Saturday, May 29, 2010

Thank a veteran this weekend

What does Memorial Day mean for you? For too many of us, it's just another day off. Some might go to a parade, others might enjoy some other festivities (Brat Fest comes to mind). That's fine, and perfectly acceptable. But please, take some time out this weekend to remember a soldier whose life has affected you in some way.

This past week, the war in Afghanistan saw its 1,000 U.S. casualty. The milestone may seem small to some -- the Iraq war has seen more than four times that number -- but we seem to forget the enormous sacrifice that our soldiers give when we put things into numbers.

Each life that is lost is another story, another tale of a person with tremendous spirit, humility, and bravery, who has given their life to defend the nation they love. Imagine the feeling you'd have at losing a brother or a sister, a mother or a father, because of this war. That feeling is multiplied thousands of times over for countless family and friends of soldiers who have given their lives fighting in both wars we currently find ourselves waging.

Whether you support this war or not, please take the time this weekend to recognize the tremendous sacrifice our fallen soldiers have given us. Remember the soldiers who are still in Iraq and Afghanistan, and those who have fought in other wars for America as well.

Understand that, whether we agree with a war or not (whether it was Iraq, Vietnam, Afghanistan, or any other) the sacrifice these soldiers made wasn't for a specific policy or in support of one president versus another, but rather for the defense of our nation no matter what political party was in power. It's a noble sentiment to hold, one that we must recognize even if we disagree with a certain war's objectives.

This weekend, take some time out to thank a veteran, a personal friend or a stranger who has had the courage to serve this country. Then continue to fight for peace.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Christian rock group condones killing of homosexuals

Good Christians don't act this way.

A christian rock organization that has been prominent in national politics (being hailed, for example, by far-right politicians like Michelle Bachmann) has condemned the homosexual acts of gay and lesbian Americans. That's nothing new: far-right groups like these have been doing that for years, and will continue to do so for years to come.

What's terrible about this group is that it is applauding and encouraging the belief that homosexuality should be punishable by death.

"Muslims are calling for the executions of homosexuals in America," says Bradlee Dean, head of You Can Run But You Cannot Hide, the organization in question. He added, "This just shows you they themselves [Muslims] are upholding the law that are even in the Bible of the Judeo-Christian god, but they seem to be more moral than the American Christians do because these people are livid about enforcing their laws. They know homosexuality is an abomination."

Where does this come from? As far as I know, Jesus never said a word advocating killing people. Rather, He warned others of the dangers of not living by God's word, that those who did not would be held to account for their actions when they, alongside everyone else, would be judged in the afterlife. But Jesus never once encouraged us to kill people, much less a specific group of people like homosexuals.

Such rotten language ruins what really is a beautiful religion. Whether you believe homosexuality to be a sin or not, Christianity isn't about who can hate the sinners more or who can kill the most non-believers. It's about love and forgiveness, about treating your brothers and your sisters in a loving way, as you yourself would want to be treated. And yes, it's about encouraging people to live according to God's Word, but not through violent acts like murder but through His love.

This perversion of religion is a terrible thing. It offends me as one who defends the rights of everyone -- be they religious or not -- as well as one who practices the faith in question. As a Christian myself, I don't condone in any way, shape, or form brutal attacks or intimidation of sinners or non-believers. Such a belief would not only interfere with the rights of others, but also would be in direct conflict with my religious beliefs period.

Good Christians don't hate -- they love and they forgive, encouraging others to live in God's desired way, but not through hatred or violence. Those who advocate such beliefs are not good Christians, and should be shunned from the community of Christianity until they see the light.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Blame BP, lack of gov't oversight, for drilling catastrophe

If a company is able to prevent a disaster by spending a significantly small portion of its profits, should they feel obligated to do so?

Should that same company be held responsible for the damaging effects in the event of a manmade disaster happening as a result of the financial shortcuts that they took?

