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Please Listen to Me


[This piece is the first of a series with which, along with the series of talks described below, I am launching my new campaign to change the national conversation.]

Please listen to me if you want to turn back the force that’s taken over the Republican Party.

Please listen to me if you’ve been frustrated by the failure of the Democrats to call out the Republican Party for what it has become:

A force that’s insatiable in its lust for power and wealth.

Even though we have the greatest income inequality that we’ve had in living memory, this force works continually to widen that gap still further.  All their budgetary proposals take from average Americans to give more to those who already have the most. As they protect those who have tripled their share of our national income, they cut food stamps to the most vulnerable Americans at a time when jobs are scarce and even the middle class is struggling.

In the realm of political power, this force has given us a Supreme Court that’s handed down that disgraceful decision in Citizens United, making it still easier for the nation’s widening inequalities of wealth to be translated into inequalities of political power.  With our government put up for auction, “All men are created equal” gets swamped by the Almighty Dollar. The Republicans have been working to turn our government from one “by the people” one by those giant so-called “persons” that make up the corporate world.

A force that makes a fight over everything.

When Barack Obama came to the presidency with the intent to restore cooperation to our political system, he reached out by proposing Republican ideas as solutions to important national problems.  But the Republicans have turned politics into a form of warfare, so insistent upon conflict that they fought even against their own ideas.

What Republicans had once proposed as cap and trade, now they denounced as socialism.  The idea of an individual mandate for health insurance – an idea originally put forward by Republicans in the Senate — they now declared to be unconstitutional.  And once it was picked up by the Democrats, a sensible idea Republicans had originally conceived and embraced became mischaracterized as “death panels.”

A force that is consistently dishonest.

It lied us into the Iraq war. It lied about torture. It lied about where the Democratic president was born. About their (lack of interest) in getting Americans back to work in the deepest recession since the Great Depression. About their (not) caring about the deficit. About Benghazi. About the IRS “scandal.” A list that could go on for pages.

Listen to me if you long for the American people to see the ugly picture all this adds up to.

Listen to me if you want to get our national conversation to focus on the question, too long unasked: “What is it that would express itself in all these ways?”

What is the name that we in Western civilization have traditionally given to something that:

• Preys upon the vulnerable.

Think food stamps, voter ID, vaginal ultrasounds, torture.

• Divides people against each other.

In the deepest recession in generations, this force has proved unwilling to address the issue of jobs, on which Americans are agreed, and focuses us instead on abortion on which, as the Republicans well know, our divisions have proved deep and irreconcilable.

• Tramples on hard-won structures of justice and good order.

After giving us a president who usurped powers denied by the Constitution, this force then manifested itself in an opposition party that violated tradition in its use of the filibuster to grab power, that cast aside long-standing political norms on how the debt-ceiling is handled, that subverted the foundations of our democracy by delegitimizing the president and disenfranchising voters.

• Sacrifices the greater good for selfish advantage.

As the disruption of the climate becomes ever more visibly a threat to the future of our children and even of the health of life on earth, this force has embracing the spirit of the Koch Brothers, rather than the warnings of 97 percent of scientists who know the most about the earth’s climate system, disabling our nation from dealing responsibly to what may be the greatest challenge humankind has ever faced.

• Deceives and manipulates in order to exploit those that support it.

It persuades millions of Americans to be one-issue voters – on abortion, or on the gun issue – distracting them with matters that in no way impede the ability of this force to rob Americans of their birthright as citizens in a democratic society. It pretends to be conservative, while violating our traditions as no conservative would. It pretends to be patriotic while willingly damaging the nation for partisan advantage.

Put all those pieces together, and what do we see?

I am not afraid to call out this force for what it is.

This is not about liberal values vs. conservative values. The consistent destructiveness of all these pieces shows that something has gone awry at a much deeper level. America needs to see this picture.

I’ve got a message that can paint this picture so that the American people can see it. I’ve done the homework to make a powerful case, and I can make it stick.

I have a plan for how to use that message to change the national conversation to focus on this dark and disturbing picture, and to get the American people to drain away the power of this destructive force.

For this plan to work, I’ll need the help of a lot of good people like you.

And please come listen to me at either of two talks I’ll be giving in the coming days, as part of the launch of this campaign.

On the evening of Monday, March 24, I will be talking in Washington, D.C., at the Washington Ethical Society. You can get the details of this event from the flyer found here: Flyer for Andy Schmookler’s March 24 Talk in Washington, D.C..

Two evenings later, on Wednesday, March 26, I will be talking at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia. The details of this event can be found here: Flyer for Andy Schmookler’s March 26 Talk at James Madison University.

If you are not within reach of either of those venues, but would like for me to speak in your area, please contact me at andybard@shentel.net to talk about how such an event might be organized.

If you are concerned with where our country, and this planet, seem to be heading, please join forces with me to help turn our current dangerous political dynamic around.

(If you are wondering about the credibility of my claims, please take a look at “How Credible is Andy Schmookler? Answered by His Wife Using the Words of Others”

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