By Sean Kosofky
Allow me to unravel my endless scroll; the one that contains the laundry list of naughty deeds conservatives have hoisted on our country, essentially crippling all of us. I need to get this off my chest because of the Puritanical pissing match we are all forced to endure, especially during this holiday season.
Prohibition. As many of us know, Prohibition was a colossal failure which incubated a nasty and corrupt underworld of mobsters and black market crime that victimizes our communities to this day. My own home town of Oak Park prohibits businesses from selling spirits by the shot, therefore limiting development and visitors to our community. Because our town is a legally-enforced oasis of Jack Daniels-free restaurants, Oak Park voters continue to send much needed revenue to Southfield, Ferndale, Royal Oak and Detroit, instead of keeping them and their money within our borders. Michigan’s ban on selling alcohol before noon on Sundays is a relic passed by Bible-belt blowhards who demand that everyone observes their religious values.
Balanced Budget. Voters don’t care about balancing the budget. Most Americans live with debt in this sweet land of one nation under Mastercard. The truth is, no one has ever lost an election by failing to balance the budget – yet conservatives spend us into oblivion and then demand that we shrink, starve, choke or cane social programs into submission, hurting people who rely on these necessary services. But what is actually true is that having the flexibility to spend more than we have allows the U.S. to be more responsive to all Americans.
Drug War. Probably the biggest boondoggle our country has ever plunged into, head-first, is the relentless and failing war on drugs. With little to no evidence that marijuana is the social disease they claim it is, the U.S. government has destroyed lives, communities, and families while shoving low-level drug “offenders” into prisons like sardines, sapping taxpayer money and doing the opposite of what we know works: keeping these folks working, not making license plates. If these “offenders” are really addicts they need treatment, not prison. Prison has plenty of drugs…and rape, and abuse. What it doesn’t have is rehabilitation. No one wins, and billions that could be spent on improving schools or securing health insurance goes down the vein. Yep, down the vein. The war on drugs has only increased drug abuse in America.
Anti-Gay extremism. In places like Michigan we are already suffering from a brain drain, losing talented and open-minded young people to cities like Chicago, Seattle, San Francisco, New York and D.C. So why not push our future leaders and taxpayers out of the nest faster by telling all gay families to get the hell outta Dodge? Nothing recruits business and new development like a big billboard at the Windsor Tunnel and Toledo border saying, “Welcome to Michissippi -you could be banned next.” Sending a message that LGBT people aren’t welcome hurts our local economy and tourism and invites people to move to other states or even Canada. Then again, maybe that is what the religious right wants – a whole new Salem or Plymouth Rock, nestled somewhere between Holland and Howell.
Attacking the Poor. After all, billionaires shouldn’t have to pay taxes when they inherit their daddy’s third yacht. Conservative Republicans gave the richest 3% of the population a huge windfall with Bush’s tax cuts and then attacked poor Americans by gutting welfare and social programs. They continued the assault just months after Hurricane Katrina exposed the wound of America’s abandoned poor. Lower-income individuals and families that receive government assistance are far more likely to spend the money locally, generating tax revenue and helping local jobs. Tax cuts for the wealthy do not translate into “trickle down” benefits for the poor, and trying to convince poor people that it is in their best interest to help rich people is offensive, arrogant and cruel.
Fundamentalism. Extremists want to hurt public education by supporting private and religious school vouchers. They want to confuse our children with creationism and put them in harm’s way with reckless “abstinence only” education. They want to brainwash gays into living a heterosexual lie and they push their own leaders, like Ted Haggard, into the closet so deeply that when they emerge they have no family, no career and no dignity.
Above all, fundamentalists preach diligence. I agree – that we, all of us, need to be diligent in resisting the religious rights’ attacks on our children, our economy, and the poor among us.