Friday, February 25, 2011

All together or all apart - which way will we go?

It's difficult for me not to think of the Wisconsin governor and Republican legislators as crossing over the threshold from merely damaging, ideologically rigid politics to cruelty. But when I read articles like this in the morning paper, the word cruelty bubbles up. When deficit hawks create or deepen deficits by offering government services and tax breaks to the wealthiest and to corporations, then insist they are 'broke,' cruelty is one result. (Note to Governor Walker: please get a dictionary and look up the word 'broke;' we are not broke! We have imbalances in revenue and spending, but we are not broke!!).

Cruelty towards human beings, towards students in public school systems who will be failed by these policies, towards public workers who provide services to all of us for very modest incomes (put the cuts to these workers up against the tax breaks for folks like the Koch brothers), towards those slipping rapidly from the ranks of what we once called the middle class while the wealthy become obscenely wealthier, towards the poor who are about to see BadgerCare 'reformed' by cruel policy by a governor attempting to legislate sole authority over the program - oh, we could go on.

This is class warfare in the extreme, brought to you by 20-30 years of the erosion of our democracy, an erosion caused by handing it over to corporations and financial institutions. They own the system. They can purchase politicians, hire lobbyists who help write the legislation that will serve their interests (I am not making this up. I learned this all too well in my 26 years working in Wash. DC), and if they get the right presidents, they can appoint Supreme Court justices who will defend corporate interests.

For decades now, the courts have recognized corporations as 'persons' with certain constitutional rights. This is completely made up and never intended by our Founding Fathers or anyone else until this past century. But it has served corporate interests well. And these are the folks that have money to buy cable news channels, to saturate the airwaves with paid ads from mystery organizations, and do things like move lobbying offices right into the heart of Madison to influence legislation.

So, the struggle here in Wisconsin really is about the soul of this nation, and what kind of nation we want to be. Will we allow those with power and wealth to tear us apart so that they can better control our lives and well-being, will we allow ourselves to be bullied or duped by their faux news outlets, paid ads, or politics of blame - blame of the marginalized, the public worker, the failing middle class, the urban poor, the immigrant? Or will we choose to resist those trends and create solidarity among our people, pull together across class and lines of 'competing' individualistic interests, and center our values on a sense of the common good and the good of the commons, a realization that we are all in this together, and that the path of mere self-interest and concentration of wealth and power is leading us towards a world most of us won't want to live in - mean, impoverished, cruel, heartless, and ecologically wrecked?

Thank you Wisconsin 14, thank you to my guy Chris Larson, thank you protesters, thank you public sector workers - for giving us all this time to find out what is really going on. The real victory here is knowledge, and the more we have about what is really going on, the more empowered we are to change this ugly course before things get worse - much worse - which is what Walker, the Koch brothers, and Repub state legislators sadly have in mind for our state.

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