Cold Dead

Cold, dead, that is one way to describe a winter garden. Most of the time the plants aren’t dead, of course. They are just sleeping, waiting for the right time to brighten my world again, but every Spring I plant some plants that don’t make it through the winter months, some don’t make it to the winter months. There is never any explanation for this; there are often plants of the same species, purchased at the same time from the same place, planted right next to those that fail, yet they thrive.

Cold, dead has another connotation, that of gun possession at any cost. When my plants don’t survive, I replace them. It saddens me, but they are replaceable. That is not true of people. Still, Americans love our guns, just as we love our cars. Both are associated with freedom, but are they freedom? I don’t think so.

If you cannot go into a neighborhood, send your child to school, or walk down a public street, who is enjoying freedom? Most of us have admitted this about our cars. The automobile industry cares about safety, or sells cars based on the assertion of a caring that has embraced such things as seat belts, air bags, good brakes, rearview mirrors, window wipers and washers, back-up signals and cameras, turn and stop indicators, and, soon, cars that drive themselves, though they do demure that the self-driving vehicles will only be “co-pilots” to the human whose freedom they express. What we have chosen not to control at the manufacturing level is speed: Cars are still sold with the implication of speed and performance that is not allowed on our roads, because what we have not controlled by design has been controlled by law. That includes the requirement of licensing for operation, and the need to recertify that licensing for continued use. We have acknowledged, on purpose or by necessity, that the illusion of freedom provided by an automobile is not free for everyone unless it is regulated by the device that actually assures our freedom. That device is law.

With guns, the argument has been distorted by a small group of people, some of whom profit financially and some of whom define freedom by a much narrower standard than most of us use. These are people who are prepared to throw out all of the rest of the protections for our freedom in favor of only this one, which because it so narrowly defines freedom protects only themselves. They oppose any safety by design and any legal protections for the rest of us or each other. Chaos and lawlessness are not freedom nor are they “American”. The founders the gun advocates are so fond of quoting knew that; they designed a government of laws as proof.

I grew up in an America surrounded by people who often disagreed about what would make them happy or how they might define their freedom, but the majority of whom understood that the one basic of freedom was not the ability to force others into your mold, but the protections provided by legal controls on behavior that allowed for most people to do what they cared about most, and did little damage to the hopes and dreams of those who might disagree.

It seems very obvious that defining freedom by individual whims is not freedom because it destroys the lives of others. That the Second Amendment, while it sits there in our body of Constitutional Law is not all of that body of law or the only freedom we should cherish. I have watched while our real freedoms, freedoms based on individual dreams and opportunity, have been shoved into a corner. No wonder they might not survive this long winter of our Constitution, though they were all conceived together and have the same right and expectation of survival. We don’t have to let children be at risk to be free. In fact, the very guns these people clutch onto, declaring they will not be parted except from their cold, dead hands, are what limit freedom for most of us. We used to know how to protect our society from the chaos of destructive freedoms, ask the auto industry.

    As always, my garden musings are copyrighted, but I would be happy to hear your comments even if I prefer to keep my words as my own. If you have questions, would like to order reprints, or have ideas for other columns, add your comments or you can reach me directly at: Georgia

    I should also provide some explanation for my current lack of regularity in coming here. You can read all about what is happening at Thanks for your patience.

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Change: Believe it!

Everyone likes to talk about the weather. It is an ever changing and, in most cases, safe topic of conversation. Certainly, here in the garden it is a basic: How is the weather treating you and your plants? I hear the question a lot. As those of you who read me regularly know, I live in a very changeable climate, not quite as exciting as the micro-climate of the San Francisco Bay Area, which I left behind (sorry to say) some time ago, but well within the range of “interesting” weather. Take today, for instance, it is snowing outside. Two days ago it was 80f degrees and two days from now it will be back to 70f, more or less. Interesting topic, and, like most interesting topics, not something we can do a lot about on a day to day basis – though I am definitely not one who would eliminate our ability to influence and compensate for Climate Change in our gardens, but that is another topic.

