President Obama and the corporate Democrats must be primaried. It is time, and past time, long past time that the trajectory of American politics needs to be returned to its real roots and not the imaginary ones of the TEA party. When so-called Democrats put Medicare, Social Security, Medicaid and every hard won gain by the working class on the table to placate the Robber Barons of our day, it’s time to change the composition of our team, starting with the team captain.
America was built by its workers, but time and again has been seized by its owners.
Let us be under no illusion about this. This is a hard thing we must do. The slave owners insisted on making people property to the point of ripping the country apart and of provoking brother to slay brother in one of the bloodiest, costliest wars in history.
The vicious lies of Rupert Murdoch and Fox News have been seen and heard before. As before, these lies aim to inflame until division and strife let the rich and powerful do what they want—which is make money by whatever means, conscionable or not.
I have an ancestral relative buried at Vicksburg. He died stopping the rebels last effort to break the siege. My grandfather’s earliest memory was of watching the uniformed members of the Grand Army of the Republic march home. He lies buried in the national cemetery in Andersonville, GA, the scene of the worst wartime atrocity in the treatment of POWs (at the hands of Southern slaveholders) until Hitler and Stalin eclipsed it with their own version of death enslavement.
Veterans of our many wars redeem that degraded site with their honored graves.
It was not easy nor cheap to rid this nation of slavery.
No sooner had the chains of slavery been cut and the lash laid down but the new industrial tycoons who found their opportunity in a war fought to free the enslaved began to build their system of enslaving factory hands and tying farmers to the rails of monopoly. In Colorado they gunned down peaceful demonstrators. In New York they jammed people in poorly lit, badly built and dangerous sweathouses, then chained the factory doors and let girls burn alive when fire erupted. Food was not safe.
Life was nasty, brutish and short under the Robber Barons. It is becoming that way again. Americans live more than 3 years less on average than Europeans. Our children are shorter, less healthy, less intelligent due to poor healthcare and nutrition. The proof of our enslavement to brutal, no holds barred Koch-style corporatism is being engraven on the bodies of our children.
It took the Progressive Movement a generation to begin to free the workers from this new system of industrial slavery. This was the era when monopoly dominated and only the power of government could break it. It took a national movement to save anything of America’s natural heritage from the Barons for us to enjoy and pass to our children. The Robber Barons’ idea of America was of a land and a people free for them to exploit.
Not until the collapse of the Great Depression and the rise of America’s unions could the average American even dream of a decent life. Only from the New Deal to the Great Society did the American Dream for the average man and woman even exist as more than a dream.
This was the era of the Right Stuff and Unions make America Strong. It was replaced with the Reagan era of: where’s MY stuff? I want more stuff. Stuff yourselves with junk food and stuff it up yours. Reagan de-industrialized America, de-unionized America and began the enslavement of service workers in the new Service Economy.
And what is a Service Economy without Servants?
Unions called for solidarity and cooperation; Reagan called for selfishness and for an untrammeled competition in which the weak, the mentally and physically unfit, and the women and children were thrown onto the streets. Reagan’s American Dream was to serve yourself, don’t serve the nation, and with that Pied Piper’s melody of selfish “independence” and Freedom from each other he turned us into servants of the rich, who knew that disunited, we are vulnerable, free for them to exploit.
Ayn Rand’s fantasies displaced reality. Religious zealotry replaced scientific genius. We are living in a Cultural Revolution run by idiots.
Instead of the Space Shot and John Glenn we get the Space Cases of Sarah, Michelle and Glen Beck. We have been reduced to thumbing rides from the Russians.
Kennedy and Johnson must be rolling in their graves.
I never saw a man holding a sign, “will work for food” except in old photos from the Great Depression, until I came back from China in 1990 and saw it on the streets of Reagan-Bush America. Now a million children are homeless. Hundreds of thousands of veterans are homeless. We enslave our children in debt just to get an education.
Their American Dream is of finally, someday paying off student loans. And the country is full of empty homes seized by the banks, while 14 million people beg for work and millions live on the streets.
This is the result of Reaganism. This is the waking nightmare of Grover Norquist’s vision of government shrunk and weakened until no one even has a bathtub.
We need CHANGE to be more than a slogan for a new guy. We need CHANGE to be the slogan for a new way. We need to draft Trumka to run for president, and he needs to do this not because we want to or he does, but because we have to.
