another election…

Well, it’s only a short time before we end this torture we call “presidental election season” and begin to find ourselves again, hopefully. By now, people who are voting are most likely certain about who they’ll award their vote and people who are not voting are unlikely to be swayed by anything short of aliens landing. (and I’m not ruling out aliens landing.)

So, my vow to you, dear Reader, is that I will do my level best to ease up on my infernal liberal ranting here at Mrs Metaphor between now and the election. So in light of that, I will take up another election, this time electing to offer you this website of cute puppies that you may reference no matter how ugly it gets out there-

The Daily Puppy

 

Only cute puppies and kitties can save us now.

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guns and ammunition…

This is a rant. It’s all I got.

Another shooting today, this time in New York City. The Empire State Building saw bloodshed this morning and after the initial “newsy” tweets came the barrage of finger-pointing and sarcastic remarks and thoughtless, souless jokes and I fell to tears because it was all I could do. Sitting alone today, two kids at school and two kids away on a trip with their dad I fell to tears in the wake of yet another shooting and another wave of commentary, speculation, wry connections to political parties and religion and left or right wings and I fell to tears because it was all I could do.  Perhaps it is all any of us can do, really. Smug remarks won’t fix our broken spirits. Sarcastic retorts won’t keep this from happening again. There is no “perfect” candidate to vote into office.  There is no “perfect” solution to what ails us. What ails us is too deep, too rooted in mistrust, anchored to an absence of hope and an abundance of apathy.

“Us” is a big term, unwieldy, unmanageable. I can only speak for myself perhaps. I can only answer for my own part in how things unfold. It is all about being “local.”

I’ve tried posting about intelligent discourse where politics is concerned. I’ve tried to curb my own tendencies to fall into being a smart alec when confronted to non intelligent discourse. It seems to fall on deaf ears and I admit, often I don’t take my own advice when it comes to curbing my outrage when the news cycle revs up. It’s a struggle, there is so much machine to rage against.

It seems as though the only goal I can set for myself these days when it comes to political discussions and news of the world is simply this, “Try not to be an asshole.” Whatever I post, whatever I respond, whatever I think or feel I’m working the hardest to just not be an asshole toward my fellow man where politics is concerned. Heaven knows I am prone to fail at this and for that I am most truly apologetic because after all is said and done no matter who gets elected I really want to keep the friends I have and I’d prefer they didn’t think I was an arrogant asshole.

Lord knows, the discussion won’t miss the opinion of one more asshole.

I fell to tears today in the wake of the anger and infighting and loss of life. I fell to tears and prayers of “Lord, have mercy” because in the end, it feels as though it is all I can do. In the name of compassion and kindness, we fall to tears.

advice for voters…

A few weeks ago I posted my advice for Politicians with the hint that perhaps I also have advice for Voters. Turns out, I do have some unsolicited advice for voters for what it’s worth. Most of these things you already know so this is simply a reminder. It’s a reminder for you and for me, for your neighbor, your Aunt, your grocery store clerk. These are bi-partisan bits of  well-worn road seen through the lens of the digital age. So, without further introduction, Advice for Voters.

1)Vote

Seems like a no-brainer, doesn’t it? Sadly, the percentage of people eligible to vote compared to the number of people who actually show up at the poll are surprisingly far apart. In the last presidential election only approximately 39% of the voting population cast their vote. That’s not even HALF of our voting population.  Considering that I’d suggest 100% of our population has a stake in who we elect to govern our country it seems wise to step up and actually take part in that process. If you are not yet registered to vote take a moment to do that. There are a multitude of ways to register. This is just one site I stumbled upon today: Register to vote

Every state has its own deadlines in which to register to vote in certain elections so pay attention to that. Do it today and be a part of the electoral process. If you have the ability to read this post on the internet you have the ability to find out how to register.

2)Speak up

I usually make a point to never read the “comments” section of articles I find on the internet. It’s crazy making at its finest. In my view the only opining I want to hear about the daily news should come from Floyd the Barber as he’s cutting Andy’s hair. I don’t need to hear every “Floyd the Barbers” opinions stacked up one on top of the other as it pertains to the article. We can and should speak up and give our opinion on political matters. We just ought to be a lot more selective about it. Making a comment on the internet news articles affords you nothing, I mean it, nothing. If you want to use your internet voice for something considering using Social Media to help shine a spotlight on something you feel passionate about. Try signing online petitions (from credible organizations.) One site I like in particular is a White House site called “We the People.” I’m sure if you look well enough you’ll find all kinds of partisan, bi-partisan and non-partisan online petitions as well.  We all post “vote for my kid in the photo contest” things on Facebook, why not apply the same amount of effort to the democratic process?

