I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK!
Have We Waited Too Long?
Watching the news or listening to Rush over the past five years, one would think that the Right Wingers and the Tea Party, their Congressional allies, big money cohorts and media enablers have some divine right to re-create an America in their own image based on their repressive beliefs and ideals. That their way, fascist as it might be, is the ONLY WAY to rescue America from decline, to right the wrong path we’re headed down, to re-make our society into a robust, just and fair one. Well I’m here to say to Rush, Glenn, Sean and every single Tea Bagger in the land: BULLSHIT! Just Plain Old Fashioned Bullshit! No Tea Partier, no right winger, no conservative pundit has any more right to “change” America than you or me. And it’s about time we let them know how sick and tired we are of their ignorant, racist, bigoted, fact-absent, un-scientific, fundamentalist version of America that they seem so desperate to foist on us. In fact, it’s about time we shout loudly in millions of voices raised together in unison that we absolutely, without question, no holds barred and with NO hesitation, REJECT their nightmare version of the America they dream of. It is simply wrong.
In 1980 – over thirty years ago, now - Ronald Reagan was elected President of these United States and thus began the long, slow slide into the mess we have on our hands today. Conservative economics, conservative social policies – that’s where it began; with Ronnie. Until then unionized working class folks without a high school diploma had well paying jobs. High school graduates could attend one of California’s or New York’s State University Systems without loading themselves up with lifelong crippling debt. President Carter, Reagan’s predecessor, began to support the development of new energy sources, got tax credits for businesses and homeowners for energy saving measures, forced better gas mileage for cars, etc. so that we would never be crippled by OPEC again.
And what were two of Reagan’s first acts as President? He fired the striking PATCO workers and removed the Carter-installed solar panels from the White House roof. (Obama has recently restored them.) At the time, I was halfway in favor of his PATCO action – after all they were threatening to disrupt the country’s flight systems. I missed the trashing of the White House solar panels. Looking back from thirty years later, I see that these two actions were the first cracks in the dike holding back the conservative tide that has nearly drowned America in high taxes for the average American as well as declining incomes, outrageous health care and college costs, the loss of homes for so many Americans and the wholesale selling of America to our corporate overloads. All of this has been achieved in the name of free market economics, de-regulation and “taking personal responsibility for our actions.” What a crock!
I remember a political rally in California when Reagan was running for his first term. A TV newsman was interviewing a middle-aged woman and she was in tears. She said: “You will be so sorry if this man is elected President. He’s been the worst governor of California in decades. He’s destroyed us. He will do the same to the entire country.” How right she was.
Not only did Reagan usher in a new age of conservative economics he also ushered in the thirty-year culture wars that drag on and on and on today. I don’t hold Reagan personally responsible for the destruction of the America I knew. No. In fact, I suspect he was not a bad guy at all. But there is certainly no question that it was during his administration that the groundwork was laid for the disaster that was the worldwide economic collapse of 2008. One only needs to recall the tripartite legs of conservative economics: government is the problem, the private sector can do it better, and low taxes for big business to stimulate the economy, to see that they are still the underpinnings of conservative policy thirty some years later. Recall that during the 1990’s and the 2000’s conservative economic policies were championed by Republicans and Democrats alike. It was very bi-partisan. And its been a social, political and economic disaster for ordinary Americans.
In 2008 we elected our first Black President; apparently much to the dismay, consternation and disgust of Tea Partiers and conservatives. Combined with an outpouring of vitriol and racism from the right wing, supposedly responsible leaders have thwarted nearly every effort Obama has made to spur the nation’s economic recovery and to help ordinary Americans like you and me. In fact, to me it’s ironic that after the TARP bailout in the last days of the Bush Administration (don’t forget we, us taxpayers; bailed out the very folks who brought us the economic collapse) the Republicans have gone to extraordinary lengths to make sure that ordinary Americans suffer more while rich Americans still get richer. Or maybe it’s not ironic. Maybe it’s just tragic. They can’t seem to get it through their heads that there really is a Black man sitting in the White House no matter how extraordinary and mind blowing that might be. Cutting SNAP, cutting unemployment benefits, shutting the Government down, passing anti-voter and stand your ground laws, encouraging gun sales, blocking Executive appointments, holding budgets hostage; the tragic, destructive list goes on and on and on.
One big conservative push is, of course, to get rid of Obamacare, never mind that for decades we have had the most expensive health care system in the Western world and yet we’ve had among the lowest of positive health outcomes. Never mind that millions of folks who were denied health insurance or couldn’t afford it now have it. For this they believe the President should be impeached? Unbelievable. In fact, unforgivable. Now, of course there’s Benghazi. Pitiful.
I used to think this rightward tide was an aberration in American politics, this rise of right wing ideologues who will stop at nothing to get their way, thinking that this phenomenon would pass. But what they have wrought on America over the past thirty years is truly unforgivable. I, for one, am no longer in a forgiving mood. Not when our country, the country that used to be the land of opportunity for all, not just for the rich, our country that used to be the world’s beacon of liberty and hope and not the world’s biggest bully, our country where we believed in equality, fairness, tolerance and compassion and not a land of greedy, self-serving, bought-off shills for corporate interests who believe that the Constitution applies only to people who look and believe as they do.
It is unforgiveable. It is criminal.
Enough is enough. I call on each and every one of us to speak out forcefully against this anti-democratic, anti- progressive, anti-patriotic and anti-American juggernaut that is threatening to drag all of America into the quagmire of their sordid levels of civility, politics, decorum and intelligence. The Tea Party dressed in their colonial outfits do not represent America. They represent a cadre of ideological dupes; duped by big, anonymous money into believing that it’s we liberals and progressives who have “destroyed” America and “they” are its only hope for salvation. Well we haven’t. And they aren’t. We might have been too trusting in our leaders over the past thirty years thinking that they had the country’s best interests in mind; we might have been too patient waiting for this tide of bigotry, greed and intolerance to pass; we might have been too busy raising our kids, paying for college tuition to take action; we might have been too forgiving of our politicians and public figures who lack the courage to stand up in the face of nonsense right wing propaganda to champion what American truly stands for and must stand proudly for once again. It’s time for us to act. We must push back this tide with our voices, our energy, our efforts, our votes and our money or the county we so once loved may be lost to us forever.
If it’s not too late.