Eighty percent of Americans who know of the over-reaching, legislation-from-the-bench Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission case – the one that ensured unlimited money influencing our politics – want it reversed. That number varies by just a handful of percentage points, depending on respondents’ political views. This issue is the venue where ultra-left tree huggers and hair-on-fire Tea Party members can join hands, sing Kumbaya and wave Don’t Tread On Me flags, all at the same time. The trick in getting action on this is to expand the number of Americans who know about the CU decision so that we can exert sufficient pressure on lawmakers to pass the 28th Amendment to the Constitution to get big money out of our political process.
It was to that educational purpose that I crafted the Money, Politics and Democracy program that I have been delivering to various local groups for the better part of a year. I delivered it last week to a fledgling group in DuPage and Will Counties who care enough about this issue to leave their front porches on a lovely summer evening and sit in a hot meeting room in order to learn.
Be clear that I have another motive in my talk. It is to motivate people to take action. And it is to that point that I direct you to an essay by Jesmyn Ward in today’s New York Times entitled A Cold Current. Her story is about racism, the devaluing of people by “othering” and how we react to that. There is a parallel to her story in today’s economically punitive America.
Think about the America you believe in, the one you want to leave to your children and grandchildren. Look deep into your notion of The American Dream. You better think about it, because we are crafting the America we will bequeath to your descendents right now. It is just possible that the dream that you hold dear for your dear ones and yourself is a different dream than that dreamed by the leaders of our pharmaceutical industry, our energy barons, the fabulously wealthy individuals – the 1%. That is because those people are exactly like everyone else in this sense: We all act in what we believe to be our best interests.
I don’t even remotely imagine that the Koch brothers arise every day with sights on the evil they might do or the mischief they can create for most Americans. As the titans of Big Pharma spent $390 per second fighting Obamacare, they weren’t doing it to ensure that our healthcare system remains the worst among industrialized nations. Neither do the leaders of the American Petroleum Institute air its television ads with the pretty blonde in a black pants suit in order to create more super-hurricanes like Katrina and Sandy so that more Americans might suffer and die. They do those things because it is in their financial best interests to do what they do, so they spend the big money to make their voices heard. It is all about the voices.
So, rather than putting your effort into demonizing the big bucks class in America, your energy needs to be focused on making your voice heard. Let go of any notion of instant gratification, because this is a long term push. Just understand this: If you don’t make your voice heard, people with a very different dream for America from the one you believe in will have their voices heard, because they will be the only ones talking.
Now go read Jesmyn Ward’s piece. Read it first for her message about racism. Then read it again and substitute “classism” and you’ll understand.
Copyright 2019 by Jack Altschuler
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