonishing to see it in action, if a bit stomach churning.

7. It is really, really hard to floss your teeth when you have a bandage the size of a Polish sausage on your finger.

In an interesting side note, the very first thing I thought after it happened and I was cradling my left hand in my right and watching my cupped right hand immediately fill up with blood was not Oh no, my finger! It was Oh no…what is the emergency room going to cost and how will we pay for it?  Coincidentally, we watched Michael Moore’s documentary Sicko for the first time last night (soon after my accident), and in the opening scene, there was a fellow who cut the ends of two fingers off in a table saw accident and he, too, said his very first thought was I don’t have insurance—how will I pay for this? (A ridiculous state of affairs, I’d say, that that would be our first worry in such a situation, but I guess that’s for another post).

Anyway, garden tool mishaps were only a small part of our weekend. Besides clouds, we watched fireflies and fireworks from our porch after dark. We are fortunate that we can see almost every fireworks display in the valley between here and Asheville eleven miles away. (The picture below taken from our porch is actually of fireworks IN Asheville. There was a lag of about thirty seconds before we’d hear the boom!) We sit on our porch, oohing and aahing, our heads swiveling, as fireworks bloom like flowers everywhere the eye can see to the east and south and west. Often, we can also hear the cheers of onlookers rise up from the valley and we cheer, too, just in case they can hear us.   And a lovely counterpoint to the din and drama of the dazzling fireworks is the quiet and steady semaphore of fireflies—-hundreds of them sending their light messages to each other and to the stars above.

fireworks in Asheville blog

(A not-very-clear picture of fireworks eleven miles away in Asheville, as seen from our porch)

And last night, I was thinking, as I watched and cheered, about how fortunate I am to live in a country founded on such noble principles and ideals as ours, but I also pondered the ways in which we have strayed from those ideals. For example, the fact that my first thought after cutting through a third of my finger was how I was going to pay to sew it back in place. That’s just not right. Our founding fathers would be appalled, and so they should be. So should we all. We could do so much better.

I just wish I had more faith that we ever will. Our former president Bill Clinton once said that “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be cured by what is right with America.”  I do believe that. But I’m trying hard to trust that the people I voted for really believe in the ideals our country was founded on. I’m trying hard to believe that there is going to be real and radical change, a change that doesn’t pander so much to special interests.  (I have just read that our country’s largest insurers, along with hospitals and doctors have hired over 350 retired members of Congress and former Washington government staff members in an effort to influence their old cronies  colleagues.)

Because change will only be real if it is the result of elected officials responding to the needs of the people rather than the influence of special interests.  And that’s the only kind of change that I can believe in.

Excuse Me, Waitress. I Don’t Believe I Ordered a Breast…

February 26, 2009

dennys

Around these parts, breastfeeding has figured prominently in the news of late.  Specifically concerning Crystal Everitt, who on a recent Sunday at Denny’s restaurant, breastfed her child with her entire breast exposed, just as the after-church crowd was sitting down with their families to enjoy a leisurely lunch.   Having been an enthusiastic breastfeeding mama myself, I’ve tried to keep…ahem…abreast of this situation—by reading not only news reports, but local message boards where people are clearly passionate about the subject.

Here are the facts, as I understand them:  She was breastfeeding at Denny’s with an entire breast exposed.  A few nearby diners (with families) spoke to the manager, the manager quietly and politely requested that Ms.Everitt cover herself, she refused, and an ugly scene ensued with police finally being called.  She left the restaurant and soon called the press who, like Pavlov’s dogs, promptly began to salivate.  She was interviewed by the local TV station in one of those trendy hipster cafés feeding her child (again with her breast exposed, no doubt shocking some of those who had turned on the noon news to watch while they ate lunch).  Later, she led a protest at Denny’s with other breastfeeding moms (again on a Sunday) where a manager from Denny’s apologized—-and she refused to accept his apology.  The story was all over the local print media, as well.  Local columnist Edgy Mama wrote in the Mountain Xpress: “People, listen to me for a moment, kay (sic)? Breasts, like udders, are food-conveyance devices…no need to…warm the fricking milk.  Boobs are natural bottle warmers.  How cool is that?”  Well, Edgy Mama, I’ll grant that it’s pretty cool but I was amazed at how many of the women supporting Everitt asserted that breasts were ONLY for feeding babies and not to be associated with things like pleasure.  And I couldn’t help but think, “Dang, ladies…y’all have missed out on some FUN!”

