A Party Candidate?

Part 1
I recently received a political piece from Alice Norris. The over-sized postcard featured her accomplishment while Mayor of Oregon City of freezing property tax rates for 5 years. This was said to have allowed the city “to get its finances in order and become a more attractive place for businesses and families to call home” and was one of the reasons “she was able to turn things around in Oregon City.”

There was no mention I could find, anywhere on the piece, of the Republican Party or Democratic Party.

You can make an argument for freezing (or lowering) taxes to stimulate the economy. For the last 40 years that has been the position of Republicans–at least for corporations and the wealthy. For the last ten years or so it has also been the position of the Democratic Party–at least for working-class individuals and small business.

Part 2
I’m an old guy. I was raised knowing that the Democratic Party was full of “tax and spend liberals” and the Republicans were the “borrow and spend” conservatives.

Democrats were for social safety nets, labor unions, a livable minimum wage, and equality (well, after the late ‘50s, anyway, sort of). Republicans were for minimum government, no social safety net, and no “foreign adventurism” – i.e. war (well, until the ‘50s, anyway.)

When the Democratic Party was in power, they maintained what we now think of as high taxes to pay for social support programs, shifted wealth from the few to the many, created productive jobs, and most people were better off.

When the Republican Party was in power they cut taxes, cut social support programs, shifted wealth from the many to the few, exported productive jobs to foreign countries, and most people were worse off.

Part 3
After the ’70s both parties moved to the right with increasing speed. As the Republican Party became more conservative (and more imperial – i.e. warlike), they were sometimes very successful at winning elections, particularly when they could split the electorate over highly emotional issues, like Communism or Terrorism or National Security (Be afraid. Be very afraid.)

In response, the Democratic Party seemed to conclude, “Well, we can move to the right, too. So long as we are not as conservative as the Republicans, more centrists will vote for our candidates, and the liberals will continue to vote for us because they have nowhere else to go.” They were sometimes very successful at winning elections, particularly when they could split the electorate over highly emotional issues, like health care reform or ending the war in Iran. (Ask not what you country can do for you; ask rather what you can do for your country. We can do it.)

Part 4
The transition is almost complete. Now we are at the predictable point where it is hard to determine whether a particular candidate is from the Republican Party or the Democratic Party without looking the party endorsement by their name on the ballot.

Child Neglect – It’s a Mater of Religion, Redux

In August of 2009 I wrote an article about child neglect and how our attitudes about religion influence how we respond as a society.

I wrote about two Oregon events that had recently come to my attention and set me thinking.

The first was the trial of two parents for the death of their child. They were charged with manslaughter when their child died, because, as members of a religious sect that believes that prayer, not Western medicine, is the way to restore health, they did not seek medical help for their child when they knew the child was ill.

The day the verdict in that case came in, another child died.

A 5-year-old child was playing in a river. It appears that the child fell in “knee deep” water and was pulled into the current. The child drowned. The child was not wearing a flotation device, and was not under the supervision of an adult. The local media had recently devoted much time to recent drownings and the Coast Guard reiterated the need to wear flotation devices, especially for children.

As a society, we treated the first child’s death as criminal. We treated the second child’s death as a terrible accident. We charged the first child’s parent with manslaughter, but did not charge the second child’s parents with a crime at all.

Religious persecution.

For some time now, the Catholic Church has been in the news about pedophile priests. Literally thousands of people were sexually violated as children. An experience that horribly shadows the rest of their lives like no other experience. In many cases, their parents were told. The parents did nothing. Sometimes they did nothing because they did not believe their child. Sometimes they did nothing because they did not believe the Catholic Church would allow such behavior. Sometimes they were afraid of what would happen if they accused the priest. And sometimes they simply didn’t care.

Now we are calling for charges and retribution. From the priests. From the Catholic Church.

I have heard not a word suggesting that the parents, who in many cases knew of the abuse and allowed it to continue, should be prosecuted.

Again, we seem to be willing to hold parents responsible for the welfare of their children only when they believe in some “fringe” religion.

What do you think?