This needs a little setup, so please bear with me. Here’s a shocking number: according to Pew Research, 67% of Republicans think voting is a privilege, not a right, contrary to what has been enshrined in our own Constitution.
Let that sink in a moment.
The Party of Lincoln, who bled and died to keep this country together, to secure the rights of all Americans–regardless of race or creed–has turned against one of its own pillars.
In the face of such a statistic, most people I know have reacted in one of two ways: alarm, calling for others in power to do something about it before it’s too late. Or steadfast agreement, with a burning desire to strip the right to vote from every bad actor.
But it’s a shell game. The United States will continue. This isn’t our death knell. This sentiment is a result of sensationalism. What’s happening now is part of a continuously repeating cycle.
Instead of asking how the other side could be so blind to what’s at stake, a better question is how we got to this point as a country.
59% of Americans are one paycheck away from being homeless, whether you’re renting or paying mortgage. And that’s wrong. That is wrong.
Major business lives in the urban centers, and cities have been drawing in people from near and far since the dawn of the Industrial Age. Which leaves people with a choice: live where you can buy a house, or live where the work is. In no other First World country is this a mutually exclusive choice. Technically, it isn’t one here in the US, either. If you’re privileged.
That it is now mutually exclusive for most everyone else in the US corrupts our faith in the United States, and that leads to a domino effect. If the American Dream might be a lie, maybe everything else we’ve been told is a lie, too. Science. Equal rights. Vaccinations. It calls every ideal into question, and since it’s an emotional response, reason and facts won’t enter into it. They can’t.
Whatever you feel about the man, there’s a real, vital reason Trump commands the loyalty of so many Americans. He is the ultimate iconoclast, and for as long as money means more than the people who earn it, Trump embodies the hope for the destruction of the status quo. The destruction that everyone cheered at the end of Fight Club.
But that’s a shell game, too.
Big Profit runs America, and while politics used to matter, they have been reduced to little more than a polarizing distraction. They keep us hating each other while Big Profit takes, and takes, and takes.
I know I’m indulging in a bit of demonizing, and I apologize. It’s an oversimplification of the morals and ethics used to keep everyone moving in the same direction, like a school of sardines. We need money to survive. It’s integral to how we function as a society. How can money be bad?
It isn’t. Not inherently, but it has been grotesquely overvalued, leaving 59% of Americans desperate to make ends meet. Crushed under the mountains of debt used to make it to the next month, who doesn’t dream of somehow getting ahead? If only we could crack the code, catch a break, or–you know–get a leg up. If only something would give.
Not only that, we live on a diet of fear, hand-fed by American media. We wear blinders as Big Profit drains us of our very humanity, skewing our reality so badly that many Americans would now welcome the death of Democracy. But that’s not really it. They’re dissatisfied. Disenfranchised. Distracted from the truth.
It isn’t Democracy that’s failing.
It’s unchecked capitalism.
People matter, and I hope this current wage revolution is the just the beginning of something meaningful. The love of money has deep and terrible roots, but I have to believe people are starting to wake up. Starting to see again.
Don’t fall quiet when wages are a little higher. Fight for a living wage. Demand it. Don’t be fooled by paltry concessions and wholesome-sounding lies.
We all have a right to thrive. We all have a right to vote. We all have a right to life.