Life in the Box: Have a Cow, Buttercup

cow-tv-sm Buttercup is a cow name. Some farmers in Iowa thinks it’s funny to say, “Suck it up, Buttercup.”

And some Iowa farmers have elected a state Representative who is using that phrase as the title for his proposed legislation which would prevent schools from providing “safe rooms” and mental health services for students who are depressed and scared about the 2016 election that empowered white supremacists at a national level.

Representative Bobby Kaufmann, of rural Iowa, says he’s tired of “coddling” students. In his mind–and I’m paraphrasing here–liberals lost the election; get over it. If you must have feelings, work on them on your own time; turn them off at school. His phrase, “Suck it up, Buttercup,” says many things, mainly “I don’t give a damn” and “I won’t give a dime.”

His cutesy phrasing highlights what I think is part of the big divide for this election–a sense of scale. In this case, he apparently thinks that people shouldn’t whine because their “side” lost. Like it’s a sporting event. For the affected students, many are worried that their parents will be deported and possibly killed; for students who don’t look white–they are worried they will be killed by racists; for women who have been sexually assaulted–that they may lose legal standing because the new President brags about assaulting women. These are not minor complaints.

Lack of empathy, inability to feel another’s pain or possibly disinterest in others’ suffering, is a big problem and it’s been bubbling under in American cities and political debates for decades. It probably shouldn’t surprise us so much that it exploded outward in this election. The message wasn’t “change” but rather “change back.”

We’ve known all along that a portion of Americans just couldn’t handle having an African-American in charge. Those who didn’t want liberal progress to begin with have been feeling their own fear and pain, but for them it’s tied to “those other people.” They resent that when they express their fear of others, they’ve been told they are “despicable.” They’ve had to “suck it up” so now everyone else should, too. Fat chance, but that’s what they want.

For liberals, we must hold hope that although much of our work on passing legislation based on caring, respect, equality and sharing has been rejected by voters and might become un-legislated, we still have power in our numbers and our voices can still strike back against the heartless and the greedy. Yes, I take this overthrow of our government seriously and I expect it to hurt and possibly kill countless Americans.

But since I can’t do anything about that in this moment, I’ve been thinking of counter-rhymes.

cow-sqtf-editYour lack of caring is scaring.
Shit a brick you pr*ck.
Go back to the plow you cow.
Sit back down you clown.

But you know what, my rhymes don’t sound caring, kind or respectful. That’s the problem with having empathy, you really feel bad if you hurt someone’s feelings, or if you sound non-empathetic–even in self-defense. We don’t want to seem just as mean as the person we’re trying to reprimand.

I suppose that’s where Gandhi’s strategy of non-violence comes in, “Send love to those who hate.”

I love you Bobby-cup, even though you’re a f*ck-up.

Hmm. Not quite the right vibe yet.

Let me keep thinking. If someone is willing to come out and say they don’t care that others are hurting, and in addition, they don’t want to pay to help that suffering end, what is the kindest thing to say in response?

You’re a bad dad, Chad.
You care more for your money than your daughter or sonny.

I can’t really laugh ‘cause I don’t think that’s funny.  

Okay, that’s slightly less mean, but not as catchy as the Buttercup thing. I need a dismissive nickname for the rhyme.

I’m not your Buttercup and you aren’t mine.
I hope your bill dies, Clementine.

Calling a manly man a girlie name is sure to catch his attention. It’s almost like swearing at him.

I still want to counter-rhyme the stinginess of this man’s thought process. So, maybe my bottom-line is more like:

You’re way too cheap, you creep.
Pay it out, you lout.

blue-ribbon-sq-smAnd, there’s another serious side to all of this. Bobby put forth this bill less than a month after two Iowa police officers were shot and killed by someone with mental health problems. My entire metro area has been grieving and citizens are decorating their yards in “police blue” to show support for the survivors.
Conservatives in Iowa have been cutting back money and support for mentally ill people and homeless people for years. There is a connection. And, while I normally wouldn’t be flip about it, maybe all those non-caring “Bobby Kaufmanns” out there needs to hear this one:

Think of all the fun
If mental health needers we shun
They’ll keep us on the run
With their EZ-Access guns.

I consider myself a bumper-sticker poet, so I’m sure that a more serious poet could come up with some much better lines, but I have lifted my own spirits in the attempts above.

With all my pre-election efforts to express contempt for the Republican candidate by creating anti-Chump bumper stickers, I probably didn’t convince one single person to change their heart or vote. But there are many of us that need to share our distress at the way things turned out.

We have to keep lifting our own hearts—and each others’—as this looks to be a dark time in our nation’s history.

nancy heather brown author

Nancy Heather Brown is a retired, Emmy Award-winning television producer whose career has included interviewing, writing, and editing for a span of four decades. Today, she enjoys learning new things and reflecting upon the creative process and the world of ideas both inside and outside the box.
Washington Post article gives background on the Buttercup bill and its author

Iowa City newspaper’s editorial slant on the Buttercup bill

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