It Is So Simple


I had a wonderful conversation today with two intelligent, thoughtful women. One is a college student. Incredibly bright, well read, an engineer in training, and a gifted singer. The other is her grandmother, born and raised in the Netherlands, but an American for many decades.

We were chatting about life at a family party, and the topic of motherhood came up. The young woman has her doubts about wanting to raise a child. As I teased her and prodded her about the joys of parenting, she said something that brought my words to a halt.

“I don’t know where this country will be in five or ten years. I don’t know that I want to bring a child into a place like this.”

That lead us to a discussion of national politics, and to the scary and bewildering place in which we find ourselves.

We talked about the current horde or Democratic candidates, and realized that all three of us are firmly behind the progressives who are running. We all shared our excitement about the fact that there seems to be a competition to shake out which one of them is the most liberal.

How refreshing, I said to them both, I’ve been calling myself a Socialist since the 1970s!

That’s when my new friend, the woman raised in the Netherlands, began to share her thoughts.

“I don’t understand this strange reaction to the word Socialist! It doesn’t mean that you don’t want any kind of capitalism! It means that capitalism must have a conscience!”

We talked about the fact that a healthy and thriving country is one that takes care of the very basic needs of it’s people. About the fact that our friends from Europe are unable to understand when we tell them that our daughter will only have six weeks of unpaid leave after giving birth to a child.

We talked about the fact that if a country is able to produce a healthy, well educated, financially secure next generation, it is likely to have a stronger economy than a country whose people live in poverty.

“It’s so simple!” said my friend. “Socialism means that the government takes care of the social needs of the people. Why don’t Americans look at the lives of Europeans and see what it could be like here? Why don’t they look at life in the Scandinavian countries? Or in the rest of Western Europe?”

I had no answer for her, obviously. But I agreed with her assessment.

It is so simple.

Taxes should be paid to the government so that the government can provide the basic needs that individuals can’t grant to themselves. Education, paved roads, healthcare, national defense, a secure retirement, a healthy environment.

“It is so simple.”

Yes. It really is.

I wonder if the United States can ever get itself to see that fact.

Progress


I am finding it difficult not to jump up and dance when I see the actions and words of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and some of her colleagues. I find myself smiling behind my hand when I read her tweets about her introduction to Congress. 

I love her posts that show the hypocrisy and the nepotism and the overt money grubbing that goes on the hallowed halls of our most esteemed centers of power.

But more than anything else, you know what has me doing the happy dance these days?

It’s the number of women who will now be representing our national interests in Congress.

I am ecstatic when I see all of those female warriors lining up to take the reigns of power.

You see, I am the mother of a woman. I am the mother who watched CNN relentlessly during the Iran-Contra hearing way back in 1988. I can remember it so clearly and so perfectly. 

I was a young mother of one little girl. We lived in an old rented house that needed quite a bit of work. I remember the day when I was removing old paint from the bannisters that lead from our first floor up to our second. I remember that the TV was on, and that my little girl was sitting beside me with a paint scraper in her hand as the hearings were shown.

The talking heads were opining about the seriousness of the events. The camera panned across the hearing room. My little girl saw the people who were assembled, knowing that they were our national leaders.

I will never forget the moment when she looked up at me with her deep brown eyes, a frown on her innocent face. “Mommy”, she asked, “where are all the ladies?”

In that moment, I had no answer for her. I didn’t know where all the “ladies” were. I didn’t know what to tell my girl about the powers that ruled our country, our lives, our world.

Now that little girl is a woman. She is a teacher, an activist, and a mother of her own little girl.

A little girl who I love more with every breath I take. 

And that is why, when I see the incoming freshmen in Congress, and note the rows of powerful young women, I have to rejoice. I have to stand up, raise my arms, sing praises to the goddess and to all of the powerful women figures who have lead us to this moment.

This time, when I sit with a little girl and watch the actions of the Congress of the United States, I rejoice in the fact that I will not be asked, “Where are all the ladies?”

HERE are all the ladies. At last.

 

So Just to Sum Up


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Feelin’ like a crab.

Here we are, in 2018, in the United States of America.

We have a President who got elected in spite of bragging about sexually assaulting women. He has been married three times, and cheated on a pregnant wife with a porn star. He has made fun of a woman who came forward to state that she’d been sexually assaulted.

As a woman, this doesn’t make me feel particularly protected.

We have a Congress that is made up of people who are only worried about getting reelected. Other than possibly Heidi Heitkamp, they don’t care about who did what to whom, who supports equal rights for the Americans who actually pay their salaries, or who is totally biased against half of us.

Appoint an accused sexual predator to the Supreme Court, even though he just went on national TV to scream about his promise to strike back against half of the country and half of Congress? No worries. As long as you get reelected, who cares?

As a woman, this doesn’t make me feel particularly protected.

And now we have a Supreme Court that includes not one but TWO credibly accused sexual predators.

Awesome.

As a woman, this doesn’t make me feel particularly protected.

In fact, as a grandmother who has lived through my own widely accepted and lightly dismissed sexual harassment, I’m pissed.

As the mother of a young woman who escaped rape only because she wasn’t at the bar alone when her drink was poisoned, I am beyond outraged.

As the grandmother of a beautiful little girl who has had to learn at the tender age of three to say, “Don’t play with my braids. It’s my body and I get to choose,” I am enraged. I am furious. I am disgusted.

But what is worse is that I have lost what little bit of faith I had left in my country and in my government.

No matter what happens, I will never ever ever believe that the Supreme Court has an unbiased view of the cases before it. I will never ever ever believe that my members of Congress have my needs or my protections in view.

And until the current President, the man who is so proud of his sexual predator past, is taken away and replaced by someone with a shred of integrity, I will not be able to believe that the Executive Branch of this country has the interests of any women in mind.

I am not only not feeling patriotic tonight, I am feeling an absolute disgust in my government. I am not proud of my country. I am not happy to be an American.

In fact, if some other country would take me and mine, I’d be there tomorrow.