A CANCER IN THE COUNTRY

There is a cancer growing in the United States. Those are grave words, and I do not use them lightly. Changes are being made in our governments, and they are being made in a well-organized and pre-planned manner. In state after state, a series of changes are being made that follow this pattern. First, voting rights are restricted. Next, unions are weakened and their bargaining power all but eliminated. Next the right to various benefits upon which working men and women have relied are being degraded. Unemployment compensation is made harder to get, and the benefits are lowered. Worker’s compensation is compromised: benefits are lowered, the voice of the worker in making changes is ignored, barriers are erected to worker’s compensation claims. Health care coverage is resisted, lessened or eliminated. Funds for education are drastically reduced. Progress in the elimination of racial divide is impeded, so badly that racial discrimination, rather than being lessened, is growing, even to the level of being blatant. Taxes on the rich, already at historic lows, are being dropped even further, while taxes on the lower and middle classes are on the rise. The middle class is dwindling, and the gap between the wealthy and the rest of the nation is growing at an ever faster pace.

Everyone knows all of this. It’s been said a thousand times in the press. None of it is good, and yet it continues on. Why? Because, somehow, the extremely wealthy — not the right wing, not Republicans, not any religious group — has gained power and has learned how to keep it. This extreme wealth has perfected a program of attacking anyone and anything that would be to the benefit of the mass of people. Witness the abundance of expensive ad campaigns attacking health care. Witness the unremitting assault on absolutely anything proposed by President Obama. Witness the all-out, from the starting gun attack on presumed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Finally, witness the looney-tune candidacies of such Republican offerings as Scott Walker, who has attacked voters, unions, injured workers, health care, education all in one swoop while promising hundreds of millions of dollars to build a basketball stadium for the benefit of some hedge fund owners.

The great mystery to me is how this country-wide assault on citizens’ rights has been allowed to go on. I know the answer is that we did it to ourselves. We voted in these people, and we bought what they had to say in their expensive ad campaigns. The mystery lies in why we did that, and why we continue to do that. There is a very good chance that, by the time we wake up, it will be too late. The attackers might have gerrymandered themselves into perpetual office, and they will have so restrivcted the vote that we will no longer have an effective voice. If that is true, then shame on us. But, if it is true, then it should be equally clear that the only way out will be revolution, in whatever shape that might take. I don’t endorse that violence. I pray it does not happen. Pray as I might, however, I have this awful feeling that the actions of this small group of power brokers might just make it inevitable. Let us not forget how close we came to that in the 1930’s. It can certainly happen again.

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