01 June 2008

the america i met

my campaign journey took me to and through 15 states, most, though not all, of which are west of the mississippi river. in each state, i met its people, heard its stories, drove its roads, read its signs, felt as if i were a part of it, if only for a few hours. i have, in essence, rediscovered my great country and the people who make it so great. americans are really wonderful people, strong and in possession of a great deal of pride and hope.

its roads, however, are not so beautiful. this country’s crumbling infrastructure is shocking and unacceptable, in both its own rite and the greater problem it represents. for the past several decades, our country has focused its attention, money, and manpower outside these lands between our sea and shining sea. the past few years in particular, we have seen the commitment to infrastructure turn east, very far east, where we’ve been sending our people, our money, and our power to build roads and schools in iraq. while here at home, our very own roads and bridges are collapsing in disrepair and overuse. hurricane katrina and the minneapolis bridge collapse are two shining examples of our failing infrastructure. driving the roads in indiana is a glaring third. our tax dollars need to be used to fix america’s roads and bridges, america’s economy, and on america’s people. and to put americans back to work.

a couple of the signs gave me second thoughts, and thirds sometimes. this one in particular, “abortion stops a beating heart” got to me. there’s no way to reason with a single-issue voter. i’ve tried. i have read blogs and articles, have listened to dozens of conversations and debates, and just cannot find a way. but this one, this one i don’t understand, at all. abortion may stop a beating heart, but it’s a heart that belongs to something that’s never existed. think about all hearts that have stopped beating in the sands of iraq. think about all the sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, husbands, and wives who have given their lives for our great country, to further america’s great ideals (misguided and illogical ideals perpetuated by the propaganda of a bunch of rich white guys who wanted to go down in infamy forever). instead of putting your pen on the abortion issue, use your vote to bring our troops back to america and give them the tools they need to have a successful post-war life. don’t vote on an issue that no longer matters, an issue that has no impact on your pocketbook, your children’s education, the deteriorating bridge between your house and the supermarket, or finding new jobs for americans.

also, aren’t you the same people who vote in favor of the death penalty? doesn’t a lethal injection stop a beating heart? oh, i see, these are people who committed terrible crimes and deserve to die. so long as we accept your version of justice, i suppose. the thing is, the death penalty is barbaric and honestly, it’s dumb. further, so long as our system of justice is imperfect (and so long as decisions are made by human beings, based on evidence collected and argued by other human beings, imperfection is the rule of the day), and one innocent man dies for the crimes of another, the death penalty is an abomination. and if i can’t reach you on moral grounds or via my liberal idealism, think with your pocketbook. think about the hundreds of thousands of dollars spent each year on death row in-mates, on legal appeals, court time, special accommodations at the jailhouse, and that last meal. by keeping them in the general “really bad guy” part of the prison until the day they die of natural causes (or unnatural as the case may be), we’ve saved tax payers money we can now put toward education (in a july 2005, la times article, it was reported that, “maintaining the california death penalty system costs taxpayers more than $114 million a year beyond the cost of simply keeping the convicts locked up for life”. in case you missed that, $114 million dollars per year!).

look, i don’t have the answers to all that ails america. i’m just another full-of-shit blogger who hopes someone is reading and agreeing (or disagreeing).

the point of my ramblings today is that i love america and i think it’s high time we put our tax dollars where they are most in need of spending, right here in america. we need a better education for america’s future, higher environmental standards and a real movement toward energy independence, more jobs in these emerging industries, better roads, and repaired bridges and dams. by hiring americans to fix america, we all become greater for it, and more us will be able to move away from that dark and gloomy america we’ve hidden from in shame these past few years, into an america we can be proud of.

vote and then get involved. whether it’s taking a position on your kids’ school board, volunteering once a month to hold crack babies at your local hospital, or helping plant trees in the spring. just get involved, help make america better, vote to put your tax dollars at work here in america, and trust in your america and its people.

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