By Bob Minor
Speaker John Boehner and Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan, the chief archetects of the government shutdown this year.The New Year can safely be forecasted to bring more of the same. Actually, it’s likely to be an exaggeration of the political craziness of 2013.
There are those who dream of sanity and bipartisan cooperation. I hope they had the pristine white Christmas they fantasized, too.
2014 actually is an election year, though it seems as if we’re always in one anymore. There are 33 US Senate seats being contested in addition to all 435 House seats. So, the pressure to do whatever it takes to raise money and buy votes is now in full swing.
The media circus will continue to predict whatever about the outcome, finding polls to keep cable channels’ viewers on edge. Political advertising money will flow more freely as corporatists target local and national races.
2013 ended with outsiders loving the schisms among Republicans. “Falling in line” was collapsing, but it’s easy to make too much of this as wishful thinking.
Certainly, the ideologues representing remnants of Tea Partyism will continue to stick to their guns. Incumbents’ realistic fears of being primaried by someone to their right, no matter how conservative they vote, will increase the crazy talk.
Rep. Michele Bachman, who announced she will not run in 2014, gathered a whole list of dimwits together to parrot lies and deceit about the LGBT community following the United States Supreme Court's decision to strike down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) in June of 2013.
There’ll be continuing, if slower, progress in the states on marriage equality. The religious right-wing won’t give up waging various fights against LGBT equality while baby boomers set their agendas.
We’ll be lucky if the federal Employment Non-Discrimination Act goes anywhere this election year. But Republicans would give the Democrats social issues if it guaranteed that their rich friends get to hoard even more money.
Except for the religious extreme, the Republican Party will continue to prioritize the protection of the upper 1% and the redistribution of wealth upward. That trumps everything.
The Supreme Court will make it easier this year by loosening election laws further except for those that disenfranchise anyone who could threaten corporate rule. Don’t expect much from this corporate court.
Democrats and liberals will continue to be aghast at what FOX News and Republicans say in 2014, as if anything should surprise them. The lies will continue, and even when it’s pointed out that they aren’t true, they’ll be repeated – Benghazi, Benghazi, Benghazi; Handshake-gate; Socialist infiltration; Kenyan president; Threats to guns.
Democrats and liberal allies, including the President, will allow the Republican right-wing to continue to set the agenda. Democrats will move to the center claiming it’s good for the country, mom, and apple pie, while Republicans stand pat.
The President will give a lot of really good speeches. But he’ll cave to the Republicans while claiming it’s a necessity.
Establishment Democrats, under the guise of bipartisanship or effective governing, or another nice idea, will affirm the right-wing’s values by giving them credence and even joining them in “reforming” the big three - Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid. If the Republicans are successful, the Democrats will get away with what Republicans could never accomplish in crippling these programs.
Republican de-funding of social programs will mean more liberal money will move to charities to make up the difference, so that liberal money won’t go toward any political change that threatens business. Meanwhile even more corporate conservative money will flow into politics.
The fight against working people’s rights to bargain collectively will continue. But they’ll have to turn their attention to the organizing of fast-food and other low wage workers who are threatening to change the landscape for every working person.
The people will continue to rise up and support populists like Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, and Bernie Sanders. That will anger the Democratic establishment that will work to marginalize the Democratic populists, while the mainstream media support them with the ever-repeated claim that the people want politicians to move to “the center,” as if there is one.
The media will continue to lose credibility as it continues striving to prove to the right-wing that it’s not liberal. People will rely more and more on the little and less-vetted information they get from Tweets and Blogs.
We’ll lament more mass shootings while they’re calls to loosen restrictions on weapons. As a result many innocents won’t be with us at 2014’s end to protect what the lobbying group for weapons manufacturers and distributors claims is a Second Amendment right.
America will continue to rise on the corruption index compared to other countries while it continues to defame European countries that don’t join it in corporatization. And the world will look on wondering what happened to that once-great experiment in democracy.
2014 won’t be a pretty year. But falling into hopelessness, hiding, turning inward, and refusing to fight all of this would be self-destructive, disempowering and a vote for the ugliness.
All over the country in almost every place, there are people who don’t want this, and many who’re doing something about it. Connecting to those who believe you can fight will be the most important choice we make in 2014.
Poet, activist Audre Lord was right when she said: “That you can't change City Hall is a rumor being spread by City Hall." We don’t have to be optimists when we choose hope.
We can face the ugliness even when we’d prefer that our anthem be Louie Armstrong’s “What a Wonderful World.” Wherever we are, however we can, we can do what says to the world that we’re not giving in or giving up.
Howard Zinn put it this way: “History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper.Louis Armstrong's What a Wonderful World
It requires that we be there. And that is what actually does change things. Change is not just silly talk about some crazy dream.
No romantic, American historian Howard Zinn put it this way: “History is instructive. And what it suggests to people is that even if they do little things, if they walk on the picket line, if they join a vigil, if they write a letter to their local newspaper. Anything they do, however small, becomes part of a much, much larger sort of flow of energy. And when enough people do enough things, however small they are, then change takes place.”
Robert N. Minor, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus of Religious Studies at the University of Kansas, is author of When Religion Is an Addiction; Scared Straight: Why It’s So Hard to Accept Gay People and Why It’s So Hard to Be Human: and Gay & Healthy in a Sick Society. Contact him at www.FairnessProject.org.
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