Lest you thought you could stop and revel in the leaf turning another few degrees leftward through the political arc, with November victories muting many of the worst DC ogres and trolls in their teabag hats, December comes with its season of deception, and reminds us all that the fight for a progressive America is not just what happens in a room with the president, the Speaker of the House, and the Senate Majority Leader. We were all so busy admiring our woodcarving handiwork, we’ve forgotten that this is a country full of Tea Party termites, happy to lull us into a sense of accomplishment for what our efforts presented to the world, while state by state, they chew at the infrastructure of community interdependence that built our nation. If we are not more vigilant, we will be staring at a husk that turns to dust when flicked by an American flag rat tail, wielded by an uninformed, ignorant electorate.
What happened the past five days in the great state of Michigan is neither the opening salvo of our battle against our big-money foe, nor is it the last arrow in their quiver. It was exactly two years ago this week, when Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker (R-WI), fresh off his election, announced he was going to seek to curtail collective bargaining for the public sector unions in the Badger State. Neither unions nor AWOL state senators were able to stop the Koch brothers’ acolyte, Walker. The support from Democrats, on the national level, was almost non-existent, as the unions sought to punish Walker for his about face, with a failed recall election.
What these two similar events demonstrate is that the sleeping giant of conservatism lives in the state legislatures, not so much in the halls of Washington, DC. State houses are the puppy mills from which the threat of primary challenges shakes the ability of Congressional Republicans to be pragmatic, compromising legislators. President Obama, then, was reelected more as a foil to Congress’ stubborn, right wing, fear based, pseudo-religious, Republican policy making, and less for his ability to complete the heavy lift of change that we all hoped he would accomplish in his first term. He was the person we pushed out there, but all he’s been able to do is drop the boulder of electoral reality on the foot of big-money backed, Conservative Goliath, making them hop around, embarrassingly. Meanwhile, we throw critical opinions like stones at the lumbering mammoth, which he seems to shrug off with barely a flinch.
We don’t need one David to fight this Philistine giant. We need fifty – one at each state capitol – to fight for workers, to fight for the middle class, to fight for compromise, and to fight for ballot access. The Davids showed up in Michigan, earlier this week, and in Wisconsin and Ohio, last year. Ohio fell, too, when we hit Gov. Kasich right between the eyes with his own anti-collective bargaining agreement.
So let the Philistines who want to disenfranchise unions and minorities from the public discourse, finish feeding on the sawdust of the America they so passionately chose to devour. When it all disintegrates, and they find themselves crawling hungrily amid the crumbs, we will have built a new, solid visage of the United States, one of union hewed stone and steel, which we will defend with our integrity and commitment to the cause of prosperity through unity, and they will not be compelled to pick up a sledgehammer, and swing it against us, because they will finally understand they would just be assaulting themselves.