Like many of you, I’ve despaired recently and wondered if we really are the end of the best years of American democracy. A cabal of thieves has a lock on our Congress, and people are getting elected to leadership positions in dozens of states who would otherwise be in prison or judged mentally unstable.
The EPA is afraid to enforce the Clean Water, Clean Air acts, and couldn’t afford to do a good job anyway because of lack of funding. The National Labor Relations Board is basically impotent because Republicans in the Senate won’t confirm appointments to the board (even though two of those President Obama has appointed are Republicans.) The Supreme Court eviscerated the Voting Rights Act. THE VOTING RIGHTS ACT. Can there be any doubt what the agenda is behind all of these monstrosities?
An essay at the Reverse Angle gave me just enough hope again to entertain the thought that those of us who hate what’s happening to our country are finally getting angry enough to speak truth to power. This one man’s experience at a demonstration in North Carolina lights a tiny fire in my belly again. Real people, just like me and my friends and neighbors, are gathering in large crowds in many different states to say “No More. We will NOT cede our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor to a bunch of thieves.”
If I lived in North Carolina, I would attend every Moral Monday demonstration even if I had to take a walker with a seat to rest my weary bones. If I lived in Texas, I’d buy one of those orange “Stand with Texas Women” shirts and walk as far as I could with the parade of protesters. “The right of the people to peacefully assemble…”
I hadn’t thought about it until I read the article by this father in NC, who put his son on his shoulders to see democracy in action, that it’s been 50 years since Americans protested in huge numbers for many years in hundreds of cities to get our government to listen to our grievances. I was especially struck by the allusion to the movie, “To Kill a Mockingbird.”
It reminded me of the moment in To Kill a Mockingbird
, when Atticus Finch, having lost his case, exits the courtroom and Scout, seated in the balcony with the town’s black population, doesn’t notice the people around her have stood up. “Miss Jean Louise, stand up,” Reverend Sykes tells her. “Your father’s passin’.
That’s what it is going to take, again. The bunch of gangsters who are taking our democratic institutions apart brick by brick in order to render us helpless will not be deterred by reasonable arguments or the real life suffering of our families and neighbors. We have to defeat them on their own terms. And that means mass protests, convincing others to join us, and then turning the worst offenders out of office. After every major scandal in this country, Congress has passed laws to try to prevent the same thing from happening. Now we need a new Congress, one that will at least enforce the laws already in place and pass new ones that address our newest grievances. Ironically, while the U.S. is nurturing democratic reforms in other countries, there has been a coup of sorts taking place right under our noses. It’s up to us to decide how much is enough.