Maureen Andrade's blog
Can Conservatives and Moderates get along? Could a Liberal be friends with a Republican? Is inter-political party love possible? Of course- these things happen every day. But if relationships are built on common values, how is this possible? Many Congressmen and Congresswomen believe Democrats and Republicans have different values, and that these values are an impassable gulf between us. However, the intractable divisions between the parties, from gun control to budget cuts, are all political, not value-based.
Except for sociopaths, all of us want our country to prosper and be safe. We want to see ourselves reflected in the leaders that represent us. Americans want to feel heard. How we achieve these aims is where we diverge. This is where politics steps in. Read more
Admittedly, I’ve slowed down on my consumption of news since I was hired to direct a nonprofit in January. At first, I tried to keep up with current affairs, pretending I had as much energy for it as I did when I was underemployed. But my patience and energy are waning. I feel a growing disgust with the new sequester drama, and it wearies me to watch it. If I don’t do my job, I get sanctioned or dismissed. When Congress doesn’t do its job, it gets a nice paycheck and ample vacation time. That is bullshit! I stopped watching.
A diversion! I needed a diversion from the real House of Representatives, and so I feverishly picked off the episodes of the fictitious one on Netflix’s superb series “House of Cards.” Give me Francis Underwood’s felonious antics over Rep. Boehner’s embarrassing fumbles any day. The writers of this series prove that sometimes real life doesn’t hold a candle to fantasy. Read more
Last week, I drove up to my state’s capital, Olympia, to lobby on Arts & Heritage Day. I was the Team Captain for the Washington State Arts Alliance for several legislative districts, and a representative for the nonprofit arts organization I work for. My oldest son went with me as an ambassador for his school. Wearing gold stars of arts advocacy, we were ready to tell our elected leaders a thing or two about the value of culture, both economically and socially.
Except that’s not what happened.
Instead, my son and I were schooled in the finer points of state budgets, taxation, and funding by our fearless leaders. Taking their time to teach us about how government works, my legislators sent my son and me away better citizens. Needless to say, I was in love! Read more
Flipping through radio stations last weekend, the dial stopped briefly on a Right Wing commentator. On hearing the man’s voice, I was instantly pushed into a state of angry defiance. Complaining bitterly to my friend about how stupid and deluded the radio personality was, I sounded nearly as pissed off as he did. Why the strong response on my part? I wondered.
Reflecting on the moment, I realized I experienced a momentary flashback to childhood, when I was verbally abused. The Right Wing commentator sounded exactly like my abuser- the words they said differed slightly, but the message was the same: hatred.
Right Wing pundits, like Limbaugh and Beck, have an identical tone in their voice as an abuser telling his/her victim she is worthless, shameful, or whatever. I call it “spewing garbage,” but I’ve also heard it called “spitting venom.” Whatever it’s called, the language has the sole purpose of bringing down one person or group of people while elevating another. It is aggressive, hateful, and I argue, evil. Whether spoken in a home or on a radio station, it is the same: language of the losers. Read more
President Obama and Vice President Biden created the next wave of social change this week when they announced sweeping reforms to gun laws using both executive orders and legislation for Congress to pass. Though these are clearly sensible reforms meant to curb systemic violence against innocent people, Pres. Obama’s agenda is being ferociously thrashed by the National Rifle Association and politicians paid for by this organization. I have only one request for those folks who are over-reacting to this development: Think about Grace.
Grace, a beautiful, seven year old girl brutally murdered at Sandy Hook School last month, wanted to be a painter. Pres. Obama told the press her parents gave to him a painting she’d made, and he now keeps it in his study. I relate to this story because I was a little girl like that- in me still is an inner child who likes to paint pictures and give them to loved ones. Grace could have been any of us, or anyone’s daughter, sister, niece, or granddaughter. This shouldn’t have happened to her- to anyone. Read more
About a hundred years ago, our nation was engaged in World War I, and needed to simplify how the government funded its responsibilities. For the Treasury to be able to fund debts incurred from obligations already legislated by Congress without additional votes from Congress every time money was to be released, the debt ceiling was created.
The government website describes the debt ceiling best: “Indeed, the debt limit does not authorize new spending commitments; it simply allows the government to finance existing legal obligations that Congresses and presidents of both parties have approved in the past.” (http://www.treasury.gov/)
The debt ceiling has been raised dozens of times, and typically with no fanfare, until… Read more
Watching the House vote on the Senate’s bill to avoid the fiscal cliff last night, I was struck by how relieving it can be to watch our leaders to their jobs. When the votes were tallied, we saw forward movement, with Reps. Boehner and Paul voting in favor of the necessary legislation. A splinter of hope was realized in the middle of the night on New Year’s Day. Rationality won out over ideology.
What has nearly broken our union time and again is a devotion to identity politics: so often we vote for candidates we think are like ourselves rather than the best people for the jobs. President Obama’s administration has been harassed and harangued by politicians and a media outlet obsessed with how his identity is different than theirs- and consequently, they’ve felt him unworthy of their support. At last, we are seeing that strident belief begin to weaken, and a glimmer of logic shines in. Read more
Merry Christmas Congress- you failed again. Unable to come up with a deal to avoid a possible fiscal cliff, or the enactment of a toxic compromise, you go home to your families and constituents empty-handed. Again, Speaker Boehner has been unable to pull together his caucus and participate in negotiations with the White House as an adult.
