Wednesday, April 16, 2008

I'm really not that bitter

As a resident of a small town in Pennsylvania, I finally felt like a candidate was speaking to me last week. I’m talking, of course, about Senator Obama’s “bitter” comments on April 6.

Here’s the relevant sentence that the other candidates and the media have been repeating ad nauseam:

So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.

Am I bitter? I’ve got a whole list of things about which to be bitter. I’ll get to those after a brief preface. I do not cling to:

Guns. I have always lived in rural Pennsylvania but I do not hunt. On the other hand, it is reassuring to know that gun ownership is an option.

Religion. Rather tough for an agnostic with pagan leanings.

Anti-immigration stances. If the United States had the immigrations laws currently championed by the right in the mid-1800s, the Irish half of my family would probably not be here. I can only support deporting violent felons.

Anti-trade sentiments. At least not in principal. If NAFTA and other free trade agreements are going to succeed, then trade must be both free and fair. That means all parties must have equitable labor, environmental, and monetary policy standards prior to implementation. If people in developing countries have the opportunity to succeed at home, they would not be itching to come here.

That said, here are a few issues that have made me bitter and which I feel an Obama Administration will begin to address:

I am bitter that those of us opposing the Iraq War were shouted down five years ago. Despite revelations that we were right, the war drags on.

I am bitter that a rash of unwise loans are sinking the economy.

I am bitter that the Right Wing, with the help of the media, have convinced the American public that the most pressing issues are abortion, ID/creationism, same-sex marriage, and whether or not the Ten Commandments are posted at the county courthouse.

I am bitter that a woman’s right to choose is constantly under attack.

I am bitter that the traditional media prefer to cover the easy political scandal stories rather than the tough policy debates.

I am bitter that some folks had to live survive in flooded New Orleans for more than a week before federal aid arrived.

I am bitter that someone convicted of selling a dime bag of grass can end up with a felony record and not be able to get a job or student financial aid. Meanwhile those with assault, theft, or sexual assault misdemeanor convictions are not even questioned about their records.

I am bitter that gasoline is currently selling for $3.40 per gallon but the oil companies are posting record profits.

I am bitter that an uninsured person can go bankrupt from a single emergency room visit, something that is unheard of in Switzerland.

I am bitter that the people who agree to harvest fruits and vegetables at near slave wages are decidedly unwelcome here.

I am bitter that people living on almost no income are seeing the price of food double and triple.

I am bitter that global climate change is still called a “myth.” Even if 99 percent of scientists are incorrect, efforts to combat climate change have the side benefit of weaning us off of fossil fuels.

I am bitter that there are still people who honestly believe that Obama is a Muslim bent on destroying America. By extension, I am bitter that true patriotism requires a lapel pin (and the rule only seems to apply to Democrats).

I am bitter that I live six miles from a CAFO and have to worry about a manure leak getting into the water table.

I am bitter that it is nearly impossible to find a product that is truly made in the USA. Here’s one exception that I know of.

I am bitter that half a century after the beginning of the civil rights movement, we still have pervasive racism, sexism, homophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Islamism (okay, I just made that one up), and a whole host of other bigotries.

I am bitter that homeland security could be monitoring my every move for no good reason.

I am bitter the United States is the most powerful country in the world, but we have absurd high school drop out rates.

I could come up with a lot more, but that should suffice for now. After a bit of consideration, maybe “bitter” is the wrong word. I’m mad as Hell and I’m not gonna take it any more. What we really need is some kind of change. That’s why I’m voting for Senator Obama on Tuesday, not just because The Boss told me to.

On a related note, Rolling Stone put Obama on the cover of their March 20 edition. If you remember the old Dr. Hook song, “I’m gonna buy five copies for my mother.” (She’s voting for Hillary.) h/t to Pam for the magazine

I’m not saying that Senator Clinton will not address my concerns, but I do think that Senator Obama will confront them head-on. I am also convinced that he will surround himself with advisors who might gasp disagree on key points and avoid groupthink mentalities.

Remember that Earth Day is Election Day in Pa. Vote and save the world all in the same day.


By way of full disclosure, I originally supported Mike Gavel for president, but I got sick of jousting at windmills.

Update: I added a link to the sentence about why I am bitter with the media covering "the easy political scandal stories." I wrote the post before watching the train wreck that passed for a debate last night.

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