Tag Archives: politics

What kind of American do you want to be?

This is not about how you’re going to vote in November. That’s important, of course, and making an informed decision and casting a ballot is something every American should do.

But this is about the choices we make every day, about the kind of Americans we want to be. It’s about the kind of people we want to be. About how we want to treat the other people we share this country with. Because this isn’t your land, or my land. This is our land.

What kind of American do you want to be?So what kind of American do you want to be? Do you want to be an American willing to consider the widely varying viewpoints and beliefs that exist in our country? Or do you want to be an American who shouts down someone who doesn’t see the world exactly as you do, or believe exactly what you do?

Do you want to be the kind of American who respects other people’s faith, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation and life choices? Or do you want to be the kind of American who hurls insults or might even take violent steps to show how much you hate them and everything they stand for?

Do you want to be the kind of American who will do what you can to help your neighbors? Or who will grab everything you can for yourself, no matter what it takes or who it hurts?

Consider these two true stories of people who are volunteering by knocking on doors to talk to neighbors about a candidate they support. One of them spoke to someone who said, “I’m voting for the other guy but I appreciate that you’re out here doing this.” The other volunteer — who took her daughter along to teach her about civic engagement — was told by her fellow American, “Get your black ass off my porch.”

Which one of those Americans do you want to be?

What kind of American do you want to be?It’s not even just about politics. Do you want to be the guy at the grocery store who doesn’t rush to the newly opened checkout lane because other people were already waiting? Or do you want to be the guy who pushes everyone aside as if they’re not even there?

I realize that as Americans, we’re going to have our own opinions, as we should. And with those come differences and disagreements. I’m not shy about speaking my mind — and yes, I am sometimes critical of politicians and others whose actions or policies trouble me. Especially if they’re lying, cheating or being hypocritical. I check my facts and I focus on educating people about the truth. I often use humor to make a point and, I admit, sometimes I can be downright snarky. That usually means I’ve been pushed to my limit. But I don’t believe in stooping to the level of lying or hate-speech or attacking someone’s personal choices.

And that, right there, is where I think people too often cross the line. I have no problem with someone disagreeing with our President or anyone else. I do have a problem with blatant disrespect, lies and abusive rhetoric. It’s never okay to threaten violence, even if you’re doing it from behind a computer screen.

The next couple of months are going to be intense. Yes, both sides will fight hard because that’s the reality of modern politics. It would be ideal if every candidate talked about nothing but the issues and specific plans for our country’s future. I’m eager for the debates, where we’ll see which candidate focuses on those points. Sadly, though, for the most part that’s not what tends to get in the news or capture the attention of much of the public.

What kind of American do you want to be?But each and every one of us has the power to change that. In the words of Leo McGarry, we can raise the level of debate in this country. We can work hard to be civil, to be fair, to debate based on facts instead of hyperbole and hysteria. We can have conversations that serve to educate those we disagree with instead of tearing them down. We can have conversations that open our own minds. And we can certainly be kinder to each other, not just in political discourse but in everything we do, every day.

We can either be a country of Americans who treat each other with respect, tolerance and acceptance, or we can be a country of Americans who resort to insults, violence and hate.

What kind of American do you want to be?

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Time to get serious

Politics are funny. They just are. But there’s a time for joking around and a time to get serious. And right now it’s time to get serious already.

Look, I’ll laugh at politics all day long. I don’t care which side of the aisle is pulling political pratfalls, I’ll poke fun. I usually avoid the obvious but, sure, I made jokes about Anthony Weiner. I’ve made jokes about John Boehner. (Those jokes all kind of come from the same grab-bag, don’t they?) And most of the GOP candidates are perpetual punchlines. Um … sorry. Oops.

Laughing about it is fine and healthy, especially if you work in politics. It also helps our economy by keeping more comedians working.

Time to Get Serious

We're funny, right?

But seriously? What’s going on in Washington, D.C., just isn’t funny anymore. Millions of Americans need jobs, or better incomes, or help with a thousand other things we simply aren’t helping them with as much as we could be. That’s nothing to laugh about.

The President has proposed The American Jobs Act (AJA) to get things moving. Yet the Republican party flat-out refuses to discuss the AJA. Won’t even talk about it, other than to say they won’t talk about it. I’ve asked plenty of people: “Why won’t they talk about it?” The only answer I’ve heard was a quote I read from John Boehner, saying the GOP is against the jobs bill because it’s “paid for with tax hikes which ‘will hurt [the] economy and put Americans out of work.’ ”

Aside from the fact that Speaker Boehner’s comment is misleading — because the tax increase would only be on the most wealthy Americans and the AJA would also be paid for with spending cuts — that simply isn’t a good enough reason to not even spend time talking about it in the House. I desperately want to write a comedy sketch where Speaker Boehner says to House Republicans, “Should we debate the American Jobs Act and tell Democrats what our concerns about it are? Nah, let’s just reaffirm our country’s motto as ‘In God We Trust’ instead.”

Sure, if I pitched that sketch it might make it on a comedy show. It’s funny. But when you realize that the House actually did put the motto before jobs in real life, it’s no laughing matter.

Neither is some of the other legislation that’s been prioritized before any discussion of the AJA. Limiting or eliminating women’s access to healthcare and birth control. Rolling back regulations that protect people and our environment. Or how about spending time meeting with Herman Cain during the first week of his alleged sex scandal instead of being on the House floor? And, to be fair, the Senate isn’t much better. For the most part, they basically keep voting on what I like to pretend they call the “We Have Our Fingers In Our Ears And Just Don’t Want To Hear About The AJA” rule.  [Update: After this was posted, the Senate and House voted in favor of the VOW to Hire Heroes Act, which the President signed into law on November 21. It’s one small part of the AJA, with tweaks. A step in the right direction, but it doesn’t go nearly far enough.]

Time to Get Serious

Haha! No, wait. Cut it out!

There’s a fine line between funny and frustrating.

Clearly, voters in the November 2011 elections were serious about making their voices heard: They are not amused.

Still, there’s much, much more to be done. It’s time to stop playing games and get to work. The President is taking every possible step. But what did the Republicans do when he introduced his legitimate “We Can’t Wait” approach to taking action? They turned it into an attack. Reince Priebus actually tweeted “#WeCantWait to make [this] a one-term president.”

I guess we should thank Priebus for making the Republican agenda clear. (And for giving us such a great name to mock.) I’m sure he thought he was being clever and funny in his tweet, but he wasn’t. It wasn’t just the President he disrespected. It was also the millions of Americans who need the help of the officials they elected.

Is everything the President and the Democrats do perfect? No, of course not. Is everything the Republicans do wrong? No, of course not. There’s both good and bad in every group and everyone. Our elected representatives are all human and imperfect, something they have in common with every one of their constituents.

But when it comes to job creation and getting the economy back on track, it’s time to stop fooling around. It’s time to get serious and get to work. The two parties have got to get together and sort this out already.

Anything else is just a joke. And one that isn’t even remotely funny to the American people.

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Yes, I started a blog

No, there’s not much here yet. But there will be.

I have a pretty busy job. I write a lot, every day. And I tweet what I think with some frequency.

But there are times when I have more to say, or just want to say something different.

So that’s what this space is for. When topics warrant it. Also, when there’s time.

As they say in TV, stay tuned.

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