Fighting the culture war in Nevada

The politics of plastic straws

The politics of plastic straws

Last week in Nevada, we asked the waitress not to give us straws in our soft drinks. The drinks didn’t need to be stirred, and we didn’t need to waste more plastic that ends up in a landfill or a floating trash archipelago in the ocean. “Oh, you’re one of them,” said the waitress. We could only conclude that “one of them” meant a hippie liberal environmentalist who should be mocked for wanting to conserve our resources. We concluded that our waitress is a conservative who might be brainwashed by Republican talking points from Fox News and other sources that sheath their pro-corporate messages behind a veil of “individual freedom” and an “us versus them” mentality.

Remember how this conservative culture war played out during the fight over the Affordable Care Act. Corporate lobbyist fat cats like Richard Armey helped create the Tea Party as an astroturf (fake grass roots) organization that promoted “freedom” from a “government takeover of healthcare,” terms that GOP spinmeister Frank Luntz helped to create and promote. Throngs of supporters fell for this ruse, and voted against their self-interests and against the ACA.

We’re seeing the conservative culture war again today regarding the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church shootings in Charleston, South Carolina. Conservatives won’t admit that the confessed killer, Dylann Roof, had racist motives in targeting a famous black church, even though Roof wore patches of apartheid-era African countries South Africa and Rhodesia (now Zimbabwe), drove a car with a Confederate flag license plate, and ranted about blacks “raping our women” and “taking over the world.” Nor do conservatives want to upset the National Rifle Association, a guns and ammo trade group that doesn’t care a whit about individual rights, by calling for sensible gun safety legislation such as universal background checks.

Assuming our hunch about our waitress was correct, why would she care if her customers want straws or not? She doesn’t get paid by the straw. In fact, we’re saving her some work. Most likely, she has been influenced to support the Republican Party that hurts her and opposes the Democratic Party that wants to help her, on issues like raising the minimum wage, healthcare, equal pay for women, paid family and medical leave, etc.

Maybe we can get this waitress back. But it will take some effort, including taking back conservative-oriented words like “freedom” and even “right to life.”

Photo by Yellow Cat, used under Creative Commons license.



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