photo by Sheri Dixon

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why I'm a Liberal

I'm a Liberal. Treehugging, flaming, completely unapologetic Liberal.

Being a Liberal means, of course, that I'm totally squishy and want a world filled with flowers and unicorns farting rainbows...all viewed through my rose-colored glasses.

Being a Liberal means, of course, that I don't have the slightest idea of how the Real World is- being all starry-eyed and all I just have no concept of things like budgets, and statistics, and the seedier side of things.

Yep, I just float through life wishing and dreaming of a utopian Shangri La because I don't know the score, haven't been knocked around by reality, just cruising through on my blissful ignorance of how Things Really Work.

Except that's bullshit.

I keep hearing about 'shared sacrifices' when what is really being called for is no sacrifice at all for those who could afford to give just a bit more (or at all), and huge life-changing (or ending) demands for those who are already precariously on the edge of security.

Non-liberals cluck, and shake their heads and roll their eyeballs- clearly convinced that I'll never understand the Sensible Things because I live in a sheltered padded little fluff of a dream world- they and I are clearly not on The Same Page.


Lemme take a few minutes to explain exactly why I feel the way I do about things, and some of this is seeing light of day for the first time- but I'm sick of people thinking I'm a Liberal because I "just don't know anything about the Hard Facts of Life".

When I was 15, I took myself to Planned Parenthood and got on the Pill. Not because I was promiscuous and wanted to sleep around, but because I had suddenly and unexpectedly learned several things- adults who are in positions of teaching morality are not always trustworthy, and sexual assault has really nothing to do with sex, and everything to do with control and dominance. Also that shame is a wonderful tool for bullies, in fact it takes sometimes almost 40 years to overcome it.

Wow. Can you SEE the unicorns?

Planned Parenthood was also my only source for routine physical health care- not just "girlie stuff"- for years when I didn't have the luxury of spendy private insurance because I was working 2 minimum wage no-benifits-offered full time jobs just to afford my roach-filled rental mobile home in the drug-infested trailer park.

Hey, look- is that a rainbow?

Anyone who knows us even a little bit knows what our family has been through with the medical industry, specifically the cancer and heart disease facets. Because of that, we know firsthand how the system treats those with private insurance, those with Medicare and those without any insurance at all. We've seen it, lived it, survived it- our decade+ embroiled in this mess isn't just 'something we heard that our sister's husband's mechanic's mother had happen' and it boggles my mind that when we tell people who know us some of the things that have happened to us, they look at us skeptically, incredulously, suspiciously. Like we're lying to them and the talking heads on TV are not.

Things like if you don't have the money to pay for stuff, you will die. It happens to regular, educated, worthy people every single day and it's not a tragic fluke. It's literally the law of the land. If you can't pay, you can't play with the life-saving stuff, no hard feelings- just the rules. So yes- Death Panels are very real, but not in some far-off scary future if (fill in the blank with 'the other guy's' name) wins the election- Death Panels are the private insurance companies who own the hospitals that deny people care all the that would let them live. Denied. Want to see the best doctor for whatever you have but he's not 'in your group'? Denied. Death Panels- here, and real, and we've seen 'em.


Recently, I discovered that if you are aged and can't live in your home by yourself anymore, moving into assisted living will cost you about $4,000 per month- no Medicare coverage- out of pocket. So, if you have money you've saved up your entire life- money you were probably hoping to leave to your grandchildren, perhaps- that's gone. That will be all used up well before you die and then they'll determine whether or not you even NEED to be there.

Yes, if you can go to the bathroom (mostly) by yourself and feed yourself without (mostly) setting anything on fire, they can kick you right out of the nursing home but HEY! you won't have any trouble finding an apartment with no savings and on what social security pays you every month. Eating and utilities are over-rated.

If you're very 'lucky' you'll qualify for Medicaid and be allowed to stay in a designated Medicaid facility. That's not squalor you smell- it's efficiency.

Here- borrow my rose-colored glasses, it'll all look better...

So, ya. I get a little worked up about things like women's rights and patient's rights and Seniors' rights- but not for the reasons generally thought of- not because I'm just looking for the Nanny State to take care of everyone.

Maybe I'm just sick of the Corporate State literally rolling over actual people, paving the path to the bank with the blood of the weakest members of Society- the elderly, the disabled, the young, the female- not because I'm a squishy Liberal, but because those categories define MY family, exactly, and it scares the hell out of me that the 'social safety net' is considered so expendable...that WE are considered so expendable.

Maybe I CAN'T get on 'the same page' (shit- same PAGE? Not even the same book, the same shelf, the same fucking LIBRARY) with people who declare, "I'm a Constitutionalist- anything not expressly called for in the Constitution has no business being run by the government", especially when those same people

- are women (Founding FATHERS, gals- it wasn't that long ago we couldn't even VOTE)
- cherry pick the Constitution so that the 1st Amendment only pertains to THEIR religion and the 2nd Amendment doesn't 'really' include the words REGULATED MILITIA
- are so goddamn selfish that they are a-OK with letting someone who really needs help DIE as long as one 'undeserving' person doesn't get some of THEIR hard-earned tax dollars

Maybe I'm a Liberal because I can't define a civilized society by how fiscally in order its finances are- by declaring that you've 'got to break a few eggs to make an omelet' when those eggs are living, breathing people. By declaring that the number one important thing is to balance the checkbook, no matter how desperate your citizens are, or how much worse your 'fiscal fix' will make their lives.

Guess I'm just a Definitionist-

civ·i·lized   [siv-uh-lahyzd]
having an advanced or humane culture, society, etc.
polite; well-bred; refined.
of or pertaining to civilized people: The civilized world must fight ignorance.

so·ci·e·ty   [suh-sahy-i-tee] noun, plural so·ci·e·ties, adjective
an organized group of persons associated together for religious, benevolent, cultural, scientific, political, patriotic, or other purposes.
a body of individuals living as members of a community; community.
the body of human beings generally, associated or viewed as members of a community: the evolution of human society.
a highly structured system of human organization for large-scale community living that normally furnishes protection, continuity, security, and a national identity for its members: American society.

I am a Liberal, and I'm damn proud to be one.

I earned it- it's not just some ideal or rhetoric spewed by anyone- famous or powerful or otherwise.

It's woven into the timeline of my life experience by experience, each thread of fear, helplessness, worry, rejection strengthening the whole, giving me the voice and determination to say, "NO- this is NOT right. No one should go through this and be dismissed, trivialized, marginalized, ignored."

Don't dare tell me I don't know how the Real World Works, what the underbelly looks like, how the poorer half lives.

Don't dare tell me I'm a dreamer, a wishful-thinker, an idealist.

Come on into my head and heart- meet the terrified teenager, the battered woman, the full-time employee still so poor she's faced with living in her car, the wife fighting for her husband's care- all of them pissed as hell, baby.

Those aren't stars in my eyes.

That's fire.