The Little Boy With the Boots

Hi, Boomers,

Dang!  I hate to be political during an election year.  It’s boring and enervating.  Did I mention boring?  Politicians and pundits say the same things over and over again.  Every talking head bloviates.  I should know because I pour over the NY Times, the Huffington Post, and read all the op-ed pieces by my favorites people.  My most favorite is Maureen Dowd from the NY Times.  When I grow up I want to be her, Catholic and all.  Oh, yeah, that’s right, I was raised a Catholic with the inner soul of a Jew or Jewess as my old Jewish boyfriend used to call me.  Joan the Jewess.  But I digress.

I’m outraged about our political landscape.  Who isn’t?  I cite chapter and verse about Congressional obstructionism and political mendacity that produces magical thinking and worse, magical arithmetic.  However, I chose to twitter this morning about my outrage over the GOP trying to take over women’s health care issues and to pander to the right about closing ALL Planned Parenthood clinics.  Unfortunately, I was confined by the 140 characters and that made me more outraged.  I couldn’t say what I wanted to say.  After all, I’m was at Berkeley in the 60s.  We had more than our fair share of political activism.  Today, it feels like it was a dream.

Planned Parenthood isn’t just about decimating abortion information, but it handles all issues regarding women’s health care and serves a necessary and important function for women who don’t have insurance.  Or women without insurance could just go the emergency room for health care as Mitt suggested.  Surely, Mitt understands the folly and expense of that idea.  All I could twitter were a few words about the  GOP going after contraception and abortion like the Taliban on a mission, which then lead me to thoughts about Malala, the young Afgan girl who was shot on a bus by the Taliban for advocating education for girls.  Is this really the 21st century?  I guess because Mitt was raised in a religion that had no women leaders of any importance and regulated them to the home to raise the children, he has a misogynistic view of society.  Hail, hail, the gangs all here!

But surely my outrage hit the stratosphere when Mitt went through a binderful of women to fill executive and senior positions after he became governor of Massachusetts.  That lead me to thinking about how I never notice women around Mitt – just a few female congresswomen or senators inside the beltway who purr about his good looks.

My son suggested to me today that it was not big deal – just another inelegant slip of the tongue like that 47% remark – 47% of Americans are sub-par – the below the line faces on America’s map of success.  If money means success, then we need to review the soul of mankind.

Here is the truth:  What actually happened was that in 2002 — prior to the election, not even knowing yet whether it would be a Republican or Democratic administration — a bipartisan group of women in Massachusetts formed MassGAP to address the problem of few women in senior leadership positions in state government. There were more than 40 organizations involved with the Massachusetts Women’s Political Caucus (also bipartisan) as the lead sponsor. They did the research and put together the binder full of women qualified for all the different cabinet positions, agency heads, and authorities and commissions. They presented this binder to Governor Romney when he was elected as governor.  The Boston Globe reported that by the time Mitt left office, the proportion of women at the top had dwindled to below the level he found when he arrived.

Mitt’s answer was simply a way of deflecting the real question on the minds of today’s women:  Does Mitt believe that women should get equal pay for equal work, and if not, should she be allowed to sue for her equal pay?  See Lilly Ledbetter’s Fair Pay Act – the first bill Obama signed in as during his presidency.  At the end of the day Mitt had no response.

The last time I looked we lived in a free country.  It was founded on religious freedom and equal rights for all.  Calvinists, Lutherans, Puritans (a little too radical for me), Protestants (all those Christian sects) came to our shores and founded colonies that suited their needs and allowed them to practice their belief without interference.  But when governance was in its infancy, before the constitution and 10 amendments, America was made up of small interests groups like farmers, land ownership and merchant traders  In the area of religion, most sects kept to themselves.

When the Catholics came over, the Irish and Italians, things began to change because there was a pope in Rome calling the shots. The Jews were arriving simultaneously from Eastern Europe with another set of beliefs and every one thought they killed Jesus of Nazareth so fists started to fly.  I didn’t live during those times, but I know from reading history that there was plenty of “my belief is better than yours” and “stay out of my neighborhood because you aren’t one of us.” Can’t we just all get along?

Does it ever cross your mind that what is happening today – shoving beliefs down people’s throats is not so different from the Sunnis and Shias argument about who was chosen to inherit Prophet Mohammed’s kingdom and you better follow my guy or else we will be in a war for all eternity.  In America we have a pluralist society and that should give us a leg up in the tolerance department.  But it’s not working that way.  Who were the guys that presented a bill to Congress saying that at conception the embryo has all the rights of a full adult?  Is that going to be the law of the land if Mitt gets elected?  Who thinks up stuff like a woman who is being raped can magically stop getting pregnant if she really wants to?  And why is everyone forced into a belief system that is someone’s else’s fantasy?  I have my own beliefs thank you and last time I looked free societies don’t legislate morality.

The Little Boy With The Boots is the metaphor for people who think they need to press others into the service of their belief system because they know what’s right for everyone.  Have you ever seen a little kid wearing cowboy boots running down the aisles of a grocery store showing off his boots, thinking he’s hot stuff.  This kid knows everything.  He is sure about everything in his little life and he’s going to tell everyone he meets that he has cowboy boots on and he is special.   That kid reminds me of the self-righteous people in the GOP who absolutely have to tell the world what is right and what is moral.  Forget that you were raised another way; forget that you might be one of the 17% of our population who are atheists; forget that you might not believe that Jesus is the savior of mankind; forget that you are allowed to love anyone you want.

The little boy with the boots cries out in the store:  “Look at me.  I have all the answers because I am wearing my special cowboy boots.  Let’s hope  the GOP doesn’t get a chance to wear their boots any time soon.  Freedom is for everyone – not for just the self-righteous.





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