To quote a song by The Decemberists that I love :
This just happens to segue quite nicely into what I was intending to blog about, even before I found this most awesome graphic on Facebook this morning. Not that I needed reminding of why I am here, but this embodies it, a visual representation, if you will. Helps articulate it, perhaps better than this blog entry. But I felt inspired to write it nonetheless.
It started a couple of days ago, with a conversation I happened to have with one of my roommates. You know, they say that politics is one of the topics you don’t discuss in “mixed company”, when you are unsure of the beliefs and value systems of that company and how they might react to yours. Well, I am a big believer in free speech so I am not sure if I can or do subscribe to that completely (though there is of course a time and place for everything, as “they” also say..).
Believe it or not, though, I wasn’t the one who started the conversation. 🙂
She did. Or maybe the news report featuring the President did. But she fired the first shot.
I had literally just walked in the door that evening, after spending nearly all day at the office (though again it never really feels like that, or like a mere office, lol, but I digress..). This girl (I think she was just there for a shorter period of time (actually I think she left today)– and wasn’t around that much so I didn’t know her very well, much less enough to predict the turn the conversation would soon take) turns to me and says, “He [The President] is such a liar!”
Now normally–passionate as I obviously am about my politics and my support of the President himself–I might have let a mere criticism or indication of ideological clashing slide, agreeing simply to disagree. As I touched on in my last entry, I try not to judge people based on their ideology or political stance alone as I certainly do not enjoy folks doing that to me. However, I feel like to have let this one “slide” would’ve been to turn my back on not only the man I am working for (calling someone “such a liar!” feels like a pretty personal attack to me..), but the ideals of what I and my colleagues are working for, as well.
I started to launch into a respectful, but firm defense of the President and subsequently my beliefs. Not to make myself sound perfect–I was pretty fired up too–but I think I at least tried hard to strike a polite tone.
The roommate, however, seemed to have quite the attitude about it. She went on to say “He has broken every campaign promise!” (Interestingly enough, though it turned out she was a conservative leaning Republican, one of her biggest beefs with the President was that he “didn’t close Guantanamo like he promised”. I have to say this is the first time I’ve heard a conservative complain about that) and that I “should find a different internship right away” as “he’s definitely going to lose”.
I could go off on a whole different tangent about how rude that last statement was of her. I’m sorry, I don’t think I’d say that, even to an RNC or Bachmann campaign intern/ worker. It’s one thing to disagree about the particular political stance or candidate, but to put down what someone is actually doing, day to day, putting their heart and time and effort (though again it doesn’t feel like that to me as I enjoy it so much, but for sake of argument) into…that just seems completely inconsiderate to me. But that’s not the point of this post.
The point is based on what happened next, as the conversation continued to turn. About how, in summary, the President is “a socialist”, that his health care reform act is “Unconstitutional” and that anyone who cannot afford their insurance should “just go on Medicaid”. I pointed out how many people fall within the eligibility gap for those programs, to which she scoffed, saying “Well I went without insurance for a year and I’m fine!” (Nevermind that she is a 20-something in presumably good health..one of the “I’m invincible!” of my generation..) That if you ( a general you) don’t have a job, it’s “your problem. Those people are either drug addicts or need to get an education”. Nevermind the fact that even a college degree–invaluable in so many ways as it is–is by no means a guarantee of employment. (I know I went for months, after I graduated college in December of 2009, after sending in countless resumes, without a job before I started my graduate level education in fall of 2010, even after sending countless resumes, even to places like Pet Smart. Apparently she’s never been in a state harshly impacted by the economy (elected officials of her persuasion, I am sorry, left on the desk for the President his first day in office ) like Arizona–and I was in Tucson, one of the more cosmopolitan areas of the state).
There were many factual errors in her statements, though that’s not even my problem with what she said. Or even that she has a different point of view from mine. I have family and friends who disagree with me politically. Again, I try not to judge someone based on their beliefs. This girl and I even went on to have a fairly amicable conversation later on (I came to find out she volunteered on Bob McDonnell’s campaign in Virginia. As much as I think he and others like him are lousy at actually governing, I have to admire anyone who works for what they believe in, even if I think they are wrong). I’m not saying she is a bad person at all (don’t know her nearly well enough to say that). It’s not her that this post is aimed at.
But rather the point of view she was espousing.
The “I got mine. Too bad, so sad for you if you don’t got yours”.
Everyone is entitled to their view point, of course.
But I couldn’t disagree more.
What the President said in the quote used in the graphic I posted at the beginning embraces the opposite point of view, the one I embrace, the one that is one of my biggest inspirations for being here, doing this in the first place.
Critics might class this point of view as “socialist”. I prefer to think of it as looking at America, not in terms of “me” but in terms of “we”.
“Out of many, we are one..”
My intention with this post was not to preach or get on the soapbox, though I guess it’s pretty much inevitable that it will come across as such to some. But I felt inspired to make it as both the graphic and the anecdote I just described exemplify “why we fight”. Why we are working so hard to help keep this man in office, though (and he himself has said this on numerous occasions) it’s not, at the end of the day, a fight for Barack Obama (awesome and inspiring as he is!) the man but for what he stands for. What the Democratic Party stands for. What we stand for. The fight to keep the country from going back in the wrong direction (slowly as the progress has, for so many reasons, turned out to have been made, at least it’s progress!). The fight for the less fortunate people the other side, whether they realize or intend to or not, tends to overlook.
Unpleasant as it was at the time, I am actually glad I had that exchange. It has inspired me to fight even harder. So a shout out to that girl, to the maker of that graphic, and to the Decemberists. 🙂
I fully intend to keep going. This is not a sprint.. but a marathon.