Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another Casualty in the Class War

This morning I was hopeful about politics and society.
Now I'm in tears.
The situation in the world hasn't changed. The only thing that has changed is my belief that I'm the kind of person who can participate in political discourse.
Now I see that I'm not. I'm just a mom. A preschool teacher who believes people should be able to talk about stuff without being rude and hurtful towards each other. We might have to get shitty with supporters of the Texas Taliban and those bastards at C Street, but we don't have to be nasty to each other.

This morning, I could see that all kinds of talents from all kinds of people are necessary if we're going to find the strength and stamina to push back against oppression so entrenched it's been part of human history for over 5,000 years. The tyranny of the wealthy over the rest of us.

I know that there is no real reform until we have a single payer system like the rest of the civilized world, but I believed that the very flawed bill signed into law today was a step in the right direction. Considering that many of the people in that chamber would cheerfully repeal the emancipation proclamation and outlaw birth control if they could get away with it, I thought it was okay to be glad for small victories.

I thought it was helpful for people like me to put off catalog shopping for spring clothes to send money to Actblue. The deal with the J. Jill catalog was that if you spent $80, you would get $20 off the entire purchase, but I chose to contribute to Anthony Weiner, Dennis Kucinich, Alan Grayson and Howard Dean instead. I knew there was less than a snowball's chance in Hell we would get a public option, but I thought I should show my support even after we lost this round. I saw the tired face of John Dingle on the TV the other night and was happy I kicked in a few bucks, sent a couple of emails and even called my congressman for the first time in my life.

In my heart I still believe that, but my heart isn't up to the challenge anymore. I don't care what entertainers on Fox News and Talk Radio say, and I'm not distressed by the appalling antics of teabaggers. It's Facebook Activism that upsets me.

Some people on Facebook feel compelled to piss on fellow progressives in the name of reality - as if we were somehow too blind to notice reality all these years. They can't even hear themselves saying that it is better to live with the status quo than to compromise. Even if that compromise could give a few million folks the opportunity to go the the doctor this winter when they get sick instead of leaving them to suffer or die without health care. These progressive fundamentalists must think it's okay if more people die. So many uninsured people have died already that a few thousand more or less won't make a difference over the next few years. Winning is much more important than a few thousand sick people. Or a few million. I guess we should consider their deaths and suffering honorable and necessary collateral damage in the class war.

Perhaps that is not what Progressive Fundamentalist intend to communicate, but I fail to see how insinuating you know more about everything going on in politics and society than your peers helps make the world a better place. Of course, when you're convinced the world will never, ever change no matter what - then the goal may be to suck everyone else into the vortex of doom with you. Misery loves company, after all.

That's when I try to remember that the individual who I find most distressing in this Facebook Frenzy is an alcoholic who lives in such deep despair he can hardly face the morning. He will not admit that people who are alienated by his comments could have a point. While he freely acknowledges that some people say he is pedantic and arch, he states for the FB record that if anyone is uncomfortable because he refuses to sugar coat the truth, they need to examine their own selves. The truth I see is that he might collect facebook friends who applaud when he vents his spleen, but you don't keep friends in real life when you believe you are the smartest person in the discussion. So much smarter that our thoughts are as worthless as the pile of shit passing for health care reform.

This morning I thought there was a place for The Menopausal Stoners Militia. A small place, but it might have done some good. Maybe, with a little help from my friends, it could have done as much good one day as The Reverend Billy or Billionaires for Wealthcare. Now I know that it was just the silly fantasy of a silly woman.

If participating in political discourse is like arguing with a drunk, then I'll be glad to stay home where I'm just a mom. A mom who was foolish enough for a season to think six inches down a twenty mile road was six inches up the ass of The Establishment. Six inches today, and three inches tomorrow makes a foot. After a time, we might have gotten a whole yard before the inevitable backlash. Maybe we still will. I'll still kick in a few bucks, write a couple of letters and maybe even pick up the phone, but I'm not cut out for discourse with adults. I'll stick with preschoolers.

