I’m a liberal. I’ll admit it – I’m a godless, unabashed, tree-hugging, bleeding heart, birkie-wearing progressive feminazi. And I’m not in the least ashamed of any of that.
I’m also an American. I was born in Missouri 57 years ago, grew up in the Midwest and in California, went to school and church (in my younger days), got married, mothered two stepchildren, got divorced and worked at a number of jobs. I paid my taxes every year. Like a lot of my fellow Americans, for a whole bunch of my 57 years, I never really paid much attention to politics. I was too busy living my life, doing theatre, hanging out with my friends and making my living to pay much attention to what was going on in Washington, D.C.
I voted in the presidential elections; as a matter of fact, at the age of 18, in 1972, I proudly voted in my first election – for Richard Nixon. (What can I say? I was young.)
I think I started paying attention when the Republicans impeached Bill Clinton. I was outraged that my tax dollars were being spent on such ridiculousness. I didn’t give a damn who gave the president a blowjob, nor did I care that Newt Gingrich was porking Callista in his office while his wife was in the hospital having cancer treatments. To me, that represented merely unsavory extracurricular activities, and as far as I was concerned, they all did it. Power is a well-known aphrodisiac, and in Washington, there’s a lot of power floating around, a lot of powerful men and, let’s face it, a lot of belt-notching women.
But when the Republicans actually impeached Bill Clinton for that blowjob, it pissed me off. And after that, there was no going back. That bell had been rung, and I couldn’t go back to my blissful state of political non-awareness.
Then came the 2000 presidential race. The Supreme Court handed the presidency to George W. Bush. The madness continued. And then in 2004, I was a volunteer for the Kerry/Edwards campaign, and I adored John Edwards. I got to see him at a campaign event, and still have an autographed campaign sign. I was horrified and disgusted by the vicious slandering of decorated Vietnam combat veteran John Kerry by the Republicans, led by Karl Rove. When John Kerry conceded, I cried. (And yes, I felt betrayed that John Edwards would be so stupid as to fall into that same old trap that yawns at the feet of all powerful men. But I also think that an extreme double standard exists with regard to the way John Edwards was punished. Newt Gingrich, guilty of the same sin – is running for president. John Edwards has been hounded out of public life forever. But that’s material for another post.)
When our country was attacked on September 11, 2001, I put aside my loathing for George Bush and got behind our president. I was in favor of the Afghanistan war, because I believed that Afghanistan was where we would find Al Qaida, and we would punish those who attacked us.
And then George Bush, Dick Cheney and the Republicans started beating the drums and demanding that we go to war against Saddam Hussein. I found myself confused and questioning why on earth we should attack Iraq, a country that had not attacked us and was absolutely no threat to the United States. I heard the stories about yellowcake and Niger, read the Downing Street Memo and, for the first time in my life, I found myself horrified and ashamed of my president and his administration. Innocent men, women and children in Iraq were dying – and I, as an American, was an unwilling participant in that slaughter.
So I spoke out. I stated publicly that I was against the war in Iraq, that the war had been started on the basis of lies, and that I felt that the Bush administration had committed a criminal act of aggression against another nation. For this I was harassed by conservatives, who also stalked me into my real life. They made death threats, reported me to Homeland Security (for what, I have no idea), and even posted my employer’s phone number and urged people to call and get me fired.
They called me un-American. They called me a traitor. They said I hated America. They called me all kinds of ugly names.
This was only a small group of people, so it didn’t bother me much. However, when I started hearing myself called those same names and being declared un-American and a traitor by senators and congressmen in Washington, I was shocked. They were talking about me! They were calling for me to be arrested and prosecuted for treason, they wanted me to be sent to Gitmo or deported to …somewhere. All for the crime of exercising my First Amendment rights.
Now, almost ten years later, they’re still talking about me.
The Republicans have made it their party platform that the only real Americans are the “job creators,” the wealthiest 1% are those to whom all the blessings of the American dream should flow. They want to kill Medicare and privatize it with a voucher program: “Here’s a $6,000 voucher, grandma, now get out there and buy your own health insurance! What? Nobody will cover you? Oh, well, too bad. Not our problem. You should have bought insurance while you were healthy!” They want to privatize Social Security: “Here, grandma, grandpa, guys and gals, let’s put all your retirement money into the stock market! Think of all the money you could make!! What? The market crashed? Oh, well. That’s the breaks. Not our problem.” They want to put an end to unemployment insurance. “Don’t have a job? You’re just a lazy slacker, and living in a cardboard box under a bridge will incentivize you to get a job!”
They’re saying that I’m enjoying a relaxing vacation at the expense of my fellow Americans because I’m too lazy to look for work. Because I don’t have a job, I don’t have health insurance. When they make speeches, they tell my fellow Americans that I’m just too cheap to pay for insurance and that it’s my choice. At the Republican presidential debates, they said that if I get sick, I shouldn’t receive care, that I should just be left to die in the street – because it’s my fault that I don’t have health insurance.
And now? They’re talking about me because I’m a woman; obviously, because I have a vagina, a pair of ovaries and a uterus, I am not capable of making my own reproductive healthcare decisions. The Republicans in Congress and in the State houses, my boss and religious leaders should be the ones who get to make the decisions about my healthcare, because, hey, I’m just like a cow or a pig, livestock valued and functional only as an incubator for the precious, all-important fetus – which must be preserved and protected, even at the expense of my life.
I’m tired of it. I’m sick to death of being vilified by the party of old white men, the party of the 1%, the “haves and the have mores.” I’m tired of being talked about as if I didn’t deserve to draw breath in the country of my birth simply because I wasn’t born a white male or with a silver spoon in my mouth. I’m fed up with those who don’t have a clue what it’s like to get by making $20 bucks an hour – or less – telling me how lazy I am and how I just need to work harder or get a second – or even a third job.
Well, I have a newsflash for the Republican Party. I’m an American. I’ve paid my taxes for nearly 40 years, which includes money deducted from every single paycheck I’ve ever brought home for Social Security and for unemployment insurance. I’ve paid my way. I’m not a communist. I’m not a lazy slacker. I’m not an America-hater. I’m also a woman, but that does not mean that I’m stupid. It does not mean that I should be treated as if I were a cow or a pig. Nor does it mean that I am incapable of making my own choices, reproductive or otherwise.
And millions of my fellow Americans will be making our choices in November. And, no matter how many times Mitt Romney or his surrogates say otherwise, we women will not forget. We will be making our own choices, and we won’t be choosing Republicans.