Friday, March 21, 2014

Here’s What to Give Up for Lent

Now let’s take a little break, from real-life Tom Clancy thrillers about disappearing airplanes, and from foreign despots doing remarkably accurate Adolf Hitler imitations (the election results were legitimate, that’s all the territory we want, we need to protect speakers of our language from harm which their country’s government couldn’t provide, and more).  It’s Lent, during which it was once a common custom for people to give things up.  So what would I like our conservatives and liberals to skip for at least its 30 remaining days?

Conservatives, give up complaining about Obamacare.  It’s the law, it’s moving forward (even if more than a little clumsily), and it’s crystal-clear that by decade’s end it will be as well established as Social Security and Medicare are now.  The stance against it is Wrong Side of History #1, and, if you can’t find something constructive to concentrate on, at least find something else to carp about.

Liberals, lay off harping about global warming, climate change, or whatever you’ll want us to call it next.  Your proselytizing reminds me of door-to-door religion sellers – if you’re confident about what you’re saying, then why do you need to convince others?  Some people who doubt that the whole package – not only that we know beyond any sane doubt that the planet is getting warmer, but that humans, especially Americans, are causing it, and that that is bad, and that the problem will go on indefinitely otherwise, AND that people can viably make the difference between salvation and disaster – is doubtlessly correct are not scientific Neanderthals.  Hush, and let the facts, if they truly support your position, speak for themselves.

Conservatives, it’s overdue by at least 16 months, since the 2012 election results were final, to dam the steady stream of criticizing Barack Obama.   He’s scheduled to be our president until January 2017.  Do you want to impeach him, remove him from office, and replace him with a Republican?  Sorry, can’t.  Running him down on each issue that comes up (Charles Krauthammer’s column, for one, while putting the occasional ball in the center-field stands, could be titled “What Obama Did Wrong This Time”) will NOT help your 2014 or 2016 causes – most moderates have just plain had enough of that stuff.

Liberals, and your guru Noam Chomsky, take time off from accusing conservatives of hating the poor.  Just because they don’t support destroying half a million jobs by raising the minimum wage, or trying to raise everyone’s prosperity to middle-class status, doesn’t mean they’ll drop their often devout Christianity by letting them starve.  Focus more on the right parts of that.  If you hadn’t asked for the sun, the moon, and the stars, more food stamps and longer unemployment benefits would have been a slam-dunk by now. 

Conservatives, on same-sex marriage, it’s time to give up.  Quit.  Fold your hand.  Leave the playing field.  That is Wrong Side of History #2.  Government licenses and humane rights, such as visiting your life partner in the hospital, are not sacred anyway.  And, if the experiments in Colorado and Washington prove nondisastrous, get ready to do the same thing with marijuana legalization.        

Liberals, for at least the next several weeks stop attributing all human differences to race, sex, or sexual orientation.  People are different in vastly more ways, and more important ways, than those things, which don’t explain everything.  I doubt you’re ready to believe that all groups aren’t 100% biologically or even culturally equal in interests, priorities, drive, and therefore economic outcomes, but at least stop dumping everyone’s actions on their genital type, skin pigmentation, or who they want in bed with them.

Conservatives, at least briefly table the gun-control paranoia!  So you think Obama, like every other Democratic president since Andrew Jackson, wants to ban guns?  OK, document it.  And then don’t believe it.  Even if everyone in Congress lost what was left of their common sense, the avowed blue-steel Democrats there would see that anything like that would get laughed out of committee, even if it bizarrely got that far.  And no, restrictions on things like giant ammunition magazines in public are not sinister precursors to such a law, any more than driving a mile west to your Atlanta grocery store means you’re headed to Los Angeles.

Liberals, did you think you were escaping blame for resisting change?  Hardly.  Through the next month, please stop equating the unions in the earlier days of the Industrial Revolution, when labor and management were true opponents and neither employers nor employees knew when workers should and should not be pushed or endangered, with public-sector organizations today.  As the Japanese knew decades ago, once unions are in place they should be fully cooperated with, but advocating expanding their scope, especially by evoking images such as the widows of workers dying in steel mills getting denied even that day’s pay, is Wrong Side of History #3.

Conservatives and liberals, consider, over the next four weeks and two days, that the jobs crisis might be not only permanent but a higher priority than any of these.

There you are.  If nothing else, let’s all heed the proverb about not speaking unless we can improve upon the silence.  If you don’t like that one, at least consider what Tom Lehrer said:  “I feel that if a person has problems communicating the very least he can do is to shut up.”

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