Time to Make Lemonade

Michael Kagan

Yes, Life has given us bushels of lemons recently, so this is a wonderful opportunity to turn them into something positive, constructive, and restorative. What can we do to ensure our progressive ideals are not trampled by the incoming elected officials? How can we turn back the tide of their vocal supporters who rabidly and vehemently demand the denial of human rights to all sorts of people and groups? Who want even more benefits for the wealthy? Who believe climate change is a hoax? Is there any hope for the continuation of democracy in the U.S.?

For the past 50 years, i* have thought of myself as a "buoyant pessimist". That is, i saw things as wrong or bad, but knew they could be changed or improved. In the 1960’s (Wow! It’s been half a century since then!), we saw LBJ expand the Vietnam War, which many of us thought was awful. Then we got Richard Nixon, and we thought things had gotten worse. Jimmy Carter was a bit better, but then came eight years of Ronald Reagan, supply-side economics, union-busting, etc. Could it get any worse? G. H. W. Bush pushed for war in the Middle East, but didn’t let it go too far. Bill Clinton did some good things, but also signed NAFTA, "the end of welfare as we know it", the Telecom Act, and the repeal of the Glass-Steagall Act. Those were significant negatives, but then we got Dubya, and the whole world suffered, as it still does, from the mendacity and evil he and his puppet-master Cheney wreaked. Obama has obviously been a tremendous improvement, but would have been more effective at bringing about the ideas that won him the election (twice) if Republicans in Congress (and their Tea Party backers) had not conspired against him.

And what now? Has our country finally hit rock bottom? Can we still have “liberty and justice for all”? Is this the culmination of the Powell Memo? That’s the playbook Lewis Powell wrote for the US Chamber of Commerce in 1971 [see the movie "Heist: Who Stole the American Dream?"] in order to have corporations and the right-wing accumulate and enjoy perpetual power. He was then appointed to the Supreme Court by Richard Nixon. Will we now experience the Fascist state that Benito Mussolini tried to bring about?

Ask yourself if these two quotes from Il Duce, and the one from Orwell, are relevant today:

"The definition of fascism is the marriage of corporation and state."

"Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

"The word 'Fascism'," Orwell wrote in 1944, "is almost entirely meaningless ... almost any English person would accept 'bully' as a synonym for 'Fascist'."

The newscaster in the 1976 film "Network" got people to shout, "I’m mad as hell and I’m not going to take this anymore!" Joe Hill, the famous labor activist and songwriter, an immigrant from Sweden, wrote shortly before he was executed in 1915 for a crime he did not commit, "Don’t waste any time mourning. Organize!" And now we must do the same.

In recent weeks, i’ve seen some heartening signs of people coming together to resist the hateful agenda of the new regime. The Women’s March on Washington the day after the inauguration will not only draw hundreds of thousands of people to DC, but has already inspired similar protests in many cities around the country. In Tacoma, the Counter Inaugural Bawl Ball should be both lots of fun and a great way to connect with other progressives. People have also been seeking other ways to have their voices heard, their beliefs expressed, and their fears understood and abated. Many individuals and groups are taking various forms of action according to their own interests. Perhaps it would be a good idea to coordinate these activities in such a manner that everyone knows what others are doing, so there can be communication, support, and unity in resisting what the other Washington is planning.

Toward that end, i submit the following recipe for opposing the agenda of hatred, of undermining those not among the 1%, and of the destruction of the planet. This pamphlet was written by former Congressional staffers who examined the success of the Tea Party movement and distilled their strategies, minus the violence, threats, and hatred, into concrete steps progressives can take to stem the tide of vitriol, negativity, and punishment we can expect from DC. By following these guidelines, there is a chance we can restore democracy and prevent the continuing erosion, at a more rapid pace now, of human rights, dignity, and inclusion in the U.S. Please read it, determine how you can participate to stop the cruelty of the right-wing policies, pass it along to others, and get active!

We in the Tacoma-Pierce County area are fortunate to have pretty decent representatives. Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell, along with Congressmen Derek Kilmer, Denny Heck, and Adam Smith are better than most on many issues. But we need to strengthen their resolve against the corporate takeover promulgated by our new CEO-In-Chief. They need to hear from us constantly, so that they know their constituents support and encourage their resistance to the downward, negative trend that has been all too evident over the past year or two. We need to get ahead of the curve, not react when it’s too late. We need to know what bills are coming up for votes, what appointments are being considered, and tell our representatives how to represent us!

I suggest that www.thepierceprogressive.org can be a clearinghouse for information on groups forming or acting in our area. Articles can be written to find like-minded people, to form coalitions, to stimulate progressive thought and dialogue, to gain support for actions, and to enlighten others. The Calendar can be used to list meetings and events, either of groups or with our representatives. Every success should be written up and published to indicate to others that progress can be and has been made, encouraging more people to join the effort of showing that we can be a better, more productive, more inclusive society, while protecting the environment.

Okay, let’s get out there now and make some lemonade!

*[Editor's note: The use of lower case 'i' for the first person pronoun singular is not a typo. The author prefers the lower case.]

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