Green: What a mess
I voted for Bush in 2004. I voted for Obama in 2008. As a registered Independent, I've taken part in elections since I was eligible to do so, and I've very much enjoyed the process of "having my voice heard."
Nowadays you cannot turn on the TV or hit the Internet and avoid politics and, frankly, what I see and hear makes me sad and sick at the same time.
First, a trip down memory lane.
Not long ago I was forced to defend my vote and my views to family and friends, most of whom were Democrats. They wondered how I could vote for a guy like Bush, telling me how he was an idiot and was ruining our country. They told me they could not wait until a Democrat was back in the White House, saying replacing W. with any Democrat - it really didn't matter at the time - would do wonders to "fixing" America.
While I rolled my eyes at them, thinking "Really, you're telling me Democrats will turn the country into some sort of utopia," I also understood their frustration. They would take to the streets to protest and go on talk shows presenting their side only to be called "un-American" and other choice names by the Republicans who were in charge. Those who were in office (and power) said anyone who did not support the president, his administration and agenda were thereby not supporting the United States of America. Ridiculous as it was then, it's kind of funny to see the shoe being on the other foot today. How does it fit?
Not surprisingly, the Democrats haven't fixed all our problems. Sure, they've done plenty of good things (like the Republicans before them), but they have also brought up new problems. It's like the whack-a-mole game, you may strike one problem down but a new one will assuredly pop up.
Now the Republic---I'm sorry, I mean Tea Partiers have taken to the streets, the airwaves and the Internet to bash anything Obama, liberal and "progressive," and the end result is absolutely not good for we, the people. They have helped to empower the Republicans in Washington who, for some reason, feel the best course of action is to go against anything the Democratic majority wants. In an effort to score political points they have stopped negotiating and working on solutions, and instead have taken to the equivalent of sticking their fingers in their ears and yelling "lalalalala I can't hear you."
I do agree with some of what the Tea Party stands for. Problem is, at this point the movement has totally been distorted by Fox News and Republicans who are using it as another platform to bash their counterparts. Honestly, how did Sarah Palin become the face and voice of the movement? Since when does she represent anything but politics as usual? Moving on, though, Tea Partyers say they are against a socialist government, the infringing upon our rights, taxes and communists, but do they really have a reason to be upset, or are they being told they should be upset? I guess that's not for me to determine, but much of what I've seen and read points more towards the latter than the former.
Now, before you get on me for only paying attention to "the liberal media," you should know that of all the news channels I watch, Fox tends to be at the top of the list. It is one station up from the Food Network for me, so it's convenient, and I have no issue hearing all sides of an issue. I may watch with a skeptical slant, but I do enjoy O'Reilly and can understand Glenn Beck. While I may disagree with some of their points, I feel they know what they're talking about and believe in what they're saying. I respect that. Where I get lost, at least with Beck, is the absolute disdain he seems to have for anyone with a liberal viewpoint. Seriously, since when did being "progressive" carry a negative connotation? Shouldn't we, as a society, want to keep progressing? But I digress.
One place where we seem to be going backwards is right here in Arizona. A number of laws passed recently, in my eyes, seem more geared towards giving D.C. a giant middle finger rather than fixing problems we have now. Near as I can tell, the legislature asks itself what would please the Obama administration and liberals and automatically does the opposite.
Obama wants to take away your guns? Pass the least restrictive concealed weapons law in the country. Don't like the healthcare plan? File a frivolous lawsuit against it. Upset that Obama is, in fact, the president? Pass a "birther" bill that requires anyone to show proof of American birth (which Obama has done) before they can be on the AZ ballot. Yes, the legislature embarrassed our state by passing a bill that is backed by people who just can't accept the fact that Obama is president. Finally, there is that little old immigration bill you may have heard about.
First off, I don't like the bill. It is poorly written, it WILL lead to racial profiling, and it seems to set our police officers up to fail. I look at it as our legislature's way of telling Washington that something needs to be done, and needs to be done now. I absolutely agree with that. Illegal immigration is a real problem, especially here in Arizona, and the citizens of this state have every right to be upset about how it has been handled up to this point. I can't think of a way to solve the problem without upsetting a great number of people, because either you let people who came here illegally stay (reward them after committing a crime) or you break up families who originally came here for a better life and have been good citizens. Fortunately for me, though, I'm not paid to make those decisions, as my job is to write columns like this one.
There are a lot of issues facing America right now, that much is obvious. We are not the disaster many would have you believe we are today, but we weren't one six years ago either. If we are to move forward, though, we'll have to put petty partisan politics aside and look at issues with the only one goal: making things better for everyone, no matter what party they align themselves with.