When I was born, my parents had been able to provide for two older children thanks to their work on government projects in Philadelphia. They were able to purchase a small home in another government project, known as Pennypack Woods. Sadly, the by-laws of the project restricted ownership to caucasians only. Mostly Catholic families lived on our street and their kids would yell "Christ killers" at us because we were Jewish.
I went to public school and it was almost brand new. Clean, bright and only 10 children in kindergarten. We had snacks provided free by the school and I went there until I was 8 years old. I discovered how great my free education was when we moved to L.A. and the kids in my class hadn't learned long division yet, nor had they even heard of things like Betsy Ross (sewed the first American flag) or the Liberty Bell or Independence Hall. Historic places I had visited every year of school on field trips. All my schooling was free and I learned to read and write and add and subtract and sew and cook (being a girl) and type, which earned me a living for most of my adult life. Most of the kids drop out before graduation from my old high school now and art classes and music classes are long gone.
UCLA cost $350.00 per semester, until Ronald Reagan became governor and made sure that would never be the case again.
My health insurance was covered by my employers and I had no co-pays for most of my working life. Now, my husband and I, really small business owners, pay $800 per month with an $8000 annual deductible, which we never reach.
We bought a house in 1992 for $125,000, with 10% down and a 30 years fixed mortgage with 8% interest. We sold it in 2000 for $150,000 and 6 years later it was "worth" $450,000. Now, it's worth $180,000, but no one wants to buy it.
Hispanic workers didn't speak Spanish in public and their children refused to learn to speak it so they could "fit in" in my schools. There were new "freeways" with almost no traffic and the roads were well paved and you could drive anywhere in town in a matter of minutes. The public park a few blocks from our house had a new, clean public pool that cost ten cents to get in and I took free swimming lessons there from beginner to water ballet and even Jr. lifesaving. Now, Republicans are demanding that Hispanic workers show their I.D., the freeways and roads are full of potholes and the traffic can average 20mphs and take hours to get anywhere. The homeless live in huge tent cities and push shopping carts on streets wherever you go. Trash day on my street is a procession of people digging for bottles and cans. The pool in that public park has been closed for years.
Our friends were varied and included Republicans, but we were all polite to each other, either avoiding talking politics altogether or agreeing to disagree. I haven't spoken to any of my former Republican friends since Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans. When they insisted on defending George W. Bush, that was the final straw for me. Now, my Republican neighbors make loud, nasty remarks when I walk my dog past their house. They know I'm an active Democrat because of my THIS HOUSE SUPPORTS PRESIDENT OBAMA DNC placard in the window. My OBAMA 08 bumpersticker is there for all to see, as well. They talk about revolution and they buy guns and I plan on voting absentee so there's no confrontation at the polling place. I loved going to vote in my local polling place. It always made me proud to be an American. Now, it's fraught with tension and even a little fear.
I was furious and frustrated when George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Karl Rove stole two general elections, but I was relieved when Democrats took Congress in 2006. The election of more Democrats and Barack Obama in 2008 was truly one of the happiest days of my life. My AA second cousin called me from the National Mall just as he was about to take his oath of office. It was thrilling and we had a champagne toast.
The next day, Rush Limbaugh told his followers he wanted the president to fail. The fear and loathing has been building throughout the country ever since. Republicans are gearing up to steal yet another major election, since vast swaths of this country hates their guts and they can't possibly "win" any other way. Many of them talk about 2nd Amendment remedies if they don't "take back" their country. Thinly veiled threats to bully the electorate into doing their bidding.
Walter Cronkite and Huntley and Brinkley were my earliest sources of news. They reported the facts and held themselves in check, almost never expressing any opinion of any kind. Cronkite shed a spontaneous tear while reporting on JFK's assasination, but that was a rare moment in the history of journalism in this country. Now, the "free" press is owned and operated by huge conglomerates with an agenda to destroy the current president by blacking out whatever he says or does. The corporate press is doing whatever it takes to thwart any attempt to help the middle class recover from decades of Republican/Corporate rule by focusing on trivia or entertainment and almost exclusively interviewing the minority Republicans in Congress, even though the country put Democrats in control of the government in 2008. Today, we're told MONTHS IN ADVANCE that Democrats have already lost in an election that hasn't even happened yet.
All in all, I'm grateful. Grateful for my health, my great husband, my dog, my close family members, my wonderful friends and their wonderful children and my relatively comfortable and secure lifestyle. I've had a wonderful life, thanks mostly to FDR's New Deal that provided my family with a way out of poverty. I've lived a nice, middle class life.
I wouldn't want to be born in America today. Not after what George W. Bush, Dick Cheney and the Republicans in Congress have done to my beloved country and to Iraq and Afghanistan. Not after the decades of ignoring and denying global warming that's killing millions of species around the world every day and spells more pain and suffering for millions more in the years left of my life. I'm grateful I won't be around for another 60 years, because things don't look very positive for the future of our species today.
If the corporate press has their way and/or another election is stolen and Republicans take control of Congress again and shut down the government and/or start impeaching Barack Obama over his birth certificate, my husband and I may leave this country. I simply can't take watching anymore destruction at the hands of Republicans. It's too painful.
My birthday wish here on DKos is that all kossacks work hard and GOTV. That we encourage our fellow Americans to vote via mail to thwart the Republicans from stealing another election and please, raise a glass to my beloved and GREAT president tonight. That would make this a very Happy Birthday for me when I toast LONG LIVE THE OBAMAS!!! Peace.