Middle class Americans, and in fact all Americans who retain a vision of the United States as a forward thinking, forward moving society in which a premium is placed upon fairness, broadly enjoyed prosperity, genuine opportunity and some fidelity to a model of representative democracy owe a debt of gratitude to the activists of Wisconsin. Americans appalled by the thirty year class war perpetrated against the great majority and wishing for a return to American economic decency and historical American values owe them a debt as well.
Their uprising and retaliation against Scott Walker and Wisconsin Republican legislators in their attempt to disenfranchise public employees, punish workers and politically cripple organized labor in the course of shifting a heavier tax burden onto the backs of the middle class in order to provide a windfall for already under taxed corporations has been both a real and logical predecessor to the Occupy movement, and a model for Americans fed up with Republican radicalism in other states, and across the nation.
Today is election day in many states, among them Ohio and Mississippi where very different, but equally consequential battles are taking place in the fight against the ever increasing radicalism of the Republican right, and the emboldened agenda it has sought to implement. In Ohio, thanks to a mighty grassroots marshalling of collective revulsion against Governor John Kasich and his Republican legislature the state’s voters, if polls are accurate, appear ready to repeal SB 5 (Issue 2 on the Ohio ballot) the law stripping collective bargaining rights from Ohio’s workers. In Mississippi, an amendment to the state constitution that would imbue the full rights of personhood on fertilized eggs is perhaps the most radical assault on reproductive rights to date. The extreme and almost imponderable ramifications of such a change are quite apparent.
These state matters are everybody’s battle of course, given the broad, coordinated, calculated Republican offensive across many states to impose even more radical regimens on citizens already suffering the myriad depredations of conservatisms’ thirty years of class war against the middle and working classes, now attempting to further elevate its primitivism, regression and absolutist ideologies to a place of legal, social and political dominance. Continued domination by the financial sector, the wealthiest one percent, and the perpetuation of historical and breathtaking income inequality, stagnant wages and social and economic immobility is the larger goal of this newly mainstreamed radicalism that has suffused and conquered the Republican Party.
Indeed, it is a war Republicans have been pressing on several fronts, but state by state its leading prongs are the economic and political evisceration of labor, the draconian restricting of the right to vote, and as in Mississippi and Arizona, extremist attacks on rights and freedoms, whether women’s reproductive rights in the former case, and fair, humane and decent treatment of immigrants in the latter.
Americans have been propagandized, bamboozled, swindled, bullshitted and bullied by this movement for far, far too long. And it’s about to stop, or at the very least, find itself in a real right, belatedly but for real.
It has been a very specific and identifiable set of policies that has allowed many middle class jobs to be decimated during recessions, never to return; that has encouraged jobs to be transferred overseas, while companies remaining were bought, sold and merged in coordination with a ravenous financial sector, with the intent and result of dismantling these very companies, firing workers and reducing wages for the purpose of ever more extravagant profits, CEO payment and bonuses, and more impressive numbers for shareholders.
It has been a very specific set of policies that has shifted the tax burden for thirty years from wealthier Americans to all the rest, that has stripped progressivity from the tax structure while a process of incremental destruction of a public sector upon which citizens depend, find beneficial and desire to retain has taken place. And it’s time not only to become fierce in preventing the furtherance of these policies by the radicalized Republican right, but to end them and emphatically reverse them.
In Wisconsin, Ohio and Occupy Wall Street the battle has been engaged. Along with others, I’m watching the developments today and hoping rationality and decency prevail at the ballot box.