For decades, the far right has warned the rest of us that government - from local to federal and back again- was “not our friend” and, in fact, was something to be suspicious of - if not downright feared. Now that so much of our government is in the hands of creatures of the far right, I’m forced to agree. Government - and many of its institutions - can no longer be counted on to be there for us when we need it and, in fact, much of it has become something to be feared.
Additionally, too many of us WASP’s have tut-tutted as rights of non-WASP’s have been blown this way and that in the political winds. “Too bad,” we’d say quietly. “Someone ought to do something. But that’s not my problem.”
Well, Virginia, it’s become our problem. In spades!
From legislature to congress, hardly an American alive today has not been legislated against in recent months. Pick a subject: taxes, voting rights, medical care, immigration, adequate education funding, curbing violence, personal safety, a hideous expansion of gun “rights,” rejection of highly credentialed people to judgeships, eliminating access to vital health care for millions of women, hampering reproductive rights, rejection of access to necessary medical care and other promised benefits for returning military personnel, union busting, denigration of police, fire, teachers and other government workers, illegal declarations of “wars-of-choice,” slashing food stamps and other necessary social safety programs, unwillingness to pursue criminal charges for those financial types who nearly bankrupted the country. There are more. Add your own.
Fact is, there doesn’t appear to be anyone in what used to be the American middle class - which has historically been our national pride and joy - who hasn’t been adversely affected by some level of government. Or more than one! If you feel differently - if you feel untouched in those areas - if you think you’re unaffected by denial of rights of citizenship or have not had any of your liberties infringed - you’re either in the one-percent or living in a dream world. Or wrong!
Consider a personal experience. My father was an Oregon Republican of the first order. Eisenhower, Rockefeller, Dole. Dirksen and others in the pantheon of prominent GOP politicians of the ‘40's, ‘50's and ‘60's were men he respected, whose careers he followed and for whom he voted. Repeatedly. Small town Oregon, rock-ribbed, God fearing Republican guy, my father. Over many years, we discussed politics. Often. Those men and those values formed the foundation of his love of country and his respect for those who led it.
Then Richard Nixon.
I’d been away for some years - several in Washington D.C. in broadcast journalism. While we regularly kept in touch, Dad and I hadn’t our face-to-face, political fireside chats on the patio in Bend recently. Nixon was forced out of the presidency about that time. Shortly after, I came home on vacation, looking forward to more political bantering with him. (more…)