History lesson: writing a biography can be a team effort. While writing “American Sphinx,” author Joseph Ellis had a lot of input. In an attempt to uncover the “truth” about Thomas Jefferson, Ellis faced an onslaught of “helpful” advice. The furnace repairman hoped that Ellis would remind his readers how devout a Christian Jefferson was; a poet hoped he would focus on Jefferson’s concern with language. A local high school teacher presented Ellis with a “little blue book” of Jeffersonian thought designed to “serve as a democratic alternative” to the teachings of Communism; historical groups of various stripes begged him to circumvent the Sally Hemings affair. Every person, it seemed, had a stake in Mr. Jefferson, and wished to make their point of view the prominent one. Jefferson the Everyman.
My BFF is a Republican, more of a Libertarian, really. Although we as a rule, avoid talking politics, for a while, we had a war of Jeffersonian quotes going back and forth as our signatures. I can honestly say that she started it with “That government is best which governs the least, because its people discipline themselves. ” I countered with ” I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monied corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.” And on it went, a curious discussion by signature proxy, until one day we called truce, each of us resigning again that some people just can’t be convinced by the “truth.”
The truth…my favorite subjective subject. Hence the handle. In the 90’s, before terrorists were the boogeyman, I believed in the religion of government conspiracy as told to me Sunday evenings by David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson. Government conspiracy that hid UFOs and scary monsters. Little did I know. It took 8 years of government conspiracy of the worst kind to finally open my eyes, and it turned me into what I am today.
I am, by rights, a new political junkie. While my husband ranted and raved at the Clinton impeachment hearings, I found something better to do. When my in-laws banged their heads against the walls after the Florida recount in 2000, I reasoned that my vote for the Republican senator was something they need not know about, and, hey, he’d do an okay job, right? After all, my parents had voted for him. (My stomach lurches when I think about that now.) I watched a colleague come in on Election Day 2004 covered from head to toe in Kerry-Lieberman stickers, claiming that she had been harassed by her family for dating an African American long enough. Finally, in January of 2008, I heard my sister in law tell my father that perhaps he ought not to count on Hillary Clinton being the Democratic nominee this year, despite what Rush Limbaugh said. And I started to pay attention.
I got here on the DailyKos highway, via the MyDD bridge. I’ll be honest with you. It was not a fun ride. I went to Kos on a whim, and it became more clear to me that the truth was more slippery than I had ever imagined, that even progressives had widely differing ideas. More honesty: I finally went to MyDD out of curiosity in late February to see the “primary train wreck” (as one commenter put it, indelicately, and, wow, there was a lot of indelicacy going on there at the time.) Although I eventually signed up for an account on both blogs, I read most, commented little. I liked the smaller community at MyDD, but was dismayed at the negativity by the moderation. I’m happy to see some of the thoughtful voices here.
So, HCW. This is who I am. In the interest of full disclosure (or as much as my conscience will allow over the internet,) here are a few reasons why I’m here. I’m here to be a voice for:
my colleagues at the University who have had to take on additional jobs at Starbucks because there is no longer funding for their projects
my friend who lost her job because she was outed as being gay, and my friends who are afraid they will lose theirs if they are found out
my students who are wondering how they are going to pay for their education, even as they struggle to work 2 part time jobs and maintain a full course load
my teaching colleagues in the public schools who face the bewildering and frustrating ramifications of No Child Left Behind
my husband, who every year lives with the truth that the arts budget is the first to be axed if money is tight.
my fellow Catholics that believe that it’s okay to be a Democrat and Christian, to be pro-life personally but pro-choice politically
(Perhaps most of all) my children, that they have safe food to eat, and get to live on a planet where nature is respected, and one where women live in equality.
Back to Mr. Jefferson. He was a perfect mess of a human being, living totally at odds with his beliefs. He deserves to be lauded for that as a whole, not picked apart and claimed by sparring ideologies, and for this, I apologize to his spirit. But it is in his spirit that I come here, to debate and to discuss, and to try and to move forward. To hear different versions of the truth, especially the ones that I do not wish to hear, for “There is not a truth existing which I fear… or would wish unknown to the whole world.” Hello, Mooses.