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The air is cold. You snuggle beneath the covers, lost in a world of your own, when WHOOSH! Someone yanks your covers off, grabs your arm, and dumps you onto the floor. You feel a boot against your head. You have no choice but to pay attention.
First, the time has changed. It’s Daylight Savings Time again. You’re late. Second, your country has changed. Ninety legal protections you once had—regulations against poison in your water, land, or air; against financial institutions cheating you; against the misuse of your personal data online; even safeguards for research that allowed world scientists to estimate when you might be impacted by a natural disaster— at least 90 state regulations are gone. Deleted by this administration. More losses to come. Public lands. Public television. Public science. Grants to enhance the arts and humanities. Protections for animals. Opportunities for you to get ahead. Treasures we’ve paid for over the years with our hard-earned tax dollars. Yup. Wake up. You’re shivering alone on the floor.
Even if you welcome what Bannon calls “the deconstruction of the administrative state” including destroying our alliances with other countries, public education, affordable health care, or our system of laws that are supposed to apply to EVERYONE equally, your world has changed in ways you might not yet see. But you will.
On March 9, 2017 (on the RACHEL MADDOW show on MSNBC), I watched an interview with Daniel Fried, a man recognized as a bipartisan expert on Russia who provided insights and advice from within the State Department to six consecutive American presidents. He was let go recently by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (recipient of the Russian Medal of Friendship), as were other long-term diplomatic experts. I watched Fried comment that the United States is in greater jeopardy of losing its world power now than it has been any time since the 1930’s.
I wasn’t alive yet in the 1930’s, but I read about the nationalistic dictators who rose then. Germany first. Italy first. Russia first. And who is helping not only the United States but also other Western democracies lose the strength they had when they worked together? Yup. Russia—with worldwide cyberleaks and “alternative facts” carefully timed to manipulate the opinions of those citizens who are still groggy or asleep—people who take their freedom for granted. According to Fried, the issue isn’t about the American election (although Putin feared Hillary Clinton’s power) as much as it is about the deliberate erosion of Western strength—Putin’s favorite activity.
Americans have yet to realize that many so-called American corporations have no loyalty to any particular nation. Their heads aren’t Republicans, really. They’re multi-national. As a group, they do their best to run the world their way—a way based purely on making money. They don’t care what happens to citizens of any country. They don’t care about you. They care about profit margins. They don’t want to tell you the truth. Why should they? They’ve created a population of billionaires who take care of one another.
What heroes, what white knights do regular Americans have left now that this administration is infiltrating all three branches of the government with yes-men (and women)? Us. As Fried reminded us, we have us—THE PEOPLE. Together we can change things. We can remind politicians that they can’t rule without our support. We can replace the checks and balances that keep our government honest. We can remind the world that we fought wars to give us “liberty and justice for all.” We can get off the sofa and stand up.
Don’t be fearful. BE PRESENT. Be heard. Demand that the people who supposedly represent you in the House and the Senate are, in fact, voting to preserve your protections, your rights. You have a right to life (that includes good health), liberty (that includes free speech and peaceful assembly) and the pursuit of happiness (that means a living wage). Whoever you are, you’re important! You have millions of colleagues. You have the future that your children and grandchildren will face in your hands. You must face the present.
Go to TOWN HALL meetings, even if you’ve never done anything like that before. Write. Call. Send emails. Sign petitions. BE HEARD. Don’t let yourself grow weary. You have too much to lose. Plug your ears against the blur of talk and the streams of misinformation from extremist publications. The flood of blame is designed by professionals to distract you. Watch what’s happening—what people do. Don’t sell your tomorrow for a few bucks meant to bribe you today.
Long ago in a college discussion, I spoke up with my opinion, a rarity for me. The effect on the group was electric. “Why did they all stop and listen to me?” I asked a colleague later. “Because you don’t talk unless you have something significant to say,” he told me.
I’ve been a political Independent all my voting life, choosing my candidates according to whether I think they’ll serve my interests. Like you, I shied away from politics, but now I have something significant to say. Like most of you, I love my country and its values. I won’t shut up and sit down.
From over here in The Netherlands we see what’s going on…and indeed you must standup! Some of us have learned that ‘should’ is a dirty word and nobody has to do anything…yet with what’s going on the other side of the pond, where you are, You Must Stand up – and you must all stand up now…or you will be dead meat. And following soon after, we, over here, will be too.
Well said Susan!!
With Love, Annelies
Thanks for your comments, Annelies. We here in the US can be complacent, never believing we can be vulnerable. Europeans know better.