Monday, January 03, 2011

Tolerance is always best?

I used to think of "tolerance" as an action akin to holding your tongue when someone said something really stupid or inane (or redundant!!) Then, as I got older, I began to think of "tolerance" in a sense of people and cultures, colors and languages. I became very interested in the Southern Poverty Law Center, which has a school program titled "Teaching Tolerance," and found it not only a great tool, but a great philosophy. I tolerate a lot of actions I didn't used to, as a result.

Today, the first day back to work after some badly needed holiday time off, I move into a new understanding and acceptance of tolerance -- that of relatives at the holidays! I asked a colleague this morning if his holidays were pleasant. "No," came his immediate, though matter-of-face response. "But I did survive the relatives." I laughed, though I was sad that his initial response had been "NO!" After all, isn't there something wrong with this picture?

Understanding that "survival" and "tolerance" don't always fit thesaurically, in this case, they have almost identical meanings! I knew exactly what he meant, and suspect we all do.

Everyone I know has someone whose presence they dread, but are forced to spend time with during the holidays. And when I say "forced," I mean, well, "forced." True, no one stands over me with a club or the threat of prison to make me do this. And perhaps in other areas of the country and world the force isn't as great as it is in the midwestern United States. But here in the land of no-insults, we would be mortified to go against...gulp...TRADITION.

Here's the scenario: (Insert holiday here) is nearing, and you are planning for some feasting and gift-giving. Sounds pleasant, if not a bit harried, but should be a fun and happy time. In the foreground, you plan the meal(s), shop for the gifts, and issue the invitations. In the background, you complain about the cost, not knowing what to get anyone, and wish that Uncle Archie and Aunt Edith* would be unable to come. For the past twenty years, Uncle Archie has made crude noises at the table, drunk too much, and insulted pretty much everyone. (He's not originally from the Midwest.) Aunt Edith inevitably ends up crying on someone's shoulder, and they pretty much ruin every get-together they ever attend. Before leaving the place in an emotional shambles, they announce that they really should never have come -- he, because he really doesn't like this group, anyway (burp), and she, because she's so sorry that everything turned out the way it did.

So why do we do it to ourselves and all those whom we'd really like to spend the time with? Because it is tradition, and besides, our parents are watching us, making sure everything is done according to the original plan. And perhaps we really do like all of these people on some level, even if we are willing to spend time with them just once a year. Maybe the tradition really is group therapy, during which we collectively re-learn the meaning of "tolerance!" Clark Griswold's wife said it best in "Christmas Vacation" when she told her kids that "Well, it's Christmas, and everyone's miserable!" In many cases, "miserable" may be too strong a word, but then again we are from the Midwest and "misery loves company" here! And apparently misery leads to tolerance...

Happy New Year! Spend it with people you like.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocent/intolerable.

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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Let's get the "Tea Party" to "Trade Places"

"Poll Finds Tea Party Backers Wealthier and More Educated" the New York Times headline screams across the April 14, 2010 front page of the Politics section.

I find that statement startlingly surprising. Who could have possibly guessed--let alone designed a poll to determine--that people bitching about the current administration would be "Republican, white, male, married and older than 45. They hold more conservative views on a range of issues than Republicans generally. They are also more likely to describe themselves as "very conservative” and President Obama as “very liberal.” "

Do you remember the 1983 movie "Trading Places" with Dan Aykroyd and Eddie Murphy? If not, do some research. We'll come back to this.

These are people whom I view as having the "most entitled" attitude of anyone on the planet. Whether Daddy paid for their education and gave them a job after graduation, or they did it by hard work, they don't want anyone else to be successful. In other words, they don't want anyone climbing up the ladder behind them. In fact, the Times article states that this movement came to light about a year ago to protest the economic stimulus package, oppose Democrats' efforts on the "economy, environment and health care," and to throw out members of the Republican party who are not, well, Republican enough.

