Thursday, October 22, 2009

It's a checkerboard world

Of late, I've been reading postings by people I know in various places around the Internet. I have this odd feeling we seem to live on different planets. A number of my friends are about as different from me in certain terms as it's possible to be. I consider myself to be a "liberal" in some ways and "conservative" in other ways - hence, I prefer not to pigeonhole myself.

I found the GW Bush years to be a time when I was ashamed to be an American - he was virtually the perfect antithesis of everything I believe in. Eight years under that smirking, arrogant sonofabitch was about all I could take.

But I don't find Barack Obama to be the light at the end of that tunnel. Contrary to the rantings of my right-wing friends, I think the new President has erred by compromising his liberal principles too many times, already. He concedes to the Christian Reconstructionist Party (the Republicans) and receives absolutely nothing in return - that's not compromise. It's capitulation.

Despite my friends' very evident paranoia over his "liberal fascist" policies, I believe he's not anywhere near liberal enough. He seems determined to pretend that our economy can actually recover to become what it was before the recent catastrophes, triggered by stock market crashes, and by the criminal mismanagement of the credit business by greedy capitalists who've devastated millions of people and barely received a slap on the wrist. If it becomes what it was before, it's only doomed to more criminal manipulation and the inevitable credit busts.

We continue to live in a dream world, where everyone seems blissfully unaware of how the price of energy is a sword of Damocles over our heads. We continue to fight a war for control for middle East oil. That war itself consumes vast quantities of oil every year, keeping warships, warplanes, and tanks in the fray, to say nothing of the American lives it consumes. We squander hundreds of billions on this war when we should be investing in alternative energy sources, doing something to develop a transportation infrastructure that doesn't rely on the automobile, and reducing our consumption of fossil fuel. How can the politicians continue to stumble down the same tired pathways, ignoring the problems that await us around the corner?

As our nation slides into scientific and technological illiteracy, we continue to become more and more convinced (as a nation) that religion offers a more meaningful understanding of biology, climate, astronomy, and geology than what science provides. We Americans have built our position as a superpower largely by being creators and innovators in science and engineering - but our national ethic seems to be turning its back on all that in favor of teaching our children to prefer religious dogma to pragmatic science.

I find it particularly disturbing that my right-wing friends seem to think that Obama is some sort of Anti-figure to the reign of the GWB Crime, Inc. admininstration, leading our nation to ruin. If he's leading our nation to ruin, it's because he's not moving our nation down pathways sufficiently different from those of his predecessor in the Oval Office! He hasn't pulled our military out of the Iraq fiasco. He hasn't pushed for hard controls on the abuses that led to the credit swap default fiasco. He hasn't lead us toward decreasing dependence on fossil fuels and toward support of alternative energy sources. He hasn't taken serious action to respond to the threat of global warming. He has yet to repeal the Patriot Act, which is the most serious threat to American civil liberties since WWII with its associated nullification of habeas corpus. He has yet to deal with the abuses of torture in the military. He just isn't doing what I believe he was elected to do.

My right-wing friends and I will never agree on any of the political and religious issues that divide us. We can only continue to be friends by agreeing not to talk about these points. The world is fractionating into a checkerboard, where it seems the alternatives are only black or white. You're either with me, or against me - to paraphrase Christ and GW Bush. Sad, sad, sad ...


Anonymous said...

Wow. I really respect your boldness, honesty, and eloquence here. (I just recently heard you on the "WeatherBrains" podcast which is how I found your blog.) I agree with most of what you said. I also found the Bush years to be very dark times and have been dismayed at how much some of Obama's better ideas have been kept in check. The only way I would somewhat disagree is that I'm not going to criticize Obama too much. He inherited one of the worst situations imaginable and beat the odds as far as racism goes (yes indeed, it is alive and well - unfortunately in a lot of my kinfolks). And he is at least trying. He also does not come across to me as being arrogant. I think his heart is in the right place . . . and he's very intelligent. We may have no idea what obstacles he faces behind the scenes. But I do feel a sense of urgency at times about the issues you mentioned, especially concerning the oil war and needing to explore other energy sources and of course the "patriot" act which has robbed many of their basic rights as Americans. I'm afraid if Obama doesn't get on the ball, we're going to end up with another smirking (ahem . . . Sarah . . . cough . . . Palin . . . ahem) idiot taking us even "further down the spiral" as Trent Reznor would put it.

As far as the "with me or against me" mentality, I think that's just about always toxic. Although I'm pretty young, I can really relate to that Billy Joel song "Shades of Grey". Sometimes the most courageous thing a person can do is to admit, "I don't know. I'm not sure." But such a stance can be dangerous - especially when people are fed so much fear from so many sources. So great courage is mistaken for cowardice . . . and everybody thinks they have to live in a "checkerboard" or (my preference) "chessboard" world just to survive. As for me, I'll be sitting on the intersection of the four center squares trying to see the humor in it all until the Mad Queen comes along and screams, "Off with his head!" (And even then . . . wouldn't a laughing severed head be disturbing to even the most jaded executioner?) Hahaha . . .

llbigwave said...

Chuck, if you run for office, you'll almost certainly get my vote (if I'm eligible to vote in that particular election)!