It is a pleasant late summer day as I sit and write this article. I just read the September issue of the Communicator my union paper with particular attention paid to two articles 1) the Presidents message which echoes many things I believe, especially exercising your right to Vote. 2) is knowing your labor history written by staff writer Deborah Miles. An excerpt from her article reads “as the history of Labor Day Plays a part in its observance, workers also think about the past and the future.
First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out-because I was not a Socialist.
Then they came for the Trade Unionists and I did not speak out-because I was not a Trade Unionist. So begins one of World War II’s most famous poems by German pastor Martin Niemoller, describing one of humanities greatest wrongs the Holocaust. The poem has become a symbol of inaction in the face of great evil. The ability to perceive less-than-obvious relationships has always been the intelligence of the environmental movement. That movement began by recognizing the common threat to a wide range of life from a scarred or polluted environment. Ecologists most effective teaching has been the lesson of connection. Think of John Muir’s often quoted line: “When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” How does a wrong affect all of us in our wide range of activities? This is an intelligence that we, as a people, can have about our democracy.
The United States is filled with passionate activists driven to solve social and economic challenges. Groups like the Sierra Club organize individuals with the goal of protecting our environment. There are activists in the labor movement, pushing for decent wages for all workers. Others demand affordable health care. Or better schools. Or a secure social security system. Or equal access to college education. Or gun safety. Or a humane system of immigration that welcomes as citizens the people who have come to and to love America.
What these activists must now see is that all these projects face a common threat: the threat of a failed corrupted democracy. We have allowed our republic to be captured by special interests, because we force representatives to raise money for their campaigns from those same special interest. Members of Congress and candidates spend anywhere from 30% to 70% of their time raising money. Yet they don’t receive that money from all of us. They receive that money from the smallest fraction of the 1% of us. Less than .03 percent of Americans gave the maximum contribution to candidates in 2012. That’s a tiny number with extraordinary power in a democracy! The clean up our polluted political system will require all citizens. Until we work together to remedy the corruption of money in politics-until we can establish a democracy responsive to all of us not just a few nothing will change!