These are the questions -- with seemingly obvious answers -- that we must ask ourselves in light of the oil rig disaster within the Gulf of Mexico. The company in question, BP, could have paid for a device that could have stopped oil flow in the event of a rig explosion. Two other countries, Norway and Brazil, require this device, commonly called an acoustic switch, which is triggered by sound waves. The United States does not require it.

Requiring that this device be installed on all oil rigs would be a great start towards ensuring that this mess never happens again. The government must also regulate companies without granting exemptions on environmental concerns, making every effort to make certain companies are conducting business within the boundaries of the law.

BP was operating at a depth too deep to be extracting oil. They were careless with their work and didn't properly install the equipment necessary to ensure they could stop an oil leak in the event that one happened. What's more, 11 people lost their lives in the explosion, a debt that can never be repaid.

The company should be held responsible for all damages done to the environment, for the health concerns that will undoubtedly rise from this event, and for the jobs lost as a result of this catastrophe. The government, too, can share some blame, for having failed to properly regulate BP and all other offshore drilling facilities, as well as failing to enact stronger regulations that could have prevented this widespread leak.

This "incident" will have long-lasting effects. We can't let those who were responsible get away with it. BP must be held to account, and the government must change its laws to reflect what the people require: a safer, more dependable way to extract resources.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Fmr head of WI College Republicans becomes a Democrat

Yesterday, the day before the Republican Party of Wisconsin's state convention, a crazy thing happened.

The former chair for the Wisconsin State College Republicans switched sides, choosing to become a Democrat rather than aligning herself with a party that she considers too extreme.

The former Chairperson and current Eau Claire Senior Lora Rae Anderson previously expressed concerns that the Republican Party in Wisconsin was "alienating a younger, more progressive" generation within the state.

Anderson also expressed concerns over the GOP's rhetoric vs. action in the past, making the case that the Republicans were all talk. "Republicans complain a lot about taxes, but actions speak louder than words," she recently said, noting that, "under Democrats, Wisconsin's tax ranking dropped to its lowest level in almost 50 years."

In fact, that's true for most of the country -- taxes haven't been this low for Americans since Truman was in office.

Anderson's desire to sever ties with the state GOP isn't uncommon these days -- in fact, it's fast becoming a trend. Before Scott Walker was officially nominated by the party's delegates earlier today, Republican candidate for governor Mark Neumann challenged the idea that the state party should give its endorsement to either man.

Last week, Neumann announced that he wouldn't seek the party's seal of approval, opting instead to try and persuade the voting public during the state's primary rather than the heads of his party. "The next governor of Wisconsin should be picked by the voters," he said.

It's clear that Neumann is reading the writing on the walls: if you're a party-line Republican, you're not going to fare well in this election cycle. But if you're a TEA Party Republican, you'll probably fare worse, especially in "purple" states like Wisconsin.

The last time the state GOP did endorse a candidate, the people did in fact choose someone else: Lee Dreyfus, then chancellor of UW-Stevens Point, who went on to win the election outright. Dreyfus, of course, would probably not be part of today's Republican Party, just as Lora Rae Anderson has stepped away because of extremist elements.

The people of Wisconsin are fed up with the Republicans, and the GOP knows it. Some will learn from it, like Anderson, and move away from a party that is continually choosing extremism; others will move further right, alienating more and more within their party until only the far right fringe elements remain.

The Democrats sure are looking better and better this year within the state of Wisconsin.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Why libertarianism fails the "humanity" test

Rand Paul is trying to explain his libertarianism. His recent comments on whether he'd have supported the Civil Rights Act if he were a legislator in 1964 (he wouldn't in the private sector) have gotten the Republican candidate for Senate in Kentucky in a lot of trouble.

He isn't a racist himself, he insists, but rather believes that the founding fathers' intent was to allow business owners the right to be. If their establishment wants to be prejudicial, then let them -- and if the market punishes them for it, that will be all the incentive they need to remedy things.

