Monday, November 21, 2011

Tax Reform and Pepper Spray

Last week's COPA Assembly (see previous post) was exhilarating in so many ways: a broad coalition acting together, negotiating with political and business leaders, working out an agenda for the common good.  It was American politics at its best, I think.  What kind of economy do we want, do we deserve?  Are we willing to work, to sacrifice for the common good?  With unions and churches, synagogues and community centers, we're building an organization with substance, strength and resolve.  The resolve comes from relationships--from hard work and deep public friendship.  Because we care for one another, because our stories matter, we find a sense of purpose that translates into dynamic action and concrete progress.

And then, Sunday night, I catch this segment (above) on Grover Norquist's "Americans for Tax Reform."  This is the kind of politics that's got a stranglehold on our country.  Grover Norquist and his donors have no use for public education.  They have no interest in affordable housing or benefits for veterans.  And they'd be quite happy, thank you very much, if the rest of us sat at home and left politics to the heavy hitters.

To be honest, this segment makes me about as angry as I can be.  It makes me every bit as angry as last week's reports of police using pepper spray on nonviolent protestors at UC Davis.  How dare we (students, citizens, neighbors) try to change things in this country?  How dare we (the 99%) decide to take back the economy and make it work for us and our kids?  The message we get--from the police in Davis or Grover in DC--is simple.  Don't even try.  It's not worth it.  Let the 1% figure this out.  They really know best.

Well, I disagree.  I wholeheartedly, passionately disagree.  If this country means anything, it means that we the people have an obligation to be involved.  We have an obligation to work together toward the common good.  We have a responsibility to our kids, and to their kids, and to all our neighbors.  And what is that?  To fill the coffers of a dozen huge corporations?  To line the pockets of the 1%?  Hell no.

We have an obligation--to those who preceded us and to those who will follow--to make America work for everyone.  To build on this spectacular continent a generous community of peoples and towns and states and traditions.  To dare.  To risk.  To imagine and negotiate and enact a more perfect union.

I wonder if Grover Norquist has any clue what I'm talking about here.  I'm pretty sure that he doesn't give a damn.