We have voted. Some votes are still being counted, but we have, each in our one-vote-way influenced change. As to whether this election is change, there are a lot of things to consider. We RE-elected President Obama. I am thrilled about that, both because I believe in what Democrats tend to think about the country and because I was so deeply offended by the cynical candidate and the even more cynical campaign waged by the Republicans. So, other than the confetti party and who will wear what to the Inaugural Ball, why does it feel so unfinished? I have some ideas on that.

One shocking (to most of us) factor in the first term was the constant barrage of attacks on the legitimacy of this president as president; the Birther nonsense, the Islamist claims – which had nothing to do with the ability to serve even if they had been true – and the constant onslaught of racist references , all of which we saw carried forward through the election. The fact that the popular vote, when it is finally tabulated, will come in with well over 3 million people, that’s individual vote casters, preferring President Obama has to make one wonder why so much of the media is still talking about a “squeaker”, a “close race”, or why Republican leaders in Congress want us to think that the RE in re-election will mean more of the same. Sure, he won with a bigger majority last time, they say, but we never believed those opinions reflected thoughtful votes anyway. Now, he has done it again, won with a plurality that most presidents in the past fifty years would have yearned for, and many, including George W. Bush with his “mandate” and only a couple of hundred thousand (questionable) majority votes in his second term, would have called a landslide. In spite of that, Obama has squeaked into office, sneaked if you ask the race police. This might sound petty to bring up when we are celebrating the Forward to the Change We can Believe In, but it is a serious issue that will affect the next four years.

Republican Congressional leaders want us to accept the idea that because a black man can win a race does not mean he has the ability to know what to do when he gets there. Where do the gold medalists, of any race, hang their medals? We are being told, yet again and still, that this president will need to be constantly scolded into action and schooled on performance. Worse yet, the attitude is so deeply ingrained in our society that I have seen some liberal media lecturing on how it will behoove Obama to learn the lessons of compromise and bipartisanship. They have not gone so far as to demand that if he is a smart black man and takes the advice of the whites who know these things he will adapt the Romney/Ryan plan, or some one of its mutations and incomplete ideas as the Republicans have done.

Like most of you, I hate having to see the world through the lenses that exposes racism, like those special glasses in sci-fi movies that can tell us we are surrounded by invading aliens. But I am a woman. I am a woman who has held positions of authority where I felt the constant judgment that I may have the power but I also had an impediment to knowing how to use it. For a woman that is a vagina. For some time now, women in the workplace have tried to disguise their parts by acting as male as possible. We still had vaginas and the ruse only worked on those who would have accepted our ability to lead anyway. As a black man, any black man, especially one with such broad and public power, President Obama has been told that he lacks the good judgment to get things done. In spite of that and through the worst kind of obstructionism he has gotten things done, though, a lot of things. Whether Forward will mean that he can step out in front of his achievements as he makes more may be harder than it sounds because, when you have grown up with those assumptions it can be hard to grow through them. Women are doing it every day, other people of color, in less visible positions for attack, have been doing it too. I want to see this president answer truthfully to the over 3 million one-vote-at-a-time citizens who think he can take that step and continue our progressive progress to a better country.

    As always, my garden musings are copyrighted, but I would be happy to see your comments even if I prefer to keep my words as my own. If you have questions, would like to order reprints, or have ideas for other columns, add your comments or you can reach me directly at: Georgia
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The Final Plunge

Talk about Climate Change! For those of us who live in areas where micro-climates are normal there is no surprise in randomly changing weather. We just had Winter… well, about a week of it, including snow in the mountains that had ski resorts opening on a daily basis and my garden plants purring over the excitement of rain at last. We have been back to Fall since then – ski resorts closed and dry ground again the norm – and we are expecting Spring, possibly Summer, next week, followed by more rain I think.

