(Editor’s Note: We’ve been sitting on this for a little while now; you’ve needed the break. On the other hand, now it’s Pride Month. This is the best context we can think of in which to release this particular rant.)
Right. It’s been five months now, and you’ve had a break. A little chance to rest and relax. You’ve had your little victory and your dance and celebration, and now it’s time for the bad news.
Sure, you beat Trump. But it’s time to stop pretending that you won.
A lot of people will tune out, thinking they’ve heard it before. “It’s sour grapes,” they think. “Just because his particular chosen candidate didn’t get the nomination, it doesn’t mean everything sucks and the country’s going to Hell.” Which is correct, as far as it goes; even if you accept the premise that Uncle Joe has passed his sell-by date and doesn’t have the energy or ability to accomplish social change, there are still an awful lot of intelligent and highly competent people working in Washington these days, trying to make things better — and they weren’t here six months ago. That’s important. On the other hand, it’s not what I’m talking about.
And it’s not that I disagree with the Democratic Party’s vision of an improved world — though I do, that’s entirely beside the point. Put enough smart people together with the intention of doing good, give them resources, then stand back and watch: Regardless of their politics, they’re bound to come up with something that makes the world a better place, and if they don’t and they really are intelligent, they’ll notice their mistakes and change direction. While I’m cynical about the effectiveness of idealists, the moral purity of politicians, and the overall potential of any party machine to ever benefit society, the fact remains that there are some very able people presently working in our government who want more than anything to improve the country and the world.
However, the best we seem to be managing is the Federalization of Juneteenth and the upcoming ban on menthols.
I’m not dismissing the Day of Jubilee as bad or meaningless, but it’s hardly substantial change. Against vast opposition, “Black Lives Matter” has been painted on city streets and Memphis has dug up General Forrest’s grave. Precisely none of that is going to raise people from the poverty their families have suffered for generations. And, while there’s certainly truth in the proposition that flavored cigarettes are used to target the poor (and therefore certain minorities), what we desperately need right now is to decriminalize substance abuse and treat addiction as a medical disorder, not continue to add ever more restrictive punitive laws to those already jamming our prisons to overflowing.
Putting Biden in office was not total victory. Getting the House and Senate both under a single party didn’t fix things. It’s not enough — nor should it be. The DNC is loudly railing against the filibuster, but if it weren’t for that our country would suffer massive sudden changes in policy every two years; the chaos would sink us. Biden is calling for bipartisanship, and that’s what it’ll take — but not that alone.
We need specific changes. Certain things need desperately to be fixed. And it’s only by the general public coming together and agreeing, and then expressing that in terms that cannot be misunderstood, that our politicians will get the message.
One thing we need is a rise in the minimum wage; it’s been ignored for a decade and inflation is currently rampant; soon enough people will start starving to death on the pittances they’re paid. Long-term, we need to link wage rises to the rate of inflation so we can stop having this fight over and over — but for now, even a couple of dollars would help. The general public agrees. A few fringe Republicans oppose it because they’re from exceptionally impoverished states; surely they could be won over by a few public works projects in those states? Even most Republicans are in favor — but their efforts keep getting buried in committee. The general consensus among Democrats is that no small increase could be enough, and even a large increase would be insufficient by the time it became law. The very language they’re using precludes the possibility of rational discussion on the point. As a result, we’re unlikely to see an increase any time soon — unless a compromise somehow slips through.
And even this, while substantive, would be relatively minor.
We need healthcare reform, health insurance reform, a way to drastically reduce the cost of higher education. Housing prices are through the roof; the cost of living is growing by leaps and bounds. The Fed just cautiously hinted that our current massive inflation rate might just not be for the short term — no shit, Sherlock. Our government is spending more than it takes in before anything optional even enters the picture — from the military to keeping our national parks staffed, every penny of that comes from debt. This is not a situation where sitting back and doing nothing can possibly be the proper move.
But nothing, unfortunately is exactly what we’re doing.
I get it. You’re tired. You spent four years marching and demonstrating and resisting; you contributed record sums to create change. Now that Trump is gone you feel vindicated; you think you deserve a little rest. You’re ready to sit back and let the country run itself until it’s time for the next election.
Sadly, that is not going to be enough. If a mere partisan victory were going to fix things, surely we’d be in a better world right now. The Democrats are in charge — and, if you’re a Republican, remember your people held the reins four short years ago. The parties aren’t interested in fixing things; they just want to win their little election games. We are inundated by evidence that this isn’t going to help anyone but the politicians.
If you truly want change, you’re going to have to leave your couch again. You’re going to need to march for what you believe in. Raise your placards; paint your banners. Demonstrate!
Where before you marched against — against hate, against intolerance, against the odiousness that was Donald Trump — today you must march for. March for campaign finance reform. March for healthcare. March for a living wage, if that’s what you think is the most important thing — but march! Show the world what you believe in!
Or nothing will continue to happen.
If you found this informative, feel free to support us, or buy us a coffee. We can use the morale boost — and the caffeine. Besides, the political parties will just piss it away on more of those annoying ads that insult our intelligence. Why in the name of all that’s holy would you ever voluntarily pay for more of those?