In the public sphere, Paul would argue that the government must absolutely adhere to the guidelines of the Civil Rights Act. But in the private sector, the government shouldn't dictate how a private enterprise hires or serves people.

It'd be great if things actually worked that way. But if this were how the system worked, Paul would effectively be advocating murder.

That may be a harsh statement to accept, but imagine if Paul's Utopian, libertarian paradise came true. Private companies would be allowed to discriminate on any basis, simply because they didn't agree with a person's beliefs, or even based on a person's skin color.

We tend to forget in this country that medicine is privatized. Hospitals are privatized. Imagine, living in that libertarian dreamworld, if a black person were in a potentially fatal car accident in a rural, predominantly white area (the kind where Confederate flags still fly proudly).

Imagine this person being taken to a private hospital, only to discover this was a whites only hospital. The black hospital -- they'd probably use a different word for "black" -- was ten miles the other way. And don't bother hopping in that ambulance again...we own that, too. We're currently working on firing the guy who brought you here, who responded to your 911 call, because he should have known better and let that "other" hospital deal with it.

Yes, it sounds like a terrible, and perhaps exaggerated, idea of what COULD happen. A doctor's first rule is, of course, do no harm. But what about hospital administrators? They have no rule like this -- and they can run their business however they like.

They could get sued in this situation, of course, but if I'm understanding Paul's rhetoric correctly, they couldn't face any criminal charges for effectively carrying out this man's death sentence.

And this is why libertarianism won't work: at times, government intervention isn't preferable, but just damn HUMANE. Discrimination isn't acceptable -- a person should be hired because they are qualified, not because they look like you. A person shouldn't be promoted because they're one of the "good ol' boys," but because he OR she has the qualities necessary to lead.

Racism is a constitutionally protected right that an individual holds. But a place of business -- being part of the commerce of the United States -- has no right to bar certain people their rights to do business with them if the U.S. government so desires it.

We must reject the libertarian ideas of Rand Paul, and instead opt for a society where we treat everyone equally. Doing so isn't just beneficial economically, but socially as well.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Will Citizens United help Dick Leinenkugel?

Most of us are aware that Facebook groups can be used to take on a political cause. "One Million Strong for Barack Obama" is just one example of a political cause coinciding with a national movement on the popular social network. Even politicians now have Facebook pages, updating their statuses and sometimes causing political mayhem on the blogosphere.

At the state level, another interesting social movement is developing. Dick Leinenkugel, a Republican candidate vying to challenge Democratic Sen. Russ Feingold for his U.S. Senate seat, is getting flack from some Facebook users who are encouraging a boycott of his family's brewery, Leinenkugel's.

My first reaction to this idea was that it seemed kind of silly. Dick Leinenkugel isn't a direct part of the beer company -- his brother Jake runs most of the operations, and is quoted as saying, "Beer is beer, politics is politics -- I prefer beer." Not much of a fearful tone in that statement.

Then I thought a little bit harder, remembering the recent Supreme Court ruling (Citizens United) that now allowed corporations the right to use an unregulated amount of their capital towards political campaigns. Suddenly, the idea of a powerful brewing corporation funding a family member's campaign didn't seem so far-fetched.

Five years ago, a group of people attempting to boycott a company because of their political ties would be laughed at. Today, the idea that some people might want to boycott a product on that basis doesn't seem so crazy, especially given the fact that the corporation itself can now fund with unlimited amounts of cash its own commercials and other campaign vehicles for politicians ad nauseum.

I myself won't be taking part in such a boycott -- I don't really drink Leinenkugel's to begin with, so any action on my part would be a moot point. It's easy to understand, however, why someone else might want to make this decision, might want to purchase other beer alternatives in order to protest the GOP candidate's decision to run for office and prevent him from gaining an advantage.

