Nel's New Day

March 19, 2014

Populist Movement Gaining Ground

Filed under: Uncategorized — trp2011 @ 4:18 PM

Tonight I’m heading off to a meeting with people who oppose all gun legislation to help represent the members of Ceasefire Oregon. My partner asks me why I’m going. I say that somebody has to go. And that’s what’s happening across the country.

At the end of the horrible eight-year setback of the George W. Bush administration, people suffered tremendous ennui. Progressive immobility resulted from the discriminatory laws sweeping across the country and with the appalling income inequality exacerbated by the recession. Two years later the billionaires—called “oligarchs” in Russia—moved radical extremists into Congress under the guise of the Tea Party movement. 

Five years later, the laws are worse—states try to make all abortions illegal after 12 weeks and allow discrimination against anyone on the half-baked basis of “religious conviction.” Jim Hightower’s encouraging article today, however, energized me a bit. He wrote:

“Mass movements don’t just appear out of the fog, fully grown, structured and mobilized. They emerge in fits and starts over many years, just as the American Revolution did, and as did the Populists’ original idea of a ‘cooperative commonwealth.’ A successful people’s movement has to take the long view, to learn about itself as it builds, nurture the culture of its people, take chances, create fun for all involved, adapt to failures and successes, stay steadfast to its principles, have a stoic tenacity — and organize, organize, organize. A little serendipity helps, too, so grab it when you can.”

Hightower cites the Occupy Wall Street of 2011 as “a serendipitous movement for the populist cause.” That was the year that the term “one-percenters” came into popularity and stayed. The 200+ encampments across the United States are gone, but they’ve been replaced by Moral Mondays in North Carolina, a protest movement against draconian laws against the people. That protest is spreading across the South into South Carolina and Georgia, which holds Truthful Tuesdays. The arrests, including Dr. Raphael Warnock of Ebenezer Baptist Church where Rev. Martin Luther King was pastor, are drawing notice across the country and inspiring others.

Only about 100 people showed up at this Tuesday’s protest, but that will grow into thousands as shown by those in North Carolina. Warnock said, “It is no exaggeration to say we are here on a matter of life and death.”He’s right because the first dangerous legislation that they address the state’s refusal to take federal funding to expand Medicaid in Georgia. 

“Rebellion has to come first,” Hightower wrote. “As it builds, structure and process will follow in due time.” People made fun of the Occupy Movement because it didn’t seem to have organization or leaders. It provided, however, the seeds of revolution against the culture of inequality and the wealthy control of legislation. Once the barons of Wall Street, financiers are gradually becoming the pariahs. 

Conservative lawmakers have spent millions of dollars to repeal the Affordable Care Act, and their billionaire supporters have spent millions more to spread lies about it. Yet, with less than two weeks to sign up for insurance in this year’s cycle, its popularity is surging. At 60 percent disapproval only three months ago, ACA now has 64 percent of the people either supporting it outright or making minor changes to it. Approval rating for the president and his direction for the country has gone up to 48 percent from 42 percent four months ago.  Even the conservative Wall Street Journal reported that the law is boosting both consumer spending and personal incomes. 

From small towns like mine to cities across the nation, people are rebelling. A guerrilla network is growing against the invasion of Big Oil frackers. Last fall, three Colorado cities succeeded against the lies of big corporations and small conservatives to pass a ban on fracking. The state of New York and over 100 cities elsewhere have barred fracking in their areas. For the first time, activists are successfully proving some of the damage that fracking does to the land and water and air. Others continue to fight back against the Keystone XL pipeline despite the State Department selling out to big business.

Across the nation, fast-food workers are fighting McDonalds and other welfare queens in their exploitation of employees. A national grassroots cry, not the phony billionaire-subsidized message of the Tea Party, has gone up to increase the federal minimum hourly wage from $7.25 to $10.10. The president signed an executive order mandating a $10.10 an hour for federal contract workers. Rep. Paul Ryan (R-WI) are forced to address the issue of the poor, and the media is showing how conservatives are using a twisted, racial message in a desperate attempt to keep their constituency.

Sunshine has hit much of two huge government secrets, the big corporations’ design of Trans-Pacific Partnership and the Orwellian spying by NSA. Less publicized is that fact that 16 states and over 200 municipalities have passed resolutions to overturn Citizens United, the Supreme Court’s attempt to give the wealthy unlimited power to purchase lawmakers.

Monsanto’s genetically-altered organisms are still in our food, but right now they are in a stand-off instead of forging ahead. Immigrants are fighting for immigrant rights. Large corporations such as Disney World and Walmart are on the fringe of paying for sick leave days. The outrage over excessive student loans is in the media almost as much as the missing Malaysian aircraft. The people are coming back. 

In a letter to the newspaper, a man asked why we should pay someone $10.10 an hour for shoveling French fries into a paper sack. My question is why we should pay someone $10.1 million for shoveling papers into a desk drawer.

I know that I’ll come back from tonight’s meeting feeling angry and discouraged, but tomorrow is another day. 

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