After a remarkably difficult year with a horrifying ending, Americans are exhausted and battle weary. We want our leaders to do their jobs and legislate. That’s what they were elected to do- make laws that keep our country moving forward. But Republicans continue to obstruct progress towards economic fairness by protecting the privileged. I thought we were done with this.
The truth hurts, as the Ghost of Christmas Present demonstrates to Francis in this holiday classic “Scrooged.” Metaphorically speaking, Congressional Republicans need a toaster-whack to sober them up to the reality of how everyone else in America is feeling. We want a fair deal- NOW! Read more
Little children at Sandy Hook Elementary were told by police to "hold hands and shut your eyes" as they exited the building following Friday’s mass shooting in Connecticut, according to witnesses. Wanting to spare students from further trauma, officials tried to protect them from the grisly scene. What these kids endured was already so far outside the boundaries of normal, so excruciatingly traumatic, perhaps they will never be the same; I don’t believe any of us will be.
America is one large community- a family of 315 million souls, and it seems every one of us felt this tragedy as if it’d happened one town over. We watched every news update, called our loved ones, and cried at our televisions and laptops. The folks in Newtown are in countless thoughts and prayers. We send so much love to this community, the force of it should measure on the Richter scale; yet no amount of concern can alleviate the pain this town is feeling, especially the 26 families who lost a loved one. Read more
Tuning in to the local news a couple days ago, I was startled to see live coverage of SWAT teams overtaking Clackamas Town Center. A lone gunman had opened fire in the food court, next to Macy’s. Instantly, I began to cry; and thumbed through my memory to figure out if anyone I knew would be at the mall that afternoon. Checking in with Facebook, I saw no upsetting updates, only condolences from my friends to victims and their families. The most recent occurrence of what I now call Traumatic Culture Syndrome had spared my loved ones, but others were not so lucky.
The young man who shot and killed three people (including himself), and injured a fifteen year old girl, could have been any volatile individual with access to an assault rifle. It happens with stunning regularity in America. Though the weapon he used had been stolen, it could have just as easily not been- and the person he took it from probably purchased the deadly weapon with incredible ease. Welcome to Trauma Culture. Read more
The invitation came as soon as the ballots were counted, and the opposition conceded. My friends were engaged to be married. It took a state initiative to accomplish the deed, but the right of this couple to wed was confirmed, and certified. This weekend, the end of their long journey is in sight; and they will speak the vows they fought together to take. My friends’ gay wedding has renewed my faith in marriage.
Thousands of gay and straight people worked tirelessly in 2012 to get Initiative 74 approved, and gay marriage solidified as an inalienable human right in Washington State. People I know, including the couple getting married tomorrow, put time, money, and emotional energy into this righteous cause- creating an atmosphere of sacredness around the timeless ritual. Marriage was renewed.
The institution of marriage is in desperate need of renewal. Read more
How are leaders made? Is it possible to raise children to become tomorrow's elected officials, or at least active voters? Wondering what my peers and I must do to rear a successful next generation, I’ve come up with one answer: involvement. Children need to be shown how to do things- leadership skills must be taught by engaging in the political process. And really, it’s not that hard to do.
When I volunteered for Organizing for America, I brought my children to most of the events. Towards the end of the campaign, I worked on material when they were at school, but often in the evenings, they watched me write blogs, respond to emails and texts, and edit photos. In real time, they saw how one small part in a huge endeavor got done. The results were posted online, and I occasionally showed them my work, so they could see how actions yield results. Read more
“So how much does an x-ray cost?” my mom asked me when I called her from Urgency Care. Following an unfortunate mishaps with a dresser drawer that came loose and fell onto my foot, I decided to seek a little medical care. Waiting 24 hours to see if the swelling went down on its own, I was reluctant to go in. I have no idea how much an x-ray costs, which was why I waited to seek care.
Here’s the thing: I have medical insurance- but I have a high deductible to keep the premiums down. I’m nowhere near my max for the year so much of the cost of the quick trip to Urgency will be out of pocket. I have to be fairly hurt to invest in a doctor’s opinion, but in this case, my foot looked broken, and I didn’t want to injure it worse with carelessness. Read more
A year ago, my ex-husband and I sat down to negotiate the end of our marriage. Using standard forms downloaded from the state website, we planned the termination of a twelve year marriage- including custody of two young children, distribution of assets, and division of debts. No one was happy with the agreement, but truthfully, it has worked fairly well so far. The secret of the successful compromise is we understood there would be pain and sacrifice for everyone, but ultimately if we worked together we could find a way to make it tolerable.
Everyday people have to make life-altering decisions all the time- my ex and I did. It’s time for our government to figure out how to communicate at least as well as a divorcing couple.
Congress and President Obama find themselves in need of similar skills of negotiation this week, as they work to end a budget dispute that has dogged the country for years. To avoid falling off a fiscal cliff, our government must work within itself, like a family, to find a way for everyone to get what they really need, and be willing to give up that which they don’t for the greater good. Read more
While President Obama made necessary calls to CEOs in every major industry this week, small businesses prepared for the one day a year they get recognized: Small Business Saturday- November 24th. As a member of a local arts organization, and an instructor at an nonprofit art gallery, I can tell you, local businesses provide unique merchandise and services in this Wal-Mart World.
The holiday season is one time of year Americans now give themselves permission to do a little retail therapy. The days of mall-binges have been replaced with a new mindfulness for most of us. Nevertheless, this time of year we allow ourselves some freedom to buy gifts for family and friends. Nothing says “I care” like products and services from small businesses, which are created by folks who love what they do. Read more