3)Pay Attention

Don’t get distracted by shiny objects on the news, by sound bites or clever catch phrases. Catch phrases in particular cater to the  voters with the shortest attention spans. Be informed. Read everything you can find. Read things you never even considered reading. I admit, I watch Fox News’ version of stories I see on more liberal sources, just to see how it differs. I can’t stand Fox News but I do it anyway.  I read George Will’s version of things because although his politics differs greatly from mine, I think he’s a smart dude and I know I’ll get a perspective I did not hear yet. Read Libertarian views if you’re a liberal, read liberal views if you’re a Tea Party leaner but read, read, read, read and read. Don’t get caught in the web of the uninformed and overly emotional. This is government, not family.

4)Be willing to be wrong

The smartest people I know are the ones who admit that they might be wrong. The more certain we think we are, the greater chance that we’ll hit the concrete hard when we fall. Being willing to be wrong and demonstrating that in conversation means that we are still open to learning and that is a wise place to live.

What I hate most in political discussions, especially on the internet (Facebook, I’m looking at you) is when the discussion falls to name calling. Almost every single time I get into a discussion online about this stuff someone degenerates to “Well, you’re just a Repubican’t” or “Well, you’re just an Obamaite” and this means nada to the discussion overall. It adds nothing. Nothing. name-calling just makes you look as though you have a weak argument and this is true of both sides. People who fall back on simply tearing down the other side without offering some understanding of the opposite opinion appear uninformed and inflexible and this is a dangerous position. You don’t have to AGREE with the other opinion or the other party but if you resort to school playground behavior when faced with contradictions to what you understand to be true then you lose all credibility. Remember that often, you represent the entire party, religion, neighborhood, gender to people you engage in conversation. Be smart, inquisitive, understanding and well read. Be willing to be wrong.

5)Forget the polls

The only poll that matters is the one that happens after we all vote and that vote is tallied. Does your willingness to support a candidate REALLY depend on how he or she is doing in a national poll in July? If it does, you’re doing it wrong. Do NOT make your choices based upon this kind of faulty, mind numbing, statistics leaning bull crap. Make a smart choice. Listen, I know it’s hard work. I am not downplaying the amount of listening and conversation and research and fact checking necessary to make informed choices. Our political system is whacky, for sure, but it actually is well designed believe it or not. It certainly has its flaws but this is the system we’re working with right now, so find ways to fulfill what the framers of our Constitution had in mind and make yourself known in this process.

6)Shop local

Though it’s not always a presidential election year there IS nearly always an election at hand. Whether it’s local, regional, statewide, special or PTA, people are being ushered into government of one kind or another all the time. Be involved with your community and go local. National elections get a lot of press but your life is more than likely MOST affected by the decisions made by your local and regional leaders more than anything else. High level candidates are built here. Be a part of building great future national leaders.

This is by no means the be all, end all of advice for voters. It’s what comes to my mind whenever we engage in “election time” which lately seems to be a constant state of affairs. In Advice for Politicians I quoted Abraham Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address. I like President Lincoln a whole lot, actually. I think if more Republican candidates followed his example I’d actually consider voting for the party, to be honest.  I’ll leave you with the entirety of that speech because I think it best exemplifies the kind of real patriotism we ought to be showing at times such as this, times in which we truly are at war with ourselves, we truly are testing the design of the democratic system, we truly are at a crux in our development as a nation-

Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.

Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.

But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate — we can not consecrate — we can not hallow — this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us — that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion — that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain — that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom — and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.

Advice for politicians…

Some days I like to mentally rearrange all the thoughts in my head and put them on paper so that they make sense in the grand scheme of the confusing world. It’s like straightening out the utensil drawer of my brain. It can be very helpful. What follows for today’s post is a version of this. It’s a compilation of all the things that seem to come to me over and over as I read the various and sundry politics related news stories these days. You could say this is a kind of “open letter” for politicians although I doubt many would read and take to heart this unsolicited advice. They pay big money for advice, generally. They have gas-powered multi task machines, as it were, they have little need of my vegetable peelers and melon ballers I wager. Nevertheless, here is my advice to politicians-

1)Don’t tell lies.