A mom wrote, "Which Side Are You On," back in the day when coal miners challenged the mine owners. Her name was Florence Reece, and the Mine Owners sent thugs to beat up her husband, a union organizer. They received a tip that thugs were coming to their home, and the husband escaped. The bullies busted up the house in front of Florence and her children. After they left and she cleaned up the mess, she wrote this song. Maybe she wasn't as smart as the bullies on Facebook right now, but she was strong and brave - and I'll bet she was never mean to her friends just so she could face the morning.


Blogger Claire said...

Do not give up! You're right, and the (so-called) progressives who refuse to acknowledge that politics require compromise are wrong. This isn't the bill that you and I wanted, but it's a start, and it's going to help a lot of people, and when those people start to see the difference it makes in their lives, the way will be that much better paved for the next step in the reform process. Keep doing what you're doing! (and J. Jill clothes always look so nice in the catalog, don't they? they just never fit me when I actually cave and buy something).

March 23, 2010 at 7:59 PM  
Blogger PENolan said...

CDP, I was hoping that the linen big shirts would work for me this year. But I'm not buying one at full price. I'm positive my size will still be there after the first mark down, and there will be another coupon.

I just though Howard Dean, and Anthony Weiner needed the money more than I needed the shirt. Or a Keurig coffee machine.

I don't know why I can't stop crying over this. It's easy to let anything Glenn Beck says roll off like water on a duck's back - but when a friend is so divisive that he won't acknowledge the legitimately angry comments of a woman who had just come home from a fundraiser for a friend who needed $100,000 for medical expenses in a thread he himself started . . . well, it just makes me cry for us all. I was so upset I went to hide him, but blocked him thinking that was better and now I accidentally unfriended him - but I suppose it's just as well.

Utah, I love that Women in Art video. When I saw it, I felt like you were saying I'm an artist and that feels really great right now when I'm so very, very sad.

March 23, 2010 at 8:24 PM  
Blogger Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

I agree. It must be nice to be so convinced of ones correctness that one can mock and belittle those who brought some small degree of fairness to our current health care system. I've had it with the pissing and moaning from people like Ralph Nader and Michael Moore.

March 24, 2010 at 12:13 AM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Actually, Michael Moore has been nicer about it than these guys.

I'm missing those two old farts who sat in the balcony on the Muppet Show.

March 24, 2010 at 12:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very well put!

March 24, 2010 at 12:31 AM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Paul and Kerry - Welcome!
As it happens, my nephew has Aspergers and I've grown a bit more familiar with spectrum disorders through my work as a preschool teacher - so I'm used to heated discussions about things like vaccinations.

I'm totally cool with having different opinions than my friends and family. When people care passionately about an issue, conflict often arises. You just have to acknowledge that the other person's point of view has merit even though you don't agree. That's all.

The sad thing about this particular conflict is that it has nothing to do with me specifically. It had to do with the way he ignored a woman I never met in my life. He should have recognized her point of view instead of pretending she never made a comment. If he could have done that, he would have supported his original position more strongly AND he might have made an ally.

March 24, 2010 at 6:41 AM  
Blogger jadedj said...

PE you are a stong person and I know you'll move on with this. Just consider the smallness of the source. Social Security and Medicare both started out as pretty piss poor programs. Fact is, HCR IS now the law, and we need to improve on it.

Them's the facts FB guy. Sober up and listen up, dude.

Well hell, here I am arguing with the guy and I don't even know him.

Please don't give up your fire PE.

March 24, 2010 at 9:01 AM  
Blogger VV said...

That's a penetrating song. Thanks for finding it. We must keep the immortal words of our revered VP in mind, this is a big fucking deal! Don't let the naysayers convince you otherwise. Administration after administration has tried for nearly 100 years to reform healthcare with not a smidgen of success until now. The bill is not perfect, it's not everything we wanted or the way we wanted it, but it is a start. It's a foot in the door, and there will be hell to pay for those politicians who try to undo it. How will that run in their re-election campaign ads? "Sen. so and so wants to help out the poor insurance companies, undo the language of the bill, so that all you sick people can be dropped from their insurance." Once people get these protections it will be incredibly hard to take them away. Too many people have been suffering and dying for too long. They will hold on tight to the few scraps of compassion this bill offers and come out fighting like hell if anyone tries to take it away. Just give it time. The Naysayers know they have lost and lost on an epic scale. Nobody ever said they were good losers.

March 24, 2010 at 9:05 AM  
Blogger VV said...

