Living Lessons Blog

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Election Backlash, Health Care, Climate Change

Growing pains. This is the phrase I’ve gone back to over the last few weeks, post the ‘post-racial’ saga of  Skip Gates and the Sticky Front Door. Poised in the brink of major involuntary change, America is going through severe growing pains. When I was a youth, making all kinds of bad decisions because I had some difficult lessons to learn growing pains is what the elders in the family would say, with sage nods of graying heads.

Every time I sit down to the keyboard and write a political essay  for this blog, I do it because I have become so agitated by our national story and the pock marks of confusion on the complexion of our society I am compelled to jump into the cultural fray with my know-it-all blah, blah, blah opinionated self. I write these essays because my perspective, insight and analysis are not the usual fare and are much needed — or so the people who continue reading these posts assure me, as they respond with generous thank yous and well dones.

So, here’s what I think is going on right about now.

Everybody — everybody walked on egg shells through the election. Nobody wanted to stand out as being opposed to Barack Obama’s’ presidency on purely racial grounds, nobody wanted to be identified as racist or risk being called a racist. Most Americans have evolved enough for us to comprehend such an attitude would be — well, shameful. We’ve been on our best behavior for six whole months through a great deal of national angst. Growing pains? Please. We did it! We crossed over, and there is no going back. Didn’t you know that electing Barack Obama president means racism, racial bias and prejudice in America is a thing of the past? It’s officially over.

You can’t unring a bell or unscramble an egg but you can revert to type. One can be a recidivist when it comes to racial bias and prejudice.  Those folks who have been hiding since the Inauguration, smiling and pretending to be “cool” and “down with it” have reverted back to type with their vitrolic outrage spewing again, and the single most important issue to the well-being of our economy and future long term economic recovery is being high-jacked by a post election racial backlash that erupted post the Skip Gates thang. A Black Man had the affrontery to use the word “stupidly” in reference to a white man’s actions within the context of a group action. Oh, my God. He used this word in public — in a press briefing. Oh, my God. He dared to lump white people together. Oh, Jesus save us! Everyone knows the cultural norm in America and the world where power is in play: only people of color are viewed as a monolith — where one person of color speaks or acts for all persons of color. Every body knows white folks are only and ever responded to as…individuals. If only this current backlash was actually about health care. But it isn’t.

We seem to have acquired a national version of ADD.

When we stood back and watched billions of taxpayer dollars going to bail out failing banks and insurance companies, we grumbled, but there was no talk of death panels for the captains of industry who had run the country into a ditch. There was no question but we had to do what we had to do. Suck it up and hope for the best without even initiating serious public debate (town hall meetings) as part of  substantially revising financial institution regulations, the lack of which that made the crash of the system not only possible, but sadly  — easy, inevitiable — and yes, profitable.

There were no angry mobs at town meetings around the country demanding better government oversight of our financial institutions and their unbelievably slick fleecing of the middle class and lower class aspiring to homeownership and relaxed retirement.  CEOs “earning” multi-million dollar salaries with borrowed money from you and I? No problemo. But when it comes to balancing the scales by providing a public, or God forbid, a single payer health care option for Americans who don’t ‘earn’ multi-million dollar salaries?  All hell breaks loose!

Once again, I am saddened by the confusion, fear and destructive trance of misinformation so many Americans fall into like a stampeding pack of lemmings leaping over a cliff.

I mean, I know the country as a whole has been intentionally dumbed down for the last thirty years, and so why should I expect an intelligent response from citizens whose emotional intelligence equals that of an average eight year old?

I mean, I know the middle class has been so unbelievably gullible, not recognizing the intrinsic value of an organized workplace, the right to organize, or unions.  And, believe me, I think unions can be problematic and just as corrupt as any other human organization.  Be that as it may be,  we working folks just sucked it up — again — when the multinationals were granted legal status as individuals  and set about gutting our hard good manufacturing base, leaving the economy to run on consumer credit until we hit the wall and can no longer afford to buy what we no longer make, and can no longer afford to keep ourselves healthy so we can keep on going to work every day — those of us with jobs in this recession — so we will continue using credit cards to keep on buying things we don’t need, don’t make, and can’t afford working three food service industry jobs per family.

