Wednesday, November 17, 2004

What Did We Lose?

The miners.
The steelworkers.
The meatpacking workers.
The grocery cashiers.
The butchers.
The auto workers.
The small farmers.
The migrant workers.
The railroad workers.
The factory workers.
The garment workers.
The textile workers.
The nurses.
The anti-trust laws.
The protection of employees from health hazards in the workplace, and the right to decent health care when injured.
The protection of employee rights to decent working conditions and fair wages.
The protection of consumers from unsafe drugs and foods.
The protection of citizens from dangerous pollution by corporate farming and powerful industries.
The protection of small business from corporate predation.
A voice for the weak, the sick, the unlucky, and the hard-pressed.
A voice for the hard-working, the humble, the believers in America.
The bus drivers.
The shop workers.
The sales clerks.
The waitresses.
The teachers.
The domestic workers.
The rural poor.
The urban immigrants.

These are the things we have lost, as Democrats, as people fumbling around after 11/2/04 without a clue, without a sense of who we were or where we came from or what once made us great. We babble and swear and gnash our teeth and posit all sorts of crazy ideas that involve giving up ideals that are part of our heart and soul, and think getting back the support we lost is about running a better marketing campaign. We quail when the right raises the flag of "values", as if we had none at all, as if we hadn't fought for over a hundred years for justice, equality, and the rights of all human beings, as if that was nothing more than an outworn old advertising slogan that's run its course, as if we hadn't stood before the bosses and the government and the military and held our ground when we knew there was no choice except to speak out, against the enslavement of miners, the oppression of blacks, the vileness of a wrongful war, and held that line even when some of us were beaten, or jailed, or killed. Because we had values.

We have stood by now for decades as the free market and the MBAs infecting our govenment have turned our nation's free and brave into coolie America, good for nothing but low-paid fodder for their industrial conquests, war machinery, and to service the sprawling fluorescent prisons of the super discount stores that have paved over almost every goddamned cow field left unprotected in the hinterland. We have traded away our heritage of fighting for a decent life for our people, in exchange for a walk-on part in a bad comedy where we play slow-witted sidekick to the ubermenschen of the Republican party. We cringe with self-doubt when they accuse of "elitism", "immorality". or "treasonous" behavior.

Fuck that shit. Get up off your knees,stop whining and self-flagellating. Go out there and stand up for the people who need you, for what you know is right, and if they call you names, use it on them. Tell the world what you see, and don't be afraid to be heard. Stand up for something again.

This is from Eric Schlosser, from his book "Reefer Madness". Take it to heart:

"Driving back to my motel that night, I thought about the people of Orange County, one of the richest counties in the nation--big on family values, yet bankrupt from financial speculation, unwilling to raise taxes to pay for their own children's education, unwilling to pay off their debts, whining about the injustice of it, and blaming it all on illegal immigrants. And I thought about Francisco, their bogeyman, their scapegoat, working ten hours a day at one of the hardest jobs imaginable, and sleeping on the ground every night, for months, so that he could save money and send it home to his parents.
We have been told for years to bow down before "the market". We have placed our faith in the laws of supply and demand. What has been forgotten, or ignored, is that the market rewards only efficiency. Every other human value gets in its way. The market will drive wages down like water, until they reach the lowest possible level. Today that level is being set not in Washington or New York or Sacramento but in the fields of Baja California and the mountains of Oaxaca. That level is about 5 dollars a day. No deity that men have ever worshipped is more ruthless and more hollow than the free market unchecked; there is no reason why shantytowns should not appear on the outskirts of every American city. All those who now consider themselves devotees of the market should take a good look at what is happening in California. Left to its own devices, the free market always seeks a work force that is hungry, desperate, and cheap--a work force that is anything but free."

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