The Liberal Case to a Conservative

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Sometimes I wonder how a Republican can stand by, in good conscience, and support some of the things he supports, oppose some of the things he opposes.

How can you stand by and watch as millions of Americans suffer in poverty, without health insurance, without jobs? How can you stand by and watch as the top 5% hoard more than half of the wealth and live in opulence while millions go hungry? How can you stand by and do nothing as big corporate CEOs practically get away with murder at the expense of the American people? How can you let children of poor families go to school in dilapidated, worn-down schoolhouses and living in dangerous neighborhoods where they’re constantly exposed to drugs and crime while children of rich families get every privledge imaginable, sent to the best schools and isolated from the real world? For all your Christian rhetoric, how can you call yourselves Christians and let all this happen?

It’s wrong, it’s unfair, and it’s – dare I say it – un-American. I completely agree that America is – or at least should be – the greatest nation on Earth. America is supposed to be the land of opportunity, where even a humble little boy from a small town can grow up to become President of the United States. “Give us your tired, your hungry, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But I don’t dogmatically and religiously believe that just because we say it’s so necessarily makes it true, and right now, for millions of Americans, that American dream is just that: a dream. (And when the dream does come true, it’s not exclusive to America.) They’re trapped in misery and feel powerless to escape, not even having a chance to win, because powerful forces want them to stay where they are. How can we live up to our ideals if we don’t give them what they need?

But you don’t care about that. America can go ahead and suffer for all you care, so long as you get to keep your sacred cows of “limited government” and “unrestrained capitalism”. Well, it’s time to wake up and see the real world, because all it’s gotten us is increased concentration of the wealth and naked greed – greed, incidentially, that isn’t good for the economy, and neither is poverty where people don’t have money to put into the economy. We’ve tried trickle-down economics, we’ve passed huge tax cuts for the rich, and it doesn’t work. Big corporations and rich people don’t care about America as a whole, only their own bottom line. How can anyone honestly feel admiration rather than shame and outrage at the obscenely wealthy? In this context, fears of “expanding government” seem trivial and petty. Government is not the problem, but misuse of governmental power; in this country, “big government” is a myth. We are a democracy, and government is supposed to work for all of us, and it can be a powerful ally.

And Republicans don’t “reduce the size of government” like they’re always talking about anyway. Every time Republicans come to power, they slash funding for services Americans need (they even tell you they’re going to repeal health care reform!), they privatize others to companies that only care about the almighty dollar, but then they turn around and spend, spend, spend on the military. Reagan and the Bushes, they all saw ballooning deficits, while we actually saw a surplus under Clinton. We saw Bush II send our young men to fight and die in Iraq, a country that had nothing to do with 9/11, to follow the imperial dreams of the neocons. It’s a policy that has led us to be hated around the world; we were once seen as the beacon of freedom around it, but policies like these are why the terrorists hate us.

America spends many times more on its military than any other nation; in fact we spend twice as much per person than the total income of two-thirds of the world’s population. We need to be united by our common humanity; America is just antagonizing the other nations of the world, even our alleged allies, and it’s ultimately making America less safe, not more. America can’t keep being the policeman of the world. Let’s stop fighting each other and start loving each other; let’s stop the killing and bombing and start the feeding and caring.

But no. Big, moneyed interests support the status quo, and money talks. It’s these big corporations with an interest in the status quo that own the big news networks; the notion of a “liberal media” is just cover for how they push their conservative agenda. Journalists may be liberal, but that’s because they see everything that’s happening around the world; the organization they work for won’t publish anything the boss won’t allow. And the big corporations spend billions of dollars spreading misinformation, trying to convince you they really do have your best interests at heart, even though they’ve proved time and time again that they don’t. Just because everyone believes something doesn’t make it true, and there are a lot of people who have spent many years trying to figure out the best way to do things. Most Americans would be on board with the progressive agenda in a heartbeat once they knew what it was, but the big corporations want to make sure you remain in the dark, and just demonize it as the work of “liberal elitists”.

And it’s not just the big corporations keeping ordinary Americans down. There are forces out to take away a woman’s right to choose and take away her control over her own body, to take away the right of gays to serve in the military or to enjoy the same protections given to any other loving relationship, to make non-Christians, especially Muslims, feel unwelcome, to make a particular religious agenda, often a disturbingly hateful one, the national agenda over the objections of those it hurts and offends, to keep guns on the streets and Americans unsafe.

It seems Republicans’ respect for the Constitution doesn’t include the Bill of Rights (except the Second Amendment of course!), and “freedom” just means the freedom for corporations to lead us all into the ditch, especially with all the spying on Americans the last decade, not that you heard the corporate media talk much about that either. It’s funny to hear the Tea Partiers talk about comparing Obama to Hitler or Stalin and preaching about “government interference in people’s lives” when we really did flirt with Orwellian totalitarianism under Bush. Do you really think his party has changed? Or is the old saying really true: “fool me once…”

It’s time to wake up to reality and come together to solve America’s problems, not turn a blind eye to them and go around thinking everything is just hunky-dory when it’s not.

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