Saturday, October 04, 2008

Note to a Friend in Boise, ID

Thanks for asking about the political climate here in New York, vis-a-vis Boise, where you say the Obama supporters are mostly "wannabe intelligencia and those who don't pay taxes." I spend a fair amount of time writing and demonstrating, so it's nice to just interact one-on-one about political issues. I often wonder what it is that has divided America so much.

From my perspective, our three biggest challenges are currently:

1 - The environment.
Our thin little biosphere is important to me, go figure. But we're treating it badly. It's MORE important than the economy, but business and personal interests seem to always give it second place. The vast consensus of scientist agree that human consumption of fossil fuels is the primary cause of a potentially catastrophic climate change. Furthermore, it's clear that fossil fuels will eventually run out. Let's change to renewable energy sources as fast as possible and stop talking about drilling and burning.

Also, besides energy policy, our government, on both sides of the aisle, seems to do everything to promote consumption of consumer goods on behalf of their precious economy, and on development in precious habitat when we need to scale back, for the planet's sake. Our consumption isn't making us happier.

2 - Economic opportunity for the bulk of Americans.
We seem to have left the bottom sector of the American economy in the dust. For the past few decades, the rich have gotten richer and the poor poorer in real dollars. I fear there is a growing class system in the US that is becoming more and more entrenched. We need money for education and grassroots programs.

(Incidentally: Why do the Republicans seem to say nothing other than "Tax Cuts Tax Cuts Tax Cuts" especially for the rich and for corporations and for capital gains? It clearly doesn't help the economy, and certainly not the poor.)

3 - The social fabric.
This is a less tangible issue, but we see it all over. The breakdown in civility and the ability to communicate. Television and the automobile have isolated us in our suburbs, malls and homes. Suburban America feels like a wasteland to me. I think we need to address the structural basis of our nation's alienation.

There are other issues that concern me very much, campaign finance, foreign policy and our nation's military/police buildup, including our huge prison population, mostly male. But these three above concern me the most.

I think what you were really asking me about is Obama, so I'll get to that - I like him especially because he seems to see the big picture. Long term environmental and energy policy, not just "Drill baby drill." Whole globe foreign policy for the 21st century, not just Iraq and "We must win." He seems to see the world optimistically, like I do. There is great potential out there, and it flows from courage and innovation and love, frankly. Not the fear, retrenchment and hateful words that I see so much of from the conservative side.

I don't see anyone really addressing issue number 3 above, but I feel the Republican party has completely abandoned numbers 1 and 2. Forget it with the environment, they are atrocious. And they seem to have no idea how difficult it is for the working poor to "make it" in America these days.

Again, I really appreciate your reaching out to me on this. Honestly, sometimes it makes me want to cry when I hear what middle America thinks about some of these issues. I hope I sort of went off in the direction you were asking about. If you can give me a feel for what the climate is out there in return, I'd much appreciate it. Just say what you feel, not what you think I want to hear.



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