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Thursday, June 14, 2012

THE HOUSE I LIVE IN

Even the American flag is depressed.


On Tuesday, June 5th, Election Day in Wisconsin, I stood on the Portland Avenue bridge in Beloit, with the swallows, ducks, and one Great Blue Heron, and held up a sign imploring citizens to Vote for Tom Barrett, the Democratic opponent to Governor Scott Walker, who was up for recall.

Why did I do this?  Because I believe liars should be ashamed of themselves.  Because I believe women, gay people, and minorities should have the same rights as me.  Because I believe that voter-suppression is Unamerican.  Because I believe the environment should be protected.  Because I believe religious hypocrisy is repulsive.  And because I believe Greed is a poison, and we could all do with less poison in our lives.

So I did it because I wanted to speak up in some small way about what America means to me.  To me it means tolerance, and respect, and working together with all kinds of different people for a greater good.  I guess maybe that's naive in this day and age, but that's what I believe.

Most people who noticed me honked their horns in approval, or waved, or gave the thumb's up.  Some Walker supporters shouted at me, flipped me off, or gave me the thumb's down.  Many just silently shook their heads at me, or mouthed the words "No."  I tried to not take it personally.  I reminded myself that if people had the right to voice their approval, others had the right to disagree.

At one point in the run-up to the election, it occurred to me that, truth be said, it might really only do little lasting good if Barrett won.  After all, he would still have about 50% of the electorate who despised him simply because he was a Democrat.  And the state, and our country, would still be bitterly divided, with no real solution in sight.  Standing there that day I realized that it's not only necessary to stand up and fight back against the Republicans and their Corporate Overlords, but to reach out to my neighbors as well.  To try to bridge this destructive gap the GOP has so ably aggravated and exploited.  But how do you do that?

When I was canvassing for the Democrats I talked to one woman who basically said she'd worked twenty-five years at a hard job, paying $250 a month for insurance all that time, and saving for retirement, until her  401K was obliterated in the economic collapse.  She told me she took sweet delight in public sector union members losing their collective bargaining rights.  She wanted people who had better benefits, and a pension, to feel what it was like to suffer-- like she had suffered herself.

Divide and conquer.

How do you fight back against unlimited corporate greed?  Unlimited wealth that pays for lies and deception to ring in people's heads every time they turn around?  We're in a new world now, in America, and I just don't know where it's going to end up.  What do these people ultimately want from us?  A return to feudalism?  When will enough be enough for them?

I want to be hopeful for the American Experiment.  But I also know that all good things must come to an end.

3 comments:

  1. Great post John. You're not naive, just an idealist. Nothing wrong with that. Not only do you choose to speak up, but also to act - which is very uncommon in this apathetic world we live in. Every word, every act pushes us closer to the inevitable tipping point we must reach, if we are every to save ourselves...from ourselves.

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  2. Bless you. I feel the same.

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  3. I appreciate your conviction and efforts to secure votes for Tom Barrett, John. While I do feel sorry for the woman who lost her savings, her anger is misplaced and her response was selfish. It's rich Republicans and politicians with no conscience who should suffer for her loss, not public servants who risk their lives daily to keep her safe.

    Because of the outcome of the Wisconsin recall election, I've already put up an Obama sign in my yard. I wore an Obama button to an arts festival today and talked politics with a few strangers - all Obama supporters, but hey, we need to talk strategy now. Because you are absolutely correct about the far right's plan to "divide and conquer" - and it's scary. There's too much at stake for us to simply shrug and look the other way.

    It was nice seeing you in April at SPACE. I'm glad you like my hometown. I do, too.

    Kim in Columbus

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