I used to be a wuss. I grew up in a family and a culture that wanted me to be quiet, well-behaved, and obedient. I lucked out when my parents started breaking those rules in the '70's, and continued to luck out watching my 85 year old dad call BS on RW noise whenever it crossed his path.
I moved to Texas in June of 2008 to help my sisters take care of our parents. Mom's dementia was fairly severe, and dad was having problems with his legs. One of my new responsibilities was taking him to Physical Therapy 3 times a week. He'd hobble in, shaking off my offer of an arm to support him, and within minutes be in a discussion with someone, therapist or patient, who was repeating Fox Newsisms.
I always knew he was smart, I had no idea how smart, or how phenomenal his memory was. Someone would start in on something - government is bad somehow - and he'd hit them with Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, Alexander Hamilton, Benjamin Franklin, Thorsten Veblein, Epictetus, Jesus, and Galileo. I started out worried he'd be lynched, saw that even people who were hard-core righties were impressed with his knowledge, and with getting some facts about the Founding Fathers vision of America, Jesus' vision of how we treat people, and the insanity of a consumer only culture.
I joined this community sometime in there, and mostly just read. I found other Progressive sites, and started learning about using the Internet to find out what you want to know. I ended up being an Obama supporter mostly based on his speeches, his writings, and a sense I'd begun to put together that he had a far larger agenda than being elected to the Presidency. He was seriously concerned with our fragmentation, with the national distrust of government, with our degrading civility. He wanted to do something to change that, to start undercutting the RW propaganda machine mostly in order to teach us that a well run efficient government is the friend of the people.
I can't make a coal mine owner run safe mines, neither can you. We need government for that, and for scores of things we take for granted and would suffer without.
After President Obama was elected I started seeing the beginnings of various circular firing squads in the trenches here and elsewhere and I did MORE research, reading and thinking. The most stunning was a couple of days looking at Democratic circular firing squads from the past. The anger with how weak Social Security, Medicare, and Civil Rights Legislation were compared to how they began. Then I did a little research on leftie attitudes toward Carter, Clinton, Gore, Kerry. I started seeing a pattern. The Republicans start selling a meme: He thinks he invented the Internet, He's an effete snob, he's weak, ineffectual, so stupid he thinks conservation is going to solve our oil problems. Within days Democrats are repeating it, with perhaps a leftie twist or two, and suddenly we've got Reagan, Bush, Bush II running things. Well Cheney and the neo-cons mostly ran things, but you know what I'm saying.
I started to understand why Obama was so concerned about the future of the country long before the Bush Financial Disaster. The propaganda machine is so effective it sells to the smart people, the people who know there's a propaganda machine at work.
I started commenting about things, and was often castigated or mocked about some of my positions, but somehow I survived. When things got really ugly during and after the Health Care Warz I started to fight harder, to stop being nice and polite and quiet. It was clear I'd have to have facts, links etc if I wanted to be heard in the middle of pie fights, so I found and used them. I found other sites, places where there were people who were reading the bills, getting the details, and analyzing what was really happening. (LOL - yesterday someone mocked me for using one of those sites as a resource. Imagine a Democrat wanting details and facts!)
What I learned toughened me up, it taught me to stick to the point, stick to the facts as I know them, and to not be intimidated by people who wanted me to go away.
That started leaking out into real life. I confronted my mom's caregiver when she started some birther bullshit, told her it made her sound stupid to believe that a vast FBI/CIA/ Democratic/Republican/media conspiracy had somehow been created in order to get a black foreigner elected to the White House. To what end?
I gently smacked down someone whining about how Obama is killing small businesses, told him that Bush enacted 426 new regulations for small businesses and Obama was turning them back and simplifying the system, not to mention funneling a whole lot of money into it. "If you want a strong business environment and a healthy economy, elect Democrats. Don't believe me? Look up the stats on the internet."
I did a lot of it on Thursday on various message boards and sites, targeting ranters who were in despair about the SC decision.
It was pretty simple. "If I understand you correctly, you're okay with your parents or grandparents having to decide between food and medication, with your neighbor dying of a heart attack because he can't get covered because he has heart disease, with your wife finding out she'll have to have $250,000 on hand if she really wants to beat breast cancer. You're okay with being dropped by your insurance company during your open heart procedure. You think it's unfair to make insurance companies pay out 80 to 85 % of every premium dollar collected on actual health care costs. You think it's fine to pay CEOs multimillions, which means you pay two or three times more for health insurance and health care than you would if they were less greedy. If you're comfortable with all those things, go in peace. I'm not. Thank You Obamacares!"
It may not change the minds of the ranters, but it puts the truth out there for the people whose entire head hasn't yet exploded.
I'm not so scared of taking on the haters as I used to be. It still makes me sick to my stomach to look someone in the eye and say "That's not true, here's what is......" but I'm getting braver every day, and I do it despite the hollow pit in my middle.
I am the change I've been waiting for. If I don't have the guts to confront dishonesty, to add clarity, to present a different slant or some facts that disrupt the conventional wisdom who will? Obama is my President, not my well trained puppy. He's the President of people I find appalling, too. He has a responsibility to provide the best leadership for people I wouldn't follow into a palace if they gave it to me.
He's not going to do things the way I'd like him to do them because I'm not that damn important, I'm one of hundreds of millions of citizens who have concerns and priorities.
That racist fuckwad over there is also a human being who needs a job, health insurance, an education, and a government that works at all levels. If I stop at "that racist fuckwad" I'm not bringing that change in any way. If I swallow the bile and say "Let's see if I have this right......", I might just change someone who overhears or reads what I said.
This isn't easy stuff. I want to be liked and approved of, and I walk away from some of these personal encounters thinking I've really done it now. A couple of weeks ago I mouthed off in Church - the Catholic Church I don't belong to, but they pay me to play their organ and piano for services. (not much it's a poor congregation). I've developed some really close ties there, people I love and admire despite some of their theology. I told 2 of those women that praying for religious freedom didn't mean much when laws were being passed that ignore the religious beliefs of large percentage of citizens. I told them that Rep. Lisa Brown wasn't muzzled because she said a bad word, she was shut down because she said her religion says the life of the mother comes first, and the law they were passing said the opposite.
I expected to hear from the Religious Ed committee that they could no longer use my services. It could still happen, but I think these women took me seriously and understood something very large and very frightening. Some Catholics may feel like they're winning this round but the Evangelicals mostly hate them. They know that. What's the next round? Maybe they'll wonder about that.
Since we're on this topic at the moment, a revealing comment from an Iranian who was being interviewed about the people who are going to be executed for drinking alcohol. Rough paraphrase: People are leaving the religion now that it's become the government. They buy alcohol because the religious rules mean less now. It's not good here.