The other day I heard a woman from some obscure (because I personally had not heard of it!) organization of right-wing women (presumably the wives of the Tea Party members) claiming on public radio that "it is the entitlement [programs] that will bankrupt this country." She obviously has never taken a look at the actual federal budget(see pie chart above), because when confronted by a caller who asked about the huge defense spending portion of the budget, she simply scoffed. "Scoffing," I have found, is largely a conservative response/sound/noise/attitude. If you want to see how the federal budget is cut up, there are a number of resources; War Resisters League and True Majority (their pie chart in this article) are my two favorites. (Of course they are liberal resources!)

I'm seriously tired of politics and politicians and entitlement attitudes and out-of-control budgets in a government entity (take Pentagon 101) that could not pass an audit because a) they have never been accountable and their books are fiction, and b) any ethical auditor attempting justice would disappear from the face of the earth.

So I'm proposing this. Anyone who has more than a million dollars in any kind of liquid form (in other words, the money is NOT his employees' pension) will be ordered to Trade Places with a person who is living at or below the poverty level in this country. They will do this for a minimum of one year. At the end of that time, if they have not been enlightened, they're doomed to repeat the year.

Now that you've done your homework, you should know about "Trading Places." Filthy rich and unethical Wall Street tycoons Randolph and Mortimer Duke make a bet. Randolph believes that if they make their brilliant white protege, Louis Winthorpe, III (Aykroyd) trade places with panhandling streetwise Billy Ray Valentine (Murphy), they can also reverse their lots in life, their attitudes and their own "people" will turn on them. "Louis" becomes "Louie" to a hooker; "Billy Ray" becomes "William" as he dons a suit and tie and turns into the Dukes' black protege.

Lots of twists and turns and interesting events and developments as Winthorpe and Valentine re-develop and the plan works out much differently than the Dukes had planned. The bottom line is this: Even though Louis and Billy Ray start from very different backgrounds, they do change, but they eventually realize they've been screwed with, resent it and become allies against the machine. (Oh, quit whining about my ruining the ending! If you've not watched this 27-year-old movie at this point, you deserve to have the plot exposed!) Sounds cliché, but it's a great story with great actors, very funny, and has a great moral.

Walk in the other guy's shoes. Perhaps then the politics will make way for the real work we need to do...together...without the entitlements.

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Tuesday, May 19, 2009

ONCE AGAIN...There are NO Coincidences...

Okay, so as I was saying, there are no coincidences. Another case in point:

A couple of weeks ago my mom asked if I would mind taking her to the oncologist about 40 miles away, in a small city she's become unfamiliar with. She recently moved back to Wisconsin after 13+ years in New York, and need to re-establish her doctors here. The next one on the list was this one, Dr. B. But as "luck' would have it, the day of her appointment was inconvenient for me, so she agreed to a reschedule. I called the Doc and rescheduled for today. No specific reason other than it was the next morning time available on his docket. I took the day off and off we went to EC to see Dr. B. The appointment was at 10 am; perfect. We had time to swing through Caribou for some java and got to the appointment fully 15 minutes early. And the rest of the day was ours to romp. Okay. Enough set up; here's where the non-coincidence comes in.

While cruising down the expressway, Mom One says "Polly called last night. Wants me to come to Auntie's this afternoon because Pol is coming down for Auntie's birthday." Polly is my cousin, Auntie is Mom One's only sister.

Sounds rather non-interesting at this point, but there's more. Mom One and Aunt One haven't spoken for awhile. They are both Scandinavian-stubborn, and this little tiff is a non-issue. But left to their own devices, I knew at some point they'd reunite. Problem is, they are both aging fast. Mom-One is 80+; Aunt-One is 88 tomorrow. How long would this tiff last, and would it outlive them? While one of my siblings has been trying to give Mom a little guilt and the other is not saying anything, I, too, have been choosing my words carefully.

So, being very cautious so as not to rock that boat, I said, "Well, isn't that nice? Polly called! Wouldn't it be nice to see her?" to which Mom-One said, "Yes, it would. I told her I didn't know if I'd come. " Then I had to hear the story of why...again. So, here's how the conversation went:

Mom: Polly wants me to come to Auntie's this afternoon to see her, and to help celebrate Auntie's birthday. I don't know if I want to go, though.

Me: (Thinking, OMG THIS IS THE FIRST TIME SHE'S EVEN HINTED AT GOING THERE!) Well, that would be fun, wouldn't it? It will be nice to see Polly; I haven't seen her for a long time.

