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Homegrown Democrat

Yesterday I picked up Garrison Keillor's Homegrown Democrat and haven't stopped listening (audio book). The book is delivered in same practical manner as The Prairie Home Companion and seems to cut through all the jargon and rage that fills the airwaves these days on both sides. Obviously, it doesn't make the President out to be anything wholly positive - Keillor's politics are well known.

He talks a lot about public education, equality and practical matters of daily life. In describing his own schooling, Keillor describes the benefits of having an education that is neither private nor exclusionary. The bank president's kids going to school with the son of the local pig farmer (although maybe not so close in proximity) and realizing that those people are standing next to you in class, just as they will be standing next to you at your job. A college degree that could be obtained by working a low wage job, not tens of thousands of dollars in the form of "loans."

Although a lot of it is remembrances of days gone by, it also harkens* to a lifestyle that I believe many people want to achieve. Happy, safe and full of love. The question isn't how to obtain it, it's do you understand how your actions affect it? Can you really claim to be a Compassionate Conservative if you're willing send $1000 to the Republican party, but scream at a homeless person for daring to ask for a quarter? Or for that matter, work 60-70 hours a week to get that extra $1000 while your child sits in day-care that entire time? Is the government being too intrusive when they say "don't build on a flood plain?" Because we know that you'll be screaming for gov't $$ when the flood washes the house away (and "you couldn't afford flood insurance"). Are the taxes really that high when you're watching a loved one slip away while waiting for the ambulance?

I am in no way saying that government is perfect - it's not. It seems to me though, that a lot of people act in their own best interest for the short term without bothering to thinking about the consequences. People love to complain about the quality of streets in Spokane, but no one wants to pay for new ones. They'd rather give the short-shrift to the police and fire departments and then complain about the level of crime or sue when a loved one dies. They will simultaneously complain about bad traffic and empty public busses (and how only the lowly would do ride anyways) without the idea of one day a week taking that bus to reduce the traffic for others.

As they used to say, the chickens have come home to roost, but no one is hearing the cackle.

Anyways, I highly recommend the book.

*I can't believe I used harken in a sentence


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