New Mexico Mom

To the editor:

A new year is upon us. It is a time to reflect on the events of the past year and look forward to the year ahead.

Something very strange happened to me this year. One day I woke up and some Republican said, in a rather nasty and disgusted tone of voice, that I was a ?northeastern elitist liberal democrat.? I thought, ?Wow! When did I have the time to do that?? You see, while I was going about my daily life, being a stay-at-home wife and mom rearing two children, changing diapers and wiping runny noses, attending church regularly (Episcopalian), trying to balance the household budget, shopping for groceries, dealing with the insurance company over hail damage, wondering why gas is nearly $2.00 a gallon, praying that my husband – an army reservist – doesn?t get called for active duty into a war based on lies, and generally trying to live a peaceful life, I apparently fell into this category that is reserved for the laziest, scummiest people who walk the face of the earth, according to the Republicans. I think it deserves a closer look.

Northeastern. This would indicate I?m from one of those ?blue? states. Well, yes and no. I was born and raised in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania is more of a mid-Atlantic state than a northeastern state. And now that my home and family are here in New Mexico, I guess I?m not a northeasterner anymore. I prefer to think of myself as an American.

Elitist. Today, this is equated with someone who is educated, or more specifically, someone who has attended college. Since when did an education, particularly a college education, become a bad thing? I grew up in working class family ? mom stayed at home to take care of my brother and me, and my father was a mid-level civil servant. You see he got that job because he had a college education, an education that was possible because of the GI Bill (he was a WWII veteran). His service to his country was rewarded, and it provided him an opportunity his immigrant parents never had. Veterans of my father?s generation throughout this country were provided with generous benefits for their service; today, the Republican led administration keeps cutting veterans benefits. What a way to say thank you to our troops.

I went to college. Sure, I had to work two jobs while attending classes to help pay for it, and my father scrimped, sacrificed and saved to help pay the tuition, not to mention the fact that Reagan and the Republicans cut my financial aid, and I was saddled with a large debt from student loans upon graduation. But hey, only an elitist would want to get an education, right? Guess that makes my dad an elitist, too. Well, he?d be surprised at that. He thought that going to college would help him provide his family with a little more than what he had growing up during the Great Depression. Oh, by the way, after a short illness, my dad dropped dead from peritonitis, 10 months shy of retirement, because the HMO doctor he was forced to deal with didn?t think his abdominal distention warranted any testing or hospitalization – it was just gas.

Liberal. If by liberal you mean someone who believes in civil rights. pay equality, a right to live one?s life as one sees fit, a right to privacy, social justice, a solid education for every child, fairness and equal opportunity for all, decent and accessible healthcare for every human being, compassion for the poor, the hungry, the homeless and those in need, – guilty as charged. Funny, I thought I was just being a decent person. I think Jesus had a few things to say on these matters as well, and I was just trying to follow his example.

Democrat. Again, guilty as charged. I grew up in a democratic household in a democratic city. We believe in the things I previously mentioned and more. Democrats believe in the power of the people, not corporations. We believe that an honest day?s work deserves an honest day?s pay and a livable minimum wage. We believe, to quote Dr. Howard Dean, ?if you put in a lifetime of work, you have earned a retirement of dignity — not one that is put at risk by your government or unethical business practices.? People before profits, human dignity over corporate greed, social and fiscal responsibility instead of irresponsible borrow and spend policies. Last I checked the Republicans were trying to tell me that going deep into debt was a good thing. Tell me, when was the last time spending more money than you had in your pocket was a good thing? When did it become a ?moral value? for my children, your children, to pay off someone else?s debts?

As far as I?m concerned, the Republicans can call me all the names they want. As I look forward to 2005, I?ll just continue trying to do the right thing for my family, my friends, my church and my community.

And it doesn?t involve any vicious name-calling.