American Expressions tour stop in Dalton, GA was purely social because it is the home to my longtime friends, Chad & Sonny. This does not mean that the political dialog was not in full force. You can't show up at someone's home with a big ole flag and not have a discussion of current events. I am very grateful for their hospitality and friendship, but I knew we were going to chop up the issues and have to clean up the floor.
Over the course of the evening we discussed race, class, identity issues, religion, we covered it all. And this time, unlike the other occasions when I interact with the public, I get to have my voice and not simply listen. Truth be told, it is Sonny and I who have banged heads in the past. This time around, our shared gratitude for one another kept the dialog respectful and exchanging, thanks in part to Chadwick's colorful commentary.
Sonny describes herself as "true blooded, Christian American Republican." God. Country. Party. We quickly moved through who we're going to vote for in the upcoming election, an obvious division. I inquired what has made our country so deficient of quality political candidates, kind of a rhetorical question since I am not sure any really exist. I then asked a most daring question, "what do you think about how Obama's done?" Boom. I knew I was in the listening seat for a good 20 minutes. What I heard was mostly about money, Obamacare making things worse financially, and the amount of welfare fraud (people getting handouts). I told them that I finally have healthcare because of the ACA. A mild look of shock passed across Sonny's face. I was not one of those "other" people. I then inquired about if they knew how President Obama tweaked the Clean Water Act to allow fracking to proliferate and the subsequent cheap gas and oil independence we now enjoy. We all agree fracking is bad. But none of us could absolve our love of cheap gas. See? We can agree. Thanks Obama!
As our discussion carried on, we continued to bounce off the idea there are many people benefiting from the expenditures of others. Tis a common theme in our political right. This is where I was happy to share my opinion: the political rights' morality is in conflict with its policy. Pro-life but not pro-healthcare for all? No more hand outs to the poor, but restrict women's health options to the poor? I asked Sonny "How can the Republicans lead our nation when their message is exclusive and contradictory to the common good?" Again, maybe a rhetorical question, but one that is not missed on a great many voters.
The conversation often veered back to Sonny's passion, teaching her 4th grade class. There is not a more passionate and dedicated person for this responsibility. She told me about how her teaching platform revolves around environmental stewardship and her students lead the lessons with their questions. I know teachers deserve vastly more resources, but Sonny is doing more with less and making things better for all her students. Why? Because she believes in America. She holds her students to a high standard, teaching them to hold themselves to a higher standard. Despite our political differences, Sonny invests values into her curriculum that are broad based and non exclusive. Everyone can do it, and you will do it too. I have a tremendous respect for Sonia Elkins because she is making America better, one 4th grader at a time.
We didn't solve any problems in our discussion, but we didn't cause any either. Perhaps after 8 years of congressional gridlock, the American populace can learn something from a bad example. We are nation of differing opinions and ideals. But we are also a nation of families and friends. Despite our differences, we can work together, we must work together. I think that if I and Sonny had to solve one problem, we might bang heads a few times, but we wouldn't let it stop us from being a great team. RTR.