Leinenkugel's, in all likelihood, won't take part in such tactics. But that we even have genuine concern over such practices, over a company's ability to privately fund its own family member's campaign, speaks volumes about our democratic values both nationally and locally.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Specter ousted; Murtha's seat remains Democratic

In the Democratic primary for U.S. Senate in Pennsylvania, CNN projects that Rep. Joe Sestak has ousted five-term incumbent, Republican-turned-Democratic Sen. Arlen Specter.

Also in Pennsylvania, CNN projects that Mark Critz will beat Tim Burns in a special election to fill the late Rep. John Murtha's seat. Though held by the Murtha for years, the district the Democrat represented was considered more conservative than anything else. The victory by Critz signals a strong rejection of hard-right views and a push for more mainstream progressive policies, at least in the district held by the late Congressman. Critz himself is no liberal -- he's pro-life and pro-Second Amendment -- but he is left of center in several other areas, including job creation and energy independence.

Though other races are still going on, these victories by liberal candidates in the Senate primary and in Rep. Murtha's former seat are indicative, in my mind, of what we can expect come November. More Americans are going to support Democrats this year, returning most of them to Congress. We may lose some seats, but I'm optimistic it's not going to be the bloodbath Republicans are hoping it will be.

Sunday, May 16, 2010

New polls good news for Dems

A new AP poll released shows that more Americans prefer Democrats over Republicans in terms of who should control Congress following this November's midterm elections.

Yet another poll shows that Americans want to allow the health reforms passed earlier this year to take effect rather than have it repealed altogether, an idea Congressional Republicans have been promoting since its passage this spring.

Most Americans still are upset with incumbents: only about a third would even return their own member of Congress to Washington.

But the shift in party preferences shows that Americans still reject the policies of hard-right conservatism. They may not always agree 100 percent with what the Democrats have to offer, but they still prefer a slight move to the left rather than the hard-right turn that the GOP is offering them.

Yet another sign of a voting public that rejects the party of "no."

Thursday, May 13, 2010

An essay on the proper time to restrict rights

Every once in awhile, I like to blog on non-specific subjects -- not something that's necessarily current events, but rather an abstract thought or theory that has been running in my head for the past couple of days.

With that in mind, I want to talk about rights.

Everyone loves rights. We all know them (or at least pretend to): most of our rights are protected in the first ten amendments to the Constitution, aptly titled the Bill of Rights. These rights include various protections that are granted to the people not by the government but by a common creator (whether you believe that to be a specific deity or nature itself is up to you) that has made all men and women equals. There are no kings, nor classes of people, who are deemed more worthy of protection in terms of rights protected by the government (at least in theory).

It is government's role not to create rights for its citizens but rather to protect the rights entrusted to them through a shared creator. But when we think about rights, we tend to ponder about things that cannot be restricted by government's hands. I cannot justly be restricted (again, in theory) by the government with regards to things I wish to speak out about, especially if it pertains to political matters. Political speech is a protected right, one that is granted to everyone in this country regardless of political beliefs.

However, the right to speech is not as absolute as most people might think -- and while many may believe that's a terrible thing, it's actually more beneficial this way. A person's right to speech may interfere with the livelihood of others, and when that happens it should not be protected. The classic example offered by Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes is screaming "FIRE" in a crowded theater when you know that no such fire exists. The impending stampede is sure to cause injury, and you would be held responsible for whatever happened -- you can't use your First Amendment rights to defend you in this instance. Other examples exist as well. For instance, you cannot expect free speech rights to protect you if you divulge state secrets to foreign enemies. Your speech here can cause harm to others, possibly to millions if you share the right secrets. In that vein, your rights are trumped by the rights of others when you use them to knowingly cause harm.

HOWEVER, with that said, restrictions to rights should always be done in a cautious way, with the burden of proof resting on the government's shoulders. Indeed, in the case where Holmes makes his famous litmus test for restrictions on speech rights, the unanimous Court upheld the conviction of an anti-war protester who was distributing literature encouraging young men to stay out of the First Great War. Such speech rights in this instance should be protected, and the Supreme Court was acting in an unjust manner in suppressing his freedoms.

There is a stark difference in the use of rights to protest a war, encouraging others to do so as well, and the abuse of rights in aiding our enemies directly through disseminating state secrets. One is encouraging political behavior to change a policy that one disagrees with while the other is potentially causing great harm to the people of the nation.

Other rights are certainly within the realm of being restricted, such as gun rights. We can determine, for example, that violent criminals should have strong restrictions on what weapons they can or can't own, or that certain weapons shouldn't be distributed at all. A restriction on the amount of explosive material a person can own certainly violates the letter of the Second Amendment, but not its spirit. After all, a free people wouldn't feel very free knowing their neighbors are carrying nuclear arsenal -- an extreme example to be sure, but one that needs to be considered if we are to say the Second Amendment is absolute.

It may seem somewhat strange to hear me say -- I'm pretty much advocating the idea that there are restrictions to our freedoms. But my caveat to that is that they should be very rarely done, that the burden of proof is on the government to show that another person's life is endangered by the free exercise of a certain right by a certain person or people. My right to speech isn't protected if it's going to cause a number of people to die, and my right to bear arms isn't protected if the weapon I'm going to own's sole purpose is to make a giant crater in the ground a near-mile wide.

But it's been my opinion that the restrictions made on speech have been largely done unjustly. The "free speech" zones at political rallies and conventions in recent years comes to mind when I think about speech rights wrongly restricted. Added to that, the speech rights granted to Westboro Baptist Church members who protest funerals of fallen soldiers with signs like "GOD HATES FAGS" is wrong in my view -- the rights granted here cause enormous emotional duress to those participating in the funerals.

We shouldn't jump the gun and justify every restriction with a loose interpretation of why we're trying to protect people. Saying a man who is protesting a war is impeding the war effort is an unjust suppression. Telling a man he can't own a single handgun in his own home is an unjust suppression. And telling U.S. citizens that their Miranda rights don't exist because we now consider them "enemy combatants" is an unjust suppression.

Truth be told, there does exist certain times when rights need to be suppressed; but rights should only be restricted when there is a direct threat to another person's way of life. My rights end when my fist reaches your nose -- literally and figuratively. We need to remember to fight restrictions to rights when they're unjust, even if we find ourselves content with the outcome of those restrictions. For next time, we may not be so lucky, and we may find ourselves being the ones whose rights are being wrongly suppressed -- and who will come to our aid then?

Monday, May 10, 2010

Obama selects Kagan as his Supreme Court pick

President Barack Obama has selected Solicitor General Elena Kagan as his pick for Supreme Court Justice, replacing the retiring Justice John Paul Stevens.

Stevens was considered the leader of the "liberal bloc" of justices on the Court, serving for over 30 years in that post. His retirement is a significant departure as a leading voice within the Supreme Court.

Kagan comes with a stellar background, though none of it contains any real judicial experience. A former dean of Harvard Law School, Kagan took the reins of the prestigious academic institution amid growing tension among liberal and conservative professors, fostering an environment of understanding and cooperation among the feuding factions.

Speaking to the group of conservative professors, Kagan told them that she was herself a liberal. But she did emphasize that, despite her ideological differences, she wouldn't stifle the work of others she disagreed with simply because it didn't coincide with her views.

In 2009, Obama nominated Kagan to serve as solicitor general, and has since argued six cases before the Supreme Court (including the Citizens United case). Lacking actual judicial experience, serving in the post of solicitor general is perhaps the next best thing to having the familiarity necessary to serve on the High Court.


