Conquering the Political Divide

Re: Our Divide

Believing the polarized divide in our country and world is destructive, we take up our pens to send healing messages. If many of us do this regularly, good for ourselves and for others will come of our effort.  At minimum, we will be better people for doing our part.

Re:  Republicans

In my dreams, the Republican party would decide to become the party of agile problem solvers, looking for cost effective solutions based on expert input to our long-term problems. The problem-solving we need is much more complex than giving businesses and the rich a big tax break.  It includes gathering together questions we haven’t even yet thought to ask.

Re: Democrats

The Democratic party in my dreams would be the party of our conscience, keeping the value of loving all our neighbors near and far, here at home and abroad–because we are global–front of mind.

Re:  Good Decisions

Adept decision making begins with framing excellent questions. Leaping to a seemingly simple solution may rally people to action, but for the solution to be good and cost effective it needs thoughtful examination, with action coming before the time to act has passed.  I favor solutions that are crafted with care and in-acted before unnecessary harm is done.

 

A Message for Democrats, Republicans, and Independents

The truth is Democrats stand for a strong economy, for quality public education, and for a government that represents all of us. The challenges we face as a high-growth region, like traffic congestion, are only solved when we work together.  This quote from Representative Celia Israel, speaking about the Austin area — mirrored by many areas around the country — could be applied to many Republicans and Independents I know, as well.

It’s time to get over the divide and work together on outcomes we should all want: a habitable planet, good healthcare, quality public education, public safety, economic well-being, freedom, enrichment from the arts and humanities, problem-solving capacity,  hospitality, and kind behavior.

Public Safety

I oppose guns in the hands of private citizens in public. For those who are sporting hunters or feel it necessary to defend their home or car with a gun, that’s okay with me if they pass reasonable background checks and if they properly store guns with approved locks in locations where children or other people at risk live or visit.  Personally, I would not be comfortable with an unlocked, loaded gun in a home, purse, briefcase or car. People, including children,  unaware of the gun’s presence or without the skill set or emotional well-being to deal with a loaded gun, might discharge the gun by accident or even intentionally.

Re: Healthcare and the Death Sentence

The opioid crisis will not be solved by giving drug dealers death sentences, proposed as a partial solution by President Trump.  If people behaved well because of threat of punishment, we would not currently house 22% of the world’s jailed population. Our country is too invested in criminal justice and not invested enough in the hope, healthcare, and education programs that inspire people to take care of themselves or that help communities recognize that some are simply not up to caring for themselves. [Source for percent of jailed population: Wikipedia]

3 Simple Messages to Call and Send

Message to your Congress Representative and U.S. Senators. Also appropriate for Chief of Staff John Kelly and Senior Advisors Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner:

Firing a cabinet member by tweet is bad form. Cruelty as a management style is beneath the role of President of the United States. I protest and hope you will, too.

Message to your Congress Representative and U.S. Senators. Also appropriate for your Governor, Lt. Governor, state representative and state senator:

The NRA’s job is to help gun manufacturers sell their wares. The NRA has no appropriate role in setting gun safety policy for the United States.  Gun safety will be helped by fewer guns in public spaces and more people with better lives which leads to better mental health.

Message to your Congress Representative and U.S. Senators. Also appropriate for the people serving as the President’s faith advisors:

To help build the mental health network we need in our country, allow extended families to immigrate to the United States. Having grandparents, aunts, uncles, and grown siblings to pitch in with average family needs helps keep families functioning and feeling loved.

Here’s a message you may want to send to your U.S. Senators, your U.S. Congress Representative, and Donald Trump.

Re:  Public Safety. While we cannot guarantee safety, we can do the right thing. None of us need access to weapons and ammunition that have no legitimate sporting, recreational or protective purpose. Assault weapons don’t belong in private citizens’ hands. Implement meaningful guns controls now and bring some substantial peace to your communities.

To have your position counted, include your name as it appears on your voter’s registration card and your return address. Postcards are a great way to make your position tangible and countable.

Vote! A Message from the Postcard Storm for Faith Leaders to share with congregations:

Vote this election season.   1. Collect good information. 2. Decide for whom to vote.  3. Vote in each stage of the election–primary, run-off, and general elections.