This just isn’t a sustainable economic model. Ask Kevin Phillips.

Okay. Here comes Obama, and with him – ostensibly — the Democratic platform creating the opportunity to set right the balance between those using the free market to wreck the country and those holding this country together through honesty, basic goodness and hard work.  At last here is the chance for a legitimate and deserved PAY  BACK  for Joe Six Pack in the form of health care as a national commitment to our economy.  But instead of giving the same kind of  “yeah, it has to be done” acquiescence we gave to invading Iraq and bailing out the people for whom that war was really fought — multinational corporations — we turn against ourselves and some go so far as to  accuse President Obama of being “racist” — thank you, Glen Beck. Thank you, advertisers for dropping your sponsorship of Glen Beck’s radio show.

We accuse a black Congressmen of being a Nazi and communists in the same breath — obviously, dumbing down of the nation has led to not knowing the difference between facism and communism, or the fact that Nazis were all about destroying anyone who wasn’t pure Aryan white — so a ‘nigger Nazi’  is an historical oxymoron born of say, Oxycontin?  We seem eager to be  misinformed with vigor equal only to that of how  misinformed we were — intentionally — about the need to invade Iraq.

How dare any American not be able to afford private health insurance? How dare any American be so — so — so — lacking in personal responsibility! How dare any public assistance collecting, slacking, baby-mama, poverty-ridden free-loading SOB think they deserve the right to health care, or hospice care, or an organ transplant, or the right to counseling on what kind of end of life options they’d like to have?

The image of poor America has a black face on it. The marketing campaign to make sure this is how we continue to see people of color in this country was extremely successful through the70’s and 8o’s.

Let’s not forget it was Hilary Clinton, First Bitch, whose fault it is health care reform previously failed because she was just too — competent and strident about the issue. Now, it’s the racist Obama’s fault.

Oh, my God. If  we fail to take care of our best interests, it will have nothing to do with industry lobbyists, campaign contributions, or Blue Dog Democrats reverting to type?

Where is the outrage over the cost of free three squares and basic health care for all the black Americans and poor Americans who fill up the prisons we can’t build fast enough? That’s a single payer option system, and we’re the single payers. So, convicted and imprisoned felons have a right to basic health care. No problemo. Millions of folks contributing nothing but heartache to our society have access to better health care than say, someone like me. Who has none. Who has no permanent job, but who has contributed to fine young men to America who are not in prison, who are productive, responsible, hard-working and committed to the well-being of their local communities. One of whom is on his way into the MBA program at Yale on a full scholarship.

So aside from working most of my life and supporting public schools with my tax dollars even as my sons attend private schools paid for out of my pocket, even as I’ve made these two major human energy contributions to our society  I haven’t earned the right to coverage until such time as I am employed again in a situation where I would happily pay $400/month in health care — which, by the way, I have never used for a major illness as I believe in and practice  preventive medicine on my own body.

So, the curren emotionally charged conversation isn’t really about health care, or health care reform, or now, even health insurance reform. It’s about a race/class backlash we want to pretend isn’t happening. One black American man at the top is no more disquieting than Michael Jordan being a freak superstar. We can all handle that. We can handle subsidizing ridiculously inflated salaries within the financial sector,  and we will suck up bailing out AIG. If that money  had been given to individual Americans on a per capita basis, we could all afford health care for many years to come. But when we begin to share taxpayer resources so the average black American man flipping burgers at McDonald’s can have regular physicals and his mom can have a mammogram? Hold up.

Oh, my beloved country. How are we going to solve the complexity of climate change when we can’t see this forest for its trees? There will not be enough money to pay for the cost of the kinds and frequency of disease our grandchildren will suffer if we don’t curb in our excesses, perhaps making it possible for another generation or two to breath on planet earth — for free. The next health care rationing will be oxygen and who gets to breathe what. Way worse than how environmental toxins and proximity to same are being rationed at the moment. Not to mention mass starvation because our insect pollinators are dying off and we will not be able to replace them with robot drones.

Oh, beautiful for spacious skies, oh, amber waves of grain, for purple mountains majesty above the fruited plains.

America, America, WAKE UP!

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