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Many people call our system a Nanny State and fear the repercussions. I call it the Granny State and welcome it with open arms.


Remember your grandma when you were little? She was there to pick you up when you fell and kissed the boo-boos and made them better. When others abandoned you as you got older, she was always there for support and might even have advanced you a little money until you could get on your feet. When you started to drive, she made sure you buckled up and knew the rules of the road for everyone’s well-being. In essence, she was your safety net, but she taught you at the same time that becoming independent and self-sufficient should and would be your ultimate goal.

Current American political policies and their consequences are really not so different.

When you began school, you walked to a structure built by local government and were taught by wonderful people who were credentialed by the State. Later, when you chose to acquire a higher education, but found you could not afford one, the Federal Pell Grant was available to assist you.

When you became ill, you went to a doctor who was licensed, an assurance that your physician was knowledgeable in the medical sciences. The FDA approved your medications and inspected all the ingredients (and more) for your get-well chicken soup. And if you couldn't afford to buy food during your illness or period of unemployment, SNAP was similarly accessible to help you purchase the healthy foods you otherwise could not afford.

When you got your driver’s license, you had to pass tests, proving your proficiency in the rules and mastership on the road. And the roads on which you drove and the bridges that you crossed had to be maintained through government mandates to help you arrive at your destination. At other times, if you took a bus or train or plane, similar oversight was applied.

Later, you landed your first job, knowing that laws were in place to make sure you were treated fairly: equal pay for equal work, non-discrimination policies—protections against gender, age, religious, ethnic biases. And, if during a down-turn, you lost your job, there was Federal Unemployment Insurance to help bridge the gap.

When you applied to buy your first home, there were federal rules that forbade discrimination and rules in place to determine whether you could afford the purchase price. If your precious house caught fire, the red trucks were there in minutes to put it out.

If you relocated elsewhere to start a business, the postal service was there to deliver invoices and pick up packages. And once that business got off the ground and you were robbed, the police were on the spot to protect and to serve.

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Along the way you took time to remember the lessons that Grandma taught you—to respect and love each other—so a Muslim would have as much right to worship as a Jew or a Catholic or a Buddhist (echoing the First Amendment promises of the Constitution). She would remind you (having had to study our founding documents) that the “right to bear arms” was written at a time when there was no standing army or police force that we have institutions that act in our stead now, making the ownership of attack weapons totally beyond the pale.

Having left her birth country to escape guns of persecution, Grandma would be horrified to think that there are those who choose to justify gun ownership so they can “stand their ground” and then shoot an innocent young person in the face.

Back in the day, our founding forebears soon realized that the Articles of Confederation were insufficient. We needed a strong central government to make our new democratic republic work: common currency, a universal postal service, a military contributing soldiers from each state, rules regulating commerce and education standards—prescient rules that would allow for unforeseen circumstances, technologies, sciences; laws that would end slavery, give women the right to vote, and break the glass ceiling for all who found themselves beneath it; a Supreme Court that could make mistakes [like Plessy v Ferguson (1896)] and later rectify them [like Brown v the Topeka, Kansas, Board of Education (1954)].

All of this is not to say that all systems are perfect, but the miracle of America is that we don’t settle for only satisfactory. We are always a work in progress, striving to make a better us.

Grandma would say a “Nanny State” is a misnomer but that a “Granny State” is something with which we can live and thrive and can make us feel more confident in our present and our future.

Granny would not betray us and have us abnegate our fundamental rights and privileges (the reason she and millions of others left behind cultures of oppression to begin here, in the new Promised Land) and replace them with something worse. She just might query, can you imagine life without essential protections?

Would we prefer returning to the days feared by Teddy Roosevelt, the Republican, or the grim vision that Franklin Roosevelt, the Democrat, apprehended?

FDR comforted us with his fireside chats. Granny government can do the same. Personally, I always trusted my grandma.

Rosemary Jenkins