Mom: Yes. It was so nice of Polly to call me; no one else has called me about coming to see Auntie.

Me: (Thinking, OMG SHE'S ACTUALLY THINKING ABOUT GOING!) Well, perhaps after the doctor appointment we could stop and get her a gift; I should get her something, anyway and send it with you--if you decide to go. I have to stop and return a couple of things at the store, anyway.

Mom: I don't know if I'll go. I'd like to see Polly though.

Me: (Thinking OMG, SHE'S GOING TO GO!!)

Went to the doctor, all is well, she's happy, I'm happy, let's go shop! I really did have some things to return, and it  did give us an excuse to get some birthday goodies. How great is this? What a -- coincidence?! Not a chance... this was meant to be.

Me, as we're getting into the store: What does Auntie like to eat, what kind of candy?

Mom: She always loved chocolate, dark chocolate. I'm not sure I want to go (as she's walking down the greeting card aisle, picking out a sister birthday card)...

So as we're talking I'm picking up a cute little basket, some Dove Chocolates, some Burt's Bees foot lotion, shower gel and a sponge, and Mom is looking over everything.

Me: I could send this stuff with you to Auntie's, but you know, I'd love to see her and I have the day off, and I wonder if you'd mind if I come along...

Mom: I'd rather you did, actually -- I'd feel better if you went with me.

She's worried about showing up, I think, after all this time of not speaking and how awkward it could be.

Me: That's it, then, we'll just go together. I can't wait to see Polly. I haven't seen her in a long time, and I haven't been to Auntie's new apartment...

Mom: Yes, it will be fun to see Polly.

So, we're cruising down the expressway once again, only this time the opposite direction, toward the exit that will take us to a reunion... I can tell Mom-One is nervous about this, but I can also sense some real excitement which I haven't seen in her for a long time. She said as we turned off at the exit, "We'll have to stop before we get there to put together our package!" She was truly having a good time... So I took a step into the abyss and said, "You know this is a good thing. You just never know what will happen to any one of us at any time, and you would both feel terrible if something happened and you never saw each other again." She agreed. That was that.

On arrival, we were met by two cousins, Polly and Mart; it was boisterous and chatty and so welcoming. But the very best part was seeing these two sisters reunite. Auntie cried, Mom cried, Polly cried, I winked at Polly, Mart giggled, then we all laughed. We left to pick up another aunt who is a widow, and took the three of them to lunch. Those three women never stopped talking.

The years melted away, and I could envision them as they were when I was a kid, sitting in the kitchen with coffee and cigarettes and beers and bare feet and talking and giggling a mile a minute. As if not having missed a single beat.

Life is good, you have to admit. And there are no coincidences. I told you!

Monday, May 18, 2009

Beautiful Fall Days, Bayfield Count, Wisconsin - October 2008

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Monday, January 05, 2009

What I Did On My Christmas Vacation...

This isn't really about bragging, but more about writing down stuff so I don't forget it! You perhaps don't know but can surely guess that I'm approaching 50, but I refuse to tell you from which direction!! So, heretofore (what does this really mean, anyway?!) is my Christmas Vacation Chronicle:

