Here I Stand
“Should I keep back my opinions at such a time, through fear of giving offense, I should consider myself as guilty of treason toward my country, and of an act of disloyalty toward the Majesty of Heaven, which I revere above all earthly kings.”
― Patrick Henry
During these past years, I have curbed my impulse to share political memes because I have Facebook friends who do not share my views, and I have felt that Facebook, with its short comments, is not a place to conduct a debate. At the same time, I would like to state what I believe and my reasons. I agree with Patrick Henry, and certainly do not want to be guilty of treason! So I have spelled out why I am a liberal and a Democrat and why I plan to vote for Biden. My main points concern science, democracy, compassion, and truthfulness. As Martin Luther said, “Here I stand.”
Science tells us that climate change is a threat to our planet. Why do I think that dealing with climate change is of paramount importance? Here is my view. We often use the word “believe” when we subscribe to something against all evidence. Science is evidence-based. We can measure the rise in temperature and measure the melting of the ice shelf. We can witness the tragic extinction event in progress. What science tells us is closer to “knowing” than ”believing.” It meets the legal standard of “beyond a reasonable doubt.” Only it is better than the legal standard in that we can continue to modify our thought as new evidence comes in. We can know that greenhouse gases impact climate change and that how humans behave can make the world either habitable or inhabitable for our grandchildren. This is a social justice issue, but one for members of our species very young or not yet born. Calling climate change a hoax is tantamount to saying, “I don’t care about future generations.” I love the Indian thought that decisions should be made while thinking about their ramifications for seven more generations.
Why have I believed Fauci et al and not the president (who said it would just go away by April and then by summer and who promoted a light and bleach treatment and an ineffective drug)?
Science told us ways to keep the COVID pandemic from sickening and killing so much of our population. When we compare our outbreak to that of other countries, it is clear that we have done a worse job of containing the virus. Go to this link for the stats as of Sept 5, 2020. With 4.25% of the world’s population we have the most cases! https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/COVID-19_pandemic_by_country_and_territory We need leaders who heed those experts who were humble enough and scientific enough to develop new strategies as the event unfolded. The death toll alone is staggering. We had a leader who did away with the pandemic preparations that went before, denied science, and politicized the suffering of millions of American families. He actually made not wearing masks a political emblem. The medical world tells us that to control the pandemic the messaging needs to be consistent. Sometimes the president says to wear masks but then he mocks his political rival for wearing one, implying that Biden’s mask use is some kind of pathology.
Why do I think that the present administration marks a turn toward despotism and away from democracy?
Anti-democracy forces existed before the present administration. I recommend the book Daring Democracy which came out before the last election. We have to be vigilant to hold onto this precious experiment. Even this book could not have imagined the swing we see toward tyranny. A Russian autocrat is given more weight than our own intelligence community on the subject of his meddling in our last election. Here is the Wikipedia article detailing the evidence of Russian meddling this year. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russian_interference_in_the_2020_United_States_elections Our president commits the impeachable offense of asking a foreign power to aid in his election. The senate allows this behavior as a culture of fear and obsequiousness has arisen.
The president is planting seeds of suspicion in the bedrock of democracy – the national election. If the people of this country value this dearly-won system, now may be their last chance to show it by an overwhelming vote at the election, one so strong it cannot be doubted. By undermining the integrity of the postal system and introducing the idea that mail-in ballots cannot be trusted, he is attempting to win my cheating. The postal system should be strengthened during the pandemic so as to cut down on the spread of the virus - not diminished. What about a leader encouraging citizens to vote twice. This is a felony, but Trump won’t be the one going to jail. Just asked Michael Cohen. He knows what it is like to go to jail for doing the president’s bidding.
It is tyrannical to try to undo the checks and balances our prescient forebears put in place. I am referring to the elimination of in-person briefings to Congress about the intervention of foreign powers in our election. It is obscenely tyrannical to use the sacred American landmarks as a backdrop to fireworks lauding not our country and its future but rather the name of one pathologically needy and power-hungry man.
Income inequality is more dramatic than most people think. The graph below shows that the top one percent hold one-fifth of all the nation’s wealth. This means that if the one richest person out of a hundred people has a thousand dollars, the other 99 have left four thousand dollars, which divided equally would amount to $40.44 for each. Of course, what is left is not distributed equally. Some might get 80 and others might get 10. My point is that the wealth of the country is in the hands of a few. That system is an oligarchy. It pulls us away from democracy by just not being fair, by aiding the rich and taking from the poor – a kind of reverse Robin Hood. The last time this happened, labor unions came along to help better distribute the wealth. During this administration, however, the trend has gone the other way as tax cuts have disproportionately helped the one percent. Sometimes I see poor people go along with this, counter to their own interests. This is because they believe that hard work is their avenue to providing themselves and their families a better life. I am so sad that the cards are stacked against them. Instead of blaming the entitled rich, they blame the recipients of the so-called entitlement programs. Many of these programs, like Medicare and social security, are not really entitlements: people have paid for them through deductions to their incomes their whole lives.
