Sunday, March 11, 2018

The Power of Power

Funny you should ask, but yes, I am sitting in my local public library charging all of my devices because yet again, north central New Jersey is without power. I really thought we had escaped this because the snowstorm hit on Wednesday and we kept our power throughout the driving snow and falling branches. But on Saturday morning we heard a bang, and then the lights went out. And the heat. And the (well) water. At least we can still cook on the gas stove. A large pork shoulder butt for pulling. What else would you expect a nice Jewish boy to be cooking on a Sunday afternoon?

But that's not what I came to talk about. Came to talk about power. So while we wait for more snow on Monday night and Tuesday, let's muse about the power shift that is on its way.

Young people are ticked off and they want the power over their lives that previous hordes of young people have fought for. The power to be safe. The power to shake the status quo, as in the power of the NRA to dictate their view of the Second Amendment, which is that it's inviolable and any slight change in gun laws is an egregious violation of American rights. Enter Florida. Raising the minimum age to purchase a gun is a good step. Worked with alcohol; why not guns? The NRA's argument is that denying a 19 year old a gun is akin to taking away guns, which, as we know, is the argument that all far-right gunsters use to beat back any regulation. If Florida can pass gun control laws, then most any state can. The question is whether they will.

Related to that is the proposed student walkout on Wednesday in response to the Parkland shooting. Under normal circumstances, schools in the leafy NJ suburbs would balk at letting students lead a disruption in the school day. This time, though, administrators are bending to the will of the vocal majority and are making accommodations so that both students and teachers can express their concerns and rights and fears and hopes that the country will finally make some common-sense changes. Students are leading this, and that's the beauty of it because they need to be heard. So much for this being an uninvolved, frightened, self-centered group of young men and women. That the right wing media wants to paint them as dupes and fakes tells you all you already knew about the credibility of the right wing media.

And what about the teachers? In West Virginia they didn't make the mistake that Senator Susan Collins made when she voted to keep the government funded in return for a scheduled vote on Dreamers, only to be sold out by Mitch McConnell. No, the teachers didn't go back to school after the promise of a wage gain; they waited until the legislature actually gave them one before ending their protest, defying their state and local union leadership.

In short, enough is enough. Destroying public worker unions has resulted in the most heinous abrogations of the commitment that a progressive, democratic republic is supposed to make to the workers that ensure that students are educated and that government services are delivered effectively and equally. We are truly at the point where Ronald Reagan's warning that the government is the problem is having its most noxious effect.

I have to laugh, and cry, at the gazillion gigabytes of words and pictures devoted to the idea that our present government is somehow run by populists. It is not. It is run by know-nothings who are shifting even more money to themselves and hoping that the poor rubes who voted for them won't notice or will be bought off by $40 or $50 dollars more per week in their paychecks. Meanwhile, government workers are vilified for not getting things done with the reduced resources that those in power would like to reduce and defund even more.

The backlash is already here and it's being lead by people who are supposed to do as they are told. Clearly, that's not happening anymore.

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