  1. Dec. 15 - Visited my new friend, Dr. Jose Ortiz to see what he was going to do to me on; took an online final for one of my classes.
  2. Dec. 16 - Spend the day at Luther Hospital in Eau Claire meeting some nurses, anesthesiologists, and having my left hand slashed by hand surgeon Dr. Ortiz. Hopefully, having this carpal tunnel release surgery will lead to the return of the feeling in three of the fingers on my left hand...or not. But at least it won't get worse!
  3. Dec. 18 - Welcomed Servicemaster into my home so they could shampoo my carpets; tried not to reinjure my left hand so I moved only a few pieces of furniture!!
  4. Dec. 19 - Finally set up and decorated the Christmas tree. It's beginning to feel like a holiday around here!
  5. Dec. 17, 18, 19 -
    • Took full advantage of my "handicapped" status, and didn't wash one single dish! I did, however, load the dishwasher once, then fell into a semi-comatose (wink, wink) state and had to lie down and be fed Rum and Egg Nog until I felt better.
    • Watched holiday movies!
    Scrooged (Bill Murray), Christmas Carol (George C. Scott), White Christmas (Bing Crosby/Danny Kaye/Rosemary Clooney), It's A Wonderful Life (Jimmy Stewart), Home Alone (McCauley Culkin) and Christmas Vacation (Chevy Chase) twice!
    • Missed seeing
    Grumpy Old Men with Jack Lemon and Walter Mathau this year, only because I didn't have it on DVD, and didn't find it on cable channels. But I will watch it this winter some time!
  6. Dec. 20 - Watched The Family Stone movie with Craig T. Nelson and Diane Keaton, among others. It was great. Sarah Jessica Parker played the epitome of the pain-in-the-butt girlfriend. It was a great depiction of the life of a truly "eclectic" family! Lots of laughs, some tears, some frustration, but I thought it was great, and amazingly, so did my spouse, who doesn't care much for movies.
  7. Dec. 23 - A last minute shopping spree, as well as the delivery of goodies to some of my co-workers took us into the city. It was good to see everyone at work after a week of absence and being a shut-in!!
  8. Dec. 24 - Shared a wonderful Christmas Eve dinner and evening with my Mom, who has just moved back to Wisconsin from New York and insisted on cooking her traditional Christmas Eve meal. She hasn't been with us for many years at Christmas, so this was a real treat. We celebrated at the home of my brother and his wife and kids. Son One and Girlfriend One, as well as My sister and husband were there. It was a lovely time.
  9. Dec. 25 - More food and celebrating at Spouse One's parents' home with their family. It was a loaded house, but a fun time. Little kids, medium kids, large kids, cousins, brothers, sisters, friends--a grand bunch, lots of noise, good conversation and catching up. It's what this holiday is all about.
  10. Dec. 26, 27, 28 - Shopping for, buying and installing flooring in the bar in our basement. Looks great, adds warmth to the floor, brings the room into modern civilization. Finished painting the walls, with a touch of design.
  11. Dec. 29 - Began calling people in prep for a New Year's Eve party. I still can't put my hand in water, so what was I thinking here? :) Excited to see Daugher One and Fiancee One and to party with some friends.
  12. Dec. 30 - Mike and I launched out for Eau Claire early a.m.; Dr. appointment to have cast and stitches removed! YAY! Did some serious sale shopping, then headed for home. Worked on last of the Christmas letters...still have some left to mail.
  13. Dec. 31 - Cleaning, cooking, shopping... all in prep for DO and BO and New Year's party. It's been ages since we've really celebrated...Brother picked up DO and BO from airport and brought them home. Great to see them. Fast and furiously, we prepped for partee ...
  14. Dec.31-Jan. 1 - Partied well with a few close friends and family. Father-In-Law One got more than a little tipsy; had to drive him home! Fun and funny because he loves family and really got into the swing of things. Beers, food, wine, Crown Royal...and food galore. No one really wanted it to end, so the last 6 or 8 of us moved to the basement to hunker in, listen to music and savor the time.
  15. Alas... holiday celebrations over, Daughter/Fiancee One have gone back to their home far away, clean up is done, and return to work is looming large on the horizon...
  16. Happy New Year, everyone! Let's hope 2009 is a good year...


I was just looking back on the January 2008 blog, which was more cynical even than I am usually! It was titled, "Happy New Year Blah Blah Blah." How cynical is that?! It was about how people were so flat and bored at and after Christmas, and how 2008 would be a great year.!! I must have had too much nog to be able to see the future clearly.

2008 was certainly not a good year for a good many of us. Record high unemployment, financial crises, an "entitlement" bailout of financial institutions and GM that will bankrupt the country and its middle-class citizens, record housing foreclosures and the collapse of the housing market...and a war that we should never have started that's cost us over five years, thousands of US military personnel, nearly a trillion dollars, and who knows how many Iraqi lives. Even if you still have your job, your home, and you haven't lost any family members in the Middle East, the crises of 2008 has touched everyone in some way. And it certainly made all of us a bit more fearful. In the words of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, "We have nothing to fear but fear itself." But then, at that time, the country didn't have Fox News, CNN and Geraldo.

