I Am Just Saying
Now, with the exception of my younger sister (who makes me look like a centrist), my family is fairly conservative, both fiscally and socially. I stayed with a cousin and her husband, along with my sister and brother-in-law, and we engaged in some political talk. I have to tell you, I learned a few things from those two Midwestern conservatives just by listening.
Fred, my cousin's husband is a retired cop (Milwaukee PD) who had to take a disability retirement because of heart problems. He is a real conservative, but he's no dummy. One morning, over coffee, he and I tentatively talked about the economy, tentatively because we are fond of each other. I told Fred that what we need is a jobs program, and he agreed. He did, however, point out where Presidents Bush and Obama really screwed most of us over.
"Instead of giving all that money to the banks and General Motors, the feds should have given each American family $50,000. Yes, they would have paid off some of their debt, but they also would have been able to buy things. Things like washing machines and clothes and a dinner out. That would have meant that Sears would have had to hire another person for the appliance department and maybe the kids wear department. Restaurants could have hired another waiter and dishwasher. And that's just for starters."
Later in the morning, his wife Lynn (my cousin) and I sat out on their deck overlooking their beautiful backyard and continued the conversation. She said she'd had it with all the politicians.
"They're all crooked. All they care about is the money they get from the rich people and that means only the rich people get what they want. The middle class just gets screwed, even though we've worked hard and done everything we were told we had to do to be good citizens. I don't trust any of them."
Does that mean they'll vote for Obama and the Democrats in 2012? Oh, not hardly. What it might mean is that they won't vote at all, and that would be a shame, all things considered. Lynn and Fred are good people, people who are generous and loving, people who opened their home and their hearts to my sister and I when we both really needed it. They are like most of the people in the Midwest and in the rest of the country. Decent folks who have just had a very rude awakening.
I find I can't just write them off as stupid and and deserving of Scott Walker and hard times. What I want for them is what I want for me: a decent life, one lived with dignity and hope for them and for their children and grandchildren. I think both political parties have, however, written them off, just as they have written me off. It's time for us to try to find a way to reach out towards each other on the basis of all that we have in common so that we can restore some semblance of unity on all sorts of levels so that we can confront the inequities.
And then we need to clean house.