When we lived on the San Francisco Peninsula, it was normal to start a drive at our house with the convertible top down, put it up within 10 miles, sweaters out of the trunk in another five and, if we went across a bridge, to say Marin or Oakland, to be back in convertible mode and dress by another twenty. That, of course, assumes we did not run into rain or fog at one of those points. Micro-climates. The gardens love them because it is almost as changeable in one spot, though over a longer time, and everything from cactus to exotic rain forest plants can find something that suits them.

As humans, we like to be able to count on a little more consistency: a season for most of our weather extremes. Summers to lay in the sunshine or enjoy the shore; Winters where it snows for Christmas; and all of those things that allow business, town or city management, and you and I to make plans and have our expectations, when we open our doors and windows, met. Not to mention things as ordinary as planning our wardrobes…

Climate Change has thrown a wrench in all of those expectations.

I was trapped in a room yesterday with a television set that was blaring Fox News, Hannity I believe, and forced to listen to the hi-jinks of reporters mocking Al Gore for reminding us that Sandy was, indeed, a symptom if not wholly a product of Climate Change. Denial appears to be more fun than I ever realized.

Sandy, though is only one knock on the wooden head of climate-denial. On the ground we have seen a deepening drought in the mid-West, “Breadbasket to the World”, extreme killing temperatures and measurable increases over the past three years worldwide, and storms accompanied by floods. But in the air, where measurements are made and deniers can’t see, there is an increase of 4% in atmospheric water. That is water lifted from the planet surface, held to make storms, and not necessarily released where anyone would expect; droughts, flooding, disruptions in monsoon cycles. That is only 4% you say, but where is that tipping point scientists have been talking about for so many years now?

Scientists say that 350 parts per million of carbon dioxide is the point beyond which the world’s climate will become less and less safe for humanity. We are presently at 392 parts per million. You do the math and then do something about it!

In the air, all of that carbon buildup has caused a failure of Antarctic weather, the lowest snow and highest temperatures on record, even the fossil record. Imagine how much water that has released into our rising oceans and our wetter, warming atmosphere and how many Sandys that can power.

So far this year, big gas and oil has spent over $150 million to influence the election, to keep everyone from talking about the issue, which explains the laugh fest at Fox News and the failure of anyone to bring up the topic in the debates. Sandy has opened the flood gates to a real discussion in the US of the future of this planet – because the rest of the world has been working on solutions for decades now – yet Romney/Ryan continue to embrace the denial. Obama has not.

This week, in the wake of the storm Democracy Now interviewed Cynthia Rosenzweig, co-chair of the New York City Panel on Climate Change. According to Rosenweig, the city began looking at the impact of global warming more than a decade ago. Perhaps we should not have been surprised when Republican Mayor Bloomberg, pointing out that we need a president who is not a climate-denier, endorsed President Obama this week. A lot of people whose voices we never heard spoken in the media in connection with Climate Change are now being revealed as thinking people who do read science, and who do understand what is at stake here.

If your idea of a good time is to go down laughing as the water rises and the drought parches and you have no idea what to wear to the party, by all means enjoy Fox News and vote for Romney. I have my fingers crossed that there aren’t as many of you as the polls claim and that after Tuesday I will still be able to look at my fellow Americans without… I might say pity but it is all of us who will suffer.

    As always, my garden musings are copyrighted, but I would be happy to see your comments even if I prefer to keep my words as my own. If you have questions, would like to order reprints, or have ideas for other columns, add your comments or you can reach me directly at: Georgia
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The Gimme Season

The garden in the outdoor is a large area that encompasses several different definitions. There is the basic landscaping, which might be considered garden area, the yard, potential garden as well and, of course, those flower beds and planting that serve no practical use but make up our classic image of a garden. As we had our first real rain of the season this week, all of those areas gratefully spread out, searching for the natural water where they had only had a system of piped water to them that was not as universally dispersed so some got more and others less.