Many people I know have lost money in the Stock Market this year, and these are not wealthy people but people who had hoped these funds would take care of them in retirement. Retirement funds have all but dried up, and in many cases are gone completely. Every one of us in my family have been closely evaluating our jobs, retirement funds, and credit, making sure we're in some kind of "good" shape.

On the up side, we have a new President, and that always seems to give people hope. Frankly, I wonder if President-Elect Obama is wondering what he was thinking when he decided to run for the office! Facing some of the worst crises this country has ever seen has to be daunting beyond words. How on earth can anyone fix all of this?! Yet there are people who will expect him to do just that within his first year, and then condemn him when he cannot. I dare say that McCain/Palin are the lucky ones.

Also on the up side, I have a wonderful family, great friends, a spouse who has tolerated me and my quirks for more years than anyone should ever have to tolerate anything; I have a job, good health and a home. I have much more than so many people in this or any other country, and I pray for better days for everyone.

Happy New Year... humbly.

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The Chronicles of (non)Coincidence #327

I really have no idea what number "non-coincidence" this is, but these are adding up quickly!

This one has to do with a Christmas gift for my daughter's fiancee. I ordered something warm and fuzzy for him a couple of weeks ago, with MONOGRAM, having been assured by customer service that it would, indeed, arrive in time for the unwrapping ceremonies on January 2. As a matter of fact, she assured me, it would arrive by Friday, Dec. 26. When it had not arrived by Monday, December 29th, I went online to check the status of my order. The friendly customer service rep I "chatted" with online assured me that no, my gift had not yet been shipped due to the number of orders and backlog the week before.

I'm not going to name the company because this is not truly about them. They are a good company, a WISCONSIN company, which is generally very prompt and sells high-quality goods. But I did have to wonder how they got so behind on orders, knowing full well that Christmas is a busy, busy, busy season, and lots of people order from them.

Okay, so I asked the CS Rep when I would receive the item. She informed me that the item was in "monogramming," and would be shipped the next day via the Express UPS that I had chosen and paid for. That would place it in my hands on New Year's Eve. That's great, I said. As long as I'd receive it by then.

To be safe, I checked again the next day, Tuesday, December 30, to make sure the item had been shipped. No, a different CS Rep said, "It is in monogramming and would not be ready to ship until Friday." FRIDAY?!! "Yes, she said, but they would ship it via UPS Express and it will arrive Saturday morning." Well, that will have to do, I thought, as long as I can give him the gift before he returns to Colorado on Sunday.
She then reminded me that " you can return the item, even with monogramming, if you need to."

So, we opened gifts on Saturday morning, instead of Friday, thinking that the gift would arrive dramatically, and I would sweep it under the tree in time for gift opening. "Unfortunately," I was told by Saturday's child at the CS desk, "you don't have Saturday delivery in your area, so you'll receive it next week. Remember you CAN return it."

I was terribly disappointed. UNTIL Daughter One's fiancee told us that he was in the process of
changing his last name. Regardless of the reasoning for that change, he said the paperwork was done and I couln't help but perk up at the news for a different reason. Here was another non-coincidence, I thought! He was never meant to get THAT piece of clothing with THAT monogram. If I had received the item in time, as promised, I would not have had the option to return it, and he would have been stuck with a fine quality item with the wrong monogram. As it turns out, I will be able to return this item and re-order it with the correct monogram, making this the fiancee's first gift with the new initials on it.

While this is not an earth-shattering or life-changing coincidence, it is yet another small one in the ongoing chronicle of those I encounter~~~!

As before, I invite you to send me your own non-coincidences!!

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Sunday, December 07, 2008

The latest coincidences...

Well, anyone who knows me (haven't I started my rantings with that line before?!) knows how I feel about coincidences. More specifically, that the older I get the less I believe in them. I've experienced so many that have had profound impacts that I no longer believe that they are just chance encounters. Okay, you may have guessed that I have read "The Celestine Prophecy," which is, in fact, about fate vs. chance encounters. But that didn't influence my beliefs, just my awareness.

