As a little Prologue, my only brother is 12 years younger than I am. I grew up in Northern Indiana very near the Michigan state line. He grew up mostly in middle Tennessee. I went to a small college in Indiana, he went to a small college in northwest Missouri. He is 22 and this is his first year teaching school in St. Louis. If you've read my previous posts, you probably know that I voted for McCain along with the majority of TN residents. He not only voted for Obama, he donated to his campaign and went door to door for him (Tena you may have seen him at your door?). After some initial gloating on his part, we had a bit of a philosophical discussion on politics and civic duty. Below are some thoughts I shared with my brother the morning after the election...
I don't have a problem with Obama on immigration, education, and several other things. I don't think its possible to deport 12-20 million illegal immigrants, and I believe if they are working and not in trouble we ought to give them a path to citizenship. We should secure the borders, but securing the borders and giving paths to citizenship are not mutually exclusive. I disagree with him on taking from the "rich" to give to the "poor". I disagree with his taxes on small business during this economic downturn. I don't have a solution, but I didn't run for President either.
My thoughts on social programs: I have a heart. I feel sorry for people who work hard and can't make ends meet. I've been there. I would like to see them receive help to make things better. But I don't believe that the government should be responsible for providing that help. The government, at all levels from local to federal, has a history of mismanaging money. The government takes $20 of my money to help others and wastes $15 of it on red tape and administrative costs. I would rather give my time and money directly to my neighbors, friends, and family that need help. Cut out the middleman. Make my $20 worth $20 in assistance. Obama talked last night about civic duty, and I think if people really heard what he said and really helped others around them, people they see on a daily basis, then we wouldn't need the government to intervene with assistance programs. Maybe because people here are more involved in religious organizations it is different. I know people here that the church has provided assistance with rent, utilities, food. That is the sort of civic duty and assistance that I am more than happy to support. I think the government assistance programs fuel a co-dependant relationship. People who need help depend more and more on the government and people who would be willing to help them through churches and other organizations become less and less willing to help them because they know that those people can get money through government programs. Its a vicious cycle that ends up taking a larger percentage from those who have and giving a lesser percentage to those who need it.
I think if Obama inspires change that is wonderful, so long as he doesn't dictate it. I think he is very intelligent and well spoken. NPR had a piece in which some whites offered their concern that the "they are in charge now" thing may get out of hand by some and that now the whites will have to step off the sidewalk and into the street to let them by. Barack and Michelle's law professor was also interviewed and said they are both intelligent and will do well, and also said that blacks can no longer claim any 2nd class citizen routine or fall back on "I'm black and deserve more" now that a black man is President- we are now officially equal, so get over the color issue.
After listening to McCain and Obama both speak last night I thought I could be on board with this. And I will certainly support my President and my Country. BUT, then I saw the freakin thugs (a very specific type of person, not necessarily related to a particular race) in Grant Park acting like now that Obama won they are in charge, and I'll admit I was a bit bothered. I don't get this same feeling from Obama, but I think some of the other blacks (like John Lewis from Atlanta) are feeling 'now its our turn to oppress the whitey'. Maybe its a different perspective living in the South, but thats the biggest thing besides the tax plan that bothers me. (At that point my brother even had the humility to admit that as an Obama supporter that thought had also crossed his mind).
I suppose for me, color makes no difference because I've never treated a black person as a second class citizen. Our own family is like the United Nations: my uncle is black, my cousins are biracial, another cousin married a Mexican immigrant, another married a Korean while stationed there in the army, and my own first husband and biological father of Oldest was a green card immigrant from Estonia in the former Soviet Union. I graduated from a high school where whites were a near minority. I do think some blacks will try to take advantage of this, but I would think and hope that Obama would make it clear that that sort of behavior is only magnifying something that should be a nonissue. The behavior yesterday of some Black Panther members at polling locations in PA, blocking entrances and telling white voters they won't be 'kept down by the man anymore', may be indicitive of how some will behave now that Obama has won. If I were black I would be just as embarassed by the 'now we are in charge' behavior as I personally am by the 'I won't ever support/vote for Obama because he's black' behavior of some whites. Racial equality is still a few years behind here in TN, and especially so in the rural areas. I remember in high school having a black girl cut me in the lunchline, and when I told her no cuts and moved up, she retorted with 'you owe me, get out of my way'. That behavior is the kind that only diminishes all the good things that have been accomplished. It may not happen in IN or MO anymore, but it certainly still happens here. If you fall back on feeling like you deserve something because of your history and the color of your skin, you are only perpetuating the stereotype that you are a second class citizen. I don't care if Obama is purple, I care how he is going to perform as President of the US.
I'm just hoping I don't have to plant a garden and keep money in shoeboxes under my bed to survive the next few years.