Now that I have recovered from my media-induced malaise and returned to blogging, I realize that many of my fellow liberal bloggers were also stranded in their own world of depressed disbelief over what was going on in America. We won, we sobbed into our beer. Why did an electoral win look worse than an election-night loss? So, in disgust many of us on the Left retreated from the field and decided that our efforts had not been worthwhile. Why did this happen to us? What colored our new-found jaundiced view of our leaders? And, more importantly, why were we so quickly discouraged? These questions have played over and over in my head, and I think I may have discovered the reason for our reaction.
I remember when I was a child of around four or five and the kid next door realized that he could take my tricycle or wagon away from me at will. Was he bigger than me? No. Was he meaner than me? Yes. He was a bully. And he had an unexpected ally, my mother. She was from an extended family of men and boys who were rogues, ruffians, womanizers and brawlers. I remember going to visit my great-grandparents’ home in my early childhood, and it was just part of the experience to witness a front yard fist fight between my great uncles or my mother’s male cousins or the next generation of boys who were my age. The punches would fly in the dirt yard in front of their hovel of a home, and cat calling would come from all the other members of the family who were not physically involved in this round. It looked like a family version of what I have come to call “rasslin’.” My mom, finding this behavior unacceptable and not wanting to expose her little boys to it, would yank us by our skinny arms and drag us to the car vowing to never return. For a few years, we did return; but in time my mom abandoned this wing of her father’s family except for funerals.
[picapp src=”0172/0e2c130e-ca2e-43f5-a9af-032b6fd32c83.jpg?adImageId=6659971&imageId=176159″ width=”234″ height=”156″ /] All of this family background led my mother to adopt a no-tolerance attitude toward any kind of physical violence, especially by her boys. So when Stevie, the kid next door would come over and scuff me up and take my trike or little red wagon, my dear, well-meaning mom would admonish me to not hit back, but instead allow him to “borrow” my things. “He’ll bring it back,” she would say. And, in truth, somehow, he would get around to bringing the stolen items back. This went on for quite some time, and Stevie’s assaults on me became more and more violent until one day his punches drew blood several places on my face. My mom was still adamant in her admonition against violence on my part, and believe me when I say that my mom was a lot scarier than Stevie.
But when my dad came home from work that day and questioned me as to why my face was all beat up, the rules took a dramatic change for the better. He asked me if I hit Stevie back. I said no. He asked why, and I told on my mother. It was scary. But he summoned her into the living room–and in those days husbands were allowed to summon wives–and told my mom to let me hit Stevie back next time. She protested mightily, citing her rough-house family and swearing her boys weren’t going to be like that. But my dad held firm.
I remember the fear I felt the next day as Stevie came over to “play.” I knew he would try to beat me up and take one of my toys, and I knew that my dad expected me to give as good as I got. I was totally unprepared for such a thing. After all, I had not been raised to be a fighter/brawler. As always, the cocksure Stevie asserted his right to take my trike next door to his house, and I said no. All I remember of the next few moments is his raised fist coming at me, and my blocking his punch and landing one of my own. Stunned, he fell to the ground, and overcome by weeks of frustration, I mounted him and began pummeling him with my fists. He quickly squirmed to safety and ran away. It was exhilarating, and for the first time in my life I felt that I could stand up for myself.
Stevie came back the next day, but he didn’t try to take anything, and we became peaceful playmates, if not friends. Unfortunately, this one incident from my childhood was not repeated, and I soon forgot the lesson it taught. And by the time I reached adulthood, I too was a big believer in peace, love, and all that my generation were encouraged to embrace by our cultural icons. It fit in with the way my mom had raised me and seemed right. It still does.
Back to the present. After giving much thought to what I have witnessed since the election of Barack Obama, I realize that a new political bully has been sicced on the American people by the true powers of the Republican Party. They have reached out and riled up their mean-spirited base and called upon it to come out and bully the Democrats out of doing what they promised to do when we elected them. And we let them! They stole the show at every town hall on the healthcare debate. They showed up with plenty of press coverage at every appearance by the President, and launched those ill-attended Tea Parties, which the media covered as though they were a massive movement of American sentiment. BULLSHIT! But what did we do to express our anger and resentment? NOT MUCH!