We need a clear voice and clear stance for the working stiff. We need to contrast the Republican regime of presidential candidates of privilege and oil power with those of working Americans and union power. We need to free the homeless, free the indebted students, free the workers from a lifetime of labor which hands every gain in worker’s efficiency, every penny of profit over to the bosses.
We need real freedom, not the illusion of it.
We need change from 23 percent salary hikes for the average executive and none for the workers. We need change from bankers get bailouts and women, children and veterans getting thrown out.
We need change from Republicanism light. We need real change, urgent change, drastic change, bold change. We need a call to arms, not a call to be rational and accept our fate.
I hate to accuse President Obama of being an Uncle Tom, but like Uncle Tom he counsels accepting our system of enslavement to the rich and powerful. I mean this literally, based on the book that, as Lincoln said, started the War to Free the Slaves. Obama began his Presidency being compared to Lincoln, because he supposedly appointed rivals to his cabinet. If he wanted real rivals, he would have appointed Krugman, Stiglitz, Trumka and Warren, not Summers, Geithner, Donovan, and Clinton. Obama has not shown the determination of Lincoln to restore the union, whatever the cost. If Obama had been president in 1861, he would have negotiated an end to war based on a promise from the slavers to treat their slaves better.
The only rivalry I have seen in the Obama cabinet is rivalry in who compromises most, most quickly, with the Republicans and their vision of a world made safe for corporatocracy.
Obama is satisfied with “extending, only once” the unconscionable Bush tax cuts for irresponsible millionaires. He accepts the Republican lie that “our” national debt is because the peons expect too much, not because the Republicans have presided over a massive con game of privatizing profit while nationalizing losses.
It is not our debt: it is theirs.
They initiated unfunded wars for oil. They unleashed the banks from proper regulation and let them crash the economy. They jiggered the tax code to reward companies for taking jobs overseas. They let Enron run rampant. They privatized and dumbed down education until Americans can no longer compete and no longer even think critically about their real state of affairs.
It is the old trick of the slaveholders; keep the slaves from learning to read and figure, and that makes them dependent, crippled, ignorant, compliant, unable to escape their chains.
Obama calls for us to do better at competing in a globalized world without realizing that globalization is the con game of international corporations determined to drive us all to the lowest common denominator of wages, taxes and regulatory restrictions on their rapacity. His idea of change is too little, too slow, too late, and too much for the rich and not enough for the average guy.
Moderation in the pace of our enslavement and in the depth of our immiseration is not moderation. It is certainly not change.
It’s time for real change. It’s time to take the Democratic Party away from the corporate sellouts, the “moderates” who merely want to slow the pace of our immiseration, and the “Blue Dogs” who heed the silent whistle of Republican racial hatred. That hatred between workers divided only by skin color was always a tactic of the rich to divide and conquer the working class.
We must unite or die—in debt, enslaved to the Robber Barons of our time. We need our union, our united brotherhood and sisterhood, to step up. We need Trumka to fight for us and help us take back our party from those who want to Make the Deal to end the New Deal.
We need a New Deck and a New Game, one in which the odds favor us and not the Republican House. We need genuine Blue Collar Union, not fake Tea Party Rebellion. It’s time for real change.
This is a call to Union. For if we do not fight in Wisconsin, fight in Ohio, fight in Michigan, fight in Florida, and fight in Iowa and New Hampshire for our future, we will be accepting the corporate version of it. We will be selling ourselves down the river—a phrase I urge you to investigate and come to understand to the depth of your being. If you have not donated to those fighting for you in Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan and so on, go do so, now.
If you are one of those in the fight for union rights and decent wages for working folks, you are fighting for us, and we honor your sacrifice.
We cannot unite behind Obama when he is checking the chains and polling the barge down that river. We must change him--change his vision and actions or change his person—before it becomes too late to change our fate.
I apologize for the length of this diary; sometimes the pain of watching America fall further and further behind gets too great for this expat to bear. I dream of coming home, and dread it. I hoped for change in 2008, now I merely hope to be heard. The union I belonged to in my long ago youth is literally dead and gone, and the America of the 1960s, when freedom meant something real, and unity changed things, seems utterly gone, and forgotten, and even hated by those who hear nothing but their Master's voice.