The very first paragraph of Mike Padovano's column, "An Obama progress report," reminded me of a simple but amusingly true statement: "Everyone is entitled to their opinion but yours is stupid."
Now, it is true our Constitution provides for freedom of speech -- which the government protects -- however, this should not necessitate a political discourse based on awfully-put-together talking points, half-truths and no-truths, fallacious (attempts at) arguments, uncivil behavior, name-calling, fear-mongering and a disrespect for our political processes and leaders.
Vis-a-vis the crazy town-hall heckling, gun-wielding, socialism-crying, anti-government alternate-reality birthers and astro-turf activists, there is an even larger crowd of Americans who have different opinions on the role of government and different methods for voicing them.
We mortal beings -- we, the reality-based, who witnessed the biggest financial collapse since the Great Depression and sensed the effects of a sluggish economy in the high unemployment numbers, the terrible job market and the lack of capital and credit -- we look at the world and see what takes little effort so long as one has the ability to distinguish fact from fiction, and reality from ideological interpretations of it:
We are aware that 14,000 Americans lose their healthcare coverage everyday, that healthcare spending in 2007 was more than $2.2 trillion dollars, yet more than 45 million of us are without healthcare.
We mourn the loss of 4,326 men and women in uniform to an unnecessary war in Iraq.
We have seen rising costs put higher education out of reach of the great majority of Americans and are troubled by the fact that less than 25 percent of college-age youth are full-time students. These are facts, not opinions. This is the reality of the world in which we live.
This is true whether you are libertarian or federalist, liberal or conservative, Democrat or Republican. This is true whether you have a darker complexion or a lighter one, a common name or a funky one.
Our focus, then, should not be on whether the government is furthering our personal interests--or practicing an ideology that we subscribe to--but rather how we can make America that beacon of hope and opportunity for ALL Americans. An America where only the top 5% get to pursue their happiness at the expense of the overworked, underpaid and underappreciated worker is not an equal America. An America where any attempt at creating more equal opportunities is met with charges of socialism, where a president is opposed or mocked because of his "funky name" or the complexion of his skin, is not a patriotic one. An America where political discourse is reduced to baseless name-calling and fear-mongering, unwarranted misinformation, prejudice and misconceptions, political opportunism and divisive politics, is not a civil one.
In order for us to create that more perfect union and to further the cause of liberty and prosperity for all Americans, we must look beyond personal gain and think about our common well-being and collective prosperity. People are part of communities. They don't live in isolation. Thus we have not only a responsibility to ourselves but also to one another. That is not socialism. That is common-sense Americanism.
Let us thus abandon the ideologies that divide rather than unite us. Let us pursue our individual dreams but refrain from greed and antipathy, for we need one another to succeed.
As for President Obama's "soaring rhetoric," I must say, after eight years of George W. Bush, it is refreshing to see a president who is an intellectual and articulate individual. We should not "misunderestimate" the importance of words and rhetoric. It is, after all, the fundamental means of communication for us mortals.
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Now, I don't know about a missing chromosome but Padovano seems to be missing this thing we refer to as a "basic knowledge" of economics, as well as history. There is a difference between the utopian models we fancy in our little brains and the practical world where they fall apart--hence the term "utopia." History and a basic understanding of the human condition teaches us that unrestricted, unchecked and unregulated markets, fueled by greed, exploitation and lack of ethical behavior, leads to a disastrous course of events that worsens the overall health of the economy and hurts the financial well-being of the larger population.
The government under President Obama's leadership has no more control on my life -- or yours -- than it did before Jan. 20. Cash for Clunkers has absolutely done nothing to restrict my -- or anyone else's -- democratic rights. Neither will the "public option." In fact, if anything, a public option will enhance our democracy as it will provide a choice to millions of citizens who don't qualify for health insurance because of so-called "pre-existing conditions," have lost their health insurance with their jobs or simply cannot afford the staggering cost of health care.
As for bailing out automakers or banks, it is more complicated than you may imagine. It was the reality of millions of workers losing jobs by the potential collapse and closure of those companies and firms that called for government action. The opportunity cost of letting the banks and automakers fall -- which would lead to mass unemployment and further credit freeze -- would have been debilitating to our economy and the economic well-being of millions of American households.
It is unclear what your definition of democracy is but we witnessed the best of what it has to offer on Nov. 4, as we do every 4 years at that level: millions of ordinary citizens choosing their destiny by casting a simple ballot. Barack Obama's proposals have not been replaced for a Communist Manifesto after that beautiful day. The American public heard what he had to offer and voted overwhelmingly for the change he proposed. Some of us seem to have a tough time accepting that, still.
So I say: GET OVER IT. The election is long over. The man is President!
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