Wednesday, March 2, 2016

American Values: They Ain't What They Used To Be

I think it's time we start evaluating our country (USA) a little differently. Our values are changing, yet we seem to hear, almost daily, about how we need to protect traditional American values or family values. 

Values and "family" values are big for Republicans. They are talking points and have been issues that the GOP could rely on to almost always take the starch out of liberal Democrats on. What are traditional family or American values anyhow? We don't really have anything concrete on this, but generally we are talking social issues that have seen most Americans having a conservative viewpoint on. Gun rights. Abortion. Recreational drug use. Gay marriage. Those sorts of things.

A new set of values are being forged. It's been an evolution and it won't be long until the prevailing wisdom will pretty much be on the side of progressives. It's just working out that way as we move forward as a people.

Abortion isn't a topic I like to get into much. I find it to be a terrible procedure and I wish there never had to be another one done. Not because of any high and mighty moral standard or religious belief, but because it's just not the best way for us to show that we value life. With that said, I'm not anti-abortion. I just don't like it. In fact, I'm 2/3 pro-choice. I get squeamish about that last trimester where a cared for baby would likely survive outside the womb and live a life in this day and time. Regardless of what I think, the country as a whole is about 50/50 on it. So, we can't really say anymore that abortion is some rogue undertaking that only the far left champions.

Recreational drug use is another social issue that has been at the forefront of the "culture war" for decades. We love our war and Nixon's war on drugs and the super charged "Just Say No" Reagan campaign were crusades to spread misinformation about recreational drugs and to imprison both the user and dealer. In the information age, the truth should win out and it is. I'd never recommend anyone become a habitual user of any substance that wasn't necessary, but then, it's not my place to tell any grown adult what to do or not to do with their body. I'm not an advocate of hard drugs, but anyone that reads my blog regularly knows I am a staunch advocate of responsible marijuana use and I have a soft spot for consciousness expanding psychedelics. Those things have been a positive for me, but I know they wouldn't be for everyone. We have turned the corner. Legal pot is coming. Almost 60% of Americans are now for legalization of herb. I'd say that ship has sailed, as just 46 years ago only 12% favored legalization. Another value that the right wing has lost the edge on.

The last of the "big" values I will address is gay marriage.  It's been validated by the Supreme Court and as a civil rights issue, this was THE biggie. When I hear someone say "leave it to the states" I want to cringe. Leave pot legalization to the states if you want to (although nothing says civil rights like the ability to put what you want to in your own body), but there is no way that marriage isn't a civil right. It wasn't too long ago that mixed marriages were illegal in many states. Try pulling that shit today. You can't have protection and benefit for some and not others based solely on sexual preference.  60% of Americans agree that gay folks should be able to marry. It should probably be 100%, but some people can't escape the trappings of their religious beliefs long enough to think it through. A big "family value" that has shifted sides.

I don't want to make this out to be an anti-Republican or anti-conservative thing. I don't have much use for "sides" anymore. I don't know how much longer our nation can abide this concept that there are two teams playing against each other. When will we bring "we" back into fashion? And by "we" I mean American citizens. It's OK to's American to disagree, but at the end of the day, we don't need to fight these paper "wars" over ideas and concepts. In our democratic republic we evolve and change through majority while still giving a voice to those in the minority. The wars on drugs, gay marriage, and abortion are over. The progressive side won out. It is now part of who we are. I have no problem with someone not wanting those things, but you fight these battles through public opinion, which then gives rise to political reality. That's what happened for us to change our perceptions and laws on the subjects and if they are to be reversed, then it should be through the same means.

In my humble opinion, American values means being on the side of individual liberty, while maintaining social standards that give everyone an equal opportunity of success, well being, and happiness. It doesn't come in the form of individual wedge issues. It's a sense of what gives the most people a chance to live a life that they want for themselves. We've changed as a country and it's time to move on from fighting lost wars to building a culture we can pass on to our children without apology. A good start would be for us to start worrying about what the thieves and charlatans in the two major political parties are doing to this country. If we put as much effort into holding our elected officials to a higher standard as we do trying to fight progress, we'd really  have something going here, wouldn't we? We have to get over the "us vs them" thing first.

Geez, I know this was a rather dull and preachy post, but I just felt like writing something. Maybe I will tackled the Trump phenomenon next for some fun?