Monday, September 26, 2011
"What's the mood of this country?"
We stood there on the side of the road right near the exit onto I-90 just outside of Butte, MT. Rach had been coughing for the pass couple of days and we thought it would be better to hitch a ride over the continental divide rather than ride it. After waiting there with our thumbs out for 15 minutes and watching pick-up truck after pick-up truck pass us by, our ride came in the form of what looked like a badass older couple with a licence plate stating "Union Paid". This indicated to me that we were in for a good 25 mile ride.
Immediately we started talking politics and Rich asked a very profound question to us, "Along your travels, what would you say is the mood of the people in this country?"
Oh man, what a good question. I asked Rich, "do you mean political?" He had a quick response, "yeah, but really just the general feeling."
Both Rach and my first response was "ANGRY!"
Throughout this trip we have gotten into conversations with people from all over the political spectrum and the resounding feeling was that the system itself is broken. It's not a debate of Democrats or Republicans. I can't tell you how many people just said to me that they just want something different. Polls continue to say that people don't approve of Congress's job or the President's job with an overwhelming majority of people in this country wanting another option.
The only problem is that people don't see or have an alternative, they see a 2-party corrupt system that doesn't care for ordinary working people. In 2008 we saw an extreme amount of hope in President Obama, who represented an end to the Bush-era policies with no reigns on Wall Street, endless wars and the continuation of tax cuts for the most wealthy people in this country.
The past 3 years have shown the world that Obama's polices are a continuation of the Bush Administration, which includes the continuation/increase of the U.S. occupations of Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and now Libya, the continued handouts to Wall Street and no change to this unbalanced tax system. Currently this economic crisis has made it even more clear where the government's interest lies: drum roll please, with corporations and the war machine (I know it's a big surprise). Both parties always have money for tax cuts and war but will have no problem cutting money for education, health care, programs that actually health ordinary people.
Throughout this trip most people I meet say we need to end these wasteful wars (even the military contractor I met). Does Obama or the Republican Congress listen? NO!! War has always been the ultimate bipartisan issue in this country. This is the fundamental flaw in our current system, the Democrats and Republicans are in bed with corporate leaders, a clear example is the health care system "reform" which was basically a handout to the health insurance companies and had absolutely nothing to do with actual care. This is how capitalism works, it has enough food to feed the whole world while 1 billion people go hungry everyday, there is a housing "overproduction" crisis while we have homeless people, you will find CEOs making millions of dollars in bonuses while they will try to cut benefits and lay working people off. Does this sound like a fair system? The reality is both the Democrats and Republicans are pretty staunch capitalist and we can't count on them to change things.
Unemployment, poverty and inequality will continue to grow unless we build an alternative movement. That's why we need to build an independent left wing movement separate of the Democrats that promotes democracy in all aspects of our life. We have already started to see the fight back with the events that happened in Madison, WI, the Verizon Strike and the "illegal" Tacoma, WA teachers strike that won a new contract. Working people are standing up! Though these struggles are small, they show the anger people have as they see the backwardness of our current leaders/system. They are asked to take a pay cut as banks have received $16 trillion from the government since the beginning of the economic crisis. This also shows that people CAN fight back and win.
These opinions I have aren't just shaped in my mind, but rather they are developed through experiences I have had with working people throughout this country on this trip, whether it's at Wendy's, in a coffee shop or at a protest. I would argue that now is one of the best times to go out there and talk to your neighbor, your co-worker, attend a protest and join an organization to fight the injustices in this country and throughout the world. Just remember you are not alone.
The politicians won't get us out of this, the media won't get us out of it. People power will be the only thing that gets us to a level where we can actually end these wars and end the attack on working people and have real justice in this world.
So don't just get mad, get out there and join the movement.
Here is a thing you can get involved in immediately. They are looking to lay off 120,000 post office workers. Join the post office union in a protest at your local post office happening everywhere in the country on Tuesday, 9/27 from 4:00pm to 5:30pm. Check out more information here: Save America's Postal Service
For great media coverage of events that the mainstream media won't cover go to: Democracynow.org, Socialistworker.org, commondreams.org, thenation.com and there are plenty more.