Two of my greatest passions, although there are certainly many more, are writing and politics.  I love to write—be it fiction or essay.  It’s the physical exhale of all the many complex thoughts in my mind.  I often feel that if I don’t have that exhale then I will suffocate.  It doesn’t matter if no one reads those thoughts or if a thousand people do.  I write for me, but I certainly hope others may gain something from it, even if they disagree with the thoughts.  In fact, it’s when someone disagrees that all parties benefit the most because it creates “a little more conversation.”

The other passion that I mentioned is politics.  I love politics.  It’s my soap opera, my comedy, and my Bathroom Reader.  More importantly, it’s politics where we have a chance to make our voices heard and shape the environment in which we live.  America 2011: We have quite the divided politics.  We need as much conversation as possible, and it’s the down-to-earth conversation from average voters like me that may make the most difference.  We hear one thing from the media and one thing from the politicians.  We have a World Wide Web and infinite time and space to articulate our thoughts.  Let’s do so.

I haven’t published a blog since January 2011.  My energy shifted from writing to researching.  I spent all of spring 2011 completing a master’s thesis on political communication.  I also was in pursuit of a new career, and I successfully earned a career in college teaching after ten years of high school teaching.  Education is another passion of mine, perhaps the biggest.  The time I spend thinking, writing, and researching is done so for the sake of my students.  I don’t expect people to agree with all of my views.  I expect us to listen to one another, to challenge ourselves, and to grow.  I can’t grow by only doing one thing.  I grow by doing many things, and so I took a break from the blog to devote my energy and resources to those other things.

But now, the politics of the day is scarier than ever.  I’m angry about many things.  I’m angry about ignorance and discrimination, and that will be the primary focus of this blog, although I do plan to include other random sections on everything from education, healthy lifestyles (physical and mental), technology, communication, science, pop culture, and more.

So this is my re-introduction to the world of blogging, and if you are still reading, I’d like you to comment, please.  What would you like to discuss?  What issues are you concerned about?  What would you like to have a little more conversation about?  Please comment.  It’s your comments that will guide what I write in the future.

To start, and as part of this introduction, I’d like to provide a glimpse into my worldview and why I possess that worldview.

I’m a teacher, first and foremost.  I view the world as I view my classroom.  That means that every person, no matter race, religion, ability/disability, sexual orientation, and so on deserves equal rights. I refuse to look at a student regardless of whatever “label” they have and say that student doesn’t deserve an education.  Similarly, everyone in the world deserves equality.  I will speak out against discrimination on any level.

Furthermore, some students come from very lucky backgrounds.  They had a wealthy life, a supportive and educated family, and every resource they could imagine.  Success for them comes rather easily.  Many students, however, are not so lucky.  They have several barriers to overcome: socio-economic factors, a lack of family support, and a lack of resources.  They also deserve the same access and opportunities for education and success.  So does everyone in the world.  It’s a moral issue to me—not a political issue—to reflect on how to help such individuals succeed.

Our divided political nation is split on much more than the economy, and that’s what we need to discuss.  It’s one thing to share diverse views on economic policy and job creation.  We need that.  It’s another thing to only have two diverse views with one party generally supporting social equality and another generally opposed to it.  Let’s face it.  The Democrats certainly don’t have all the answers, but as a generalization, their social policies include greater acceptance and equality than the Republican policies.  The Republicans, as a whole, have way too many aspects of discrimination and ignorance in the party platform.  I do not mean to say I am opposed to all conservative policies. Again, I want diverse perspectives on how to tackle serious economic issues that affect everyone.  I, however, have a serious problem with a party that—outside of those economic policies—almost universally promotes ignorance and discrimination.

Here are some examples, and these examples are some items you could comment on that you would like to hear more about (and in honor of Herman Cain, I’ll provide nine examples):

  1. War. On Saturday November 12, the GOP Presidential candidates suggested torture was simply “enhanced interrogation” and a part of war. Example of ignorance.
  2. Religion. The discrimination that religious non-Christian or anti-religious groups, such as Muslims and atheists have encountered is repulsive.  Freedom of religion means freedom of religion. Period.
  3. Science.  Science is not a conspiracy.  Some science contradicts traditional Christian beliefs and some conservative Christians refuse to accept fact.  However, when it comes to properly educating our children and SAVING THE PLANET so that future generations survive, we have to start accepting science.
  4. Gay rights. The GOP fight for DOMA, lack support for effective anti-bullying laws, and refuse in most cases to support gay marriage or civil unions. Such behavior is immoral and ignorant. It’s time to make sure individuals of diverse sexual orientations have the same rights and benefits as everyone else.  More importantly, if Republicans don’t change their stance on gay rights, how will we ever protect our youth from bullying and discrimination? When we have a major party supporting discrimination, is it any wonder that their children do the same?
  5. The role of government.  The government is made “by the people for the people.” Why are we condemning it all the time? The people do not have control over private institutions.  People can vote.  We should focus on electing people who can best run our government programs, not those who wish to destroy them.
  6. Taxation.  We can’t keep giving breaks to the wealthiest of Americans while punishing the poor and middle class.  It’s counter-productive.  The poor and the middle-class are the WORKING CLASS of America.  We make this country work. Don’t punish us; rather, simply we should have everyone give a fair share without showing a bias to those who make a certain amount of money.
  7. Health care.  When did providing health care for children become a debate? No matter who you are, you will receive care at a hospital.  If you don’t have insurance, the taxpayer picks up your bill in most cases.  It makes sense to have something like the “Affordable Care Act” to reduce health insurance costs, provide more options, and make sure everyone is covered under an insurance plan.  It benefits everyone, not just a few.
  8. Attitude.  By attitude I mean we have to stop fighting that which another party has introduced or supports simply because it was introduced or supported by another party.  We are better than that.  We must work together.
  9. Public workers.  In the last few years, cops, teachers, firefighters, and other public workers have taken a lot of heat: reduced salaries, ridiculous evaluation procedures, cuts to pensions, and even the loss of the right to bargain.  Public workers work for everyone.  We must protect them.  We must respect them.  They educate your children and protect your families.  Why are we attacking public workers?