While those outside plants flourish, and often grow even during our colder period, I turn my attention to the inside plants. House plants seem to recognize that there is something special happening outside at this time of year and, not only are they not getting to participate, they are forced by the cold, and practical limitations, to stay where they are. Of course, that may be a bit of anthropomorphizing on my part, but it also, generally, describes the growth patterns and needs of these two separate forms of gardening. It is about time, for instance, for the indoor plants to have a good “spring” fertilizing and for some of them to enjoy new, larger potted quarters.

What we get and what we need is a big part of the season for humans as well – the holiday seasonal gimmes of every year and the electoral gimmes of the every four year election cycle. Most of the campaigning we are seeing, and have probably always seen, plays to that, the chicken-in-every-pot/two-cars-in-every-garage promise to the individual expectation. I can’t help thinking, though, that elections should be about all of us, our votes about our country. What you do with your holidays is largely up to you and your family. If you choose to approach gift giving as a series of individual demands to be met, no one suffers – or no one but you. Approaching our election process that way is a very different thing.

There are many real issues in this, and any, election. Some will address your very real life concerns, others your beliefs or prejudices, but rarely do we have a campaign where the issues are so wide and deep as to limit those personal concerns in the way they are limited this year. So, if you have been offered a deal you just can’t resist this election season, give some thought to what you will be bringing home in the nicely wrapped package.

Money has been in the mix for some time but never the way it is now. If the major beneficiaries of money released to campaigns by Citizens United (the Republican party) are successful, who do you think will benefit from the victory? Romney/Ryan? You? Romney/Ryan are convenient figureheads to their real backers, many others would do as well, some better… Perhaps next election. You may have had a chicken or a pot at stake in this race but the long term result for the country as a whole will be the encouragement of greater – and yet greater – investment in the power of the election by the very, very rich. While you are demanding action, the billionaires are demanding power and giving them this victory is a step toward their success, not ours. Put simply, the first outcome of that win will go directly to those who already think of themselves as superior and entitled to tell this democracy how it should run for their benefit.

The second result of this election, should it go to the Republicans, will be to prove that a government that has been played in recent years for obstructionism and to limited function can ruin a presidency and eventually a country. The two parties have always been on opposite sides of many of the specifics of what the purpose of a democratic government should be (this, btw, is as true of third and fourth parties as it is of our powerful two), but they used to find enough common ground that whatever else they might disagree on, we could find solace in the most benefit for the most people philosophy – and sometimes even in the most people helping the least able. These are good concepts. They are, we used to agree, the reason the people should make important decisions that would affect government. Neither side is ever going to give any one of us our idea of the ideal society, or all of us a utopia, but if the decision is one that rewards gridlock, lies or manipulation it is self-destructive and what is a pot of chicken soup going to mean to us People in the long run?

The third result of this election is the most disturbing. Going back to those questions of why the people should run the government that makes decisions that affect their lives, we don’t have to lay out the details to realize that the very concept carries with it the presumption that in this one, most important part of our public lives We the People should have real decision making power. Not on an everyday, every issue basis, but as the loudest voice in the room. We should be the voice that drowns out monied interests, and wannabe monied or powerful interests. When we are citizens, we are not employees, rich or poor, or any segmented group. We are We the People, a democratic voice that is heard by our government and heeded in the decisions our leaders make in our name. That is not a circumstance where anyone should want a CEO at the helm.

Business interests and capitalist attitudes and values have invaded our system and our culture to such a degree that a reasonable look at either side in the election might make the idealist cringe, but there is still a clear bright line between business and government, between the controls and rigid structures, as exerted in corporate culture by management, and how we define leadership and democracy.

