Thursday, November 10, 2016

Honeymoon's Over!

The proposal has been accepted. Even while the prenuptuals are being negotiated, even before the marriage is consummated, the Democrats need to declare the honeymoon over. Mid-term elections will be held on Tuesday, November 6, 2018. All 435 seats in the United States House of Representatives and 33 of the 100 seats in the United States Senate will be in play. Between now and then, the Democratic party (in Minnesota, the Democratic-Farmer-Labor party) must undergo the political equivalent of restorative development. In reinventing itself, it must remember and return to its roots. Unfortunately, Molly Ivins isn't around to help maintain a healthy perspective on what that involves.

no more "let them eat cake" America!
no more "let them eat cake" America!
Photo by J. Harrington

One way to look at this week's loses is to consider that the Democratic party has, for far too long, become entrapped in a Wall Street bubble. What would Will Rogers think? I wonder if more than a small percentage of "Democratic" politicians really believe that "We all do better when we all do better." (Thank you, Senator Wellstone!) Do you think if Hillary had run on that slogan, she would have won more than just the popular vote, which, with about $3.75, will get you a cappuccino? I bet you can guess my answer.

I'm fed up with democrats who are afraid of being labeled by republicans as being weak on _______. Isn't there a political dictum about defining yourself before your opponent does? What are the Democrats for? Wendell Berry, bless his heart, wrote a wonderful essay about "What Are People For?" In it, he notes:
“Protest that endures, I think, is moved by a hope far more modest than that of public success: namely, the hope of preserving qualities in one's own heart and spirit that would be destroyed by acquiescence.”
Today's posting is but one facet of my own personal protest against what we did to ourselves this week. However, as much as we need protest by the rank and file, we also need the elected leaders of the Democratic party to monkey-wrench every anti-American, cockamamie scheme the president and his republican accomplices come up with between now and the time the government is back in the hands of responsible adults. [We hope soon after the November 6, 2018 elections.]

For openers, Democrats could start by espousing FAIR TRADE agreements instead of the kind of free trade that costs Americans not just lobs, but self-respect, while it also threatens federal, state, local and tribal sovereignty. Any trade agreement that is mostly hidden from sunlight (the best disinfectant) shouldn't be supported by any Democrat, anywhere, any time. Leave that to the Republicans. While we're at this, maybe some Democrat from an agricultural state could read and start working with the proposed Fifty Year Farm Bill, to get its provisions included in the next farm bill enacted. (Senator Klobuchar? Senator Franken? any takers?)

One of the greatest things about America is that it offers abundant opportunity to do well by doing good. Those opportunities, however, are not available to the faint of heart. I came of age in  Massachusetts in the America of John Fitzgerald Kennedy. I still have incredible admiration and respect for Robert Kennedy, especially his trips through Appalachia and Native American reservations. There's no shortage of examples of successful, populist Democrats. The world may be changing, but people aren't changing very fast and politics is supposed to be about helping people. Right?

Someone has written about the motives behind the recent election as perverse "sibling rivalry."  I don't want to accept that analysis, but neither my head nor my heart will let me reject it. I once was proud to consider myself a Democrat. That hasn't been true for a long time. The party, and its leaders, continue to fail many of the constituencies they once served. It's been rationalized as a way to achieve a "greater good." That "good" has been little more than cheap consumer trinkets produced elsewhere, plus a trickle up economy that benefits too few of us. We can do better, or, if the Democrats can't demonstrate before 2018 how we indeed all do better when we all do better, we may as well start planning now for a second Trump term. Those seem to be our choices. We need to:

Let America Be America Again

Let America be America again.
Let it be the dream it used to be.
Let it be the pioneer on the plain
Seeking a home where he himself is free.

(America never was America to me.)

Let America be the dream the dreamers dreamed—
Let it be that great strong land of love
Where never kings connive nor tyrants scheme
That any man be crushed by one above.

(It never was America to me.)

O, let my land be a land where Liberty
Is crowned with no false patriotic wreath,
But opportunity is real, and life is free,
Equality is in the air we breathe.

(There’s never been equality for me,
Nor freedom in this “homeland of the free.”)

Say, who are you that mumbles in the dark? 
And who are you that draws your veil across the stars?

I am the poor white, fooled and pushed apart,
I am the Negro bearing slavery’s scars.
I am the red man driven from the land,
I am the immigrant clutching the hope I seek—
And finding only the same old stupid plan
Of dog eat dog, of mighty crush the weak.

I am the young man, full of strength and hope,
Tangled in that ancient endless chain
Of profit, power, gain, of grab the land!
Of grab the gold! Of grab the ways of satisfying need!
Of work the men! Of take the pay!
Of owning everything for one’s own greed!

I am the farmer, bondsman to the soil.
I am the worker sold to the machine.
I am the Negro, servant to you all.
I am the people, humble, hungry, mean—
Hungry yet today despite the dream.
Beaten yet today—O, Pioneers!
I am the man who never got ahead,
The poorest worker bartered through the years.

Yet I’m the one who dreamt our basic dream
In the Old World while still a serf of kings,
Who dreamt a dream so strong, so brave, so true,
That even yet its mighty daring sings
In every brick and stone, in every furrow turned
That’s made America the land it has become.
O, I’m the man who sailed those early seas
In search of what I meant to be my home—
For I’m the one who left dark Ireland’s shore,
And Poland’s plain, and England’s grassy lea,
And torn from Black Africa’s strand I came
To build a “homeland of the free.”

The free?

Who said the free?  Not me?
Surely not me?  The millions on relief today?
The millions shot down when we strike?
The millions who have nothing for our pay?
For all the dreams we’ve dreamed
And all the songs we’ve sung
And all the hopes we’ve held
And all the flags we’ve hung,
The millions who have nothing for our pay—
Except the dream that’s almost dead today.

O, let America be America again—
The land that never has been yet—
And yet must be—the land where every man is free.
The land that’s mine—the poor man’s, Indian’s, Negro’s, ME—
Who made America,
Whose sweat and blood, whose faith and pain,
Whose hand at the foundry, whose plow in the rain,
Must bring back our mighty dream again.

Sure, call me any ugly name you choose—
The steel of freedom does not stain.
From those who live like leeches on the people’s lives,
We must take back our land again,

O, yes,
I say it plain,
America never was America to me,
And yet I swear this oath—
America will be!

Out of the rack and ruin of our gangster death,
The rape and rot of graft, and stealth, and lies,
We, the people, must redeem
The land, the mines, the plants, the rivers.
The mountains and the endless plain—
All, all the stretch of these great green states—
And make America again!

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Please be kind to each other while you can.