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REPORTS FROM THE FRONT
MONDAY, MARCH 5

PART 1: "BARTERING THE BIRTHRIGHT"
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LONG BEACH (coup2k.com) March 5, 2001 -- When pressed, many Bush voters who write The Diva admit that they disagree with his political vision and proposed policies, but are really looking forward to that extra $1800 of cold, hard cash they'll get every year...

There are times, especially lately, when I want to stop payment on my membership dues as an American -- times when I get a clear view into the hearts of my fellow-citizens, and my disappointment in them reaches its zenith (or is it nadir?) -- times I long to write off the whole sorry bunch.

This urge doesn't come, believe it or not, from reading the occasional over-the-top, wiggy-wiggy stream of filth -- more commonly known as "hate mail" -- from deranged and damaged creatures on the far political right.  No, it actually comes from reading the e-mails sent by moderates and swing-voters who happily bartered away their birthright (and mine) to vote for Bush in pursuit of his much-discussed (but little understood) tax cut.

Some fairly reasonable folks who voted for Bush write to me, usually to tell me that Bush won.  Once we exchange e-mails, and they admit that they don't care for the WAY he won any more than I do, I steer the conversation toward a discussion of politics and policy.  Almost to a person, they take the same incongruous position once Bush's policies are laid out before them.  It goes something like this, "Well, I don't agree with THAT, but..."

Now, you know when there is a "but" in the middle of an explanation like that, that a rationalization is soon to follow.  I am sad to report that the rationalization depressingly and almost invariably goes something like this:

"... but I have three kids, and a mortgage, and I want nice things, and I could really use that extra $1800 a year that I'm going to get when the Bush tax cut passes, and I want and need that money."

(Now, this discussion isn't about numbers, but I will tell you that I've yet to get an e-mail from ANY supporter of the Bush tax plan who has been even REMOTELY close to correct about their piece of the regurgitated pie, but I know that most Americans neither excel at nor enjoy math, so I let it slide.)

Next, I turn the conversation to a discussion of the "invoice of charges," so to speak.  I take whatever figure they throw my way (whether $500, $1800, $4500...), and ask them to break that down for me, vis--vis the policy initiatives they (and I) disagree with, that are Bush administration goals.

I ask, for instance, how much of that money do THEY believe is a fair trade for the decimation of the Fourteenth and Eleventh Amendments?  How much for refusing to acknowledge or correct the disenfranchisement of so many minority and low-income Americans?  How much for putting a woman's right to choose in jeopardy?  How much for moving government service funds out of that sector and into the churches?  How much for vouchers that drain money away from public schools and give it to parochial institutions (which don't even contribute to the tax base to start with)?  How much for placing the awesome duty of selecting the next Supreme Court nominees in the hands of someone like Bush?  How much for losing the President's bully pulpit as a teaching tool for tolerance and diversity for the next four years?

How much indeed?

As you can imagine, I never receive a reply to my request for this "break down of charges," just more self-serving talk of, "but I need the money..." 

It seems these Americans either love money a great deal more than I do, or love freedom and justice a great deal less.  And that is fine, really.  It's their prerogative to barter away their birthright.  (It is, after all, theirs and theirs alone, to sell.) The problem is that I never granted ANYONE permission to barter away mine, but my civil rights and liberties will be just as gone. 

PART 2: "THE WARREN OF THE SHINING WIRE"

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