Listening to the debates, a lot of people thought they heard a leader in Mitt Romney’s voice, but his content and context were those of a boss. His campaign shifts were those expected of any good CEO to gain advantage in the market; his demeanor, often described as arrogant, was detached in the way of corporate structures where worker and boss each has a clearly defined role. Do you want to give your boss control over your life, from health care to whether you or your sons and daughters need to fight and die for what he demands or expects? Bosses can be benign. So can dictators. Neither is the product of a democratic government, so if we were to elect a boss to our highest government office, we would be saying – not in the abstract or from some future calamity which might befall us from the decision – we would be saying that the principles of democracy, no matter how you define them, no longer apply to the United States of America.

I don’t know about you, but that possibility scares the fertilizer out of me.

    As always, my garden musings are copyrighted, but I would be happy to see your comments even if I prefer to keep my words as my own. If you have questions, would like to order reprints, or have ideas for other columns, add your comments or you can reach me directly at: Georgia
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Lemming Suicides and Grunion Runs

It is almost the end of outdoor gardening for this year. We are expecting some winter weather next week (50f degrees and rain – very good news about the rain). Of course, with Global Warming and more unstable weather conditions, and predictions, we have no way of knowing whether the weather will keep on that trend through the weeks after. We could go back to spring or fall-like weather any day and I have plenty to do in the garden should that happen. I am behind on the annual trimming. That’s because we have been working on the new, higher, perhaps more deer resistant fence. We won’t know if that works until Spring, though for now it appears to.

We are building the fence with large animals, deer and dogs, in mind. There is no way we could hope to keep anything small, certainly not even as small as a cat or squirrel, out of the garden. That is sometimes inconvenient, but not a disaster. We don’t have a lemming migration heading to a nearby cliff or a Grunion problem. We don’t live near the coast anymore so no one would think to threaten Grunion, which are small imaginary fish used by the older kids to fool younger ones in coastal areas. For many of us, it was our first late night venture out to the shore. Lemmings, though… Well, I should confess here, that I know full-well that lemmings are not insane creatures who all commit suicide at regular intervals. That is a myth (instead of a trick) played out over bad statistical analysis.

Global Warming itself is a scientific concept that some people find less persuasive than the Lemming tale. I have very little patience with that kind of science denial. We are continuing to experience world record annual heat and in the face of this information the climate deniers seem to have modified their doctrine by inserting “in the United States” in front of their noisy claims that there is no such thing as Climate Change. In the United States? Have any of these people looked up recently? There are no walls in the sky, nothing to block the spread of weather from one location to another. That is, actually, how weather works.

Just as bad is the assumption that walls or fences can contain one location and separate it from another, or that those attempts have any virtue. We are all in this together.

Denial is not only a problem in the sciences, but in the world. It is impossible to avoid in an election year, most election years, but we are now hearing a chorus of justifying claims from Republicans who say that their snarky comments (unlike Grunion, snarkiness is a real condition) are no different than those that proceeded them, say by Democrats during the “W” years. There is no denying that Democrats wanted everyone to remember the voter fraud and improper election activity that put the Bush son in office, largely in the first case by the Bush brother. Democrats hoped that the memory of that reality might help us to avoid the voter suppression we are seeing now. It is also very true that there was a large, and substantive, effort to get Vice President Cheney impeached, and Bush himself if by fewer people. This effort, though grounds for impeachment were well supported and documented, was not pursued because it was seen as not being in the best interests of the country to create such disruption to our governance. Keep in mind that Clinton was impeached, and investigated to huge public expense and without any wrong doing proven, for much less significant implied transgressions than the Bush Administration indulged in.

Those things are true, but think about what did not happen. No Democratic Senator stood on the floor of Congress to announce that nothing would happen in government until Bush was out of office. No Democratic official sent hate mail, or emails, disrespected either the President or the presidency. Government was not forced into low gear as it worked its way up hill and out of a gulch dug by previous bad policy. And, when it finally came time to move on from the election fraud, unbecoming policies, and scary economics of those Bush years, there were no Democrats or Republicans who represented their parties by selecting lies as the means to campaign victory. So, if anyone tells you this election is just another example of how things have always worked in government, tell them to follow a Lemming for a week or two and get back to you if they have not gone off a cliff.

