The disintegration of the middle ground
Published on -9/13/2012, 9:37 AM
I've received an email yelling about the Democratic platform. The guy was over the top. He used the Billy Mays key -- all capitals. He managed to hit every one of the topics the Republican Party has pounded home to the constituency since last year.
Last year, I went to the Republican caucus in Hays. It was illuminating on a few levels.
There was nothing about it that was unexpected. Chapman Rackaway tried to whip it up, but the tea had already been drunk and the membership was pacific, almost tired. The applause lines were Abortion and Guns, but it was a weak applause.
When someone from the Newt Gingrich table tried to speak his piece about the economy, he managed to get out that he was against the debt and couldn't run his farm that way. I sympathized with his nervous delivery, it isn't easy to talk in front of a crowd. It's a fear of judgment.
There was a cohesion, a simpatico, an agreement among the 50 or 60 people there. They had expectations when they walked in and confidence that their expectations would be met.
Those expectations were signed, sealed and delivered.
For myself, I felt like an interloper. I was that -- a well-meaning interloper. I was testing the waters with my adjusted perspective, which was a return to the ideals of my youth:
We are as much the same as we are different, and we have to come together in an understanding that we share the same burdens, the same responsibilities, the same earth. How is that possible?
Someone has to be the first to hold out their hand for an introduction and a connection. The hardest part is getting to common ground.
I looked around that day at the VFW, and realized I knew some of the people there. That blue haired lady used to go to the library, I worked with that lady's kid.
That guy used to work at the place I went to eat when I worked downtown. We've shared a few conversations, and as I recall, we agreed on the good workmanship of the renovation of the library. I looked around the room and many of the faces were familiar, but I didn't have names or connections. Maybe we rubbed elbows at some job I had.
I've lived here my whole life, I'm pretty sure I've rubbed elbows with most of the county at some point or other.
This isn't the audience for Hillary's book "It Takes a Village: And Other Lessons Children Teach Us." I want to tell them, she didn't invent the idea that everyone in the child's community helps raise that child. This idea has been around since women started having babies.
When you pay your taxes you are investing in your community, paying for schools and roads and busses and immunizations for babies, and that helps raise that child. When you lower taxes too far -- or eliminate them -- your community suffers.
The next time you get a hamburger and the cute kid behind the counter can't make change, or you wonder why the kid you're trying to train can't read the employee manual, think about your contribution to public schools. If you want a kid that can read and make change, your school needs funds to stay open. That's an effect of education on business.
There's a brick behind the eyeballs of every yelling Republican. Some people don't see the need to invest in their community. Around here, it seems to be generally frowned upon by the Republicans. Kids with disabilities, the elderly and poor, have no place in their hearts. They've been given a pass on compassion by the party that's pushing their buttons. If you hate abortion, we'll put mail in your box with graphic, bloody depictions. The party will horrify you. If guns are your thing, the party can run a misinformation campaign about Obama's record on gun control.
Why is it so easy to believe? Because when they hand you the hate they pat you an the back and tell you "you don't have to look it up."
If your mind is made up it's a sure sign you should open a newspaper, switch the channel, surf a different site. You don't even have to change your mind -- you just have to look it up.
The Republicans were the party of business, but no longer. Now they are a bipolar caricature I call Mr. Moneybucks. There is no middle ground in corporate greed, the bottom line wins every decision. That's not my Republican Pparty. My party has balance in the Big Picture.
When did we decide as a country that it's all about money? I'm a big fan of money, don't get me wrong. I'm a business owner, I know about taxes, health insurance, balancing the books. I am a great fan of capitalism, because I can work for myself, and determine my own fate. America lets me be me. I have been able to achieve and exceed my potential. That's the freedom I love.
But I'm also aware that I have a duty to those around me, my community. And my individualism isn't more important than any one else's. The Republican Party here used to have this ideal.
I'm a Republican because they used to be about property rights. In the corporate takeover of the party the idea that my property is my own has been shrugged off with a smirk. Evidently, in the corporate republic, private property is assumed incidental to the corporate agenda. Because money trumps the individual.
I looked around the room that day, and thought, these are my people. This is the village that raised me. I have a sense of security that comes from knowing this simple fact. This is the community that raised my husband, and helped me raise my kids. All our teachers, good and bad, all our connections through work and school and business. We are more alike than we are different.
We can touch other people and never see their face or know their name. And we are touched likewise.
Money is a nasty fact of life, in some respects. In this democracy, we've been given a set of rules by which we can live and do business and carry on the job of government. And government does have a place in our civilization.
It's all in place when we put our duty to respect our neighbor before politics. I feel our connection in the daily lives we share on this prairie. I give every one of my prairie companions the benefit of the doubt.
I can only hope for the same consideration.
Mary Hart-Detrixhe is a lifelong resident of the prairie and Ellis County. Her work can be found at www.janeQaverage.com.