Friday, December 13, 2013

A selective sense of struggle

A while back, I wrote a blog about how no one makes jokes about the holes in Ben Affleck’s hands because he doesn’t have holes in his hands. The point of the piece is that if you want to share an opinion about something, it should be grounded in some semblance of truth instead of an entirely imagined reality.

I revisited that sentiment upon discovering a vile letter that has gone viral. (Indeed, I have to link it from Snopes to spare you the indignity of everywhere else it appears.) It’s a letter written by a single mother living in Texas who is just scraping by in these tough economic times. It’s an earnest plea to President Obama to make life easier for her, her children and the millions of others in her circumstances. Well, it’s a plea at least.

Have you ever struggled to pay your bills? I have. ...

Have you ever had to tell your children no, when they asked for something they needed? I have.

Have you ever patched holes in pants, glued shoes, replaced zippers, because it was cheaper than buying new? I have. Have you ever had to put an item or two back at the grocery store, because you didn't have enough money? I have.

Have you ever cried yourself to sleep, because you had no clue how you were going to make ends meet? I have.

My questions could go on and on. I don't believe you have a clue what Americans are actually going through and honestly, I don't believe you care. Not everyone lives extravagantly. While your family takes expensive trips that cost more than most of us make in two-four years, there are so many of us that suffer. Yet, you are doing all you can to add to the suffering. I think you are a very selfish and cold hearted man, who does not care what is best for the people he was elected by (not by me) to represent, but more so out for the glory of your name attached to history. So thank you Mr. President, thank you for pushing those of us that are barely staying afloat completely under water and driving America into the ground. You have made your mark in history, as the absolute worst and most hated president of the United States. God have mercy on your soul!

Yolanda Vestal
Average American

A couple of things here. First off, the “(not by me)” is redundant. Anyone who thinks Barack Obama is the worst, coldest-hearted and most hated president of the 21st century, never mind of all time, is someone who clearly didn’t vote for the man. No qualifier needed.

(Really. We get it. There’s this weird sect of Americans who act as if their hatred of Obama is from his failure to fulfill his biggest hopes, when it’s obvious they’re actually steamed over his election, period. That ruse makes Scotch tape look opaque. Drop it already.)

Second, as far as presidents go, Obama wasn’t exactly raised licking food off of silver spoons. I’m pretty sure he knows what it’s like to be poor, to make ends meet, to extend the life out of things and to put groceries back on the shelf because he couldn’t afford them. That’s pretty much his story, isn’t it?

He certainly had a far more hardscrabble upbringing than the textbook definition of third-base legacy that preceded him in the Oval Office. Given George W. Bush’s aristocratic roots and his brutally regressive policies both in Texas and in the White House, he seems like a much better recipient for a letter from this struggling single mother. I wonder if Yolanda wrote him the same letter during his presidency. Or if she’s CCing this one to Rick Perry, her current Republican governor, who chose not to open state health care exchanges, thus playing a more direct hand in exacerbating her (no doubt) multiple difficulties as a poor resident of the Lone Star State.

No? OK, I guess that’s forgivable, because we’ve all been guilty at some point of partisanship and/or inconsistency, right or wrong. And I’d never call anyone out either for expressing themselves or for trying to improve their lot in life. Both of those traits are universally human.

But the holes in her premise are even more gaping than the holes in Ben Affleck’s hands, which (despite not existing) are more evident than any link her assessment of Obama has to reality. That’s all kinds of wrong.

It frustrates me as an American that so many fellow citizens are struggling to get by in this day and age. It frustrates me even more when they so actively think and vote against their own interests, thus perpetuating the cycle.

Seeing that fallacy so acutely represented in one place is most frustrating of all.

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