Go check out the Keith Olberman video I have up on my blog and maybe you'll feel better. :-)

March 24, 2010 at 9:07 AM  
Blogger Kulkuri said...

Micheal Moore organized people in Stupak's district to contact him to vote yes. They overwhelmed his offices and may have played a part in his changing his mind.
"How the People in My District Got Stupak to Change His Mind - The Daily Beast"

I have a relative on FB that I am now thinking about unfriending for her posts after the bill passed. She changed her picture to an upside down flag and put things like repeal the bill. When I first friended her I had my doubts because of something she said on someone else's FB post. She said she is surrounded by rednecks and they know where she lives(MS). Now I see she is a Tea Bagger.

March 24, 2010 at 10:41 AM  
Blogger Gail said...


You are and always will be my favorite female CNN reporter.(Kevin my favorite male) Don't give up, take a break and come back swinging.

Loving you

March 24, 2010 at 11:21 AM  
Anonymous Jennifer said...

you say you're not up for discourse with adults, well it's not adult discourse that's tearing you apart. It's a great big 4 year old temper tantrum on a massive scale. They're mad as hell your African American president achieved something no other white president could do. He achieved what he set out to do, and no amount of temper tantrums and teabagger/kkk rallies and Fox "News" and radio entertainers could stop him.

I so get it my friend. This stuff gets to me in a big way and I don't even live there. My tactic - internal and external is to promote the good, even though it can make my writing seem way too "nice" sometimes and I often work through the desire for a rant rather than just write it. You're my escape in that respect.

But you need to find the time to realise successes - with the preschoolers, with Velvet and family and your neighbourhood. Do some things that will show you measureable successes.

And if it calls you back, keep up the political/social commentary. You're really good at it. I think you just need to shift your balance.

PS - "Unfriend" if you have to. And for goodness sake, never read Facebook discussion boards. They're like the comments sections in online news stories - heavily populated by really stupid, uninformed people.

March 24, 2010 at 12:54 PM  
Anonymous dissed said...

A wise old woman once told me, "there's an old whore on every corner." There's also an asshole on every bench. If you accidentally leave this one accidentally unfriended, you won't feel responsible for his education. Cut your losses and move along, you've already seen all there is to see.

March 24, 2010 at 7:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

thank you! Prechool teachers are awesome. We were sad when Kyran left for kindy this year. Loved that team! We actually wrote a blog post last night and it was inspired by several FB "discussions" regarding the bill. And the fact that the concern about protecting the constitution is now overly done.

March 25, 2010 at 1:01 AM  
Blogger PENolan said...

Jennifer - A thunderstorm woke me up in the middle of the night and this stuff was still percolating in my head. That's the ticket for sure - in my head I was sorting out things that were Anger driven vs those that were based in Love. That reminded me of your Thirty Days of Beauty Project.
Jaded - I'm already moving on. And I'm at my mother's where it is very difficult to ignore politics since Rachel Maddow joined us for dinner last night. Given that my fire originated from my parents, I expect this is the very best place for me to be right now.
V.V. - I'll check it out for sure, but you always make me feel better just by your own self.
You too, Gail.
Kilkuri - Whatever anyone thinks about Michael Moore's attitude, at least he DOES something and encourages others to do something productive. Hopefully Facebook Activism will be restricted to computers or we will see more violence and vandalism in this country. I don't see how we're going to avoid the violence if big mouths on the left and right keep saying they wish each other were dead.
In a preschool classroom, that's when the teacher tells the children "We don't talk like that," and puts anyone who keeps it up in the Thinking Chair until they can behave. That's what makes us awesome, Paul and Kerry ;)
dissed, your comments are always exactly what I need to hear. Over a year ago, you told me I'd find Grace, and look what happened. Thanks for being here. You must spread Grace around yourself.

March 25, 2010 at 6:25 AM  
Blogger lisahgolden said...

Even this bill with all its flaws is a small step in the right direction. I want universal single payer, too, but I'm not holding out for nothing until that happens.

Incremental change seems to be the only way we Americans do things. Hoping for different and mocking any bits of improvement is an activity most of us can't afford to indulge in.

Keep up your own advocacy. It does matter.

March 26, 2010 at 10:55 AM  

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