Apparently the Arab countries are not the only place in the world where people who have been silent too long are waking up. Here in America citizens who share common concerns about the well-being of our democracy and about the abuses that are currently being perpetrated by the few against the many are beginning to find their voice. And frankly it is none too soon!
Governor Kasich in Ohio, who some claim is a stand in for Fox Mogul, Rupert Murdoch, recently refused to accept 400 million in Federal Funds for rail service for his state, tried to arbitrarily dismiss a 40 year old collective bargaining agreement, began putting state parks up for sale and in a state where 52% are women and 24% of the population is made up of other minorities, nominated an all male, all white cabinet. Whoever said that fact is stranger than fiction certainly knew what they were talking about.
Meanwhile Scott Walker, the Governor of Wisconsin, another newly elected conservative with Tea Party backing has been front and center in the news for the last few weeks for trying to strip all state workers of their collective bargaining rights, cut their pay and threatening to call out the National Guard if they protested or struck. Fortunately, a lot of good people in Wisconsin, including a number of legislators, and other people around the country are saying Hell No!
And least I be accused of just hammering right leaning Governors for acting like thugs, Governor Cuomo (the younger) in NY and Jerry Brown in California recently took aim at Medicaid apparently assuming that the elderly, the poor and disadvantaged children are too voiceless to object. Unfortunately, in both of these instances they were right and unfortunately those of us who do have voices did not object either.
Amazing, isn’t it? Do you ever look out at the political mess that is unfolding in American and wonder how we got to this place when right and left appear to be permanently divided and far too many on both sides appear to have forgotten about right and wrong, about common decency and compassion, about fairness and justice for all? Do you also ever ask yourself why more of us have not been getting the message that there are some very serious folks out there who are intent on taking apart the last vestiges of the commons and reversing many of the most important advances in health care, social security, public broadcasting and other essential services (called the commons) that some among us have spent the last few hundred years putting in place?
Of course, these serious folks claim they are doing all this in the name of fiscal accountability. And, of course, who can object to the fiscal accountability? But a closer look discloses some serious contradictions in their motives. Of course, we are all in favor of fiscal accountability, but why is it that most of the major budget cuts being recommended and approved by the Republican controlled house and by some of the new Republican governors are focusing on programs the conservative right has been trying to eliminate for decades: social security, Medicare and Medicaid, health care, planned parenthood, public broadcasting and more? And why, if they are really committed to fiscal accountability are we not seeing at least equally major cuts being proposed in defense spending, corporate subsidies, high income tax breaks or even, for that matter, in the operating budget for the House itself? Why have none among these serious folks called for a drastic reduction in the salaries and benefits of Congressmen and Senators, at least as drastic as those they want Federal and State workers to accept?
You see, there is something fishy about all of this! Having granted and now defended billions in unnecessary tax cuts to the rich, bloated tax incentives and subsidies for corporations who ship jobs and profits overseas and who do not pay their fair share of taxes, and having authorized billions for the conduct of unjustified wars, these same serious folks are now saying we don’t have the money to support the needs of our own citizens. And by the way, they are also saying we should eliminate collective bargaining and turn the social security fund into a bonus pool for those on Wall Street who have already proven they can’t be trusted.
As if this wasn’t already enough to ruin even a modest church social, these same individuals are also beginning to actually say there are simply too many old people in America and, if we don’t cut back on services to them now, they will bankrupt the system. Strange, isn’t it? Researchers have been warning us for decades that eventually more than 50% of our people will be over 50 years of age, just as they have been warning us about climate change, the dangers of our dependence on foreign oil and the wholesale pollution of our air and water, but these serious folks have obviously been too occupied having dinner with lobbyists and too busy watching their stock portfolios to notice?
So what are they really saying? Are they proposing that we euthanize these ‘too many older Americans’ so the wealthiest 5% can keep tax breaks they don’t need, corporations can continue to pay little or no taxes and Wall Street can run away with the rest of the store?
Give me a break! Or maybe that’s what all this is about? Maybe these serious people are trying to break our collective will so they can go on grabbing a larger share of the pie. Well, not on my watch! I say it’s time, in fact long past time, for those of us who have been sitting on the sidelines to get up on our hind legs and send a really clear message to those who would destroy this democracy. Let’s tell them that this is still America and that our America is about freedom and justice for all, not just for the privileged few! What do you say? Are you ready to get involved?
There are rallies going on around the country that could use your support. There are emails and calls that can be made to your elected representatives, especially to those who appear to believe they have a mandate to do whatever they want. There are op-ed pieces and letters to the editor of local newspapers that can be written. There are emails you can send and phone calls you can make to friends inviting them to pay attention and get involved.
Please remember, this is not about defending positions being advanced by the right or the left, this is about doing what is right. This is about continuing to keep the dream of America and democracy alive and well.