Saturday, January 29, 2011

Disturbance in the Force

There's been a disturbance in the force at Menopausal Stoners World Headquarters.  A couple of weeks ago, I refused to give money to the Democrats for the first time in my life.  It all started with a simple phone call.  I thought it was a friend calling me back, but it was The Democrats asking for money.

When the caller, who seemed to be a nice older woman, asked if I was available I realized there was a telemarketer on the line and said I was out of town.  Those paid telemarketers usually hang up when you tell them you're not home, but this sincerely determined volunteer launched into her script anyway.  She identified herself as a Democrat and said they were reaching out to all strong Democrats because this year in Congress will be tougher than ever.  I listened politely, since I did answer the phone after all, and the truth is that I've been giving money to the Democrats for years. Sometimes I vote for the Green or Working Families candidate, but I practically qualify as a Yellowdog Democrat - a term that originated in the 19th Century defining people who vote for the Democrat even if the Democrats run a Yellow Dog. 

I was just starting to feel guilty about not giving the Democrats another penny when she asked, "Do you consider yourself a strong Democrat?" Since I had already lied and said I wasn't me, I experienced a blast of liberation.  I took a deep breath and declared, "No.  I consider myself a Progressive."

"But Democrats ARE progressive," she replied, sounding a bit surprised that a Progressive would distinguish herself from a Democrat.

I said, "As a solid Progressive I would argue that point.  I would say that Barack Obama sure looks like a lot like a Republican."  Then I told her I didn't have the energy to discuss it further.  I wished her well, said Good Night and hung up the phone.  I was stunned by my own behavior.  Saying No to the Democrats was so out of character for me that when the phone rang a few minutes later, I was afraid it was Democrats in Washington, DC calling to ask what was wrong.  I think like that if I've been smoking weed, but I would like to think that the Democratic party would actually be concerned if Progressives stopped handing them money.

There are so many competing voices calling for our attention that it's hard to know who to support.  A group called RootsAction had sent an email asking for my signature on a petition opposing the war in Afghanistan.  Since Daniel Ellsberg wrote the statement, I signed.  If anyone on this planet understands Political Duplicity and the Military Industrial Complex, it's Daniel Ellsberg.   Richard Nixon himself believed Daniel Ellsberg was the most dangerous man in America on account of the Pentagon Papers.  I figured he ought to know exactly what's going on with Afghanistan (Here's the Petition).

 I am one little voice like so many other little voices - a single signature on a petition who can rarely donate more than twenty bucks to anybody's anything - but real revolution starts down here at the bottom like in Yertle the Turtle by. Dr. Suess (Random House,1958). Yertle, King of the Turtle Pond, declares that he's ruler of all he can see.  Then he decides he needs to see more and orders all the turtles to climb into stack under his throne so that he is lifted higher and higher and higher.  Eventually, a plain little turtle named Mack has something to say.

And all through the morning, he sat up there high
Saying over and over, “A great king am I!”
Until ‘long about noon. Then he heard a faint sigh.
“What’s that?” snapped the king,and he looked down the stack.
And he saw, at the bottom, a turtle named Mack.
Just a part of his throne. And this plain little turtle
Looked up and he said, “Beg your pardon, King Yertle.
I’ve pains in my back and my shoulders and knees.
How long must we stand here, Your Majesty, please?”
“SILENCE!” the King of the Turtles barked back.
“I’m king, and you’re only a turtle named Mack."

Most of our leaders in this country have adopted Yertle's attitude. The workers need to shut up and suck it up while they get richer and richer and richer.  Congress extended tax breaks to the wealthy despite the fact that our country is in debt and that in the years since those tax breaks were originally instituted, none of that wealth trickled down.  Then our President begs the US Chamber of Commerce - who funneled huge sums of money to Tea Baggers like Sharron Angle as a result of a decision by Supreme Court justices who flaunted their conflicts of interest - to convince these same wealthy bastards to start hiring people and investing in the future instead of hording the cash they received from a stimulus package they loudly opposed and buying watches that cost more than many annual salaries.

Yertle bullies over two hundred turtles to stack themselves under him so he can see for miles.  He's quite delighted with his accomplishment until he sees the moon in the sky and shouts, "I’ll build my throne higher! I can and I will! I’ll call some more turtles. I’ll stack ‘em to heaven! I need ’bout five thousand, six hundred and seven!”  That's when plain little Mack decides he has had enough.

And that plain little Mack did a plain little thing.
He burped!
And his burp shook the throne of the king!
And Yertle the Turtle, the king of the trees,
The king of the air and the birds and the bees,
The king of a house and a cow and a mule…
Well, that was the end of the Turtle King’s rule!
For Yertle, the King of all Sala-ma-Sond,
Fell off his high throne and fell Plunk! in the pond!
And today the great Yertle, that Marvelous he,
Is King of the Mud. That is all he can see.

We're going to have to do more than belch. Those of us in the middle and the bottom of the stack are going to have to organize so that our voices grow louder than the loud mouths at the top. There was a time when I thought Barack Obama would speak for the workers of America, but that time is past. I'm glad that there are organizations like Common Cause and Roots Action because I can trust them to speak for me. Billionaires like the Koch Brothers, whose father was a founder of the John Birch Society, have bought and paid for our government. They are stepping on our heads every day. Those of us who prefer to live in a Democracy instead of a Plutocracy are going to have to demand our rights, and we're going to have to stand together to do it ourselves.

If only 5,000,000 people gave twenty bucks to local or national organizations that really DO speak for us,- that's $100,000,000. Those organizations can contribute money to the few members of Congress who still advocate in our interests. A hundred million dollars is more than a belch. It's a Rebel Alliance that really can bring down Darth Vader and the Death Star.

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