Living in a Black and Blue Country

10 Oct 2004
October 10, 2004
Someone Doesn't Believe in Freedom of Speech

Someone Doesn’t Believe in Freedom of Speech

The Iraqi War turned me into a partisan American. Before that point, I subscribed to the logic learned as a Political Science major in college: the Presidency was an office of compromise. When George Bush was “elected” I thought “how much damage could he really do?”

Even though Congress was Republican, a group of intelligent and forward-thinking people could trump anything the President and his cronies could propose. He was a reflection of those working behind him. Surely wisdom would prevail. There was safety in numbers: checks and balances. I was wrong.

And so I began to speak up. I thought about the differences between my and the President’s logic. I questioned the reasoning of the Democratic Party. How could they have become so out-of-step with the American people –with their base, the Working Class? The ramifications of Bush’s “big stick” global policies were evident to me. Why did so many other Americans hold him in such high regard? I read. I thought. I wrote.

When I found a conduit I did my part. This summer on the streets of Washington and San Francisco, young interns from the Democratic National Committee occupied the street corners asking passersby: “Would you help to elect John Kerry?” Whenever I was approached I took the opportunity to give them my opinion: “I’ve given money to the Democratic Party for the first time in my life. But it will be the last time if the Party and John Kerry don’t stop acting like wusses. The Republican message is flawed. Working class people are voting against their best economic interests. Have been for years. The Democrats need to reconnect with their base, not reject it.”

It was always a short street corner exchange. As farfetched as it seemed, it was my connection to the powers-that-be. After my first intern conversation, he replied, “You know, you’re the third person today to tell me this.” I was not alone.

Initially, I had doubts about John Kerry. Previous Democratic Presidential candidates had failed to engage Republican spin and the American people. But after watching the debates I was glad to hear him sound intelligent and to call the President to task on the misinformation about the War and his economic policies. It seemed so clear. It seemed so black and white. Kerry sounded and acted so presidential. He was factual (yes, he still better offer more details of his “plans”). The President, by contrast, merely repeated his Karl Rovean rhetoric. I still couldn’t understand how many could believe what he was saying, despite the facts. So, once again, I was energized.

Yesterday, I went to my county Democratic headquarters and picked up two lawn signs in support of the Kerry-Edwards ticket. Again, this was a first. I live on a quiet suburban street where local politics generally trump national –when we’re not talking about deer-resistant plants.

I live on a corner so I placed one sign on both sides. My wife took all the small American flags we had collected from effervescent real estate agents and planted them next to the signs. Both of us felt proud to make our feelings known.

This morning when I went to get the paper, I saw that someone had spray-painted over one sign and the second was torn in two. Words cannot describe my dismay. At first, I took the surviving sign down but then returned it to its place as a testament to this act: to the disingenuous and nasty partisanship filling our society. This is what America has become in the four years under George Bush. We are not just living in a red and blue country. We are living in a black and blue country.

Our sign says much more now than it did yesterday.

Related Stories: A Neighborly Encounter from the Right and Dream Locally, Act Thoughtfully

15 replies
  1. moni says:

    That’s terrible. Even aside from the political aspect, it’s vandalism, the sign was on your property. I can only imagine how sad it must have been to find it like that.
    I wonder what are those people going to do if Kerry wins?

  2. Meryl says:

    Yeah, I made my husband take down our Kerry sign. I have heard too many stories of vandalism on such signs and it is always the Kerry signs and never the Bush. Since we live in Republican country, I didn’t want to take that chance. My husband says I am being paranoid.

  3. Lin says:

    That’s terrible to see–I thought the same would happen to me as I live in a predominately Republican/Conservative rural area. Thankfully, my sign is still intact.

  4. PG says:

    My sister recently spotted a Kerry-Edwards sign in her heavily Bush-Cheney supporting neighborhood. Above it was a handpainted sign that said, “You stole the election, and now you keep stealing our signs!” Sigh.

  5. Donna says:

    PG, that’s a great line. Jeff, this says a lot about them, doesn’t it? I know several Republicans who are now voting for Kerry because of Iraq. My concern is that we could win the popular vote (again) and lose the electorial college votes. “Just One Vote” is my idea that everyone find one person in a swing state who might not get out to vote for Kerry and help them. A friend of a friend, a relative, etc. Just one person. I did this for a local election, it took all of 10 minutes of talking to them and then a reminder call and we won that election by only 500 votes. Please spread this around.

  6. Jeff says:

    Here’s our response:

  7. Ray says:

    I plan on voting for Bush this year but I would never destroy someone else’s sign for another candidate. One of my friends down the street is a Democrat, but that doesn’t keep the two of us from being friends. I think we just try to avoid political conversations! That’s what makes America great! That we can have a difference in opinions and still be friends.
    I think those people who choose to destroy others’ signs are childish and immature. Totally uncalled for and I’ll even go so far as to say it’s un-American. If I were you and someone had done that to my sign, I’d have probably reacted the same way you have: with another sign that protests some sign-vandal’s actions.