    As always, my garden musings are copyrighted, but I would be happy to hear your comments even if I prefer to keep my words as my own. If you have questions, would like to order reprints, or have ideas for other columns, add your comments or you can reach me directly at: Georgia
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A New Aristocracy

We arrived home last evening to a new herd of deer in our front yard. These were not the usual group of does and fawns but were all males, some of them huge; all sporting racks with several points. There were no first year males among them. Our deer are a big problem here. I have already mentioned that we are having to replace our fence around the garden because the old six-foot variety was too easily vaulted by the larger among them. But this is something new, probably not to the deer because they may have been dividing along these lines for centuries, but new to us: Large herds segregated by gender and station.

We are seeing the same thing among our humans. Of course, divisions have always existed, but we are finding new names for these new groups, new tribes to face off against each other and the concepts of equality and democracy.

We have watched – is there anyone who hasn’t noticed – the racial “dog whistles”, as the media has come to call race-baiting in America. No one has any whistles for the rich white guy, but they have so many for the mixed-race leader, the one who really represents our future, that it is hard to keep up any more. The deal is, though, none of them are new. This is just the same-old-same-old I like to think the majority of us have already dismissed as stupid and wasteful. Racial dog-whistles aside, I am noticing a whole new vocabulary: “the makers and the takers” for instance which has the charming ability to mean that those who work and produce are takers while those who take the profit from that work are makers. An assumption that is just as strange and unreal in its own way as the idea that because we have a half African-American president he must be “lazy”, “sleepy”, a “part-time president”. Come on now! Have they noticed that, like all our presidents (except Regan whose vanity denied it) he is going grey fast. That is a sign of living hard over long hours. No laziness there, even if the hard working poor, who are the root of this claim of laziness, actually were lay-abouts.

But there are also our new class of aristocrats: The “Creators” and the “Thought Leaders”. Trend setters were simply celebrities, but this new class of Thought Leaders are so much more, or so we are led by the enlarged title to believe. Creators, certainly, must be almost god-like. It’s right there in the name. You don’t even have to look for it. But, like the makers, the name is misleading because the only thing god-like or nearly godly in the presence of the super-rich this term is used to describe is the power they wield. We give them the power when we don’t pay attention to the name they have chosen to call themselves. What’s in a name, after all?

Back in the days of the second wave feminists, we knew what was in a name. We understood that being called girls diminished the power of women. The problem is that language is always open to evolution, to being changed over time, and the changes in our society have weakened women as a word of strength. Even Helen Reddy (“I am woman; hear me roar…”) would have a hard time making a powerful song out of that word these days. Fortunately, the song and the memory still resonate, though how far into the future it will survive may depend a lot on us as women.

We have a new class of minority or segregated-and-defined to confront now and so far they have only low volume dog-whistles and few defining words to divide them – “illegal” being the most clearly marginalizing in our new world of tribes – but soon Hispanics (or Latinos) will be a majority. They can be a powerful one if they start now to redefine themselves as Americans. So far this group has been named and defined by their heritage and by their detractors, as if an Hispanic majority would mean the United States had been captured by Mexico (or Central or South America). That does not reflect the reality of the values of most of those Americans with Hispanic heritage, any more than being a woman changes my concern for the broader issues of our culture or being a person of any color or mix of nationalities gives any of us a lesser interest or plan for this America.

We can weaken our new aristocracy by not believing the names they name themselves or us, by understanding who we are, both individually and as a group, not groups, and by voting that understanding. We can ignore the barrage of slanted advertising, the media focus on the new titles of entitlement, the dog-whistle name calling of the monied who only want the god-like status they feel they deserve, and vote for what we want for America.

