America called and they came. And it was immediate. Wave after wave of concerned citizens evolved into a tsunami of humanity that descended upon Madison, Wisconsin. As workers, students and everyday citizens with no political bent understood the Republicans’ intent, they responded en masse.
The newly-elected Republican Governor and state senators moved a hidden agenda to destroy the collective bargaining rights of public workers. The would-be emperors ignored the constitution and circumvented the judiciary to further a corporate agenda of killing democracy.
The national media initially ignored the thousands of protestors hoping they would go away as quickly as politicians’ campaign promises. But they didn’t and the clamor for justice was heard around the country.
The Republicans woke a sleeping giant. Workers across America shouted in one collective voice that they had had enough.
What the GOP did in Wisconsin had been planned far in advance by the national Republican Party with its Karl Roves and Dick Armeys. The attack was funded and mobilized by the Koch brothers, billionaires, corporations and their millionaire CEOs, and it was made possible by the Supreme Court Five with their Citizens United decision that gave corporations a soul, allowing them to sink millions into elections to defeat Democratic candidates.
The very first move in Wisconsin was to give corporations an 82 percent tax break. They then went after the state workers whose pension funds they had invested with Wall Street speculators who gambled and lost the money. Then they blamed schoolteachers, police and firemen, nurses and hospice workers, garbage collectors and street cleaners, workers for the state’s deficit problems.
A cry of solidarity rang through the state, with teachers standing up to say that the state may own the schools but it doesn’t own the teachers.
Madison became ground zero for a movement that is growing and shall continue to grow. Non-union workers understand that whatever happens to the unionized worker will affect them. Farmers understand the adverse impact of not dealing collectively with the markets that buy their produce.
Corporations understand the power of unions. The GOP understands that union members subscribe more to the policies of the Democratic Party than the Republican Party and vote accordingly. Corporations and the Republican Party, then, have a joint interest in the destruction of the labor movement in this country. They understand too that the policy they support will cause the disappearance of the middle class.
The fight in Madison is class warfare and don’t you dare let Fox News and their sycophants tell you otherwise.
Our country is in crisis and we must stand in solidarity if we are to survive as a country. Patriotism is more than a word. Workers must unite as effectively as the Republicans and the corporations have united. We understand that corporations not only own our country and call the shots, but that they have five Supreme Court justices fighting for their cause.
Fox News said there were a lot of “outsiders” at the demonstrations in Madison.
There were no outsiders in Madison or Indianapolis or New Jersey or Michigan or Ohio or Florida. Wherever citizens gathered, there stood Americans. Farmers on their tractors; teachers with their students, mothers with their children; workers, union and non-union alike; the unemployed, Republicans, Democrats, Independents, Black, Brown, white. Patriots all! There were no outsiders in Madison or anywhere in this country where citizens gathered to protest the takeover of their democracy by corporations and their lackeys. There were only Americans. America called and they came.
In 1939 Sen. Claude Pepper castigated those who had been willing to scuttle the American government and the American people because they hated Roosevelt and what
he stood for. In 2009 the Republicans declared that their primary goal is to deny President Obama another term.
They hate him and what he stands for so much that they are willing to destroy our country. The GOP continues to lie and to misinform using the familiar wedge issues like abortion, euthanasia, gay rights, same sex marriage, states’ rights, burning the flag, building a mosque on ground zero and whatever issue that appeals to decent citizens who receive their information only from Fox News.
The GOP does not want these issues to disappear because it feeds on them and only survives because of them. When the average citizen has no access or refuses to listen to alternative views or other perspectives to our country’s problems, our country is in trouble. Since corporations own our politicians, the airwaves and the medium in all its avenues, the message will be distorted and tilted to the conservative point of view.
Our country is in crisis and we must stand in solidarity to fight the good fight for survival. We cannot allow corporations and their political lackeys, to rob our children of their future. In the fight for justice, equality and freedom, there are no outsiders in this country of ours. We are one and once we get past the smoking mirrors and political rhetoric from both sides of the aisle from those who profess allegiance to their constituents, we discover to our dismay that the constituency to whom they refer are corporations. And regardless of what the five corporate Supreme Court justices proclaim, corporations have no soul.
We are America, and when America calls, we answer.
The author is a member of the Steelworkers Organization of Active Retirees (SOAR) in Indiana.
Photo: SOAR members show their solidairty in Madison, Wisc., at the big march on March 12. John Bachtell/PW