It's almost time for our February caucus. It's been such an interesting election season so far; I feel like this is a historical time, we are at such a crossroads and I am on one hand eager to participate, and on the other hand scared that no matter who gets elected there will be no real change. In Washington we moved our caucus up to February 9th, and it looks like this year we may impact the outcome of the Democratic nomination. I don't have a clear favorite as I have in years past, and I find it fascinating that the Republicans appear to be in the fractured position the Democrats always seem to be; they used to have one issue to rally around; gay marriage, abortion etc. and this year they all seem to be divided along religious lines which is always a divisive issue. You have a Mormon, a Baptist Minister, and a "Moderate" (oh, and Saint Rudy of 9/11) and I have a hard time envisioning their followers rallying for anyone outside their belief system. It's amazing to me that religion allegedly brings people together, but historically more people have been killed over faith than any other issue. Heck, look at what's going on in Iraq and Afghanistan.
I read an article in Vanity Fair last month by Sebastian Unger who was embedded with a unit in Afghanistan and one of his larger observations was how divided Afghanistan is; village by village belief systems are so different. Each sect has their own dialect which makes it virtually impossible for troops to find translators, or to create allies. All of these sects are wrestling each other for control of key areas, Afghani opium production provides 93% of the world's supply, and we're in the middle, allegedly looking for Osama Bin Laden, while our President makes an arms sale to the Saudis who are busy exchanging weapons to the Afghans for opium and the Pakistanis are exchanging weapons for Afghan timber (!), all to get the Americans out so they can continue to fight each other for territorial control.
It's just insane that domestically we're talking about illegal immigration, tax rebates and whether Hillary Clinton gave LBJ more credit for the civil rights movement than Martin Luther King, Jr.
Now we're back to; "It's the economy, stupid" and nobody is saying that if we weren't spending trillions of dollars at war that maybe there would be a real solution to bail out these sub-prime mortgages that have contributed so heavily to our economic decline. Nobody will talk about the fanatical dictator we call our President and the fact that he started his own "holy war" and that in his case, God is oil, or at least oil is the Holy Grail.
And what are we going to do for these men and women when they finally come home, limbs blown off, suffering from post-traumatic-stress-disorder and we have spent all of our money overseas and have nothing left to provide medical care, psychiatric care, housing, jobs or anything else that they so deserve? The VA put out a statistic that we have 200,000 homeless vets living on our streets (from all wars, not just current). Bill O'Reilly had the balls to go on tv and laugh this statistic off, saying "show me a homeless veteran and I'll find him a place to sleep tonight, there are no homeless vets." It's just so cruel that someone can accuse others of "not supporting the troops" but when it comes right down to providing the necessities once these soldiers come home they are ignored, or put in sub-par VA hospitals with peeling walls and rat infested rooms. Not enough medicine, not enough doctors, not enough mental health professionals, no housing assistance, employment transition, what kind of fucked up priorities do we have that we lionize these men and women while they serve and treat them like garbage, or worse like O'Reilly, treat them as if they are invisible after they come home? Who is really supporting these troops?
I wish I had any answers, but it always seems like I have more questions than anything. I want to see the candidates talking about this issue, because once we do come to our senses and bring these brave soldiers home we are going to have an epidemic on our hands and we need a leader who can provide some answers, not just a sound bite for the 5:00 news. I don't know who can best address these issues at this point, I just know the Republicans have had 8 years to fuck this all up and unfortunately, our Democratic leaders in the House and Senate haven't shown the backbone to push these issues either. "Throw the bums out" was a rallying cry at one point and I think it applies once again. It's as if they are so beholden to special interests, on both sides of the aisle, that they are so insulated in their wealthy enclaves that rescuing the middle class, let alone the lower class is beyond their scope of capabilities. I know there is so much fear of a "socialist" government that we are overlooking the fact that the top 3% control so much that we are more an oligarchical society than anything. Really, which is worse?