Tuesday, February 02, 2010

My So-Called Political Life: The Making of a Jaded Citizen



The Nixon Administration: I was born on the Fourth of July in 1972 into a family with not one know democrat in a community that is very, very, very republican. I may as well have arrived in an elephant onesie. If my parents were able to have “life-long republican” stamped on my birth certificate, they probably would have.

The Ford and Carter Years (the 70s): I don’t think people whose age is a single digit have much of a political life, but their political future is indeed being shaped by their family, since their young friends are also too young to have true influence. Let’s skip talking about parents and talk instead of their parents. My grandparents never taught me that I am better than another based on the color of my skin, etc. but — as I say a lot these days — actions speak louder than words. Some of the things that came out of their mouths were stunningly bigoted and some of the beliefs they held were steeped in misconceptions, generalizations and personal history. Like one grandfather, who had a hard time accepting my brother’s Japanese girlfriend (now wife) because he fought the Japanese in WWII. Or my DAR grandmother, who grew up in the South, and had some rather not very nice words to describe people born with skin darker than my own. Another grandfather had a Jewish boss who didn’t allow my grandfather to take the day off for his own father’s funeral: I bet you can see what that lead to. And homosexuality? It wasn’t even discussed.

But grandparents, I always thought, are charter members of the let-it-slide generation, which means it is nearly impossible to change what they have been indoctrinated into. I am not making excuses for them, but it is pretty difficult to find a forward-thinking person born in the early 1900s. What does this have to do with politics? I think race and gender and culture and all of their manifestations impact our political beliefs. And flash forward to my adult life, and I can say unequivocally that I am not racist, classist or homophobic (obviously) in any way. Yes, I consider this an accomplishment.

1980: I voted in my first presidential election. We third graders cast our ballots and an overwhelming number of us choose Republican Ronald Reagan over incumbent Democrat Jimmy Carter. But I was in third grade, so it is safe to say that I was 1.) voting for jelly beans over peanuts or 2.) voting what my parents were voting. I mean, what third grader is capable of independent thought? This isn’t Lord of the Flies: We eight and nine year olds don’t rule the world.

1982: Boy George enters my realm of existence; fights for space with Alex P. Keaton, the republican Wunderkind. And yes, I liked them both, with equal measure, which lead to the realization that I could indeed hold in my head two diametrically opposed thoughts at the same time. In marches Madonna and Prince and Erasure and all the rest. Gender is bent, lines are blurred, homosexuality starts to get a foothold in our society’s dialogue.

The Reagan/Bush teen years: I was republican, but, sadly, only because my family was and most of my community was. I never really thought about it much. Let’s face it: I was more concerned with getting my collar to stand up just right and figuring out which tank top to wear under my off-the-shoulder sweatshirts. Finding scrunchy socks was my mission, not finding a political platform.

The First Bush Administration: I start my college life at NYU. I went from a small, undiverse high school (150 in graduating class: All white, except for two people of color) to one of the most diverse colleges in the country in one of the most diverse cities in the world. Eye-opening, to say the least. Yet I still clung to my Republican label. But mainly I was too busy exploring nightlife and drinking to think about the political system.

The Bush to Clinton Transition Between 1990 and 1994: During college, I shed my republican skin and put on a new Democrat coat. Blame it on diversity. Blame it on drinking. Blame it on feminist thought. I’d say I based most of this conversion on social criteria: Hot button issues like health care and help for the poor and a woman’s right to chose and civil rights, all of which I was firmly in favor for. Bizarre to think that things like “Homeland Security” weren’t even remotely on the radar yet. Clinton fever was sweeping the nation and I was happy to be swept up along with it. I went to my first Democratic fundraiser alone, and sat on the ground in front of Lauren Bacall and listened to Barbra Streisand sing and thought, I am with my people!

The GW Years: I am really, truly an adult. Nicole and I have commenced our relationship; I zip through two graduate degrees; we plan to have kids. All this without the protection of marriage. For the first administration, I am firmly, completely, happily on the Democrat side, even though many people I know are not. But a little political ennui seeps in during the second administration. Ideas start creeping into my thoughts like “nothing will ever change” and “everyone is in it for themselves.” Shouldn’t we all try to help each other, and look out for those who are most disadvantaged? For example, I think welfare is a flawed but necessary system. It is a life saver for a huge percentage of our population. And such a polarizing issue. I am generalizing here, but many Democrats will call it a life saver for people in need and many Republicans call it a hand out for lazy people. Would I rather shut all programs down and spend the money on things that benefit me? Sure. But I feel like that is not the right thing to do, and that we, as a society, need to think about others as well. Even if that means I need to lose out a little.

All Aboard the Hope Train: I went from being born a Republican to becoming a democrat to becoming jaded to …. It’s all about me now. I am making decisions based on what is best for me and my family now, period. f you are going to openly oppose gay marriage, I will not vote for you. Isn’t that an awful attitude? I went to from voting based on an ideology that I though you best serve the country to voting based on my own selfish wants and needs. A complete turn-around from what I used to think.

I was very politically aware during this last election. Neither candidate was overwhelmingly appealing. I liked Obama’s social issues, to an extent, but I think McCain had a sounder financial platform. I couldn’t get past McCain’s Palin choice or his anti-gay marriage ideals. I was one of the only democrats I know who was not fully in the Obama camp or slapping a bumper sticker on my car. And I am still not. My jaded-ness has reached an all-time high and I now long for a partyless race or some sort of massive change that I am unable to articulate. Because a system in which something as huge as health care can be decided by the election of one person is severely flawed.