Racial Justice. Elsewhere on this site, I have an essay about race in America. An open heart feels how burdensome the legacy of racism is to our country. The congregants of Mother Emmanuel in Charleston taught us a lesson in compassion. We did see amazing grace there. I am white and I have come to understand that I benefited from white privilege my whole life. It is so wrong and it is a burden. I abhor the dog whistles that try to engender fear in the white population. People don’t like to think they are racist. But it was certainly racist on the part of our president to try to deny the very citizenship of our first Black president. Think about how he is trying to frighten people in the suburbs playing into tired stereotypes just to feed his lust to maintain power. Think of how divisive it is. Long years ago, Rosemary Bray McNatt wrote an essay for Vanity Fair. She is Black and so is her husband. She told of how worried she was when he didn’t arrive home promptly because he might have been stopped by the police. Sometimes white people minimize this phenomenon, but Vanity Fair never got such a heart-breaking response to any previous article. The wife of every Black man knew what Rosemary was talking about. I hope people in the suburbs don’t fall for this fear-mongering. I was proud of my daughter who, as a little girl, asked for Black Barbies for Christmas. She said her white Barbies needed Black friends. An inclusive world is just better than a divisive one.
Non-Americans. I love America, but I am shamed by our treatment of the Kurds and those who want to immigrate to our country. The Kurds were our staunch allies,. Yet we abandoned them to fend for themselves against the Turks. We have been disloyal to long-standing allies, but our abandonment of the Kurds went beyond heartless. Instead, we have courted autocrats and dictators. Our treatment of children at our southern border continues to be a scandal. Kids are resilient, but only for a few disappointments. If they lose hope, they are damaged for life. I am deeply ashamed of our treatment of the poor and desperate. I grew up in a Christian home and although the metaphysical dimension has lost all meaning to me, I do subscribe whole-heartedly to Jesus’ teaching regarding the poor, the stranger, the outcast. He said that how you treat the lowliest counts as how you treat Him.
The measure of a country to me is in how it treats its weakest members. We should be trailblazers in providing care for the disabled, the young, the ill, and the old. Instead, we have a leader who mocks the disabled, who wants to gut health insurance, repeatedly trying to dismantle the Affordable Care Act, and who withholds funds from citizens during a pandemic when jobs have fallen away to “incentivize” then. They have plenty of incentive; they just can’t find a job.
By constantly lying, Trump has impeded reality testing. By not condemning QAnon, David Duke, white supremacist, gun-toting vigilantes, he has given morally repugnant positions a toehold in the mainstream.
This and much much more. For instance
1) his contempt for our vets (he isn’t one because of a foot spur; I have one myself and manage to do fine).
2) His name-calling. I don’t know about you, but not calling names was one of the first things my mother taught me.
3) Violence. He has told people at rallies to beat up a person with an opposing voice, that he would pay their court costs. Shooting a guy 7 times in the back to him is like making an error in putting.
I like that Biden condemned roundly looters. I dislike that Trump did not condemn the killing of two protesters and minimized the fierce hostility when his supporter sprayed demonstrators with paintballs. He actually called them patriots. Violence is worse under Trump than under his predecessor because he refuses to calm his supporters. I oppose violence and am heartened by the millions who have gathered peacefully to protest bias in law enforcement. My husband and I would have been out there with them were it not for our vulnerability to the virus. I believe in peaceful activism. Before the pandemic, we were out supporting the Parkland young people, Don with his walker. But looters should be arrested and murderers should be arrested. Very simple. I live in a “red” community. For the first time, I felt a little afraid to put out a Biden yard sign. I worry.
Maybe another time I will make the argument that socialism should not be a dirty word. Johnson signed Medicare and Medicaid into law, both socialistic programs, and they have been very good for my family. When I was a child and my father was earning a low income as a Lutheran minister, doctors treated us as a charity case. When my father had surgery, a wealthy member of the congregation paid his hospital bill. We were luckier than others of similar income but a different line of work. Thank goodness Medicare came in time for my parents’ retirement. We cannot have a health care system that depends on hit or miss go-fund-me’s. Hard-working low wage earners should not be deprived of health care. I do believe that healthcare should be a right. At least now through Medicare and Medicaid the very poor and the elderly have access to healthcare. We are a wealthy country and our citizens should not live in fear of ruin because they get sick.
So this is where I stand. I give you permission to unfriend me if you don’t want a friend like me.
I have not unfriended anyone for sharing memes that I disagree with because I feel that we are one country and we will someday have to heal the great divide.