Just like the playground of our childhood, we have retreated from the field and allowed the bullies to set the rules. We—that is, the Left—have demanded of our duly elected leader to stand up to them and not be swayed. But we have done it by quietly grumbling under our breath and not going out and shouting the bullies down. Where were we at those town hall meetings? Where were we at those “tea parties”? Where are we when President Obama comes to our hometowns? Unfortunately, we are where we have been most of our lives: inside, close to our mothers, figuratively speaking, hoping the bully won’t find us and blow our houses down.
I have been very disappointed with President Obama’s performance on the issues that I care most about, but I must say that he gently told us what we needed to do in order to help him help us. He said we needed to step up and be heard. He is right! We’ve got to get out there and MAKE the media notice us. I know it is foreign to our natures, and I know it is not natural for us peace-loving liberals to get out there and shout down the kooks on the Right who pretend to represent a majority view that doesn’t show up in any polling data. Like it or not, the election and inauguration of Barack Obama were just the first salvos in the trench warfare it is going to take to bring our nation into the 21st century with those who resist progress of any kind, kicking and screaming all the way. We must accept the fact that they are always going to be there, kicking and screaming. So we must also be there always, shouting them down and presenting logical solutions to the problems that everyday Americans are facing.
For too many years now, we who think progressively have ceded turf that should be ours to the right-wing fringe of the Republican Party. It is time for us to come forward and start hitting back with the facts. It is time for us to take our message to every working man and woman of this country, informing them that the Republican Party is in the business of protecting Big Business—not small business and certainly not people. Small business owners are being duped into believing that Democrats are against them. Does Halliburton look like a small business to you? Me neither, too. Do Exxon, Mobil, Aetna, Prudential, Bank of America or CitiBank look like small businesses to you? Me neither, too. Yet, Republicans in Congress are blocking every effort to make them play fair and stop ripping off the citizens and small businesses of this country.
I know that Michael Moore is anathema to many in this country, but he is really onto something in his new documentary: Capitalism, A Love Story. He shows how the supporters of Capitalism At Any Cost are draining away the tenets of our democracy. With the power of lobbyists and campaign contributions, Big Business has bought and paid for our representatives in Washington while our attention has been diverted by religious and racial differences. While we, the American people, have bickered over things that don’t even touch us in our daily lives, the bankers and investors have stolen the money out of our “free-market” economy and then looted our national treasury. And they’re at it again!
Republicans and some Democrats are standing in the way of any efforts by the Federal Government to get in the way. They warn of socialism, scaring people with a word that most don’t even know the true meaning of. They say, “We don’t want to be like Europe.” This is used in bank regulation debates and the healthcare debate by the Conservatives who block every effort to stop the onslaught against us by “capitalism.” The fact is, Europe is already in a “strong recovery” from the financial collapse of last year. America is lagging far behind their “socialistic” success in putting a bell on the cat—that is, the banking sector of the world economy.
Who is going to tell these truths to the American people? Certainly not a media that is dependent on advertising dollars for their own profit margins, And certainly not Big Business who likes things in exactly the chaotic condition they have brought out their bullies to create. So it falls to US. It is time for us to stand up and be heard above the din of insanity that passes for political dialogue in this country. Get back to your blogs, everybody, and start showing up with a sign of support at local political gatherings. And when the crazies from the Far Right stand up and start shouting, SHOUT BACK, only LOUDER! That is the adult version of hitting back, and it is time to HIT BACK!
I am Jack, and I am who I am. “With Liberty and Justice for All!”
PS. Thanks to WillPen, I pass on this Michael Moore blog site where you can join him in doing 15 things to turn America around. Go there and join in. http://www.michaelmoore.com/words/mikes-letter/Michael-moores-action-plan-15-things-every-american-can-do-right-now
LET’S GET BUSY!