Beginner's Heart

A note after the election (long, so be warned):

Eight years ago, when Bush was re-elected, I couldn’t believe it. I was devastated. I couldn’t believe the American people would voluntarily re-elect a man I saw as so divisive, so driven to war, so corporately owned.  I was heart-sick. In other words, I really do understand the deep depression and disbelief on the part of the right following this election.

That said, I didn’t share my disappointment on FB. I didn’t like the election results, but I didn’t make accusations regarding his family, or his religion, or his lack thereof. I didn’t pray he would die (and yes, I’ve seen all of these – on the FB pages of ostensible FRIENDS). I didn’t publish horrible threats, nor did I give in to publicly sharing the many fears I had.

Instead, I worked hard to reach out to people I knew as good people, even though we didn’t share political perspectives. If I had problems with policies — and certainly I did, as Romney’s supporters do with Obama’s — I vented to sympathetic  friends.

Later, as we neared another election, I tried to listen, to understand, and to do my homework. My background in research is strong, and I thought it was something I could offer. But I quickly found that many people WANT to believe what they believe. Facts, as the campaign manager said, are not them. And that’s their business.

But I want to assure you: Obama is a Christian. His children attend Quaker school. He was raised — as I was — overseas. This doesn’t make either of us aliens. He isn’t going to implant chips in us for ObamaCare. 🙂 No matter what Fox News or Rush Limbaugh have said — and they are in their jobs for $$, folks; they are NOT unbiased 🙂 — Obama is not evil. Nor are those of us who voted for him. We also aren’t immoral socialists, or baby killers. When I hear the Republicans say that their party is not conservative enough, I’m shocked. EVERY man who made horrible statements about women & rape was voted out. The most strident of the Tea Partiers were, for the most part, voted out as well.

Perhaps a few statistics about the 2012 election will help.

According to exit polls, Obama won 60% of the 18- to 29-year-old vote, 52%of the 30-40 vote. He won 69% of the vote in big cities, and 58%of the vote in mid-sized cities. He won 93% of the black vote and more than 70% of both the Asian vote and the Hispanic vote. He won more than half of the female vote. And he won 76% of the gay, lesbian and bisexual vote.

In other words? Mitt Romney won the white vote, the male vote, the elderly vote, the small cities vote, and the high-income vote. This is not half of a changing America. I could point out that  the base of Democratic support in America is expanding. The Republican base is shrinking, becoming more racially homogenous, more rural and older.

We need to face it: America is changing. It’s never been as white as many Americans believe, any more than it was ’empty’ when the first colonials arrived. When I look at my own extended family, we have religions ranging from fundamentalist evangelical Christian to confirmed atheist, from Jew to Muslim to Buddhist. We have Mexican Americans and Native Americans and African Americans and Iranians and good ol’ American mongrels. And a few of us are several of the above. 🙂

This is what our amazingly colourful, diverse, and symphonic country is like these days. So of course a candidate who mirrors that is welcome to many of us. I grew up in diversity and multiplicity — to see only white faces and only upper middle class standards is uncomfortable for me. When I’m in a city where there isn’t a single brown face, I wonder why. And to be honest? I feel a bit sorry for the folks who live there…

We don’t need a more conservative political party. Perhaps, as several Republicans have stated, we need a party for the more conservative — that’s quite different. As a resident in one of the ONLY (if NOT the only) states in the country where we could not vote Libertarian or Green, I would welcome a multi-party system. But further purging the party of Lincoln of its moderates? Getting rid of the few remaining friends of Jon Huntsman & Olympia Snowe? How sad…

Because if this mindset about radical conservatism becomes mainstream — and there’s a very real danger it will — we can look forward to 4 more years of Republicans filibustering every bit of legislation the Dems put forward, and refusing to do anything collaborative.  It means no work on the many pressing challenges facing this country: climate crises (whether you believe in climate change or not is immaterial: there are hurricanes & nor’easters & tornadoes annually) and education and agriculture and business innovation … and more.

So here’s the deal: we have to figure out how to talk. How to get along. We have to bring to the table the Americans who wanted Ron Paul, who want a more Libertarian, Greener, or Republican America w/ those of us who ‘won.’ Because an America w/out the active support of ALL its citizens is not a healthy democracy. For any of us: old, young, male, female, gay or straight or religious or agnostic or whatever. We have to learn how to sit down together and talk about our values. We have to visit NOT about what we fear and hate, but about what we love & value. And find a way to affirm those values in each other. Or we all go down together…

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