And, yes, as someone who breastfed frequently in public, I do have an opinion on the situation and although that’s not really what I want to talk about here, let’s go ahead and get it out of the way.  In fact, I’ll just cut and paste from the short comment I made on a well-known local blog:

“…And as someone who also grew up around a lot of older and more conservative folks, I know that many of them have more modest proclivities than I do. And I don’t see that as either good or bad—it just is. So, when I was out in public, I threw a light cover over exposed areas when I nursed. It was no big deal and caused no harm to my baby and no one ever, in all the times I nursed in public, had anything negative to say. It seems to me that those who take the defiant stance of refusing to cover themselves are making a judgment about those who have more modest tendencies and that they are trying to impose THEIR values on others. And I wonder, if their objective is to promote breastfeeding, if they’re not antagonizing people more than winning them to their very worthy cause.”

I also wanted to add that I find it interesting that Ms.Everitt just happened to be there right at the time that local church-goers would likely be sitting down there with their families.  I find it curious, as well, that she asserts that all she wanted to do was to breastfeed her child because if that were truly her objective, I think she would have simply gone ahead and slipped a light cover over her breast,  her child (and the other diners) would have eaten in peace, and no one (except those nearby) would have been the wiser.  Instead, an unpleasant scene was created, the police showed up, and I’m quite certain her baby was distressed by the whole encounter.   But, of course, had she covered herself, she wouldn’t have gotten to be the Noble Breastfeeding Martyr, would she?

But, as I said, that’s not really what I want to discuss.  What I really want to talk about here is respect.  And tolerance.  And understanding.  All attributes that most political progressives and liberals would like to smugly think of themselves as having.  I know, because I am a liberal.  A blue-collar liberal.  And I was appalled at the tone that so many of those who would call themselves “liberals” took in the debates that played out on the local message boards and blogs.  Particularly here and here in the Mountain Xpress forums.  It was pretty ugly with “entopticon” asserting that another commenter had a “mental disorder that makes them freak out when they see a breast” and that they were “deranged” and “warped” and had a “diseased mind” because they dared to speak of having courtesy for others who might be uncomfortable with an exposed breast in public.  Then “entopticon” (who took every opportunity to demonstrate his vastly  superior intellect *insert eyeroll here*) insulted the intelligence of another commenter, and later resorted to calling those who disagreed with him “right-wing extremists.”  And, yes, one commenter did call Ms. Everitt “an attention whore,” but he later apologized.

Good Lord. 

As a blue-collar liberal who voted for Gore, Kerry, and Obama, I’ve often torn my hair out over some of my blue-collar friends who vote consistently against their best interests and I’ve wondered why they did so.  And I’ve often seen liberal commentators lamenting the same thing and wondering why they can’t win over the blue-collar constituency, baffled as to why liberals are seen as “elitist.” 

Well, it’s complicated and I don’t fully understand it myself, but what I do know is that liberals are often seen as elitist because they…so often are.  The one thing that came across to me in reading the message boards and comments concerning the breastfeeding brouhaha was that many of the people (whom I’m sure would call themselves liberals) came across as just plain contemptuous of those who were offended by an exposed breast.  They weren’t content just to state their own viewpoints—they resorted to name-calling and general attacks on conservative people and so-called “right-wing extremists.”  And, yes, I know that personal attacks are also a favorite tactic of those like Rush Limbaugh and his ilk.  But when we, as liberals, resort to the same thing, we are not only exposing our own prejudice and intolerance, we are playing into the hands of those like Rush Limbaugh, who will twist our words into something even uglier.