Elena Kagan is not the most liberal choice Barack Obama could have made for the Supreme Court. She is, however, a left-leaning legal genius who is able to build coalitions between conservative and liberal interests, a quality that will be beneficial when you consider the Court's even divide and swing vote in Justice Anthony Kennedy. Kagan could prove to be the negotiator on the left that could draw Kennedy to the side of the liberal bloc in cases where a split is imminent -- an occurrence that is becoming commonplace on today's Court. It looks like she will receive an easy confirmation as well within the U.S. Senate, since she was confirmed last year by the same body to be solicitor general.

She wouldn't have been my first choice if I were in Obama's shoes. However, she is definitely a choice I can support, and will support during the confirmation process. For all other skeptical liberals out there, I suggest the same attitude: she's on our side, and may draw more centrists in the legal community towards our ideas. What more could you ask from a Supreme Court nominee?

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Jobs report shows growth in private sector

The latest jobs report shows that the Obama administration's efforts to spend their way out of the recession -- despite conservative concerns over the method -- are paying off.

Though unemployment numbers went up (attributed to a number of Americans who had given up now re-searching for employment), it appears that almost 300,000 new jobs were created in April.

That's the largest increase in four years. Most of these jobs, too, have come from the private sector.

If ever there was proof that the stimulus package was working, this is it. If these trends continue, the Democrats will have something strong to run on come November of this year.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

GOP Senators: protect gun rights, even for terrorists!

New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg is beside himself. He cannot understand how a federal loophole could allow terrorists who are on the no-fly list to still be able to purchase guns, ammunition, and explosives.

Perhaps he should talk to some Republican lawmakers. Apparently, the right to bear arms, in their minds at least, extends even to those whom we deem the most dangerous with respect towards preserving our national security.

Bloomberg thought the idea reprehensible, and told a Congressional committee recently that he had great difficulties coming to terms with it. “Shouldn’t FBI agents have the authority to block sales of guns and explosives to those on terror watchlists, and [those] deemed too dangerous to fly?” he asked rhetorically.

The New York City mayor, and independent, is absolutely right -- and in light of the recent terror plot that failed to come to fruition, thankfully, it would make sense to disallow these enemies of our country the right to purchase weapons and explosives. In the past six years alone, in 91 percent of all cases (over 1,100 instances), people who were on terror watchlists were allowed to proceed with their purchasing of dangerous weaponry or explosives because there weren’t any legal reasons to stop them at that time.

But some Republican lawmakers -- like Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Susan Collins (R-ME) -- disagree, believing that Second Amendment rights outweigh any right the American people may have to feel at least some sense of security.

“None of us wants a terrorist to be able to purchase a gun, but neither should we want to infringe upon a Constitutional right of law-abiding Americans,” Collins said at the same hearing as Bloomberg this week.

Graham agreed. “We’re talking about a Constitutional right here,” he said, adding, “[the bill would force] innocent Americans to pay the cost of going to court to get their gun rights back.”


As far as Constitutional rights goes, the GOP seems pretty inconsistent on the whole matter. They maintain that terrorists don’t deserve a trial by jury, a right preserved under the Bill of Rights (Faisal Shahzad, the admitted terrorist behind the bomb plot in NYC, is a naturalized citizen of the United States). Because terrorists are part of the “war on terror,” say many Republican leaders, they must be treated like enemy soldiers.

But when we detain these “military combatants,” Republicans insist that their rights as soldiers in that war can be withheld because they aren’t ACTUALLY soldiers. So which is it? Do we decide to try these criminals for what they are, as people trying to achieve a destructive purpose either in a civilian court or military tribunal? Or do we decide that certain people, American citizens included, can be held indefinitely by the government, a direct affront to our primary governing document that we hold so dear, the U.S. Constitution?

Add this latest bit of news to the mix, and the inconsistency gets even more complicated. Republicans now insist that the right to bear arms extends to terrorists. Really? Look at what Republicans are saying: the GOP is ignoring important provisions in the Constitution guaranteeing a trial (or tribunal in cases occurring within the military field) but promoting FOR TERRORISTS the right to have weaponry.

Why would some Republicans promote the idea of arming our enemies? Certainly there are some limits to our rights -- even the starkest libertarian would agree that free speech rights don’t protect a person who tells military secrets to our enemies. So why should the Second Amendment protect gun rights for them?

Conservatives like to argue that the Second Amendment is absolute, but then try to curtail other privileges protected within the Bill of Rights. If anything, the one right that shouldn’t be absolute is the right to bear arms. If protected to the extreme, it would (and is) undoubtedly arm people who would have no qualms with attempting to destroy the United States. If we are to allow the arming of the very people who are trying to kill us, who are trying to destroy our country as we know it, then perhaps it’s time to reevaluate the right itself, at least in a way that will allow all Americans to be safer in the process.

Certainly the right exists; a free people deserve to feel protected in their own home, and arguably elsewhere, through the right to own some weaponry. But there should be limits on who can obtain a weapon if we determine certain people would do something destructive with that right. We treat every other right that way: why not the right to bear arms?

Monday, May 3, 2010

GOP takeover in 2010? What we can expect

With the 2010 midterm elections fast approaching (less than seven months away!), political insiders are predicting a resurgence of conservative politicians taking many seats back in Congress. This is actually more common than people like to admit -- Reagan, Bush I and Clinton all lost seats in Congress after their first midterm election.

We shouldn't be too worried, then, as liberals if the Republicans take some seats away from us (the average is 32 seats in the House per first midterm election), but we should be concerned if they manage to take control of either house of Congress (only 35 seats needed in the House). We've seen what obstructionist tactics the GOP have used in the past year and a half, and we can only imagine what would happen if they were actually able to table every measure the president proposed through control of either the House or Senate.

We cannot afford to lose pivotal ground this election year. Consider what we can expect if the GOP does win control of either house. We know exactly what they stand for,and it's nothing but bad news for the American people.

This Republican Party, which has moved even further right due to pressure from TEA Party activists, would deregulate and privatize more of our industries and social programs, respectively. We've already seen what deregulation and lax government oversight can do in the cases of the West Virginia miners and the recent oil rig explosion that's destroying marine life (and business) across the Gulf of Mexico.

Imagine if even more deregulation were to occur. Who do you think would benefit, and who would bear the burden? Without a doubt, the working class in America would be expected to work harder for less, with the wealthy elite gaining more in the process, widening the gap between rich and poor and substantially lessening the number of Americans who call themselves "middle class."

They want to make guns more accessible, which means more gun violence and less ways to track criminals down who use weapons in violent ways.

They want to gut the government and the social programs that many Americans depend on in order to survive, which means more burden on families to help pay medical costs, selling their homes and other properties in order to make payments on hospital bills.

They want to provide the rich with even more tax cuts and loopholes, hoping that some of that wealth will "trickle down" to the honest, hard-working American. It didn't work in the 80's, nor the 2000's, and it won't work now.

They want to drill for more oil in various areas off our coastlines with little oversight or regulation, allowing the big oil companies to regulate themselves...something that we're seeing now doesn't always work out for the best.

They want to increase our presence in the Middle East, with some of them wanting to bomb Iran specifically and preemptively, a move that will drastically undercut recent positive steps that we've made in the global community, not to mention cause many more militant Muslims to join the cause of jihad as Osama bin Laden has defined it.

If this country moves further to the right, we will see the Republicans attempt to destroy the very health care reforms that were recently passed, which means that lower income families will have no means to purchase affordable health care that will cover them. They may even remove the qualifier that pre-existing conditions be covered as passed in the health care bill.

Maybe I'm exaggerating. Maybe I'm worrying more than I should. One thing's for sure: the change that the people voted for in 2008 won't manifest itself out of any bills proposed by Republican lawmakers. They have refused to work with Obama from the start: why should we suppose they'd start if they won Congress?

We can't afford to allow the GOP any ground. We need to support Democrats in the most vulnerable of districts. Our country may very well depend upon it.