Wednesday, October 22, 2008


some say that liberals have an unreal view of the world. Some like, Palin, even state they are not part of 'real' America. Some like, Bachmann, even suggest they are anti-American. Some have labeled Obama's progressive tax plan as 'socialist', while forgetting inconvenient facts like Alaska receives more federal tax money than even Mississippi.

There are some who have bought into a divisive America where there are 'real' Americans and then there are liberals:

"There are Americans, and there are liberals," proclaims a bumper sticker that adorns my office. "Liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God," proclaimed Rep. Robin Hayes (R., N.C.) on Saturday at a rally in North Carolina. Speaking of Mr. Obama on the day before that, Rep. Michelle Bachmann (R., Minn.) expressed deep concern on MSNBC "that he may have anti-American views." And on the day before that, GOP vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin saluted "these wonderful little pockets of what I call the real America, being here with all of you hard working, very patriotic, very pro-America areas of this great nation."

Foursquare fans of perceived reality must have rejoiced when they beheld, on the hard streets of suburban Toledo, Ohio, that most authentic of men, Joe the Plumber: "the average citizen" in the flesh, according to Mr. McCain; "a real person," according to Mrs. Palin, who deftly ruined Mr. Obama's "staged photo op there" -- a subject on which Mrs. Palin can surely count herself an authority.

Joe the Plumber -- along with his just-discovered supporter, Tito the Builder -- has brought to the GOP what Richard Wirthlin went looking for so long ago: blue-collar affirmation. But consider the degree of reality-blindness it takes to kick out the authenticity like Joe does. The rust-belt metro area in which he lives has been in decline for decades. In 2007, the Bureau of Labor Statistics ranked it 335 out of 369 small metropolitan areas for unemployment; for home foreclosures, according to a 2007 article in the Toledo Blade, it is the 30 worst of all cities in the nation. According to Census numbers, median household income in the Toledo area, measured in constant dollars, has actually decreased since the late 1970s.

Joe's town may be circling the drain, but Joe's real concern, as the world knows, is that he might have to pay more taxes when his ship finally comes in. For good measure, Joe also declares Social Security "a joke": "I've never believed in it," he told reporters last week. Maybe that's because this realest of men knows that Social Security is just a hippie dream, despite the Census's insistence that 28% of his city's households received income from that source in 2003. Maybe all those people would be better off if we had invested Social Security's trust fund in WaMu and Wachovia -- you know, the real deal.

I too believe in America and am fiercely proud of my country and yet I lean liberal in many areas. My great-grandfather and grandfather emigrated to our country in 1914 to escape the pogroms in Ukraine. My sister's side of the family has been here since before the American Revolution. And yet, because I lean liberal on many issues, there are some in this country who do not consider me to be a 'real' American. There is something terribly wrong with those labels 'real' Americans and anti-Americans. It is this unreal attitude that seeks to divide rather unite. This unreal rhetoric is spurred by the Ann Coulters, the Rush Limbaughs, the Sarah Palins, and others who see two Americas: Those that are liberal and those that are 'real'.

I see a free country in which people can air their views and have disagreements and all are real Americans. I see in Obama's tax plan a reduction for those in the middle class. It is a strong middle class which helps to maintain our economic engine. When you have a great disparity of those with great wealth and those with great poverty and a small middle class, the economy becomes stagnant. For years, there have been warnings about the shrinking middle class in America.

It is time for the middle class to have a real break. Many of the small businesses which the Joe the plumbers own do not come close to making over $250,000 a year in taxable income. It is the unreal believe that a tax plan which reduces the tax burden on Joe the plumber and places it on those who make over $250,000 is 'socialism' that will continue to keep our economy stagnant. It is the effort of Evangelicals to keep pushing the religious dogma of Intelligent Design as science in our schools that will continue to harm our education system. It is the believe that some how there is something wrong with having a college education that will keep our country stagnant.

We no longer live in a frontier country where rugged individualism was needed in order to survive. Most people now live in cities where community building is necessary. This more than anything is why we need Obama. His message is not one of 'real' Americans versus liberals but one of together we can work to improve the lives of all. And it starts by relieving the tax burden of the middle class.

For years, we've been hearing that the tax breaks on businesses will help create jobs and yet time after time, jobs go overseas. Small businesses have been the job creators in our country and most make under $250,000 a year. Isn't time they had a tax break?

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