BY EDWIN E. VINEYARD
“I want my country back.” This plaintive outburst of a woman at one of those rowdy Town Hall meetings in August still concerns this writer. She seemed quite emotional. It was puzzling.
The logic of this woman’s self-proclaimed misery may be difficult to discern. From time to time one is prone to ponder this woman’s dilemma, and to wonder what inner turmoil could lie behind that woman’s words. The video clip showed her in the midst of those shouters and rude haranguers. She sounded off in a loud, assertive, emotional manner in the meeting. Since then we have noticed those words on signs carried by protestors.
What is missing that makes this not her country any longer? Who has stolen her country? If this is an outcry against change, as it seems to be, then what change? What change makes one so emotional – political, economic, social, religious, or what?
‘WHO’ TOOK ‘WHAT’ AWAY?
For some time we have heard outcries from religious fundamentalists that “they” have taken their country away. Their complaint is not having officially sponsored prayers in classes or at formally scheduled school events. Of course, they don’t phrase or think of it that way. It is just, “They took prayer out of our schools.”
These same people think that Christianity is guaranteed by the Constitution, while “freedom of religion” actually guarantees that there will no official compunction to worship in any prescribed way.
Sometimes, simple is not simple enough for simpletons.
Unfortunately, there are those out there on the rightwing fringe who encourage paranoia about the banning of religion. They say “God” and Christians are being persecuted. They circulate false rumors and e-mails about taking “in God we trust” off coins, “under God” out of the pledge of allegiance, and other similarly weird ideas – wrongs they attribute to Democrats. They do not always appreciate being corrected.
ABORTION AND TAXES
That is one issue that has brought out a lot of emotion. The abortion issue is another. The rhetoric about “baby killing” has worked many religious souls into an emotional lather. Some take guns and murder doctors.
Somehow the inherent freedom of women from government enforced pregnancy, child-bearing, and child rearing seems to have been lost somewhere. Too bad. Weren’t we appalled not so long ago by Serbian soldiers raping Croatian women to force them have “Serb” children?
How about taxes? For most of us taxes are just an onerous part of life, about which we complain and occasionally say a few bad words. Normally we do not cry or become emotional about paying our taxes.
There are some nowadays who seem bent on trying to make us feel persecuted by taxes. This is confined primarily to Republicans who object to paying taxes during Democrat administrations.
GOVERNMENT AS ‘THE ENEMY’
While they did not object to deficits of $1.6 trillion resulting from tax-cuts for the wealthy, nor the $1.2 trillion spent on an unnecessary war, somehow they now object to a lesser deficit putting money out to consumers, cities, and states for priming the pump to start up an economy left on the brink of disaster by the last administration.
Some of these people come from the group that has health insurance, and they oppose health care reform because they are afraid they might have to pay a tax on theirs in order for the uninsured to have similar health security.
The “tea party” extremists believe that government is an enemy, and they get people all worked up emotionally. That group has become seditious and unpatriotic in its rhetoric. Mix this with a few gun-toting nuts and you have an armed insurrection. Do we not understand this?
Q. Who is paying the freight to promote “tea parties?” A. Wealthy persons and corporations who are enjoying lower tax rates while middle class and lower class burdens increase.
OKLAHOMA’S RICH PAY LESS TAX
Latest stats show that in Oklahoma, the wealthier are paying a much lower percentage of their income for state and local taxes than the middle and lower groups. [The primary reason is high sales taxes and low income taxes.] Oklahoma ranks 42nd in tax burden as a percent of income, yet we have all those weird people out protesting. Our tax-cutting Legislature is killing public services in Oklahoma.
Although the notion is repugnant to most of us, some may feel their country has been taken away because a person of color is president. We overhear remarks of that nature, and about the number of black or Hispanic people now in government positions. Some have questioned whether a Congressman from South Carolina would ever have yelled insulting accusations at a white president appearing before a session of Congress.
President Carter has joined others in saying openly that the intensity level of the health care and anti-government activists has a racial basis. Sadly, these observations appear to be correct.
Indeed our country is changing. It is always changing. Some changes are progressive in nature, but nevertheless difficult for some people to take. Most people in our nation wanted change, and Mr. Obama promised change. We elected him. Why should we be tolerant of the false and character impugning attacks being made on him and on the agenda of change that he promised? We wanted our country back from those who drove us to ruin.
AFRAID OF CHANGE
This country needed change. Most people want change.
Some people do not want change. Those with vested interests in the status quo do not want change. Some of those have no ethics and no morals. Some have very little love for their country if it is not run to serve and to please them. Some want to exploit the rest of us for profit. Those most prosperous among us too often have little concern for the less fortunate. Many of them consider government an ally in doing business their way, and they pay for that help by campaign donations and through lobbyists. These consider the government an enemy if it regulates their activities, takes back tax subsidies, or threatens their corporate or personal favors.
Those who do not like government prey upon consumers, who are dependent upon government for protection. Sometimes they fool ordinary people into becoming their allies. Without these deluded ones they might lose power.
Many of us would indeed like to have our country back – one that is free of lies, distortions, and nutty conspiracy theories. We’d like a country ruled by a process of civil democracy. We would like our democracy uncorrupted by money and corporate powers.
Yes, we too would like to have our country back.
– Edwin E. Vineyard, AKA The Militant Moderate, lives in Enid, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer.