Saturday, October 21, 2006



In recent years, the country where I live has been so polarized that it seemed we would never come together on anything. My despair over our disunity reached a peak a few months ago when an apolitical post about an art exhibit somehow sparked a virulent exchange of red vs. blue rhetoric in the comment section. The animosity expressed was dispiriting to say the least.

I don't want to fight that particular war.

I don't believe that squabbling in the back alleys while the real battle goes on elsewhere benefits us as individuals, the US as a nation, or the world that is impacted by a superpower, for good or for ill.

But this week, energized by Bill Moyers' special on Net Neutrality, I felt a resurgence of the idealism and energy that are and always have been this country's greatest assets.

There is still so much we disagree about; and because the stakes are so high, the disagreement is and will continue to be a passionate one. But I believe that there are at least three things that the overwhelming majority of us agree on:

1. We want a free internet where all voices can be heard, not just those who pay large sums for the privilege of entering, and ultimately controlling the conversation.

2. We want a congress that represents the people, not the corporations, special interests, and those who pay for their lunch, their junkets and their campaigns.

3. We want to know that our votes will be counted fairly and accurately.
All of them.

Can we come together? Can we get off of our couches and onto our front porches? Can we start talking to each other before it's too late?


Anonymous said...

I saw some of Bill Moyer's show too. Just having him back gave me a lift. You're right, the issue of freedom via the internet could bring many of us together, blurring political lines. I hope all the bloggers are paying attention. Although I haven't seen much posted on the issue so far.

Alex S said...

I hear you. I admit I can get very partisan, but right now when I see Republican, I see an anti-choice, war mongering and war profiterring, corporate bowing, anti-arts, anti-social services party who are truly heartless when it comes to caring for and supporting the less fortunate of our country. Right now I really feel like being asked to dialogue with Bush is being asked to dialogue with a sociopathic mass murdering, religious hypocrite. Sounds harsh, but a part of me has genuinely given up hope as well as desire to "compromise" on things like Iraq and abortion rights. How can one compromise on things like that? I feel the Christian right is as big a threat to the safety of this nation as some of our overseas enemies.

Anonymous said...

Excellent post, Patry. I love Bill Moyers and wish he were the president. (Actually heard some rumour about some trying to get him to run.) Good luck, friends! Oh, and your points are worth remembering in many places, including Canada.

Sky said...

lol....omg, when i read this i mistakenly saw bill O'REILLY and not bill MOYERS in the text, so imagine my dismay as i read through all of this trying to figure out if it was the SAME bill o'reilly that i know who collen, for example, was glad to have back! i am still laughing at my BAD - and sooooo glad it was my mistake and that o'reilly is not really marja leena's "hero!" ;)

rdl said...

Imagine a March on Washington now - all us aging hippies. Sign me up!

Patry Francis said...

Susan: Thank you!

colleen: If they put all of us bloggers in some kind of "slow lane" where it would take forever to access, while the corporate interests who can pay take possession of the fast lane, they will have effectively silenced us. We should all be blogging about this! Bill is a wonder.

alexandra: I'm not talking about compromising. I'm talking about every person having a right to express their passionate convictions whether I agree with them or not. One of the best parts of Moyers' show was seeing an Evangelical Christian leader unite with the founder of Move On to fight for internet neutrality and free speech. Increasingly, it seems that neither liberals nor conservatives are running our country. Corporations are. And the people, ALL the people, are paying an ever-higher price.

marja-leena: I'd vote for Bill in a heartbeat!

sky: I'm sure Marja-leena is having a good laugh about that one, too. Glad you went back and re-read!

r: I'm ready.

robin andrea said...

This mid-term election may be the most important one of my life time, and I've been voting since I cast my first vote for McGovern in '72. With this vote, we say yes to single-tiered internet access; a true representative government; and fair elections. Without these things, it really is too late.

I love Bill Moyers. I once had a brief letter correspondence with him in the early 80s. He was the first person to convey the idea of six degrees of separation to me. He is a remarkable being, and we are all lucky to have him in the public sphere.

Laini Taylor said...

Hi Patry! I saw this piece of art:

and it made me wonder if this is where your blog title comes from. I'd never read this quote before and I love it!

And as for your post, I am so sickened and disheartened by new news of the vote-fixing going on right now in Ohio and other states, and that's just what we know about. And with the terrifying legislation signed into law this week making Bush a dictator. . . arg. I can't think about it on a Sunday morning!

PS - almost finished with Half of a Yellow Sun!

Anonymous said...

I sure hope so...although frankly, I'm surprised that this country hasn't been in revolt for the past few years...

Anonymous said...

