The politicians are coming!
As we head into another midterm election, I have been paying more attention to politics, something I haven’t done for a while. I remember a conversation I had with one of my cousins in 2016 about why he has never voted. He told me it doesn’t matter who is president, Senator, or representative. He said, “The rich will get richer, and the poor will get poorer. Who will pay the price? Us.” The “us” he meant was the working people, the middle class. Damn if he wasn’t right. I agree with him on that. What I don’t agree with is to sit back, watch it all go down, and just keep my head above water. Bob Marley said, “Get up, stand up, stand up for your rights.” Damn if he wasn’t right, too. That’s what we all need to do.
When you can't agree to disagree
Instead of people actually doing that, they’re fighting people who don’t agree with them. I see some nasty things on social media. “You liberals do this.” “You conservatives do that.” “Trump’s America.” I imagine people’s faces contorting as they point fingers at whoever they don’t like. Even 45 is not responsible for everything. He’s doing a helluva job holding up the mirror. Of course, he does add to the divisiveness. The malaise we have is bigger than him, though. It’s always a liberal thing or a conservative thing when there are assholes on both sides. It’s a you’re with me or against me kind of mentality. What happened to respectfully disagreeing on policy? About anything? Now, it’s some kind of character flaw when you disagree with someone. No one is listening to each other.
Fighting for scraps when the feast could be lost
We lose sight of the bigger picture when we just get caught up in our own ideology and don’t see another’s perspective. A great example was when some people chose to be horrified over black NFL players kneeling during the anthem because they saw it as disrespectful to veterans. A veteran told Colin Kaepernick to kneel in the first place instead of sitting during the anthem. That protest was never about veterans anyway. It was protesting the disproportionate amounts of police brutality directed at black people. While people are fighting over who’s standing or kneeling, 20 veterans commit suicide a day. About 40,000 are homeless. Black people still get killed by police in disproportionate numbers. Instead of arguing over protests that are about veterans as much as Rosa Parks’ protest was about a bus, why don’t people get together to find ways to help? In a country where national defense is a priority, the men and women who provide that defense should also be a priority. The Nike shoes some people burnt could have gone to a homeless vet or they could have done some other direct action to help. Instead, many chose to be pissed off and rant instead of using their energy to make a real impact.
Another real issue that is being used as a diversion is gun control. All most people ask for regarding laws is to have universal background checks, to keep guns out of the hands of the dangerously mentally ill, and to keep weapons of war away from the common citizen. Asking for common sense legislation turned into taking guns away from the responsible citizen. Meanwhile, the unblinking Frankenstein, Mitch McConnell and his crony Paul Ryan are talking about taking Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security away. Programs they call “entitlements.” Working people pay for all of these out of their wages for their future. Yet, taking them away is actually a consideration. Granted, it’s not likely to happen for many reasons. But you have to pay attention to what happens behind the scenes when you’re attention is deliberately diverted. What’s more important? Your guns? Or the future that you worked for?
Don't give up the fight
While this chaos continues around us, we are more and more distracted by smaller issues than the big ones that really impact our lives. We allow politicians who are bought and paid for by Big Pharma, the NRA, the insurance industry, or some other well-funded lobby to make laws that benefit their donors, not their voters. Republican, Democrat, it doesn’t matter. They both do it. Not all, but a lot of them.
During this election season, the fearmongering was at an all-time high. “Be afraid of the brown people” is what I see in a lot of these ads. It’s not the brown people who, the majority of which want better lives for their families like you, that you should be afraid of. It’s the ones who look like you and who make the laws that only benefit themselves and the ones who gave them the most money you should be watching.
Instead of fighting or fearing your neighbor, pay attention to what’s really important to you. Take action for a cause that matters to you. Then go out and vote for the person who is making laws for you, not for the person who wrote them the biggest check. “Don’t give up the fight.”
Until next time... look behind and beyond the veil...
Sameena K. Mughal, Author, Freelance Writer