Winston Churchill has said that “a lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on.” Politicians seem to bank on that these days. The truth is that propaganda and spin have always been a tactic for swaying public opinion. Before the United States was the United States, in fact, the founding fathers printed up propaganda to shore up their case to the public. They knew that without public support there was no way they could fight the British and survive. While I am not proposing that Thomas Paine’s “Common Sense” was filled with lies I will contend that it painted the picture of our state of affairs in a certain light. Clearly, along with other writings of its time, it was effective enough to muster public opinion.

These days we have both an advantage and a disadvantage in the glut of information available to us. We have pages and pages of new outlets and fact checking websites, all with different funding sources, affiliations and slants. If we’re diligent and if we don’t give in to the “raging fervor” of the latest 7 word sound bite we can unweave the truth from the spin. The lie you tell, Mr or Ms Politician will be found out. It may take time but it will come to light so do us all a favor and hire fact checkers for your fact checkers and tell the truth.

2)Be relevant.

When my kids argue it’s inevitable that they got off topic and someone pulls out the old “well YOU broke mom’s vase that one time.” I know that you feel it behooves you to tell we voters all of the unseemly things your opponent has done but to be honest, Mr or Ms Politician, when we’re struggling with paying our mortgages and raising our children without poisoning them with poor food choices or bad cultural norms you’re really only pandering to your own side of the fence. Stop fertilizing your own grass over there. We can smell it way over here. I’ll admit there is a time and a place to inform the public of inconsistencies, scandals and unsavory character traits it generally falls flat when used as a “response” to a completely different topic. Unless you have NEW, RELEVANT, TRUE information that would help us to make an informed choice and that is not simply a talking point or apropos of nothing, then keep it to yourself.

3)Have your own plan.

This one is easy, it really is. Picture it this way. People wash up on a shore from a shipwreck. One man, who has been there for four years has built a village and invited the people to live in it. One person from the wreck who wants to be in charge goes forward and starts tearing down the village to prove how unsafe it would be to the people. When he’s done the people on the beach look around and as a storm approaches they all realize they have nowhere to go. Instead of focusing on tearing down what your opponent is doing, why not just build us another freaking village first? Show, don’t tell. Have your own plan, back it up with research and facts. Take some of the money you are spending on “spin” and invest in some great advisors, planners and research folks. Build something.

4)Know your constituency.

The best example of this I can muster is this one- the big news about the ACA ruling has spurred a series of state’s governors saying they will not implement the law when the time comes. This is all fine and good so long as the people in your state don’t suffer while you stand on “principle.” Those people, if they suffer, no matter what their political affiliation WILL vote you out of office when the time comes if you screw with them. It happens, all the time. What people in this country forget easily is that the power of this republic is with the people, not with the politicians. You work for us, we do not offer homage, taxes or fealty to you. We pledge our support of the system of government described by Abraham Lincoln so eloquently-

of the people

by the people

for the people

We’re those people and no matter how you redraw districts or change voter ID laws or recount votes or shovel money into your campaign we always have the chance to throw you and your cronies out.  You might bank on us forgetting this and given the anemic vote turn outs in years past it would make sense that you’d want to bank on it. The tide will turn though because it always does. Tides are like that. Remember too that Benjamin Franklin was right that the only certainties are death and taxes, you have no job security as a politician. Know your constituency, they are powerful.

5) Don’t be a jerk.

Even if you are a jerk in real life, give that up. Sometimes people will elect a jerk because they think that he or she will get the “job done” or “be a good leader” because they appear decisive. It does happen but for the most part, if you look at the candidates who have won the highest office in the land in years past they tend to not come off as jerks. I’m not a fan of many of the Republican presidents I’ve seen elected in my lifetime but even while they were in office I can say I didn’t think they were jerks. Be the best version of yourself, treat people kindly, be a good listener, get your facts right, have a plan and don’t be a jerk about it. That’s all we’re asking.

