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The Journey Of A Democrat
To Ron Paul And
The Constitution

By Martha Newhouse
© 2007 Martha Newhouse
As a life-long Democrat, I should be excited as the 2008 race for President of the United States begins. I should be excited to talk with friends and family about how the Democrats are poised to take the White House back. I should be gleeful at how helpful it has been that George Bush has made such a mess of things that any Republican candidate is going to be painted with the same Iraq war brush. At this point my only problem should be, who will I put my energy behind, Clinton, Obama, Edwards, or Kucinich?
But that is not happening. I am already working to elect Republican Ron Paul for president in 2008. How on earth did an active Democrat make a whip-lash, 180-degree turn to support a congressman from Texas, who says he's a "Constitutionalist?"
Let me explain. As with a lot of things political, it starts right at home. I started noticing contradictions. I had held beliefs that were increasingly contradicted by my own observations in my day-to-day life. For instance, a few years ago, our daughter got into some trouble with her credit cards. She was taking out student loans to pay for her college education, and working in her spare time, but she succumbed to the temptation to sign up for credit cards, to help make ends meet. Whenever her card balances got too high, there was another credit card offer telling her that she could transfer her balances and pay no interest for a year, or other "too good to pass up" offers. She graduated from college, visited Europe and came home to find a job. However, jobs in her chosen city were hard to come by. The city, being a cool place to live, was flooded with young middle-class college graduates. They all cycled in and out of jobs at Starbucks, restaurants, temp agencies, tried their hand at being nannies, and waiting for their break. She waited and waited. Her credit card bills mounted with sizable penalties inflicted for late payments, or over-limit fees. Finally she landed a job through a friend, at a gourmet bakery and sandwich shop. The wage seemed to be not bad, the food was very good. Now she could quit worrying, relax and pay down her debts. Of course, to make this little sad story short, she became one of the thousands and thousands of young people victimized by the predatory practices of the credit card industry, and their own naiveté and foolishness.
As we sorted out the mess our daughter had gotten herself into, I got educated on the credit card industry, and of course was shocked that our Congress would allow an industry to run amok like that. I could understand the Republicans voting to separate a kid from his money, but why had the Democrats not stopped this? This was an utter contradiction. I was at the time, a "naïve do-gooder," even a "proud bleeding heart liberal." How could Democrats have let this credit card situation get so flagrantly out of hand! Why hadn't they done one of those filibuster things to stop this legislation, or introduced some bill to make the credit card industry be a good citizen, like it used to be, when I was a kid. I vaguely could remember an interview on NPR with some legislator who had for years been trying to get legislation passed to do just this, but no other congressmen and women would support it, Democrat or Republican. Why hadn't I noticed back then? Why hadn't I become outraged, politically active, started writing letters to my representatives? I always wanted to be a person who wrote to their representatives, but somehow, I never got around to it. Why was that?
I think the answer was, over the years I had become a lazy thinker. I gravitated to simple answers to complex questions en lieu of paying close attention and doing my own thinking. Doing one's own thinking takes a lot more concentration, and you might not like what you findlike contradictions. By the time we had a child in college, I had come to believe utterly that the Democrats were on regular people's side and "Did Good," and the Republicans were mean-spirited and tight with their precious money, and were off on the golf course loafing (that was before golf became democratized), while their lawyers made them even more money. To say that I had become "closed-minded" would be correct. Into this rigid belief system marched the credit card industry debacle. The first crack appeared in my granite wall of self-inflicted ignorance, the first big contradiction.
