Like many Progressives, I woke up on Wednesday quite depressed. The drubbing the Democrats took in the mid-term elections was enough to bring to mind thoughts such as:
* Wow! Even Scott Walker . . .
* The tide of discontent represented by the mid-terms is absolutely disastrous for:
-- The poor
-- Working families
-- The elderly
-- Young people
-- The uninsured
-- The imprisoned
-- Tribal people who continue to be the victims of "America's" unending wars
-- And, above all, the environment!
But those were just the discouraged, cobwebby ruminations of a sleepy radical clearing his head to face a country whose senate will now be led by Mitch McConnell from my own fair state of Kentucky.
However, watching the morning-after report on "Democracy Now" put matters in perspective. There Amy Goodman interviewed John Nichols, a political writer for The Nation. His report on the election aftermath is entitled "Obama Need Not Accept Lame Duck Status."
In his piece, Nichols recalls that the last five two-term presidents -- Roosevelt, Eisenhower, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush II --all faced in their final two years, a Congress with both houses controlled by the opposition. Yet all five finished strongly with quite high approval ratings (except for Bush II) and significant accomplishments during what was supposed to be their "lame duck" years.
This is not the time to give up, Nichols insisted. Instead it's time to double-down on grass-roots issues making it clear to the President and to the Congress that the people's concerns are not governed by the left/right ideologies that play into the Corporate State's obvious strategy of Divide and Rule. Instead on the issues that mean the most to us, the grassroots is guided by a sense of fair play, the Golden Rule, and simple justice.
In this Nichols was echoing the thought of Ralph Nader in his recently published book, Unstoppable: the emerging left-right alliance to dismantle the corporate state. There Nader argues that ordinary Americans come together on a broad range of issues that transcend left-right divisions. Nader enumerates 25 of them including most prominently:
* The necessity of overcoming government gridlock
* Minimum wage increases
* Equal pay for women
* Infrastructure rebuilding
* Affordable college tuition
* The need for health care reform
* Retaining Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid
* Resistance to the surveillance state
* Protection of government whistle-blowers
* Repeal of Citizens United
* Skepticism about bloated military budgets and resulting wasteful foreign adventures
* Opposition to nebulous free trade agreements
* Rejection of further tax breaks for the wealthy
* The urgency of addressing global warming
* The futility of the war on drugs
* The scandal of voter suppression
On these issues, Nader says, all of us have to (1) join local conversations and form little alliances where we live, (2) make sure those conversations bubble up into the media, and (3) get the issues on the table for the next election cycle.
This is not the time to give up. Rather, it's time to join together across the chasms that the plutocracy fosters to divide us. It's time for grassroots movements to address our country's real problems and to force politicians to do the same, but on our behalf.