April 30, 2015
By Thomas J. Mackell, Jr.
Washington DC – Professor Martin Gilens of Yale University recently presented his findings in a talk at Plymouth State University where he stated the "…central characteristic of democracy is responsiveness of government to the interests of citizens."
Governing is about taking bold steps for the well-being of the populace not to tear them down and leave them in the lurch. Leaders should provide guidance, energize and excite the people.
When I was a kid my mother always promoted the notion that you "can't judge a book by its cover." I have attempted to follow her instructions and sage advice for most of my life.
But most people have also developed the inane and uncanny ability to get a sense that when they come across a person who is a bad apple they can usually read that pretty quickly.
That's the way I feel about Mitch McConnell and John Boehner. They both maintain a demeanor that conveys to me that they are untrustworthy. These guys don't walk into a room, but, rather, they slither into it. They are truly the snakes in the wood pile. And we all know how we would react if we came upon one.
But there are lots of other kinds of snakes slithering around the legislative halls of Washington, DC. They have become known as the "hell no" caucus who use bomb throwing to get their way. That's the conservative, right-wing Republicans who even go up against John Boehner their "leader" in the House of Representatives on occasion.
Their tactics and strategies are singularly focused, namely to downgrade or eliminate all of the good and decent social welfare programs that started in the administration of FDR and were continued for decades by both Republicans and Democrats alike in spite of their political and philosophical divergence.
That was when elected leaders had a soul and cared about the people who needed some support. They could hold their heads up high and walk into a room. Where their concerns were about shoring up those in the sunshine of their lives, the children; the shadows, the misfortunate; and those in the twilight of their lives, the elderly. Today, these folks do not count in the new world economic order that has been evolving and that is promoted heartily by the wealthy 1% and supported and fostered by a Congress and Supreme Court that have been bought off and paid for by the highest bidders.
Today, we keep re-electing people who don't care about us and do not want voters who are critical thinkers but they want those who passively accept what can be jammed down their throats. They wage war on people and not on poverty.
Machiavelli wrote "The Prince" for the Haves on how to hold onto power; Saul Alinsky wrote "Rules for Radicals" for Have-Nots on how to take it away.
The 2016 budget submitted by the Republican Congress issued their proposals this past week. Their budget would end Medicare; cut Pell grants, making college less affordable for millions of students; roll back the Affordable Care Act; meaning that millions of Americans could lose their affordable health insurance; and slash investments in infrastructure, job training, law enforcement, and education–funding that is already at bare-bones levels. The casualties will begin falling by the wayside. People will be living under bridges, along the highways, byways and railways of America somewhat akin to the Great Depression.
The budget is the exact opposite of what Americans need now and more of them have a lot of anxieties about the economy.
The fear, anxiety and frustration has lead to many people feeling that they have been pushed out onto the ledge and they are petrified of falling off. What we need now is a combination of the Depression-era labor organizing squads coupled with the steadfast passion and uplifting power of the civil rights movement. This would be the most effective tool to confront the people who want to neuter the middle class.
The media doesn't recognize it because, by and large, reporters dance to the tune of the corporations who have purchased the newspaper or radio or TV stations and they don't dare step over the line in the sand. The so-called "liberal media" is no more. There are a few who stand out but the balanced have been "corporatized."
We live in a world that has been turned upside down. And the voters are totally frustrated with the clown-like behavior of our elected officials both Democrats and Republicans alike. Neither party has a strategy to deal with the political realities of today.
What has gotten into these apparent reckless individuals who clearly have loss sight of what the political process is supposed to be about? They have no vision. Do they not see what is facing them and the country in the not-too-distant future, namely, the inability of many Americans who are able to afford and buy the services and goods provided by companies that will, ultimately, result in blood in the streets if we do not pay attention.
Term limits have been suggested as well as a methodology to remove money from the political process. These should be seriously assessed and acted upon.
Many people are now expressing a desire to take matters into their own hands. Despair is a function of discrimination-racial, religious, sexist, financial inequality-and unemployment.
There will come a time when a cadre of Americans will band together to initiate an armed revolution. Look at the social media outlets and already there are people, who, in their posts and commentaries are calling for just that.
Workers frustration with corporate capitalists and their unrelenting globalized domination over capital, workers, technology and governments is festering.
What we need now is a spring offensive-a march toward prosperity, decent employment and financial security for all.
Apparently our elected officials have never read James Baldwin who wrote that "the most dangerous creation of any society is a man who has nothing to lose." Soon with this current budget that has been proposed and the unrelenting, stultifying economy it will create many who have nothing to lose–the casualties. God help us if they rise up. Don't they recognize that there are too many guns in America today.
It was Margaret Mead who wrote that we should "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."
The first step in solving any problem is recognizing that there is one. I suggest that we call for a massive demonstration in Washington, DC and amass 100,000 18-wheelers, 50,000 farm tractors, 1,000,000 motorcyclists and at least 5,000,000 pedestrians to come to Washington and shut that city down and occupy it.
(For students of recent American history in January, 1978, 50,000 farmers and again in March of 1978, 30,000 farmers shut the city down. It can be done as they had and their issues were addressed at the time.)
Then we should designate one leader from the following groups: a corporate CEO, a faith-based religious leader, a labor leader, the head of a university, a community-based leader, a student leader, a women's group leader, a representative for the homeless, for veterans, for the senior citizen community, a representative from the Latino, African American and Asian community. Fourteen people in all.
Once the city is securely shut down, then convene a meeting with President Obama, Vice President Biden, John Boehner, Mitch McConnell, Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi.
Meet until they can fashion an agreement that will deal with income inequality that is a central challenge. Even the likes of Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Rand Paul see it as a problem.
We risk a weak economy today and even lower growth going forward. Income inequality poses a systemic risk to American families, to pension funds, retirement security and to long-term investors and corporate profitability.
The discussions should cover job creation, and devise an intelligent bi-partisan approach to infrastructure development, preservation of Social Security, Medicare, an intelligent student loan policy, a sensible immigration policy, health care for all, and foster and promote a cohesive retirement program for private and public sector workers.
We should keep the city shut down until an agreement is completed. Once completed, enabling legislation should go forward immediately with the threat of a prolonged demonstration hanging over their heads.
Each of the parties on both sides of the table must agree to continue to work together to get this country back on track before it is too late.
It was the late Senator Robert Kennedy who said that "the future is not a gift but an achievement."
In order to realize the future that we dream of for our children and grandchildren we must work towards achieving that dream. No one else is going to do it for us. It is up to this group of leaders and the people to act now. Let's avoid the casualties.
Please stand up now for America and fight back and remember the words of Dolores Huerta, the Secretary-Treasurer of the United Farm Workers of America: "Every moment is an organizing opportunity, every person is a potential activist, every minute a chance to change the world."
Thomas J. Mackell, Jr.. Ed.D. is a Special Advisor to the International President of the International Longshoremen's Association and can be reached at 202 297 1935.