“Extremists” and “fundamentalists” come in all shapes and sizes…and political and religious persuasions.  It would behoove us all to acknowledge and contemplate the meaning of liberal which includes (in my American Heritage dictionary) “open-minded and tolerant” as well as “tending to give freely; generous.”  Contempt often breeds contempt, just as respect and courtesy often breed respect and courtesy. 

To quote “Think of Others” who also commented on the Mountain X-press forum:

Me Vs.You is ultimately what is going to end this planet.  Let’s try to reach a middle ground on the easy stuff!  Peace out.”

Yeah, I’m with him.  Let’s try to reach a middle ground or at least begin to try to understand each other’s feelings.  And so-called liberals need to examine their own prejudice and intolerance, seek to overcome their contempt for those who think differently from them, and remember that not all “extremists” are right-wing.   

Peace out.

The Coexistence of Joy and Sorrow

November 13, 2008

cardinal-blog

What makes me happy:

That my beloved North Carolina transformed from red to blue in this election,  when my fellow North Carolinians expressed their faith in Barack Obama by a margin of 13,693 souls.

What makes me sad:

The spite, malice, and ill will I hear in the voices of some of those in this state who didn’t vote for Obama and refuse to support him now, many of whom call themselves Christians.  I offer the words of Jesus in Matthew 12:25 and 36, 37:

“Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand…I say unto you that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account of it in the day of judgment.  For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words, thou shalt be condemned.”

What makes me sad:

That our persimmons this year are just slightly larger than grapes (likely because of the drought) but they have huge seeds, which means that the persimmon pulp I get from one persimmon is about the size of a grain of rice, which means that I won’t be able to make my Grandma’s persimmon pudding this year.

What makes me happy:

That my bird friends don’t mind that the persimmons are small.  They dine daily in our persimmon trees and their chirps and chatter cheer me, so my heart is full, even if my stomach isn’t.

cedarwaxwingsblog

What makes me sad:

That most of my flowers are gone now.  I especially miss the happy, bright Crayola colors of my zinnias. 

frittilary-on-zinnias-blog

What makes me happy:

The amazing seed heads of some spent flowers, like Queen Anne’s Lace, and the seed pods of the morning glory.

seed-head-blog

seed-pod-morning-glory-blog

And now…what makes me happiest:

When my sweet babies are home.

my-sweet-babies-blog

A Sense of Sober Optimism

November 5, 2008

obama-blog

(On my porch this morning)

What can I say about last night—and the triumph of Barack Obama?  It was historic, it was inspiring, it was transcendent, and it was moving beyond words.  So I’ll keep my own inadequate words brief.

It was impossible to watch history being made last night and not be moved and swept up in the jubilation and sense of hope and joy.  This morning, my jubilation is somewhat tempered by thoughts of just how far our country has to travel in the journey back to wholeness and just how rocky and steep the road will be.  I guess you could say I feel a sense of sober optimism.
 
One thing is for sure—no matter who you voted for, in order for real healing to take place, the healing must begin in our own hearts and minds.  One man alone cannot bring about change—it must begin in us.  We must be the change we want to see. 

John McCain said it well in his concession speech last night:

I urge all Americans who supported me to join me in not just congratulating him, but offering our next president our good will and earnest effort to find ways to come together to find the necessary compromises to bridge our differences… to leave our children and grandchildren a stronger, better country than we inherited.”

And, of course, as always, President-Elect Barack Obama inspired us with his words:

What began twenty-one months ago in the depths of winter must not end on this autumn night. This victory alone is not the change we seek — it is only the chance for us to make that change. And that cannot happen if we go back to the way things were. It cannot happen without you.

So let us summon a new spirit of patriotism; of service and responsibility where each of us resolves to pitch in and work harder and look after not only ourselves, but each other. Let us remember that if this financial crisis taught us anything, it’s that we cannot have a thriving Wall Street while Main Street suffers — in this country, we rise or fall as one nation; as one people.