  8. Jeff says:

    The big debate these days, Ray, is just what should we do to make America great. Avoiding political discussions in this very polarized environment is hard. And it won’t solve our problems.
    Given the social atomosphere, people should seek to reveal truth and to rely on facts, not name calling or fear.
    So, why are you voting for Bush?

  9. Donna says:

    Ray, yes, I agree with you. I always figure if Carville and Matlin can be married, the rest of us can talk about our different views and still get along. I would like to hear why Bush is your choice too. I know some people who are voting for him because they make over 200,000 a year for instance. Thanks.

  10. Ray says:

    Donna, no, I don’t make over $200,000 a year. I don’t make over $100,000 a year! :) I’m voting for Bush because I’m a Christian and feel that Bush best represents the way I feel on issues such as abortion, gay marriage and stem cell research. I mention those since they seem to be big issues being brought up lately. I don’t feel like Kerry has Christian values in mind, so I cannot support him.

  11. Donna says:

    Hi Ray, thanks for the reply. Did you catch the debate last night? Kerry is not for gay marriage. He has said that marriage is between a man and a woman and he does not feel the federal government should be doing anything to work against that.
    You know that stem cell research can be done with fetuses that have passed away naturally. It is not unlike research done on human cadavers, which is done all the time. Nancy Regan, who I’m sure is a Christian, is for stem cell research. I respect your values and am interested in how you feel about this.

  12. ASurroca says:

    That vandalism is sickening!
    Every day, more and more, it feels as if I’m in a dream world. First I thought, Bush could never get elected the first time around. I thought he’d surely be a lame-duck President. Then, I thought, at least, the public would see the gaping holes in his policies and vote him out.
    And now we’ve got people vandalising Kerry-Edwards signs and Democrats in “Bush country” actually feeling insecure about displaying Kerry stickers? Are we living in America, or Iraq?

  13. Ray says:

    Donna, I did watch the debate. That’s great that Kerry’s not for gay marriage, but is he for banning it? As for stem cell research, if it’s done on just fetuses that have died naturally, then I have no problem with it. But mostly it’s done on fetuses (babies) that have been killed during an abortion. Actually I’d like to see the numbers on that. What actual percentage of current stem cell research is done on fetuses that have died naturally? My guess is that it’s a very small percentage.
    Here’s a funny fake commercial to listen to. It’s from WABC, which I don’t think is considered right-wing, so I’m not trying to force some crap on you. It really is funny. Enjoy.

  14. Cornelius says:

    That’s awesome that you watched the debates, Ray. Maybe when someone gets elected who doesn’t share your beliefs, they can ban your Christianity.
    Consider acquiring some beliefs that don’t cancel out someone else’s sometime, a lot of the evolved gentry already has.
    Likewise, you don’t care about where stem cells come from–you already formed an opinion and decided who to vote without any facts, you’re comfortable just being told.
    The best part of all is that you’re choosing a candidate based upon wedge issues designed to get the lemming base out to vote–the security of our country and the economy will have a vastly larger impact on social issues that offend you than Karl’s orchestrations.
    I don’t care who you vote for, these guys are nearly the same simp–your reasons are wack though, and that’s probably the true crime of this electoral season: this is an uneducated, unthinking populace that votes accordingly.
    The thing you’re looking at in the rearview? That’s the zenith of American world leadership, take a good look, Ray.

  15. Donna says:

    Ray, got some info you asked for:
    Your question about stem cell research –how many aborted babies are used.
    There are four primary sources for embryonic stem cells: existing stem cell lines, aborted or miscarried fetuses/embryos, unused in vitro fertilized embryos, and cloned embryos. Current federal policy limits federally funded research to research conducted on embryonic stem cell lines created before August 2001.
    State laws may restrict sources for embryonic stem cells or specifically permit certain activities. State laws on the issue vary widely. Approaches to stem cell research policy range from laws in California and New Jersey, which encourage embryonic stem cell research, including on cloned embryos, to South Dakota’s law, which strictly forbids research on embryos regardless of the source.
    Early fetal tissue recovered during a narrow window of development is a potential source of productive stem cell lines, at about 4-5 weeks of development, and there�s evidence that embryonic germ cells may be more limited in their ability to become many different cell types because they are isolated from tissue that is further along in development (several weeks as opposed to only 4-5 days). An embryo is called a fetus at about 7-8 weeks following fertilization.
    Under a technical definition, cells from aborted fetuses aren�t useful for stem cell research. Obviously, this solves nothing if you believe in life from conception, and objection to destruction of blastocysts.
    Aborted fetuses (from my Catholic point of view) are less than marginally germane to the stem cell debate.
    [End of message from source.]
    Ray, there is a religious website that deals with issues you are concerned about:
    Since Nancy Reagan, who I’m sure is a Christian woman, stands up for stem cell research, I’m certain it is not immoral. Let me know if that website helped at all.

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