Later, more education was hand-delivered to me. This time the same adult child, now completely grown and on her own, was having much trouble making ends meet. We asked her the regular questions: are you on drugs? Do you have a parasitic boyfriend? Have you adopted a dog? The answers were all, "No." What is the problem then, the poor girl is working three jobs ("Uniquely American isn't it?"-George Bush, 2004). We naively thought two jobs would have definitely covered her expensesbut three didn't? What was she doing wrong?  I ranted and railed against the "skin-flint landlords." How a crummy room in a group-house could cost $350 a month! I seethed that every few months her fifteen-year-old Honda needed a couple hundred dollars worth of work just to get her to and from her three jobs. I sighed when she told me she liked her bakery job because she can eat most of her meals there for free. I cried when she said that she was getting her sinus infection treated at the Free Clinic, because she had absolutely no money.  The Free Clinic! But that was forreal poor people, people who live in their car, people with "issues" --not my beautiful, educated, funny, smart daughter. How did this happen? How can a person juggle three jobs, have no vices, and still come up short?
My husband of course heard me ranting about how much everything costs and how young people seem to be having it harder these days, and me demanding, "Who is at fault? Why did the Democrats let this happen, this is not 'Good!'" He quietly mentioned how the dollar is really only worth about four cents now. Huh? He said, "The dollar has lost 96% of its value since 1913, due to numerous nefarious schemes, which almost no one is aware of, or understands." What? Are you sure? He continued, "Once the Federal Reserve was created, a new unconstitutional system was created, that allowed the government to spend money it does not have, quite easily! What a wonder of modern society--no more of the constraints that have bothered previous generations. However doing this for almost a hundred years has caused a few problems: currently our government is borrowing roughly two billion dollars a day from foreigners to fund our spending spree." How did that happen? I asked, wailed, really. So we borrow all this money--to fund a lifestyle, the wars and the military presence in 130 countries--which is way beyond our actual means, and our children and grandchildren will be paying for this, all their lives. But here and now, one of the side-effects of this system is that the buying power of a dollar has gone down and down, as they borrow and print dollars. So now it takes our daughter $350 to rent the room in the house that I would have paid about $40 for when I was her age. I said to my husband, "It still isn't making sense, she earns three times as much money as I did back then, it seems like her wages should be enough!" He showed me a government website where you can plug in a wage and the year, and the website will compute what your wage would be in another year. He put in a wage he had in 1973, at $4.25. The website calculated that in 2007 he would be earning $19.00 an hour after adjusting for inflation! That solved the mystery of why our daughter is struggling, with her "decent wage" of $10.00 per hour. Yet our government announces that, "Inflation is at acceptable levels," regularly on the news.
But again, how did this happen? Why didn't my righteous Democrats fix this problem early on, before we got to this point of owing 9 trillion dollars, and counting? Wasn't this the Democrat's strongest promise, that they would work for, and protect the "little guy?" How do they explain this contradiction that they allow out-of-control spending knowing full well that this is relegating our children and grandchildren to utter servitude to our national debt? And if we owe monumental debt to foreign governments, how can we retain our sovereignty as a separate nation? It seems that both Republican and Democrat politicians are aware of what they are doing, yet they both fib about it, obfuscate, and change the subject. They remind us of our "great nation" and its riches, which by now have been transformed into a military machine and a massive pile of entitlements, for a whole generation of people who just simply expect that their government will be taking care of themI know, I did. But it is by borrowing, from one generation onto the backs of the next. We are delusional!
Now, our daughter is learning the hard facts of life, about budgeting, going without, of pulling her own weight, paying off her debts, living within her means. This is excellent! Soon she will be a fine and trustworthy citizen. But our government does not have to live within its means? Not even close? Something seems very wrong with this system. Both parties perpetrate this scam. The whole debate about who is more able to lead this country--Democrat or Republican-- seems to be a false dichotomy, a smoke screen which hides the fact that there is very little difference between the two parties now.
This smoke screen disappeared once and for all one morning recently, after seeing the Democrats go to a lot of trouble to demand that Bush begin to get out of Iraq. Lots of news-time was devoted to the fiery speeches, it almost looked like something was actually happening. But their demand was non-bindingit was purely rhetorical. It was as if they didn't really mean it. The contradiction became even clearer a few weeks later when the Democratic presidential hopefuls lined up on a stage and stated that they "would not take any means off the table" to force Iran to stop supplying Iraqi insurgents. "Any means off the table" is a code phrase for using nuclear weapon strikes. Nuclear weapons! The leading Democratic candidates all said they would use nuclear weapons against Iran! What has become of our beautiful, strong, confident country, that we now threaten third-rate powers with nukes if they won't do what we say? And why exactly are we in the Middle East, anyway? I never got clear on that point.
