22 July 2008

What do Progressives want?

In 1893, more than a century ago, union leader, Samuel Gompers, replied this way when asked, “What does labor want?”

“We want more school houses and less jails: more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more constant work and less crime; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate our better natures, to make manhood more noble, womanhood more beautiful and childhood more happy and bright”

Now, 115-years later, we progressives still yearn for the same things. But, despite our yearnings for justice, fair wages, transparent elections, and freedom from want, disease, poverty and crime we find ourselves in engaged daily struggles to survive the effects of rapacious oil companies, greedy HMOs and giant insurance companies, declining real-wages, unemployment, unsafe food-stuffs, deadly toys and pet foods, foreclosures, inflation, loss of basic personal freedoms and privacy's, and the lives of some of our very best men and women squandered in the occupation of Iraq.

We’ve watched as our politicized public schools deteriorate into police-patrolled, drug and violence infested microcosms of our neighborhoods, and as the international corporations wage war on unions, safety regulations and worker’s rights. We’ve watched for thirty years as the Republican neo-conservative policy makers and neo-liberal economists have attempted to deconstruct the New Deal and take down the safety nets protecting from poverty the poorest and most vulnerable among us; the elderly, the poor, the disabled, the blind, the widows, and the orphans.

Now, we are bearing witness to the effects of the cabal of reactionary right-wing politicians, whacked-out religious fundamentalists masquerading as Christians, and opportunistic mendicants, sociopaths, and white-collar felons attempt to destroy what little is left of America after having stolen two national elections. Their efforts are not pro-American. They are not patriotic. They are anti-American and unpatriotic. They are degenerate and obscenely criminal.

Those things which Gompers cited are not extraordinary. They are not unobtainable. They are not pie-in-the-sky. They are not Utopian dreaming. They are the essential human rights and basic aspirations of all persons. Those who would deny them to us are the enemy. They are the descendants of the industrialists, the scabs, and the gun-thugs of Gompers' time. As much as time goes by and brings about change, some things change not at all.

We progressives must do as was done then, Educate, Organize and Mobilize in order to fight for, and achieve, and hold on to, those basic human rights which Samuel Gompers so eloquently iterated over 100-years ago.

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