There’s so much happening politically that looks like a war on democracy that I haven’t been able to focus on the status of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” since it was “ended,” or the progress, or lack thereof, of civil unions and marriage equality. I have faith that others are doing so.
I do care. I’ve always advocated that LGBT people have the right to every sick institution straight people “enjoy.”
What’s going on beyond the politics of marriage equality and military service really concerns me because of its direct effect on the success and health of everything in which LGBT people want their share.
I want a nation where human beings, health, families, communities, children, adults, and peace on earth flourish. I want people to see that we’re all in this together and not about getting my own piece of the pie and letting others fight for any crumbs.
I was hoping that it wasn’t even a Freudian slip, when popular CNBC business commentator Larry Kudlow said of the Japanese disaster: “The human toll here looks to be much worse than the economic toll and we can be grateful for that.” I’m surprised he didn’t add how thankful he was that endless pictures of Japanese suffering moved the American people’s protests off media’s front pages.
We wouldn’t hear how a Wisconsin governor who left his university in disgrace without finishing his degree after committing fraud in a student government election does the bidding of the richest in the country. Worse yet, that playbook endorsed by radical right-wing funders like Wichita’s Koch brothers, is being used nationwide to solidify corporate rule.
In state after state, the blueprint is to take away the ability of the bottom 80% of the country to organize through labor and professional unions and what’s left of the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party, so as to solidify control by those in the top 5% who have increased their share of the wealth over the last twenty years while the remainder stagnated.
It’s not enough that the Supreme Court’s shameful overreach in Citizen’s United opened the floodgates to corporate purchasing of those who pretend to represent the people. It’s to ensure that no avenues exist for the majority to influence American policies.
The Michigan Republican Governor and legislature even gave the governor the power to remove democratically elected representatives at all levels of local government and replace them with corporate managers. In other states, voter ID laws and anti-labor acts pass to disenfranchise their citizens.
It’s hard to believe that the human toll of these actions doesn’t move their promoters. But these ideologies include blinders that prevent sympathy with the hardships of the masses. Only individual charity they can take credit for counts.
While the power of the base of the Democratic Party is thereby being eroded around the country, Democratic leadership in the White House and Congress hunker down to see how they can come out of all this in the next elections. They go on about cooperation and bipartisanship, which means Democrats conceding to Republicans on these issues, not vice versa.
There’s little, personally, for most politicians to worry about, Democrat or Republican. Most will benefit financially from corporate takeover.
Even losing, they’ll collect their public pensions and find secure, more lucrative jobs as lobbyists and consultants. And when they yak about pain to go around, they mean suffering for working people, not their funders.
A recent headline says the White House is going to try to determine what will fire up its base. Blindness must rule that bubble, for all they need to do is look around at what’s happening.
Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia, Libya, and Yemen showed that people could no longer trust that those at the top cared about their welfare. When Mubaraq and his rich banker son fell in Egypt, working people worldwide realized that believable hope is in themselves.
Back here it started with Wisconsin, and Indiana, and Michigan. People saw that they would have to lead any change. No expensive politician would protect them from the growing oligarchy that wanted the world.
They had to endure a mainstream media that didn’t get it because it didn’t want to recognize grassroots leadership. They had to accept being called an unruly mob by the right-wing even though they were committed to non-violent resistance.
They had to hear themselves talked about as outsiders, even if they grew up in the state whose strategies they were protesting. They had to expose behind-the-scenes corporate funders who were taking over their elected officials, homes, farms, and infrastructure.
They had to use tactics that would be criticized, even punished, by conservative leaders, such as leaving their state to prevent a quorum. And they had to endure a relentless beat as it continued on with the hope of grinding them down to cast them into the dustbin of history.
There is now a tension, a tension that the oligarchy hopes it will win. The Koch brothers and their kind, Rupert Murdoch and his FOX Channel, ideologues and Limbaughs on the right-wing, and Wall Street and Banker fat-cats are betting that people will get tired, the rallies will fade away, voters will forget, workers will become afraid of losing the little they still have, and all will go back to “the new normal.”
But this is a movement of the majority. There are more workers than there are bosses.
This is a movement that began realizing we can’t rely on Obama and Reid. At best we can cheer the “Wisconsin 8.”
It’s a movement that must sustain itself with the anger, frustration, heart, and soul that unites people, whether they consider themselves working or middle class. They are united in a fight, not against each other — not straight vs. gay, white vs. people of color, or men vs. women — but against those who are shifting the country’s wealth from all of its people to a select few who can only hide in their gated communities for so long before those who enable, and literally guard, them say: “No more.”
Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas where he taught for 33 years and was department chair for six years, Robert N. Minor (he/him), M.A., Ph.D is the author of 8 books as well as numerous articles and contributions to edited volumes. He is an historian of religion with specialties in Biblical studies, Asian religions, religion and gender and religion and sexuality. His writing has been published in Whosoever since 2005 and he continues to speak and lead workshops around the country. In 1999 GLAAD awarded him its Leadership Award for Education, in 2012 the University of Kansas named him one of the University’s Men of Merit, in 2015 the American Men’s Studies Association gave him the Lifetime Membership Award, and in 2018 Missouri Jobs with Justice presented him with the Worker’s Rights Board Leadership Award. He resides in Kansas City, Missouri and is founder of The Fairness Project.