The day I woke up and saw my Democrats as war-mongers and fools was the day the contradictions became too much. My protective wall of intentional ignorance collapsed into rubble. It was depressing, I felt like staying in bed all day-all week. But in a few days, the depression turned to anger. I was angry! I felt tricked, hoodwinked! I had spent my adult life voting for these people, repeating the stock phrases, and now I find out the Democrats are indiscernible from the opposition! Maybe it had always been that way. I began ranting again, this time not about our daughter's situation but about politicshow both parties are alike, borrowing money, enslaving our future grandchildren....which if my daughter ever manages to quit working three jobs, she might get the time to find a guy and fall in love, and have some!
My husband heard my ranting again of course, and he said, "Well, actually, there is one congressman who understands all this, and he always votes against these shenanigans. His name is Ron Paul. He is a 'constitutionalist.' That means he won't vote for anything unless the Constitution allows it." I said, "Huh? Aren't all of our representatives following the Constitution? I mean, don't they swear to uphold and protect it or something? I thought it was the basis for all our laws, how we do government" He looked at me like I had just fallen off that old turnip truck.
So, this Ron Paul does not vote for anything that the Constitution does not allow. I had no idea what was actually in our Constitution, so I went to buy a copy at my local used-book store. I found one, a book dating from the Reagan administration, that looked like it had never even been opened. I turned the pages, only 64 total, and skimmed over the words. "So this is it," I said to myself. "This is what all the fuss was about." A sensation of awe came over me. Wow, these guys had some good ideas, this is powerful stuff. It looks so simplecute even people might toss it off as a relic of the past. But look! Here are the protections for every single one of us, that I had mistakenly projected onto a mere political party. There's the right to free speech, the freedom to assemble, the freedom to petition your government. There's the Writ of Habeas Corpus, in Article 1, Section 9-- the right to not be jailed without being charged. And look at the wisdom of keeping the presidency weak. We could use some of that right about now! Look at how the three branches of government were supposed to counter-balance each other--if one gets too high-minded the other two can stop it. Look at the wisdom of them making our nation a republic, not a direct democracy, thereby protecting the weak from "the tyranny of the majority." How wise. How precious. I remembered someone saying, "the envy of oppressed peoples around the world."
After reading the Constitution, I felt awake and energized. I wasn't sure about what all of it meant, but I could see that it was a clear and firm structure, a set of rules. We, as a people, were to use these rules, and no other rules, unless by way of an amendment. In their wisdom, they had even made a way to tweak the rules, if all the states agreed to it. I said to myself, now this is something that is worth my energy, not political parties that whip around in the winds of the latest fashion so much you can't even tell them apart.
Later, my husband said, "Did you know that Ron Paul is running for president? He's a long shot, but at least you could feel good about voting this time. I could show you some clips of his speeches on You Tube." I began watching the short videos of Ron Paul, reading articles about the Constitution, reading about monetary policies. At first it was all a slurry of new ideas, new terms to learn, but slowly the ideas started to settle down and take shape. I began to see that we can come out of our deep sleep and begin to act like our political process has real meaning. We can get our civil liberties back, it is not too late. We the People will get back to following the Constitution of the United States of America. We will get back to the Thomas Jefferson ideal that the United States can have peace, commerce, and honest friendship with all nations, and entangling alliances with none. We will regain hope for our United States.
I believe these things, and I am working to make this reality. I am working to elect Ron Paul as our next president, and if he doesn't make it, I will work even harder to get the next Constitutionalist elected. We will not go away again.
Martha Newhouse, Democrat-Expatriate, lives and writes in Washington State. She divides her time between gardening, walking her dogs, and reading and writing.



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