Let us resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long….. This is our time — to put our people back to work and open doors of opportunity for our kids; to restore prosperity and promote the cause of peace; to reclaim the American Dream and reaffirm that fundamental truth — that out of many, we are one; that while we breathe, we hope, and where we are met with cynicism, and doubt, and those who tell us that we can’t, we will respond with that timeless creed that sums up the spirit of a people:

Yes We Can. Thank you, God bless you, and may God Bless the United States of America.

Indeed.  And it is my prayer that God not only may bless us, but that He may heal our souls and spirits and the soul and spirit of our nation.  And it is my most earnest prayer that God may keep Barack Obama and his family safe in the palm of His hand.

The Audacity of Hope

November 4, 2008

(Can we fix it?  YES, WE CAN!)

Well, Election Day is here at last.  But Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man and I won’t be going to the polls.  Why?  Because we already did.  Last week at our local branch library. 

We had to wait about half an hour, but we didn’t mind.  I’ve always enjoyed waiting in line to vote, studying the faces around me, wondering what their stories are, and pondering who they might be voting for and why.   Everyone was quite somber—it seemed we were all aware of just how important this election is and how much is at stake.  I was very nervous as I began to fill in the little ovals with the provided pen.  And so afraid of making a mistake that, of course…I made a mistake. 

I didn’t think it was a serious blunder, but I had to make sure, so before I fed it into the machine, I showed my ballot to the nice man standing beside the machine and asked him if my mistake would affect my votes.  He took my ballot in hand and studied it.

“So…I see…you voted a straight Democratic ticket?” he said in a booming voice that seemed to echo throughout the small library conference room.  The low hum of conversation in the room stopped.  People looked up from their voting booths.  Faces turned in my direction.  And from the look on some of those faces, you’d think he had said, “So…you and your husband are flesh-eating zombies from Hell, are you?” 

I felt my face turn red and whispered, “Yes…yes, I did.”  He studied the ballot further, then handed it back to me with a smile and told me it was fine. My hands were shaking as I fed it to the machine and fled. 

Not that I was surprised to see those hostile faces.  We live in a very rural and very conservative community.  There are McCain/Palin signs everywhere, but almost no Obama/Biden posters.  Not that the Obama supporters aren’t out there…they are…but we all know that a campaign sign for Obama would last about five minutes here.   And most of the people who live here are truly fine people—very earnest and sincere in both their spiritual and political beliefs. 

Anyway, I don’t generally write political posts (because others do it so much better), but I just wanted to stand up and say that I am proud to have voted for Barack Obama.  I am proud to have voted for change, for hope, and for the possibility of the healing of our country.

I read two news items in the paper a few days ago.  One of them said that Sarah Palin was seriously considering a run for the Presidency in 2012.  The other said that “Joe the Plumber” had hired a publicity team and that a book would be forthcoming.   Dear God. 

I suddenly envisioned a horrible scenario:  Sarah Palin running for President with “Joe the Plumber” as her running mate.  Yikes.  You may say it couldn’t happen and I pray you’re right, but with the circus that politics has become, it would seem that nothing is out of the question.  By Golly, you betcha. 

I do pray that “Joe the Plumber” will soon fade back into his well-deserved earlier obscurity.  I find his ubiquity more annoying than Paris Hilton’s, and that’s saying a lot.

I mean, really, is he seriously the best the Republicans could offer for an example of “the common man?”  Well, I’ll grant…he does seem common.  But let me offer for your consideration my husband, “Tom the Carpenter.”  He works hard for his $12.00 an hour, he pays his taxes, and if he ever made over $250,000 a year, he would be happy to “spread the wealth.”  Because that’s what Jesus told us to do and that’s what Jesus Himself would do.  You know how McCain and Palin keep belittling the idea of spreading the wealth?  You wouldn’t find Jesus ridiculing the notion of sharing.  He spoke frequently of our responsibility to help the poor.

Or, instead of “Joe the Plumber,” how about “Bob the Builder?”  For any that might not know, he’s the little cartoon hero contractor/fix-it man who, when there is a problem says, “Can we fix it?”  And all his friends and co-workers shout, “YES WE CAN!”   And, yes, I know it’s not that simple and that our problems are so daunting as to seem almost hopeless.  But we must start somewhere.