And now, it’s national budget time. Obama’s not terribly original plan is to cut spending and raise taxes. It’s not his fault: Permutations of this formula are really the only options at any president’s disposal. For us, for me, if this all passes, that means will be paying 39.6 percent, as opposed to 35. Really??!! Almost 40 percent of our income will go to taxes? It makes me angry because I say that we pay all this money in taxes and get no special benefits. Nicole points out that we indeed take advantage of infrastructure and a police force and things like that, but still. These days, I want more to show for it.

Where does that leave me now? Socially democrat but fiscally republican? Independent? Just jaded? I am not sure. It just seems like everything is completely broken, flawed or outdated. But it is safe to safe my political bad mood is very much tied to my current bad mood.

And the groundhog predicts another six weeks of winter? Has he ever NOT predicted that? Stay tuned for more entries inspired by my sourness… But today, I am trying to drag myself out of this mood. I am trying a new schedule out with the girls. And I want to take them somewhere special.

Pictured above: Avery’s drew this spider. Isn’t that pretty good? There are clear legs and little shoes on them. Also pictured, Avery’s yoga/crayon pose.

35 comments:

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wow. what a great post. I was also raised in a republican family and honestly can't remember when I started to have my own political awareness. I think being involved in the arts is where it started.
But I am frustrated by the lack of progress right now. what the hell?!

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Pufferfish said...

I grew up in a very racist, conservative, religious and homophobic family. They weren't political per se, just ignorant.
I think the light went off for me in a philosophy class my freshman year of college. I started questioning everything I was ever taught by my family.
The struggle to remove myself from that life and the racist thoughts I grew up with in a small Midwestern town took a while. Traveling all around the world and making NYC my home has eliminated all traces of my former life!
While I would proudly identify as a Democrat--I'd say the older I get and the more money we make--I'm socially liberal but financially conservative. It doesn't really fit into a neat bucket of politics, does it?

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Susanica said...

Wow,how sad that several of your commenters seem to be spam. I just wanted to let you know that I appreciate your post. I never thought of the subtle shift that takes place when one has children. A desire to make sure that whatever you are "for" is for your family. As always Jennifer I appreciate your insights and writing. -Monica

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What you have to do is, coordinate the numbers that are called out by the host with what you have on our sheet, aiming at filling up a pattern reading bingo. The pattern would be announced at the beginning of the game, so you have to be careful to know what pattern you are looking out for. The cards have the b-i-n-g-o letters on rows and numbers running as a column. A host would call out a letter-number combination, which you would have to mark on your sheet. For example if I-34 is called, you will have to look at the I column down to search for number 34. In case you have it, you place a market on it, and so on.

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Playing bingo needs more than luck or skills and techniques, contrary to what most believe. Bingo, just like any game of chance, comes with rules and regulations that players should observe. Being a player comes with responsibilities and etiquette.

Winning the Game

The moment you figured out you won, you must immediately yell BINGO, and it should be loud enough for the floor walker to hear. The pot money shall be given to the winner once their winning card is confirmed. Well, in winning or once you know you just won, the most important thing is that you shout the winning word BEFORE the time elapses. If the game proceeds and the next number is mentioned and you failed to shout "Bingo", your winning card is disqualified. Therefore, this is the rule you must know.

There may be cases when there are two winners, and in this case the pot money shall be divided equally among the winners. Supposing there are two winning cards, the two winners will share half the prize money.

Bingo Game Rules

Bingo rules are basically the same no matter in which Online Bingo hall you play. But still it's good if you know these rules by heart. If it is your first try, then ask for handouts and inquire from pros regarding the game rules. Nonetheless, the ideal thing to do if you have questions is to ask the floor walker and not the person seated beside you. You should clarify things and doubts before the game starts because asking too many questions as the game proceeds could well distract you. This guideline also applies to those who are newcomers at casinos, those who play roulette for the first time.

Bingo halls demand an age limit of 18 years old. If you are below this age, you are prohibited to play. Some bingo houses ban alcohol inside, so players aren't supposed to take liquor nor drink it inside the venue. Smoking may also be restricted inside the venue, as there are designated smoking sections.

Take note that some Bingo houses don't allow food but some do, so it basically depends on the venue. Policies vary among different venues. For instance, some bingo halls allow reservation of cards, while others don't allow it. Some allow people to leave the venue in the middle of the game, others forbid it. But there are general policies observed in all bingo houses, such as disqualification of tampered bingo cards. There is no way you can get away with a tampered card because the walkers are adept at identifying authentic cards from tampered ones. You could be banned from a bingo establishment if proven liable of tampering a card. Hence, you should play honestly.

Interestingly, some venues offer special bingo games for kids although some halls don't allow players to have companions while playing. Suppose you bring kids with you, don't let them run around the venue and bother other gamers. They should behave well whilst you play and the game proceeds. Play quietly and don't recite the numbers you desperately want to come off because you'll be much of a disturbance if you do. Decorous playing is expectant of all players, even those who play roulette at casinos. Also, having a valid identification is important because you don't know you might win and need to present credentials.

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