The American Dream is a noble ideal: equality and reward for hard work. Establishing values like fairness, independence, and empowerment, Americans have long sacrificed to better themselves. But in America, we have always dreamed of bringing along our communities: our palaces have been our public schools; our monuments not towering statues unless surrounded by broad public parks and playgrounds; our legacy is ensconced in public libraries, common thoroughfares, and rural electrification projects. As America grew in wealth, so rose our great middle class, all together as boats in a tide of public pride and progress. Today’s public pride is privatized, the middle class carved up with it: contracted out to the no-bid crony, with greed riding rough-shot over civic duty or service.
Take the 1.8b tax cut for Corporations in MI. A gift from Republican Governor Rick Snyder, courtesy of increasing taxes on old people & poor children's families. So the corporations can create jobs? Only if wages drop below poverty level and destroy the middle class. No weekends, no vacations, not a better life for our children. But that's nothing new. That economy "thrives" in shanty-towns all over the globe. The question for America is: do you relate to the middle class American Dream that is being destroyed? Or do you relate to an over-class living in a secure compound it calls home? If we start to aspire only to a gated ruling-class lifestyle, then our despotic future is here.
Greed has overwhelmed our dreams of community. Paranoia has made scapegoats out of teachers, enemies out of neighbors, terrorists out of worshippers. We citizens have taken our freedom for granted. Now we realize that we are only as free as we demand to be. Power, whether of kings, despots, or petty tyrants, whether monarchists or corporatists, has never given anything without a demand, not once. Unless we demand our liberty, we will not have it. Unless we demand our right to public education, to public infrastructures that better us all, to a just and equitable society, we will not have it.
Some elected officials act like winning an election is winning a crown to be queen or king for a day, or a even a legislative session. One of our Sumner County, TN Representatives is Debra Maggart, sponsor of the bill to outlaw Teacher’s Rights to bargain for safe and effective working conditions. Sadly, she has used her positions, both as our public servant and as Executive Director of the non-profit group Compass, to further her own self-serving goals, no matter whose privacy she invades or guidelines she breaks. In an email response to a citizen recently she sought input on the “Radical Right Master Plan.” An un-American plan that would presumably install a rich ruling class in perpetual security, while the rest of us only aspire to rise to the level of a middle class that no longer exists.
We deserve accountability from our representatives even after they have won an election. We don’t elect dictators, we elect servants. How many of our leaders have forgotten that our consent isn’t a one-time event.