So let me add my one small voice to the growing chorus of hope.  And let us all raise our voices for change.  For healing.  For our children’s and grandchildren’s futures….

Can we fix it?  YES WE CAN!

Yes, oh yes…we can.

Warning: Political Post Ahead

September 1, 2008

(You may be surprised at my writing a political post–I’ve never done it before.  Mainly because so many people do it…and they do it so much better than I.  Plus, I get so emotional about the state of things sometimes that I’m unable to write coherently about them. But I’ve been feeling a little peevish lately and worried about political affairs.  And yesterday, one of my favorite bloggers [and a person I respect] wrote a post that got my dander up a bit.  In fact, I surprised MYSELF at my reaction. Hence, my first political post–I hope you’ll forgive and indulge me.)

Back in 2006, before news broke of his affair and $400 haircuts, I was a John Edwards supporter.  But that same year, he gave a speech during his Walmart-bashing campaign that made me shake my head and groan at his cluelessness. Edwards recounted the story of how his six-year-old son Jack had chided a classmate for wearing sneakers from Walmart, telling his little friend that Walmart treats its employees badly.  Edwards was bursting with pride as he said, “If a six-year-old can figure it out, America can figure it out!”  Why did I groan?  Well, for one thing, I found it appalling that he would encourage his son to make another child feel bad because he bought his shoes at Walmart (very likely because he couldn’t afford otherwise).  If my child had said that, it would occasion a good long talk about being kind to those less fortunate.  In addition, this was a prime example of why so many of my fellow blue-collar friends feel alienated from the Democratic Party. 

It is a source of consternation and amazement to me that so many blue-collar people consistently vote for people that don’t have their best interests at heart.  I voted for Gore in 2000, Kerry in 2004 and will vote for Obama in 2008.  But so many lower-income people I know voted for Bush, not just one but two times!  There are many reasons for this, among them the fact that Republicans in general have become so skilled at manipulating the minds of the less sophisticated, with emotional appeals designed to exploit that lack of sophistication.  But some of the problem stems from the fact that the Democratic Party has failed to convey to us blue-collar voters that they really care about the things that keep us awake at night—how to pay for health care, how to keep a roof over our heads, how to pay for gas (if we’re lucky enough to have a running car), and how to feed and clothe our children.  Instead, to show their commitment to poor people, they go around bashing Walmart, where most of us shop on a regular basis.

Now I’m no defender of Walmart.  I do think they have some appalling corporate practices…but so do many, many other mega corporations.  But here’s the thing:  they sell things at a price that people like me can afford.  A much better price, in many cases.  Sure, I’d like to be able to buy that fancy organic, free-range chicken at the fancy organic food store.  But I just can’t swing it.  After health insurance and taxes, etc. are taken out, we bring home about $250 a week.  We’re lucky if we even have chicken.

So, my fellow Democrats—don’t lecture me on how my buying choices are a “moral” decision.  The truth is:  I don’t have a lot of choice. Don’t bash the very people you claim to champion for shopping at the one place they can afford. I wish I could always afford to weigh the human costs against the cost to my wallet, but when you make $12.00 an hour, the cost to your wallet is a real and practical consideration.   Get off your high horse in your “noble” campaign against Walmart, and walk the dusty roads with those of us that don’t have a horse.  :-)

And try to get a clue about the realities of being poor.  As the son of a millworker, John Edwards did grow up poor, but I think he forgot what it was like.  Back in 2006, I honestly considered offering myself as his blue-collar advisor because, Lord knows, he needed one.  I have to roll my eyes when the Democratic Party wonders why blue-collar folks think they’re elitist.  Wake up, Democrats.  Stop bashing just Walmart (thereby pandering to the unions) and the people who shop there.  Campaign for ALL corporations to pay a living wage.  Campaign for health care for everyone.   Do something about the huge and growing gap between the rich and the poor.

And do you know what I’d really like to see?  Every lawmaker in Washington being forced to live for a year with their family of four on $12.00 an hour.  Without the fancy homes and cars they already have.  Maybe then we’d see a change we could believe in.


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