As citizens, we have the obligation to participate in community life with our vote.

Bipartisan information: Visit your area League of Women Voter’s website.

As The Johnson Amendment legislates, faith organizations should not advocate for particular candidates.  However, faith organizations should advocate that we all vote.

 

Jenifer Sarver speaks about getting along with “the other side”

According to Ken Herman’s column in today’s Austin American-Statesman, at a candidate forum featuring thirteen of the eighteen GOP candidates seeking the Congressional seat Lamar Smith is vacating in District 21, contender Jenifer Sarver said, “It’s not a popular primary message to tell you that I want to work with the other side, but I think it’s necessary.”  She also said she’s concerned about the GOP, “because I see a party that’s aging and white, and that’s not the future of our country…. We have a tone that is shutting people out.  Young people are not interested in joining our party.  Women are leaving our party in droves.  And if you look out over this audience it’s a very white crowd here tonight.”  Another candidate Matt McCall filled the silence that followed her response with “We shouldn’t be getting along with the side that wants to kill babies.” He added, “Married women vote Republican…. We don’t have a problem with women.  We have a problem that people aren’t getting married in this country.”

Embedded in these quotes are various challenges of our time that we need to overcome.  The first is thinking of our two major political parties as “sides.”  While each party has its own general strategies as a starting point for making policy, we are all on the same side–the side of the American people.  If the two parties work together, each bringing their strategic points of view and seeking expert opinion along the way, chances increase for producing policies that increase the quality of individual and community life.

Matt McCall demonstrated the tone “that is shutting people out,” with his words, “We shouldn’t be getting along with the side that wants to kill babies.”  No one wants to kill babies.  We do need for office holders, most of whom are male, to grapple with the fact that one-half of babies’ deliveries are paid for by Medicaid and more than one-third are born to single mothers.  The state of affairs in our reproductive health in our nation–including the highest rate of maternal mortality in the country being here in Texas–is appalling.  We keep on allowing new generations of people to be born into poverty. The current administration in the U.S. and in Texas is not showing love for these babies when it ignores the need for health care, quality public education, and a decent environment for all these young lives that join us each day.  Start funding social services appropriately and start making accessible contraception a part of people’s life habit.  Then think of this as a world in which “we” live, not a world in which one side is “Republican” and the other, “Democrat.”  In the meantime, for those of you in District 21 who care about the young children being born into poverty and the mothers  who give birth to them, consider casting your vote in the Democratic primary. While Friends for Civil Action doesn’t endorse candidates, know that I personally am impressed by Joseph Kopser; he strikes me as a savvy strategist who will work for all of us, not just some of us.  Those of us who don’t vote in his district can still consider helping with campaign contributions and volunteer help.

Freedom and “Can we call that treason?”

Early in 2017 I met a woman who  in her past was a political analyst for the CIA in her South American homeland. She now resides in Austin. In the last twelve months, she has sent over three hundred 512Truthseekers emails, sharing her research into stories behind the stories we see in the news, looking at such matters as the impact the Koch Brothers’ investment in far right political candidates and office holders is having in our country. Each email can take many hours to prepare. She is spurred to do this labor-intensive research, in part, because she lived through a shut-down of the media in her own country, witnessing an era when brave women at risk to themselves slipped flyers with truth on them under bags of rice and such in grocery markets.  What is happening in our country is real when it comes to the disruption of the truth.  I am reminded that I continue to be shockable, and that is a good thing.  Yesterday, the President of the United States addressed an employee group giving him a warm reception. Their employer, Sheffer Corporation, enriched by the new tax legislation, had “just awarded each of its 126 employees a one-time bonus of $1,000.” He asked the group a question regarding Congressional Democrats  “stone-faced” reaction to his State of the Union speech.  I heard his words yesterday on NPR and I read them this morning in The New York Times and The Austin American Statesman.  He said, “Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean they certainly did not seem to love our country very much.”

I am thankful these words can be reported, still.  I’m concerned that this wasn’t top of the fold, front page headline news.  When the President of the United States can call one of the two major parties in his country potentially treasonous for not warmly embracing his speech, this is a chilling moment in time.  Let us all be careful with our words and work to maintain the value of loving of our neighbors–like us or different from us–a value that is needed if we are to have freedom.