It was mid-term election night here in Georgia. What's a progressive girl to do when she lives in the belly of the Republicrats Beast? Try to get a little distance from this thing in order to gain perspective. So tonight it has been a week exactly since some folks decided not to vote because they weren't excited, weren't motivated, didn't really see what was at stake, and others were chomping at the bit to undo the "mistake" they think 72 million Americans made in 2008.
Unlike my time spent in places like New York, NJ, Chicago, and Oakland, CA, where progressives weren't laboring in isolation, at the least there were more of us. Here, we are definitely in the minority. And this after living near one of the largest cities in the South, the place that is seen as a mecca for those looking for a place less hidebound, restrictive, uptight than almost every place in the region. There were so many different people in those other cities, from different cultures and traditions, more of a live and let live attitude. No one was much interested in trying to shove their way of life down your throat. (Of course there are exceptions but for the most part there are just way too many people to contend with to try to strong arm your belief system on others.)
As quiet as it's kept, the South is also home to thousands of immigrants from around the globe. They appear to keep a low profile though. Like they don't want to rock too many boats, remain under the radar. After last Tuesday I bet they'll hunker down even more.
In the South progressives are not only in the minority, but it is place rife with people who feel that they have the answer to everything. They want to live their lives and yours too. I now fully understand taxation without representation because our Republicrat US Senators and our congressman really don't give a crap about anyone but their corporate cronies. And bunches of my fellow citizens are just itching to roll back the clock on the social issues near and dear to their hearts. (More about the Republicrats in a later post.)
It is too bad that these too often poor and working class Caucasians don't realize that our elected officials only care about getting back to DC and riding this corporate cruise line of endless money until the very last wave in the very last ocean. (They should fall on their knees every night and thank the Supremes. No, not Diana and the girls, but the men in robes who voted for Citizens United.)
And that's what I've come to grips with this election night. There are millions and millions of Americans who do not care enough to even give lip service to the euphemisms that many of us, myself included have taken as faith, drummed into us in school over the decades such as "We're all in this together." "We're all swimming in the same ocean." "I felt sorry for the man with no shoes...""A rising tide lifts all boats." I could go on and on, and on. So could you I bet.
Factually, if there is a social contract in America, it is only a contract between those of us who believe that there but for the grace of God, go I. The other side apparently never signed the contract. I'm unsure if they are even aware there ever was one.
21st century Republicrats, have no such contract, no such ideal, and care less about the grace of God. (But you'll find them in church heads bowed, fist ready to pound the word into your hostile brain.) Who needs grace. They're Republicrats. So what if the factories have shut down and jobs shipped over seas. So what if the family farms have been consumed by big Agribusiness and now they have to buy what they once produced.
One of the most repugnant, unrepentant, repulsive Republican strategists was a man named Lee Atwater. Old Lee was one of, if not the, architects of the Southern Strategy that propelled Reagan into office, and Bush Senior. The Southern Strategy used emotional wedge issues such as race and religion, coupled with coded words like "special interests," and "busing" and "welfare queens," linking all this to "tax cuts" and before you could say Jack Rabbit three times real fast, ushered in four decades of whites who could least afford to, solidly align with the corporate class and continually vote against their best interest.
(As I read in a post today, a caller to the Rush Limbaugh show said he was for tax breaks for his boss/CEO so that he could one day keep more of his money if achieved success.) Yup! Good luck with that podna.
It's a real neat trick when eight million Americans are out of work, people are losing their homes, can't pay their bills, dare not get sick, their kids have no real future that their schools have prepared them for, their schools don't educate and these folks blame their problems on Mexicans, gays, black people, Democrats, and the president! It's kind of mind boggling actually. And pitiful. Really. But I don't feel that sorry for them, they've drunk the Kool-Aid. Shame on them. When the roof caves in it will fall on them as well, but they won't believe it until it happens.
Once upon a time in America there may have been a social contract. But today, I can't even put some lipstick on that pig. The contract has gone through the shredder people. And I sincerely feel for those frightened by the media and opinionated charlatans with a microphone pushing the race button and weeping widows, waiting hands wrapped around their bibles believing that "Muslims" or "Gays" are taking over America. They are in for a very rude awakening. They still have not grasped that their leaders run on the social issues, race, religion, gays, but govern from their vested financial interests, Goldman Sachs, Citibank, Koch Enterprises. And those folks will not ever do anything to mess up their gravy train. Ever.
If Republicrats have any compassion, and I'm not talking about the politicians here but the people who vote for them, I can tell you that they only seem to locate their compassion button when life catches up with them. Until then, it's every man/woman/family/ for themselves and the heck with everyone else. Especially those who don't look like them.
Folks, I think it is time that we send Lady Liberty back to France. Her "Give me your tired your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free..." is so 19th, 20th century. Is so out of date. Those sentiments are nice, make great PR and photo opportunities during holidays, gives tourists a thrill to read those words and remember their ancestors for whom the words offered comfort and hope. The Lady has become as much an American icon as the Washington Monument, old Thomas Jefferson and Lincoln Memorials, the Capitol and the White House. But what was once a beacon of hope to those who would risk life and limb to come to the land of opportunity, her light has been blown out and only the torch remains. Cold. Empty. Alone. Foreign.
The man who ushered in this seemingly endless era of division, of economic rape and pillage, and destruction of the middle class, Lee Atwater, this son of the south, the man known for being utterly ruthless, caring nothing about anyone, for whom no tactic was too vile, too repulsive, too low in the quest for power, had his, " There but for the grace of God," come to Jesus moment. He died from a malignant brain tumor at forty years old. And this is what he said he learned at the end:
"My illness helped me to see that what was missing in society is what was missing in me: a little heart, a lot of brotherhood. The '80s were about acquiring — acquiring wealth, power, prestige. I know. I acquired more wealth, power, and prestige than most. But you can acquire all you want and still feel empty. What power wouldn't I trade for a little more time with my family? What price wouldn't I pay for an evening with friends? It took a deadly illness to put me eye to eye with that truth, but it is a truth that the country, caught up in its ruthless ambitions and moral decay, can learn on my dime. I don't know who will lead us through the '90s, but they must be made to speak to this spiritual vacuum at the heart of American society, this tumor of the soul."
Some said that Lee was spinning till the end, that he didn't really mean it. Regardless, at the end he got it right. Unfortunately we didn't learn on his dime, and our spiritual vacuum? You may have your own list of shame, but clearly Cheney, Rove, Bush II, Condoleeza, and Rumsfeld modeled the continuance of the spiritual vacuum as they used fear as a whip to appeal to their base, and gluttony and greed ruled straight through the first decade of the new century.
And what's still missing in our country is what is missing inside of us.
The French are in the middle of a class war. They are fighting for their lives. But at least they understand that those who work, who labor, who produce things, are as deserving of a humane life as those who are the captains of industry. I think they'll appreciate getting their Lady back.