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Grace Ross: What Voters Will Face When the Dust Settles

Tuesday, November 06, 2012


Grace Ross, GoLocalWorcester MINDSETTERâ„¢

Obviously, it’s extremely important who wins the election this year -perhaps most importantly because of who among the socially powerful will end up feeling vindicated and justified in their positions.

But when we wake up as regular people the day after the election – when the dust has settled – we’ll still be facing such serious problems that I don’t quite know how to characterize it. I do know the time for waiting will be over.

First of all, the foreclosure crisis continues destroying not only homes and the economy for regular people, but also continues to dump hundreds of billions of dollars into the coffers of the banks that perpetrated this mess. No policies are being offered to stop their continued spiraling accumulation of wealth out of the pockets of regular people and the coffers of our country.

Second of all, an abysmal and ongoing jobs situation. The Republicans have the breadth of this problem far more explicitly correct than the Democrats; we cannot say the same for their proposed solutions. What will turn out to have been most amazing about the political debate however, is the ahistorical conversation about what to do about it. First of all, it is the foreclosure crisis that has driven the job crisis and not the other way around.

Next, all we have to do is look back to the last time we had this bad foreclosure and job crisis, known as the Great Depression (you may have heard of it) and know that to get out of it, we have to move in the direction of real living wages, huge increase in jobs, and a complete realignment of our tax structure. For instance, to get out the Depression, the top bracket for the very wealthiest was raised to around 90 cents on the dollar as opposed to the 15 cents they’re paying right now (because they claim all their income is unearned income and that’s taxed really low). Meanwhile, you and I are paying often much higher percentages of our incomes in taxes.

Fourth, if Sandy didn’t bring it home, it should have: the rise in sea level combined with anomalous weather events means that global warming is coming home to roost. That’s not so surprising for regular people most of whom have come to understand that our weather is not what it was. There is truly tiny and dwindling number of scientists willing to say that this climate change is not largely because of human causes.

The really staggering lesson from the election will be that the two major party Presidential candidates both have agreed in the past that global warming was a devastatingly important issue of our time, but neither spoke out when Sandy hit. We can only hope that they wake up the day after the election – no longer feeling behold to incredibly wealthy donors, to the reality that they both know: we’ve got to do something about our impact on the environment for the well being of all of us.

Lloyds of London, the largest property insurer in the world, paid for an absolutely clear cut study that showed the increasing impact of global warming on our world in the early 2000s. It’s time for us to get past partisanship and actually address the realities that even the two major party Presidential candidates knew were true and yet neither dared open their mouth.

Fifth, a week after election day, Congress returns to the staggering reality that they have created for themselves: they must slash our most basic financial investments in ourselves and each other (from our retirement systems to those that would serve our youngest generation). They set up budget cut requirements either in their ignorance or denial of the economic reality that an economy cannot survive without its life-blood.

That life-blood is the spending that circulates money – they did this rather than really raise money from the remaining elite cesspools where it now stagnates.

This leads me to the deepest problem for we the people, since clearly almost all of the top of our two major parties are either too scared of the very wealthiest sector to care, or part of it themselves. How do we regular people reweave the fiber of a civic society?

The very wealthiest are clearly not only running the largest segments of our society, but are using their money to poison the political conversation in Congress and the halls of elected decision makers around our country. They were apparently able to determine which topics of conversation were acceptable and which were not in the top races in our country.

The rebuilding of civic society doesn’t mean some quick fix get money out of politics. It means we have to address the underlying problem which is the still increasing divide between the very wealthiest and the rest of us. Hundreds of years ago, when Democracy was a new idea for government, a philosopher said you could not have a democracy if some people had enough money to own others – because in that case there was no such thing as freedom to vote.

So long as the political realities of those of us living the struggling lives of regular people and of the inconceivably wealthy bear little resemblance to each other, their definition of the politically significant will not be what our entire society needs.

This Wednesday morning, It will behoove each of us in small ways and in large ways to begin to rebuild the reality that it is not what our country can do for us but what we can do for our country. That, ultimately, we are in this together whether, it’s environmentally or economically. That what befalls our neighbors, befalls us as well. That we can either begin together to shift the direction we as a society are headed, or continue the endless wait for someone else to bring us together for a better common destiny.

Those that think they can be the exception to the rest of our society, sit on wealth (it’s not creating jobs; it's the money you and I spend – when we have it, that does that) and not participate and not take responsibility and not pay their fair share – they are sinking the ship for the rest of us.

Unless we demand of ourselves and them some commitment to a moral society – one built on a foundation of love and commitment to a better future for all of us, it may turn out some day that the results from this election didn’t matter.

Why? Because government by and for the people as we have known and believed in will have become merely a whisper in our memories of the past.

I, for one, am not waiting around to see and will be rolling up my sleeves Wednesday early...


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