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The High-On-the-Hills versus the Down-in-the-Valleys

From our humble dwellings, we can look up to see, perched high on the great hills above our town, the brilliant sunshine glistening off the great white castles of the High-On-the-Hills (Hohs).  Things have been getting tougher and tougher for us Down-in-the-Valleys (Divs).

We Divs are a diverse lot made up of all sorts of constituencies.  Most active among us are women who continue to fight for control over their own bodies and discrimination against them in the workplace.  We have a variety of racial and ethnic groups, for example Blacks and Latinos, who see the American promise of justice and equality as an empty promise.  We have young people who see their futures dimmed by an inadequate national commitment to public education… among other things.  We have workers who have suffered economically as their jobs are either exported or eliminated.  They watch, seemingly passive and powerless, as their employers squeeze the very life out of them in pursuit of more profits to reward the Hohs.

Very few of the Divs have noticed the creek has been rising… year after year after year… and that the entire valley is threatened.

This is the landscape on which the two main political parties plot their strategies.  The party of the Hohs, the Republicans, promotes hatred against those seeking a better life.  Women are “uppity”.  They put family ahead of work and thus deserve to earn less.  It’s just a handful of bitter women who do most of the squawking.  Blacks are lazy and just want government handouts.  Latinos are taking “our” jobs and are illegal.  Workers have priced themselves out of the market with their outrageous demands.  It’s all based on hatred.  It’s “anti” as opposed to “pro”.  It’s the politics of divide and conquer.

The Democrats are equally interesting.  The Democrats, at least in word if not deed, reach out to these “identity” groups.  They think of themselves as a party comprised of these constituencies.  Look no further than the recent election to see the overwhelming support they received from these groups.  They pat themselves on the back.  Look, we won women; we won Blacks; we won Latinos; we won young people; we won workers.  Better, they argue, these groups are a growing share of the electorate.  The future bodes well for us.

The creek continues to rise.

Most disturbing in this scenario is that the Divs have allowed themselves to be divided as each group aligns behind its own cause celebre.  The Divs are truly “divved.”  The implicit strategy is that each group must fight for its own equality and justice.  Each group must build its own energy, its own movement, its own spokespersons, and must petition the government for a redress of its grievances.  Instead of fighting for a common cause, the only “unity” is seen every four years (or sometimes every two years) at the ballot box as these divided groups join together to support candidates from one party or the other.  There is no “movement”.  There is no synergy.  There is no “we the people”.  There is only the periodic casting of a vote.  You can’t get there from here.  The Divs are shooting themselves in their own feet.

The creek continues to rise.

This is not to suggest that the issues of these constituencies should be dismissed.  The issues they raise are critically important.  They fail, however, to recognize that equality is not justice.  The Divs, as divided populations, have no power.  Until they form a true union, i.e. a true movement, to strip the Hohs of their stranglehold on government, they will make no real progress.  The rallying cry must go beyond the narrowness of liberating one group versus another.  It must look to the global issues.  Fighting on the identity battlefield, each group is left fighting to equalize the crumbs it receives while the Hohs walk away with the main course.  Making the crumbs equal does not make a society just.

The Divs share of national wealth has seen a rapid decline.  Their share, whether Democrats or Republicans were in control, has continued to decline.  As wealth concentrates, power concentrates.  The environment, on which all life depends, has continued to decline as well.  The Hohs view it as an “externality.”  We had better make it an “internality” very, very soon.

The creek continues to rise.

Third parties and others on the left have tried to get the Divs to focus on the global issues of wealth inequality, power inequality, and climate disruption.  Politically, this has been a disaster.  The Divs are firmly entrenched in their identity groups and, while they might or might not agree with the so-called global issues, they are driven more by what they see as closer to home.   And so, we are where we are.  The left can gain no purchase and the Divs can gain no ground.

And the creek continues to rise.

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