Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Conservative Turned Liberal?

I grew up in a fairly devout Catholic family, and I was always by far the most conservative of my sisters (and I have four of them).  I was the Goody Two-Shoes.  I never got in trouble... well, once in first grade I did get in trouble for telling a teacher I could count to three for myself at the water fountain.  That scared me enough that I was good thereafter.  When I was in high school and college, if a really faithful person was needed for prayers or something, my sisters turned to me.  I went to church regularly, I was "innocent", I was pro-life, I always tried to be good and to do good.  Basically, I believed what the Catholic church taught, and I tried to live by it.  Several years ago, I converted to Orthodoxy after a great deal of struggle and hurt.  I no longer believe everything the Catholic church teaches, but I still believe in God and everything the Orthodox church teaches.  I am still basically the same person I was then.

So, it has been a shock to find my family has turned ultraconservative and now labels me a liberal.  In the presidential election two years ago, I liked Obama's ideas, and I still do.  My family didn't.  They have wholeheartedly accepted the Republican platform.  So now, even though I still practice my Christian faith and struggle daily to live a Christian life, I am a "left wing liberal" because I believe that we should help those who can't help themselves and that sometimes government intervention is the best or only way to do that on a really large scale.

Why is it that my family and many others fail to see through the fear tactics and downright lies that the right wing is spouting?  For instance,  they really believe it when the right wing says Obama is a Muslim despite all the evidence to the contrary.  My family says "He hasn't gone to church since becoming President, so he must be a Muslim like they say."  The ironic thing about this argument is that most of them have gone years without attending church, but they still call themselves Catholic, not Islamic.

And why are even those who voted for the president two years ago now running back to the Republicans because the economy has not improved enough?  We entered this current economic crisis under years of Republican management, and Obama inherited it to solve.  The Republicans had eight years to let big business reap its rewards and hurt the rest of us, but after only two years in office Obama is now blamed for the problems and for not fixing the economy more quickly.  He has been trying and succeeding in part,  but at every turn he faces obstacles from Republicans in Congress.  So why does so much of the American populace thinks this is Obama's fault and that making the Republicans a larger proportion of Congress will fix things?!  Just before the mid-term elections, I heard someone (I believe on All Things Considered) comment that we were screwed and Obama has been slowly "unscrewing" us over the last two years.  Now it will be even tougher for him to help us...

Why are people so afraid of reforming a health care system (really an insurance system) that is so expensive and so precarious? Obama campaigned for health care reform, and he managed to deliver on it, but the right wing wants to repeal it.  Among their many arguments, they say that the reform will take away our choice of doctors.  Well, in the last five years, I've seen the insurance industry do that without any government intervention.  My husband has changed employers three times in the last few years, and each time we've had to switch insurance and doctors.  A little over a year ago, we decided to start using Unicare HMO when benefits choice time rolled around because the cost of a PPO was becoming too expensive as premiums and deductibles grew considerably each year.  Then, after 6 months Unicare pulled out of Illinois, and we had to decide whether to spend a fortune to return to the PPO mid-year, keeping our doctors, or use Blue Cross HMO and choose new doctors because ours didn't accept Blue Cross HMO.  We decided that financially it was in our best interest to use Blue Cross, and we found new doctors.  Just last week we received notice from Blue Cross that our doctors are leaving their network in January, so again after about 9 months we have to choose new doctors!  AGAIN!  Something about Blue Cross HMO makes it unpopular with doctors and hospitals, and limits, nay, makes it impossible for us to keep a doctor for more than a year.  There is only one really good medical system left on the Blue Cross HMO choices in Chicago, and when it decides to pull out, we'll be left with sub par health care if we stay with Blue Cross.  How is this a good system?  Not to mention that if Republicans had their way, if in this weak economy we found ourselves without a job or self-employed, we would have to choose to have no insurance or to pay unaffordable premiums for individual insurance.  Oh and we'd probably be rejected for individual insurance anyway because of pre-existing conditions.  I'd rather take my chances with Obama's reform.  Really.  I'd like to see it come to full fruition and see if it works before we repeal it and return to a system that clearly isn't working.

Why do the Republicans want to continue tax breaks for the really wealthy, spend no money to stimulate the economy, and cut services to everyone else to shrink the deficit?  It seems to me that if you're really serious about cutting the deficit, you would end the tax cuts for the rich because it will save a nice chunk of change!  Yes, I do think the middle class tax cuts should remain because percentage-wise we're paying more and we need to keep more of our money just to survive.  When I have hundreds of thousands of dollars coming in every year, I really won't mind paying a larger share.  I suspect I could live nicely, save, and still pay the taxes.  Plus, those wealthy people are more likely to save their money than to spend it in ways that will truly stimulate the economy.  So, if you're going to try to cut the deficit right now, the way to start is by ending the tax cuts for the rich.

One more example of right wing extremism before I hold my tongue.  My husband and I were looking at some political cartoons many months ago, and we saw one that implied that public school education should be abolished.  My husband just looked at it perplexed, and then turned to me and asked, "Does anybody believe that?"  I had to tell him that just a few weeks ago while I was visiting my family, I indeed heard someone saying that.  Never mind that said person was a product of a public school education, and that for a democracy to work we need an educated populace!

Okay...  Obama campaigned for change, and he's been trying and sometimes succeeding.  Can't we put away our fear of the other and of change for just a bit?  Let's see where the change will take us before we run back to the status quo, to a system that favors the really wealthy and big business over the middle class and those who really need government help, our help?

These things have been bubbling up in me for awhile, and I finally had to release them.  I apologize if it offends or if it just seems rambling. 

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