Here's a recent case in point.

I was shopping at a Linens & Things store the other day. I was there by chance in the first place. My sister had given me a gift card for my birthday (I am terrible about ever getting around to using them!). It was tucked away deeply in my billfold, where I had pretty much forgotten about it. Stay with me...

Earlier that week I went to tell our office manager that I was going to be gone to a doctor's appointment this day, and to please mark that on the dept. calendar. I told her it was in Eau Claire, to which she responded, "Well, if you have a few extra minutes, you should stop at Linens & Things...they're going out of business and selling out everything." (First coincidence... why would she mention that to me?) I remembered the gift card and thanked her; I would most likely not have remembered nor used it before the store was kaput.

So now, after meeting with the doctor, I made a bee-line for Linens & Things, out of my way, but hey! It's a sale and I have a card. So I'm in there wandering around trying to find something I need. Finally, I decide to make one more pass down the kitchen gadget aisle. Half-way down the aisle, I glance to my left and see a pie-sized ring hanging on a hook. Without explanation or real interest, I stopped to see what it was. I picked it up, examined it, and discovered it was a silicone piecrust-protector; something you lay over the top of the piecrust edge, to keep it from burning. Funny, I thought. I never bake pies -- okay, once every two years I make a pumpkin pie. Cool item, I thought, though I really have no need for it. Don't leave yet -- it gets better...

I look up, and coming toward me is a small elderly woman (80-85, I'm guessing) pushing her cart. We begin to pass when she says, looking towards the gadgets (I am NOT making this up) "I wonder if they have something that will keep my pie crust edges from burning."

(I know you think I'm making this up, or that I've lost my mind and imagined the little old woman. Not. I called my husband immediately as I was leaving the store to make sure I had at least some kind of witness.)

I took a stap back and to my left, picked up the silicone ring I'd looked at, and said, "Here's what you're looking for," handing her the object. She looked at me in such a funny way, then looked at it, said "My goodness, this is it, isn't it?!", looked at me again, and placed it in her cart. She thanked me for finding it, and I said, "Well, sometimes we're in just the right place at the right time."

Now you might think this is lame, inconsequential, or even ridiculous. But there are just a lot of little things at work here. The Celestine Prophecy insists that you are where you are, when you are, for a reason. Never just coincidence. Even though the book's examples may seem far-fetched, that theory answers a lot of questions for me, not the least of which are "Why did our office manager think to mention Linens & Things to me," "Why did I look at that obscure little object which I really had no interest in," and "Why did that woman audibly ask for an object?" She didn't direct the question at me -- it was more like thinking out loud.

So, do we all go around experiencing these things without ever giving them a second thought, or can you think of some things that have happened in your life that seem common yet have an ethereal quality that you can't explain?

And how far back should we look into some of these occurences? In other words, who should I blame for this chance encounter with the pie ring/baker lady? Should I put the oneness on the lady for being there at that moment in time? Myself, for having looked at the ring in the first place? My doctor, for scheduling me there that day? My office manager for sending me to that store? My sister, for giving me the gift card? Linens and Things for having a closeout sale and publishing it for my office manager to see?

See how these things can get out of hand?! No, I'm not losing my mind. I suggest to you that you take a moment to analyze your next coincidence and write it down. It may make you appreciate why you're where you are.

And send me your stories...

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Thursday, November 06, 2008


Originally, I was titling this post as "Revisiting the Republican Party," but "revisiting" implies that I "visit" in the first place, and that's not entirely true.   I occasionally look in from outside, share jabs with friends who are Republicans, and read scathing articles and comments by Republicans.  But visit?  No.

I was listening to Wisconsin Public Radio this morning, and the morning show guest was Chris Lato, former Communications Director for the Wisconsin Republican Party.  He was speaking to how the GOP now needs to begin to remake itself, find how to get their message across, and to return to the conservatism the members want.

