Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Restoring the Conscience of a Nation


I was up till 4am watching the returns, blogging, finishing off a bottle of wine and generally being insane. I'm glad to have made it over to the Dem Party's party for abit to hear Gabrielle Giffords' victory speech over the Minuteman Candidate, Randy Graf. What suprised me the most was that outgoing Republican Congressman Jim Kolbe was present at the rally and even went on stage to congratulate Gabby and have their pictures snapped like obedient politicians when there are lenses pointed in their direction.

The Democrats won big yesterday. After all the recounts and close races are tallied, they will probably win by an even larger margin. I have to say - it's bittersweet.

Power is such a fluid thing. For the past six years the Republican majority has shut out the Democrats on virtually everything. It got so bad that any hearings/meetings they wanted to hold would have to be conducted in the basement of the Capitol. That's not leadership - it's bullying - and I would argue un-American.

I'm hoping that there will be a major shift in the way this country conducts its business but there are countless issues at the foundation of our people that must be dealt with in a civil, pensive manner. The first, and foremost, is the ways that we still cling on to our programmed bigotry.

Arizona will be the first state in the nation to defeat a so-called "Protect Marriage" initiative. I referred to it as the Civil Union Destruction Initiative because that is exactly what it was - a removal of rights from committed couples of all types - straight and gay. The churches are directly responsible for stoking the fires of disgust and division when it comes to this particular item. When are we going to take a collective breath, stare ourselves in the mirror, and realize that it is wrong to deny avenues of Love? I'm happy that we defeated the ban, but other states endorsed their versions of it.

The second item is something that I take very personally because it involves my personhood - immigration reform. While I am a seventh-generation Arizonan, I still find myself continually on the receiving end of the entrenched xenophobia that many people hold towards minorities. This is not some imagined blight - it is real - and forgive me if I don't feel it politically expedient to cave when it comes to supporting human rights for all people.

There were four initiatives on the ballot in Arizona directly aimed in the direction of the Latino population of Arizona. The supporters would like to tell you that they were solely designed to restrict the rights of undocumented immigrants - "illegals" - to use their demeaning term. But again, that comes from an assumption that we live in an era of equality and dignity for all people. It is a false assumption of the highest order and if you can't see it then I don't know how to describe it to you. We are imperfect beings, and the ways in which these initiatives will be carried out will adversely affect more than just their intended "targets".

So while I'm happy today that there will finally be a real check-and-balance against an Imperial Presidency, I'm also yearning for a seismic shock to the conscience of the people in this country. Rights have been restricted instead of expanded, bigotry has reigned free instead of denounced and support for an unfettered military machine continues unabated. The political power may have shifted with this election, but there is much, much more work to be done to make the Constitution a living document for all people.

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