Political power comes from using hard-won freedoms

Did you know that exercising your freedom in politics puts you at odds with parasites? Hollywood entertainer Robin Williams says the word “politics” comes from “‘poli’ a Latin word meaning ‘many’ and ‘tics’ meaning ‘bloodsucking creatures’.” Williams may be right. There sure are a whole bunch of those bloodsucking creatures trying to suppress your right to vote.

The Brennan Center for Justice claims that GOP-controlled state governments are adopting laws to make it harder for more than five million people to vote in 2012. Five of twelve states likely to have close contests next year had already done so, possibly accounting for up to 171 votes in the Electoral College.

Genuine power of the people comes from using our freedom, as in freedom of speech. The problem is that you are being fenced in by ruling elites that want you to just shut up and obey!

What they call freedom is a corporate power grab, which has everything to do with dismantling self-government and amassing huge profits, but nothing to do with freedom for people who rely upon a paycheck to make ends meet. 

Consequently, our freedom often resembles a series of cruel ironies:

Citizens vote in elections where all candidates are millionaires;

• Elderly folks decide between fuel for the body and fuel for the furnace; 

• Teachers cannot afford to send their own children to college;

• Veterans return to their homes and lose them due to foreclosures;

• Single moms forfeit wages to stay home with sick children.

But don’t give up… Increasing numbers of working people in the United States of America are waking up hungry for real freedom. 

They are rejecting a lopsided power structure; a system whereby immense wealth is held by one percent of the population. They can see the inherent dangers of a rickety economic ladder with one wrung at the very top and one at the very bottom. They are appalled that more and more of their peers are underfed – fed up with being lectured by fat cat politicians who insist that we submit to more belt tightening – cuts to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. Our friends, neighbors, relatives and fellow workers are watching in disgust as our democracy is being bought up like it’s a close out sale.

Working-class Americans demand to know why the top one percent pays lower taxes than the chauffeurs who drive them around the town. The same goes for corporations that pay minuscule tax bills or no taxes whatsoever. Our fellow workers are angry that nearly all high-offices of government are populated with the rich. “No taxation without representation” has acquired a 21st century meaning. What becomes of equal say-so in politics? Who is listening to us?

Here’s what we can do about this situation:

We can speak up about what freedom means to us and why we need to go out and get it. Encourage other people to link up and help lay the groundwork. 

We can join up with other like-minded groups and do our parts to shape the freedom struggle. The labor movement’s successful recall and repeal campaigns against repressive state governments in Maine, Ohio and Wisconsin show that more battles can be won.

The “Occupy” movements have energized the people with their freedom-loving activities. “The 99 percent,” as they call themselves, have proven that it’s possible to drive tight-fisted Wall Streeters (“the one percent”) into the spotlight and get us all talking about private greed versus public need.

We can act up… Wherever people are gathered for a good cause we’ll be there, to vote with our feet and our lungs, too: going door-to-door; sharing picket duty; marching to city hall; cheering for the underdogs; standing shoulder-to-shoulder; wherever there’s a need to answer back, we’ll be there.

In 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt called for a Second Bill of Rights, setting the stage for our modern freedom struggle. Among the rights FDR listed were the following:

“The right to a job;

“The right to earn enough to pay for food and clothing;

“The right to a decent home;

“The right to adequate medical care and the opportunity to enjoy good health;

“The right to adequate protection from the economic fears of old age, sickness, accident, and unemployment;

“The right to a good education.”

The people’s organizations must use their freedom in a single maximum effort at the ballot box and in the street. If we head in the same direction, it’s feasible to overturn the Republicans’ 2010 electoral landslide and go even further.  Freedom is a work in progress, the fruits of which may well be the basis of a truly open society where working people draw from a pool of first-rate choices.

Let’s join together and build upon the efforts of our predecessors. There is no worthier goal than winning our freedom.  Let’s speak up, join up, act up.

Let’s get goin’!

Photo: Occupy Wall Street joins forces with labor and community groups in New York City, October 2011.(PW/EMora)



Tim Mills
Tim Mills

Tim Mills is as an educator/activist and began this life as a conscientious objector during the Viet Nam War and on to a rank & file union member. Mills has been an elected union official, but is proudest of the time spent on our local union newsletter. Mills writes guest columns in the Rockford Register Star for over 20 years. Mills says his politics are left of center, but believes progressives must start with the world as it is, not as we'd wish it to be.