So these are just a few of the many items I wish to discuss in the future.   I would hope someday that we have political parties (all political parties) that respect and promote religious rights, scientific evidence, health care, public workers, and all of the above.  We would then come together—without a platform of ignorance or discrimination—to solve our nation’s toughest problems.  We would provide unique ideas for strengthening the economy and the nation.  An issue like health care or gay marriage wouldn’t divide us.  Think of how much better we would be.  How much more successful.

Once we eliminate ignorance and discrimination, the road to success would truly be paved with bi-partisanship.  That is what our country needs and deserves.

  1. Ryan says:

    I believe you should talk about bullies. The people who make fun of those who are different in any way. Whether they are gay, bigger, smaller, not as smart, and everything in between

  2. Janis Alanis says:

    Namaste. I bow to you Joe. It’s like you are an eloquent, classy version of me! Ha! Let’s do this.

  3. mikwonder says:

    The Republican agenda on the economy isn’t great either, to put it mildly. Lower taxes, deregulation, privatization; all sounds like it’s about expanding freedom and personal responsibility. But in practice it boils down to turning more and more economic and political clout over to a smaller and smaller group of individuals. Democrats are not innocent as far as policy choices that further the redistribution of wealth upward go, but they don’t have the audacity to tell the growing mass of working poor that they,too, can be rich…if they just “work harder.” A conversation needs to be had about the proper roles of corporations, democratic governing bodies, and we the people as voters and consumers. We need to ask ourselves: Where this consumption-based economy is headed and what purpose does it serve? But what has to be addressed directly, right now in the midst of a jobs crisis and declining wages, is the reality that the rich are getting richer while everyone else poorer, and one whole half of our political apparatus promotes an agenda that will keep it that way.

  4. Ricky says:

    Random ideas for posts.

    Campaign reform, Term limits and career politicians
    Atheism – why is it such a scary word in the US?
    Waterboarding and why it is torture. (Plenty of videos showing how its done
    Health care reform – why no one wants it until they need it.
    How the US’s revolutionary history continues to influence modern day policy (often negatively)
    Your views on the Obama presidency so far.
    A run down of the republican presidential candidates and what you like/dislike
    Discussion about the lack of engagement and apathy with local politics
    How SOPA will stop content creation/innovation and could destroy the internet as we now it.

  5. I certainly agree with all your points, Joe! I think we should further discuss health care and how to make it affordable and accessible to ALL Americans! Health care is a RIGHT not a privilege and should be treated as such! I have lived for 8 yrs on the NHS and in that time I have made extensive use of it and it is something I would fully recommend!

    Also, discrimination on any ground sucks and needs to be stopped.

    • Joe says:

      Absolutely. My ears bleed whenever I hear the GOP candidates say the first thing they would do in office is to remove “Obamacare.” All they are trying to do is insert a wedge deeper into the American public. The facts of the Affordable Care Act speak for themselves.

  6. M Erik K says:

    I wouldn’t mind an open discussion about atheism or physical health while were at it. We often comment that atheism is scary to much of America, but I can say as an atheist that many Christians genuinely bother and worry me — I’d say scare, but perhaps I’m too proud to admit that. Admittedly there’s a lot to modern religion outside of cultural origins that seems silly to me, which I think is what Christians generally dislike about atheists, but there’s plenty in contemporary religion that should give rise to concern for anyone. Sorry, Joe, but you know me; while I love a debate, I actually avoid religious (unless it’s cultural such as in the case of Japan) and political debate because of the undue stress. Physical health could yield some interesting topics though. I’d also be curious to see how missionaries are generally viewed; we live in an age where non-denominational churches and mutual respect for religious belief has gained some ground in America (and in many other nations you just get laughed at for talking about it at all), but there are still missionaries in countries like Japan. It seems a baffling contradiction with maybe not the core concept of being a missionary, but the original ideal that it was invoked in with spreading contemporary civilization — it now seems to often do the opposite. Anywho, sorry to blather, just some initial thoughts.

    • Joe says:

      Don’t be sorry. It does get stressful. Perhaps we can develop some kind of “how to debate politics and religion without getting stressed” topic. 🙂

  7. M Erik K says:

    I realize I said religion and politics give me naught but unrest, and also offered talking points for religion-centric topics. Sometimes it can’t be helped. My point was more that if we could have a few alternatives now and again it could be nice 😀

  8. Amy says:

    Interesting food for thought, Joe. Sadly, I am STILL pondering your question as to who would get my vote. As I am more than grateful to live in this beautiful nation, I am saddened as I think about the current state of our union, due largely to politics in general. I do not think that our founding fathers envisioned this division of parties when they drafted the Constitution. Thanks for some thought provoking ideas. Now, if we could only solve these issues!

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