Editor’s Desk

More thoughts on shopping, GOP politics

December 6, 2013 

Online and in newspapers, pundits condemned stores that opened and shoppers who shopped on Thanksgiving. Writing in The Wall Street Journal, Peggy Noonan said Thanksgiving is “more important than anyone’s bottom line,” and she’s likely right. But as I read the many “Thanksgiving is sacred” pieces, I grew tired of people I don’t know telling me how to live my life.

I did not go shopping on Thanksgiving, or on Black Friday for that matter, though some of the deals were enticing. But my mom and sister-in-law did go shopping, most likely with my dad and brother in tow.

My mom is 72 years old and now retired after a lifetime of hard work. If she wants to go shopping on Thanksgiving, then she can. Like millions of other Americans, my mom spent Thanksgiving Day with family. She simply chose to spend a few minutes of the day shopping for a deal on a coffee maker.

Ms. Noonan called Black Friday shoppers “the lost, the lonely, the stupid and the compulsive.” My mom is none of those. She’s just a woman who likes shopping for bargains, which is hardly worthy of anyone’s contempt.

And, by the way, where do we draw the line on Thanksgiving as sacred family day? In Selma this year, the fine and charitable folks at Edgerton Memorial United Methodist Church served a community meal on Thanksgiving Day. If the pundits are right, shouldn’t the church have let its members spend Thanksgiving Day with their families?

But let’s assume it’s OK for church members to volunteer to provide for the needy on Thanksgiving; I certainly think it’s OK. Is it any less OK for store employees to work on Thanksgiving to provide for their families? Is it any less OK for my mom to shop for Christmas presents for loved ones?

Reasonable people will often disagree, but can’t we just agree to let people live their lives as they see fit? Why are we so intent on forcing our views on others?

I’m not that Republican

While I’m on my soapbox, I’m tired of people who don’t know me describing my politics.

Yes, I’m a Republican, but I am not what Democrats would have you believe.

I am not, for example, waging a war on women; my wife and daughter would not allow that. I am not opposed to immigration reform; all of those immigrants here illegally are too vital to our workforce to send home. (I think many farmers, construction companies and manufacturers would agree.) I do not hate poor people, and I do not want this country and its president to fail.

I do think this president has made mistakes. His stimulus failed to create jobs, though I take no perverse joy in this country’s stubbornly high jobless rate. The president was wrong also to promise Americans they could keep insurance they liked, though I don’t think that’s the greatest flaw in the Affordable Care Act. Which is to say that I don’t know that it’s possible to insure more people for fewer dollars without rationing care.

I do subscribe to many Republican policy decisions. For example, I think North Carolina was right not to expand Medicaid, because the federal funding promise was only for three years. What was the state supposed to do after that? Suddenly dump hundreds of thousands of people from the Medicaid rolls or raise taxes on middle class families?

I also have no real qualms with curbing jobless benefits, though I have received them myself. It’s time to start repaying the federal dollars we borrowed to extend jobless benefits in the first place.

I have no problem either with ending teacher tenure, even though my wife’s an educator. Rightly or wrongly, the curriculum in this state comes from the top down; it’s essentially the same in every classroom in every grade in every school in every county, so how much academic freedom do teachers need? I suspect a fair number of principals and superintendents quietly support this view.

But in defense of Democrats, it’s easy for them to label Republicans when Republicans do so little to make a good name for themselves, especially in national affairs. Which is to say, for example, that it’s one thing to condemn the Affordable Care Act; it’s another to offer an alternative that will guarantee quality insurance to more people for premiums they can afford.

Republicans also defer too often to their Tea Party brethren, who have the right idea – government shouldn’t spend more money than it takes in – but whose leaders make mistakes; shutting down the federal government, even partially and temporarily, was a bad idea, at least from a public relations standpoint.

So the onus is on Republicans to choose the right leaders to articulate and implement a vision for, among other things, putting Americans back to work and ensuring them affordable, quality health insurance. In the meantime, no one should pretend they know who I am.

sbolejack@newsobserver.com

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