Friday, July 29, 2011

The Curse of Silence

I am embarrassed to admit this, but there have been times in my life when I have remained silent when I should have been speaking my mind and defending the defenseless. It is one of the curses of being a lady, this compulsion to keep the peace and make sure that no one’s feelings get hurt even at the risk of your own silent dismay. However, the older I get the more that this entire concept seems nonsensical to me. Still, there are moments when I am torn between silence and speaking.  And as I try to discuss this with my husband, he looks at me as though I am a speaking a foreign language. It appears that men just do not have this same dilemma. If they have something to say, it generally just comes flying out of their mouths and they deal with the repercussions at a later time.

I was fairly shy as a young lady, yet I yearned desperately to speak up when I knew that what I was hearing with my ears did not resonate with my heart and mind. I would have intricate debates only in my brain, but was saddened that I could not lend language to these great thoughts. As a matter of fact, this is probably one of the greatest regrets of my life: Remaining mute when assertive dialogue was warranted.

This is something that woman all around the world struggle with and it speaks to the way that girls are just raised differently than boys. I would like to think that the tide has turned through the years, but I still know women who keep their most assertive selves silent. I see it in their eyes at coffee houses, in their body language at family reunions, and in the way that sink a bit deeper in their chair at a cocktail party as their gaze drops downward. It is a shame and it needs to stop. Through the support of other women, and men for that matter, who cheer her own with cries of, “You have a right to be heard” we can bring all of our sisters out of their silence and into a world a civil assertiveness and even debate.

When I finally was able to speak out I was in my 20s and it was as though a verbal and emotional tiger had been let out of a cage. When at last I summoned the nerve to speak out in support of gay rights, in favor reproductive rights or against domestic, I was like a verbal Tasmanian devil…a whirling dervish of rapid fire thoughts spewing from my mouth and wild hand gestures. Lady-like? I think not. Still, I was on the right pathway.

Through the years I learned to slowly gather my thoughts, speak in a language that my audience would understand and communicate with utter conviction.  Women often have a way of asserting themselves with a question mark at the end. As in, “Gee, I think the death penalty is just wrong…?” or “Gosh, in some cases abortion is just warranted…?”.  It is a skill that many of us cultivate through the years and once it is mastered, we can handle most anyone in a conversation regarding controversial topics.

As the challenges of our world become more immense, as those on the far right begin utilizing absurd scare tactics, and as the political issues hit closer to home, we all need to find our voice and speak out on these issues. This is where the power of sisterhood becomes integral as we boost the confidence of each other and come together with a common, cohesive message. It is just the lady-like thing to do.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Evil Of Grover Norquist

If you do not know who Grover Norquist is, then chances are that you have been ... (a) Living under a rock for the last month; (b) Watch Fox News exclusively; or (c) Been in a coma since spring (in which case, I cannot help but welcome you back to the world and hope that the current state of affairs do not cause a relapse of your symptoms).

Grover Norquist is a hostage taker and a blackmailer. It truly is just that simple. The sad part of the story is that Republicans actually gladly sign up to be held hostage by this loon. Grover Norquist decided decades ago that taxes are bad. Period. No qualifier, no exception, no wiggle room. Sound extreme? To quote the Barbie Of The Right -- "You Betcha!!" (wink, wink).

Grover Norquist is the founder and president of a group called Americans For Tax Reform. While the name may sound benign, it is clearly misleading. This group believes that government is too big and that no new taxes should be levied on the American people. None. Ever. No matter what the circumstance, no matter what happens in the future, no matter how befitting taxation is for the current climate -- no means no, to Grover Norquist.

To this end, he asks (read: coerces) republicans to sign  piece of garbage entitled the Taxpayer Protection Pledge indicating that they will never vote for any piece of legislation that would allow for new taxes. Insanely enough, this even includes not allow the Bush tax cuts to expire since this would net an actual, and much needed, increase in governmental revenue.  In fact, he is opposed to the ending of any tax breaks at all, including those for big business. The republicans that sign this pledge do so under duress and do it to ensure their continued electability. If they fail to sign it, Grover Norquist and his gang of thugs run a republicans opponent in the non-signers race and ensure, via campaign funding, that The Defiant One loses the election. Talk about holding one by the...well....private parts.

Norquist is coy in saying that the pledge is not made to him, but is made to the American people. But the fact of the matter is that Norquist created the pledge, he threw it in the face of republicans and failure to sign has negative repercussions that he and his group will be sure to enact. How is this different than any other blackmail scenario? Better yet, how is this good for the country?

There is no doubt that tax reform is greatly needed in this country. However, blackmail and barely veiled threats is no way to accomplish anything in the US government. Republicans need to gather their troops and decide, as a whole, to walk away from Grover Norquist and his pledge. In doing do, the tiger will then have no teeth and real tax reform can actually occur.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

All Aboard The Political Bandwagon

I am a lot of things. I am a mother, a wife, a writer, a daughter, a neighbor and a friend. I am right-handed, love chocolate, am addicted to Diet Coke and adore traveling. I have a marriage that rocks, a dog that sleeps all day and two brothers who drive me insane. I am, also, a liberal.

I have been keenly interested in politics from as far back as I can remember. As a matter of fact, I recall sitting with my father watching "60 Minutes" and the evening news when I was still in elementary school. I asked questions, he patiently responded and I knew that politics had a strong hold on my family. No matter how old, how young, whatever your stage in life politics had meaning. As a matter of fact, my father seemed much more concerned that you had an active interest in politics as opposed to where you actually fall on the political spectrum.

I find that I am very much like my father in that regard. My tolerance for apathy is just about nil and I continue to be amazed when people feel that politics is so very distant from their day-to-day lives. The fact of the matter is that you are knee deep in politics all day, every day, whether you like it or not. And given that this is a fact, it is best to jump on board and at the very least educate yourself about the latest political news.

When you have a minute, ponder the impact that politics plays in your own life. Think about your job, the taxes you pay, your retirement plan, your property taxes, your child's ability to attend college, the interest rate on your credit card or your access to quality health care. It is there, a substantial force dictating big pieces of your existence.

As an American, it is your duty to stay on top of all things political. It is a responsibility that those around the world would love to have and we, selfish and self-absorbed residents of this great nation, take for granted on a daily basis. Your politics do not need to be my politics, but I do respectfully ask that you do jump into the political pool and swim the rest of us political nerds.