There is so much more advice I could give to your unasked questions, dear Politicians but I’m not so sure that appealing to you to be better people is really going to make much of  a difference frankly. It could be that the political machine is simply too strong to give us another “Mr Smith Goes to Washington” kind of scenario. Maybe my next open letter ought to be Advice for Voters…

the poor…

I don’t really believe Mitt Romney is an alien from another planet. Truth be told, I don’t really believe my fellow Ohioan, John Boehner is an alien either although with his orange hue he puts on a convincing show, certainly. I do watch both men with a certain degree of fascination not because I think they might secretly be aliens but because they say and do the most interesting things, Mitt Romney in particular.

Now, given, it’s an election year, the guy is trying to get elected to the highest office in the United States. Of course statements are taken out of context and of course he is going to say weirdly interesting things. This is the one I ran across today-

“I’m not concerned about the very poor.” he said Wednesday. “We have a safety net there. If it needs repair, I’ll fix it. I’m not concerned about the very rich. They’re doing just fine. I’m concerned about the very heart of America, the 90-95 percent of Americans who right now are struggling.”

On some level I really do think I understand what Mr Romney is saying. Rather than simply believe that he’s angling for the vote of those 90-95% of Americans he cites  in this quote I think underneath it all he really believes this is right and true. He really does believe that the poor have the “safety net” and that the rich are fine. There is something comforting about that statement on its surface.  The poor have a safety net and the rich are fine. It’s the 90-95% of Americans who need help and he assures us he is the man who can help us.

Still, something sticks in my gut about this. Something if off, here. It could be that my bleeding heart liberal streak rising to the surface again, I’ll allow for that, so rather than cite graphs and studies about whether or not it’s true that poor have a safety net and the rich are fine I will simply ask, is that where we want to live?

Now, I’m not a politician or an economist and my brain and intelligence fall solidly in the “average” category. I run on intuition more than intellect.  I am the Counselor Troi to your Captain Picard. This statement by Mr Romney, this mindset, gets my Counselor Troi sense tingling.

For me it strikes a chord of separation, a chord of segregation. It is easy to look at spreadsheets and studies and make statements that group people together in this way.  “The poor” are in this part of the pie chart, “the rich” are in another part of the pie chart and the big red wedge in the middle, well, that’s “everyone else.”  These divisions are, for the most part, financial I suppose. The very rich don’t often send their children to schools with the very poor…the average people end up in average neighborhoods, putting their kids in average schools. So it makes sense that Mr Romney would want to focus on raising up average schools, putting money into average neighborhoods, finding jobs for average americans. I don’t deride this plan, I think he has a point here, those in the big red wedge ARE suffering, they have no safety net and they have no wealth in offshore accounts somewhere to fall to if business is bad.

It’s the mindset of separation that sticks to me, the thinking that because the poor are very poor they are not “us” and because the rich are very rich they are also not “us.”  And because the extremes stop being the “average” and because most of us end up in the big red wedge in the middle we may start to simply accept that what the very rich and the very poor do has little impact on the rest of us. Out of sight, out of mind. Different rules. Different lives. What can we possibly have in common and why should we care?

At this point you can feel free to label me a Socialist. I don’t identify as a Socialist but you can feel free to place your labels wherever you like because this next statement may lend itself to this supposition. That can’t be helped, I guess.

I think that when we start believing that certain small segments of our population have no bearing on “the many” then we live in mighty dangerous territory. To say that the poor have a safety net is to neglect the fact that the other 95% of us weave that net, we make the ropes, we tie it together, we hold the edges when someone is falling or jumping or collapsing. To say that the rich are fine is to neglect the fact that the other 95% of us buy their products, work in their cubicles, invest in their technology with our time and money and tweets. The other 95% is not set apart from the very rich and the very poor. We are all the collective “us.”

Maybe the very rich can live without us, they do appear to prove that when they move jobs offshore, when they lay off large numbers of people, when they advocate for corporate personhood, when they choose profits over people.  Maybe the very poor do this too when they misuse the system, when they lose hope no matter how many of “the 95%” try to encourage them, when they fail to vote in an election because they simply cannot imagine a better life anymore, no matter who is in office. And so, it falls to the other 90-95% of “us.”

For Mr Romney to say that he wants to focus on this large percentage of the “us” is indeed a good selling point for his bid to become president. To offer us better jobs and lower taxes is appetizing indeed and yet I have to wonder if in the end it becomes more of the same old story, robbing Peter to pay Paul as it were. And in this case, failing to mention that the 95% are both Peter and Paul.

In the end, we are all “the poor…” when we lose sight of the “us.”