Throughout history, no matter which form of government was in power, the poor and the middle class have always been under the thumb of aristocracy. Today, aristocracy, mainly affixed in the conservative and neo-liberal branches, dominates our country. Wealth is enhanced by the constant quest for lower wages. The poor and middle class are squeezed to work harder by feeling less secure. The elite would rather see ever more pressure placed on a society, without social structures, than allowing life to be more livable with them. The technique for wealth has always been to keep the masses poor, uninformed, and in fear, and under duress. Social safety nets are constantly under pressure of closure to reduce the fear of the affluent of having to support them with their fair share of taxes. Masses are led to think that they benefit when aristocracy cries for “lower taxes.” It dupes the masses into falsely believing that this favors them. Candidates selected by aristocracy obviously promise anything to get elected but then show only deference toward their wealthy contributors. With less tax revenues, social safety nets weaken and become under threat of closure.
Class wars have existed for centuries, but they have been fairly well contained wherever democracies were ruled by the masses and not by aristocracy. (Note: European countries score much higher in levels of democracy than the U.S.) The Trump administration doesn’t care if any part of government functions well. As with unabated capitalism, drooling for every bit of higher profit at the expense of society, the Trump administration’s recent bogus government shutdown was just another attempt to stress out and humble society into deferring to wealth and power. Trump really doesn’t care if a government stays closed. His boot-stomping rich cohorts actually provoked and welcomed the closure. Why? Without a functioning government the wealthy can easily dominate any society stripped of its democratic safeguards. Flush with unimaginable riches, they have the ability to coerce and run our country their way (to make “their” America great again without all the interferences and regulations that protect ordinary citizens). The masses are like Little Red Riding Hood, being plucked by the salivating, neo-liberal-conservative, restless wolf that has already devoured grandma (our dear democracy).
Alexandria Ocasio Cortez, the new Democratic representative from New York, spoke briefly about the shutdown. On Jan. 17, in her first speech on the house floor, she said, “The truth about this Trump’s shutdown of our government is not about a wall. It is not about the border, and it is certainly not about the everyday well-being of every American. The truth is, this shutdown is about the erosion of American democracy and the subversion of our most basic government norms.” She added, “It is not normal to hold the paychecks of 800,000 workers hostage. It is not normal to shut down the government when we don’t get what we want. It is not normal for public servants to run away and hide from the public that they serve. And it is certainly not normal to starve the people we serve for a proposal that is widely unpopular among the American people.”
An American “Yellow Vest” movement, similar to the one in France, could put an end to the stranglehold that aristocracy has on democracy. It may be what is needed to mend a raft of issues now disrupting this great nation of ours and ripping it apart. The beginning lyrics of the song “Stout-hearted Men,” come to mind. Here the hearts of real patriots who are proud of their country are stirred as they full-heartedly engage in an act to improve their lives. “You…who have dreams…if you act…they will come true. To… turn your dreams…to a fact…is up to you!”
Howard Zinn, the American historian and social activist, once said: “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience.”
It is up to all to speak up, to embrace activism, and to demand social justice. It’s called democracy in action. It works! The L.A. teachers just proved it.