    As always, my garden musings are copyrighted, but I would be happy to see your comments even if I prefer to keep my words as my own. If you have questions, would like to order reprints, or have ideas for other columns, add your comments or you can reach me directly at: Georgia
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Different Paths – Different Goals

In my book A Garden of Weedin’, I included an essay about a small “ranchette” we owned in the years of the counter-culture 70s. I think it is relevant to our world today:

    Ours was the only Buddhist wildlife sanctuary bathroom for miles. We washed and pissed amidst the violence of nature. There were flying things that preyed upon the crawling things, and crawling things that kept the flying population in check. All was balance, and, when for some reason it was not, there was a black snake who came by to restore order through organic meals in our bathroom.

Why is the experience relevant now? Because this is, I believe an accurate definition of bipartisanship. There is a lot of talk about this phenomena, which was one of the most important pillars of what it is to have democratic rule. For nearly two and a half centuries we managed, as a nation to elect rulers who would – and could – act with this odd form of compromise we call bipartisanship. So what is that and why do we seem so completely unable to achieve it today?

We could be bipartisan, even while disagreeing pretty much completely, because we saw the same outcome as our goal. Bipartisanship is the process of finding different paths to the same goal and compromise in government to achieve that. In the days of our counter-culture experiment, it did not take very long for my husband and I to realize that, with the possible exception of the black snake, the other creatures in our bathroom and our garden did not share our goals.

    We stood in the middle of our corn field and implored the small things of the wood and field to take their share, but only their share. All we wanted was enough to last us and our animals through the winter. The sun shone silently back at us, but the earth didn’t quake or the heavens rumble, nor did the inhabitants of the wood come forth with their reply. We found that we would have to reconsider the matter of shares.

That is where we are as a country. We have, as has become the norm in the US, two parties and two approaches to the world. One is based on the purpose of democratic rule: to serve all of the people. That is clear in what we have come to know as “universal suffrage”. The other used to see the destination in the same way, allowing for differences of opinion that did not destroy the country or our ideals of democracy. Today, though, we face a new reality. The “loyal opposition”, as each side always viewed the other, has become the push and pull of right wing extremists and the demands of powerful special interests. The traditional thinkers of the party of opposition – in this case the Republican party – are experiencing a dismayed and destructive disassociation. They are being pushed into corners of inflexibility by the extremes who are marching through their center. Many of them have chosen to abandon politics.

That newly defined Republican party assumes that not everyone is created equal, or capable of equality; that some humans are little more than dogs who do not think, or wag their tails, beyond the next handout. It also assumes that the only legitimate use for handouts and government is to serve the rich, who eagerly distance themselves from “the people”, but, if you watch where the handouts really go, are standing first in line for government support. There is no shared goal in these concepts. There is no bipartisan meeting to be had, unless that group sees compromise as a long step toward their plan to redefine democracy to fit their ideas. There is not even an embrace for universal suffrage.

So when the wealthy, led in this election by Mitt Romney, declare nearly half of our population disposable it is about money, not democracy. It is about the power of wealth and the view of the wealthy that they have been given a separate set of rights from the average citizen. The radical right wants to use this destructive power of the wealthy just as those with wealth hope to use the deeply undemocratic instincts of a right wing that is certain the division is the reality of politics and our world.

That was not always true, though both ideas have been here all along. Our money says In God We Trust because we are intended to be reminded, whatever our position on a deity, that the model of all western religions is one of compassion, that we can only count on the solidity of our money if it is based on those concepts of democracy that the United States was intended to embody: service, generosity, and the board based voice of the people. This is the election that will empower one of those approaches but it could also be the one that restores the possibility of a bipartisan government without the taint of extreme right demands or the corruption of wealth’s unrestrained power. The decision is right where it was intended to be: in the vote.

    As always, my garden musings are copyrighted, but I would be happy to see your comments even if I prefer to keep my words as my own. If you have questions, would like to order reprints, or have ideas for other columns, add your comments or you can reach me directly at: Georgia
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