I found all of it fairly smug and clueless for a number of reasons.  First, there's the assumption that people want this "conservative" attitude to continue.  Second, it's mostly rhetoric, anyway.  Most of the liberals I know are more conservative that any "conservatives" I know.  These are people who want to stay out of the lives of others, to let them make their own decisions and live life as they wish.  That sounds pretty conservative to me.  "Conservatives," on the other hand, wish to decide for us on many levels.  They don't want me to decide whether I should continue through pregnancy, regardless of how I got that way.  They want to preach to me in their own religious doctrines and damn me to hell if I make a decision that isn't in keeping with their doctrines.  Never mind if I have my own doctrines and beliefs.  They fight hard to keep me from marrying who I wish because anything but a man and a woman in marriage is a sin.  Again, that religious doctrine.  Somewhere along the line the Constitution and its separation of church and state has been ignored for their greater good.  And, though I know most people don't want to hear it, we liberals are generally much more conservative fiscally than you "conservatives."  Boy am I going to get blasted for that one.  

Take Ronald Reagan, for example.  Lato also held up Ronald Reagan's presidency as a good example of the Republican Party's conservatism.  I always respond to a sentence in which "Reagan" and "conservatism" are used together with a snicker and a shake of my head.  Reagan is portrayed as this magician who ruled with a conservative iron fist.  He did, actually, campaign on the premise that he would reduce government--"to get government off our backs"--and reduce the amount of government spending. He actually grew government tremendously! Reagan not only increased government spending by an enormous amount, he even outspent Carter's wild spending of 1980.  In fact, it took a 40 percent cut to bring us back to Carter’s 1980 levels. Reagan also substantially increased the percentage of government spending to GNP.  That, my fellow Americans, is not conservatism. What about Reagan's 1981 tax cut?  That's all I hear about when I start to criticize Reagan's policies in front of republican friends.  Yes, what about that tax cut.  It was offset by two tax increases that year, and in 1982 Reaganomics cost American taxpayers $100 billion in the form of the largest single tax increase our history.

This election year made me at the same time cynical and hopeful.  Hopeful that a woman like Hillary Clinton or a man like Barack Obama could in fact get us back into some kind of sanity in this country, our spending, our attitudes about our world supremacy.  But extremely cynical in the underlying belief that it would some how be taken away from the voters as in the last two elections.  

What can Republicans do to remake their party?  Doubting that anyone cares what I think, I'll post my humble ideas anyway.  
  • First, stop lying to yourselves and everyone else.  I seethe when I see a "Pro-Life" sign.  It's not true.  You are anti-abortion.  Say that.  Because although I respect your right to your own beliefs and opinions, I know full well that the GOP will not support the "life" of that child or its parents later on when they are struggling and need social programs to survive.
  • Second, don't assume that the electorate is stupid and relates to the ignorant, clueless, "folksy" persona that has been personified by Sarah Palin. We may think she's cute and has something in common with us, and that might make her a good friend.  But I cannot imagine that anyone would want her leading this country, no matter how you voted in this election.  
  • Third, perhaps it would be best to stop calling the "GOP" the GOP.  Grand Olde Party should perhaps be replaced with something that doesn't imply that it's the good ole' boy network.  There are some powerful and highly respected republican women out there. 
  • Finally, stop with the "conservative" rhetoric.  It's come back to bite the party in the, ahem, derriere too many times.  Politicians in general are not conservative with the money they spend because it belongs to someone else.  Besides, loosely,  "Conservative" means closed-minded;  "Liberal" means open-minded.  You don't need to jump to my side of the aisle in order to open up to ideas that aren't your own, and you really aren't helping anyone by clinging to Scarlett O'Hara ideals. 
People I know on all sides of politics seem to want a leader that is well-informed, confident and at the very least, dependable. A lot of Americans seem to think that Barack Obama is just that, yet he was humble in his acceptance speech, and admitted that he would need to win the respect of many people. John McCain is that as well, or at least was before this election during which he seemed to cave to Bush politics. He chose a person as a running mate who was so completely out of her league that the American people were alarmed.  Not just democrats, libertarians, socialists, etc. -- but American People, collectively.  It takes nerve to criticize Barack Obama for a lack of experience when you're promoting Sarah Palin.

By the way, Nancy Reagan voted for Obama.  Perhaps the fat lady has begun her song to the Republican Party as we've known it.

Thanks to for some additional information and rantings!

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