May 14, 2010

Stand Up...Or Stand Down (Transferred from short-lived DCP blog)

The rallying cry for the Coffee Party is "Wake Up and Stand Up. Yet there is so much negative hateful rhetoric floating around these days that otherwise intelligent people are afraid. Afraid that by standing up, we will incite the fringe folk into doing dangerous things. So afraid, in fact, that they believe we must instead stand down, and further, pull the covers over our heads.

Obviously this is not a view to which I subscribe. Appeasement is never the answer. It failed when the Europeans tried it in the 1930s, and can you imagine what this country would have looked like had Abraham Lincoln appeased the South...or allowed secession rather than standing up for our Constitution?

We live in a polarizing time, with two entrenched sides who often cede control to the fringes rather than creating a larger, more inclusive tent in the middle. And so at times we have left-wing Democrats who are willing to cut their noses off to spite their own faces, refusing to settle for incremental changes while at the same time right-wing Republicans turn obstructionist, resulting in grid-lock that causes them to move ever-farther to the right.

Judging by his actions, Barack Obama is a moderate president. And yet he provokes even more anti-government rhetoric than Bill Clinton - another moderate president - did. Many of Obama's stances were once also taken by Republican presidents Reagan, Nixon, or Bush (take your pick as to I or II).

Whenever I can't use logic to figure something out, I remember something I learned in graduate school: Follow the money. And that's where I think much of the dissension lies. The billions spent by the health care industry to prevent health care reform, the millions the financial industry is spending to prevent reform, and the money just pledged by AT&T to gain a stronger foothold in the fight against Net Neutrality...what do each of these three things have in common? The bottom line is the bottom line. Lots and lots of people and companies became very, very wealthy during the Clinton and Bush II years, and as time went on, most of the money rose to the top and consolidated among fewer and fewer.

Since Barack Obama won the presidential election of 2008 and the birthers started yammering, I began to well and truly believe that among those who have accumulated the greatest wealth are those who would do just about anything to keep it. It is in their interest to distract us, to make and keep us angry. The middle class may indeed be disappearing, but when considering the cause, ask yourself, who has the most to lose? If you have difficulty answering this question, consider that the top 1% own 42% of wealth in the U.S. The next 19% own an additional 50%, leaving the remaining 80% of us owning less than 10%. Even more astonishingly, of all the new financial wealth created since the Reagan presidency, nearly half of it went to the top 1%...nearly 95% went to the top 20%.

If you come to the same conclusion that I have - that money funds anti-reform movements as well as obsfucating the truth from those ignorant enough to search for it themselves - you will undoubtedly conclude that now is the precisely the time for us not to stand down. Now is the time for us to stand up, to make the voice of reason rise above the voices of anger and ignorance.

~Laurie G


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