Friday, August 5, 2011


I’m Bea Bell and just because I used to work in local and state government I’m considered the political one among my friends.   So, I want to tell you what happened to me last Saturday, two days before the country were set to default for the first time in its history.
I was shopping in the grocery store, mumbling to myself about the increase in food prices, when I looked up to see Bernice, a former co-worker and loud mouth.  She was coming my way.  I didn’t believe she had seen me so I tried to duck behind a display, but I was too late.  She saw me.  There I was trying to hide at the meat counter but feeling as exposed as the naked chickens covered in cellophane.
She immediately starts jabbering about what an exciting time this was.  I racked my brain trying to think of what she could mean. 
“The showdown in Washington,” she informed me.
My face was still blank.  She went on to explain how “we” were finally going to force a balanced budget in Congress and how “we” had the President over a barrel.
Now my friends know I don’t curse—much—but I had to ask her what in the hell was she talking about—and who exactly was ‘we’?    It turns out that the “we” that she was referring to was the Tea Party supported Republicans in Congress. I looked at her as if she had gone crazy. Did she say the Tea Party?
I had to ask.  “Bernice, please tell me you don’t support the Tea Party, the party that wants its members to swear allegiance to a no tax hikes agenda?”
She told me of course she did.  She explained that the country needed leadership that was willing to make the hard choices. 
 “You mean like the hard choice to shut the government down, and ruin the country’s credit and its credibility? Are those the hard choices that you’re referring to? Or do you mean the hard choice to bring down the President by any means necessary, even if it means taking everyone with him?”
She looked at me real innocent like and had the nerve to say, “You sound like those are bad things!”
I was stunned. I was actually looking into the face of the rarest of breed in this country, a Black Tea Partier.  I was beginning to hyperventilate so I stopped for a breath, but I wasn’t done.
“So you want additional tax breaks for the people who hold most of the money in this country?”
She nodded.  “Uh huh.”
It was on then. “But these are the people who deride the President on the lack of jobs when they are the ones who sent many of the jobs overseas in the first place.”
“That’s necessary for higher profits,” she defended, “so that these companies can help the American economy grow by creating new jobs.”
Say what?  She was beginning to sound like one of those Washington politicians with her double speak.  I pushed on.
“Bernice, if the Republican politicians are so concerned about the debt ceiling why did they raise it seven times during the Bush administration? Don’t you understand that if it’s not raised by the deadline that soldiers who are dying for this country won’t get paid? Senior citizens and the disabled won’t get paid?  As a matter of fact, if Congress—Republicans and Democrats alike—are that concerned about spending, maybe they should vote to take pay cuts and place a moratorium on their pay raises for the next several years.”
Bernice was obviously frustrated.  “I’m against Obama’s failed policies and bailouts and you should be too. You just voted for him because he’s Black.”
Oh, I forgot that we were in a public place.  People were starting to gather around us.   I wanted to beat the woman to death with one of those frozen hams in the meat case!  Yet, I tried to maintain what was left of my dignity, although I have to admit that my voice was somewhat loud.
“It can’t be taken for granted that I will vote Democratic from year to year,” I told her in no uncertain terms. “So don’t insult me by thinking that I’ll automatically vote for someone because they are Black or female.  I will vote for the candidate I believe is determined to unite the country no matter how impossible a tasks that seems. I will vote for a candidate that does not view compromise as a dirty word, but embraces the best of a compromise for the good of all.
More importantly, I will be considering very carefully my vote for the representatives I send to Congress next year.  I know that no matter what any president promises, he can’t deliver it if he faces a Congress that is more concerned with getting him than fixing the country. So put that in your Tea Party cup, stir it up and strangle on it, Bernice.”
With that I turned my back on her and steered my cart away.  My message to everybody who gathered in that grocery store aisle to hear a verbal cat fight between the two of us, and my message to everyone who is reading this is plain.  If we don’t turn our backs on hatred, stupidity and pettiness in the next election, we should all be very afraid in 2012.
Muse on this—seriously.

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