Not that I don't disagree with what everyone is saying, particularly about the current administration, but for a post that began with "the people come together," most of the comments are pretty partisan. As mentioned, the issue of net neutrality is not connected to just one political agenda, and the influence of big money in politics is not solely a "Republican issue." I clearly remember President Clinton's last minute pardoning of Marc Rich. I think we might come closer to resolving this issues, if everyone agreed to work together to stop these evils.

Lorna said...

I'm with you even though it's not my Congress and I can't vote (there).

Darlene said...

I hear you too!
We can't just turn a blind eye to all of this and keep on blogging without a care....

it will be too late when it's in our own backyards.

Thank you Patry

xo Darlene

Anonymous said...

I am absolutely in favor of taking the time to talk kindly and honestly on our front porches! I live in a town where we still have quite a few early Victorians with big old covered porches and it is amazing what happens when I sit out there and just say "hi" to those who pass by. And the internet can be a virtual front porch ... Neil's comment is very helpful to me.

chosha said...

Net neutrality is a defining issue of our generation. Like past debates about media ownership, it is really a debate about who controls information and how it is released to the world. Money isn't supposed to be the defining factor in who gets to have their opinion heard.

DTclarinet said...

Thanks for broaching this important subject. We all need to write and discuss these issues, ongoing.

Sometimes I feel literally torn apart by the divisiveness I feel in politics and on the internet.

Yes, let's keep it free and democratic, both the country and the internet.


Fred Garber said...

Thanks Patry! Another piece of this is access to voting. Right now millions of citizens are not allowed to vote. The polling places open late and close early shutting out lots of working people. The new photo ID requirements will shut out more. It will impact the elderly, people without cars(in some areas of the country the place to get the photo ID is only accessible by car), the poor who cannot afford or feel burdened by paying the state fee for the ID, and minorites(for example Indigenous people in South Dakota). The photo ID i new poll tax. The other very large group of citizens that are often not permitted to vote are exconvicts. This varies by state. But once you have served time and finished parole you ought to have your voting rights automatically restored. I have two family members who are ex-felons and have paid their debt to society but cannot vote. In my judgement unless we fix the above problems we cannot really say that we have fair elections.

Anonymous said...

Great post, Patry.


Patry Francis said...

Thanks all for making this comment thread a place of passion and debate--and for me, great hope. Keep on talking!

paris parfait said...

Yes, yes, yes and YES! Muy bien! I have been involved in the Net Neutrality issue for several months. And I also dropped AOL after five years because of their new e-mail tier system. Thanks for helping spread the word about these important issues. By the way, tried to access your site a few times lately and just got a blank page!

Patry Francis said...

paris: I had trouble getting on here myself. Probably a blogger issue. I saw the Net Neutrality logo on your blog. Unfortunately, a lot of bloggers don't seem to know that if Neutrality loses, sites that can't pay big money--like our blogs--will be so slow and difficult to load that we'll lose our readership.

donna said...

Sigh. People can't come together when the strategy of one of the main political parties is to keep them divided.

As long as the Republicans continue to believe the lies they are told and stay in line with what their current leadership espouses, there is no coming together.

When the Republicans realize how badly they've been taken, how much they've been fooled and throw their own rascals out, then we can work together again. Not until then.

I'm a libertarian. I'm working with the progressives right now. If I can come all the way across the political spectrum to fight for the truth, anyone can.

But first, they have to realize they were conned. And admit it. And fight it. Until then, there is no hope for change.

Kerstin said...

I am coming terribly late to this discussion but want to leave a couple of thoughts anyway.

The polarity you mention is the one thing that really stands out to me as a recent (well, a year ago) immigrant. So much passion on both sides, but would all this energy not be better utilised for coming together in our fight against an enemy that has the potential to destroy us if we don't?

Re point 2) I don't necessarily agree with the view of labeling corporations as this "evil" entity. Corporations are not an entity, they are made up of people, and as such can provide the individual with a power that is not to be underestimated. Some say that corporation may even just save this world, by bringing the economy onto a global platform, creating mutual economic dependencies which are not well served by destructive measurements such as wars. Having said this, my knowledge in this area is very limited and I do not feel qualified enough to really argue this case. It just makes kind of sense to me, on the surface at least.

Regarding your point 3) I wholeheartedly agree. But you know what I think is even more important? That people actually go and exercise their right to vote. As a person who has not been allowed to vote in general elections in the country where I lived for the last 15 years (UK) and won't be allowed in this country either unless I become a citizen, I feel very strongly about the subject. The lack of turnout at elections in many western countries is disheartening. Our ancestors lost lives in their fight for our right to have a say, yet how many people who complain about the state of this country cannot be bothered to cast their vote?

Your last paragraph says it all. Let's talk. And more than that. Let's LISTEN.