It is too easy to say they have gone insane. In fact, it is more than that. Much of the modern Republican Party is a Monster, a Monster that does not care if people go without health care, a Monster that does not care if seniors stand in the cold, hungry, homeless, afraid. It does not care if children cry through the night because their tummies are hungry as mom and dad work two or three low paying jobs to feed the family, pay rents they cannot afford, maintain a car that falls apart.
Social Security is the foundation of a sound and viable retirement. It is the means toward aging with dignity, living a life of peacefulness and continued hope. It is so successful that both Democratic and Republican administrations have expanded it through the years. And, the fact is, expanding Social Security makes incredible sense.
Yet, the Monster wants to cut Social Security, turn it upside down, and change it a risky investment mess, means test it and lower the benefit. There is no reason on God’s beautiful earth why this is necessary. The Monsters say that the program is going broke, turning belly up, old fashioned – none of this is true.
There is little if any dialog with this Monster, the modern Republican Party. They have gone full tilt overboard into an Ayn Ryan world of cruel craziness that is loyal to the virtue of selfishness. This Monster cares only for the rich and only for the growth of capital, profits and market value. And, they are loyal to the principle of hating their own government as they seek to slash it, burn it down and cut it to pieces.
So, I pause as I think about my countrymen and women. I think about my countryman in rural Pennsylvania who said “NAFTA took my job so I am voting for Trump.” That fellow citizen will continue to work in the local 7-Eleven, but as months go by the Monster pushes Trumpism into his daily life.
My countryman in PA has a sick child who is getting sicker because the child needs regular medical care. That child will hurt more because the pain of illness is not treated as one health program after another ends due to cuts done by a man they voted for, the lead Monster. The clinic, paid for by Medicaid, has limited hours (it probably will close) and doctors have left because Monsters are cutting Obamacare into the ground.
And then there is my countrywoman in upper Michigan who voted for Trump in protest of the Chinese, as she wants them out of the U.S. economy so that she and her spouse can find good manufacturing jobs. They are getting older. These Michiganders, hard working former plant employees, now working low wage jobs are about to lose their Obamacare.
They have an aging parent living nearby who used to go to the senior center for lunch. Now, there is no lunch, the dollars from Congress have stopped. So, five good meals for the aging parent at the senior center have turned to two at the local church and word has it that this is going away as food pantries for the poor are overwhelmed.
Her 88-year-old neighbor has lost her ride for weekly shopping because the transit program has shut down; federal dollars via the Older Americans Act have dried up. This neighbor has lost access to meals at the senior center as well.
Further, the housing preservation and repair program that installed free locks in the community has closed down. And the lock to her back door near the kitchen is broken as the key broke off inside the lock and nothing holds the door secure.
She makes call after call to the young neighbor with the day job and a night job who keeps saying he will come by and fix it.
It has been days now and finally someone broke in. They took the pretty little model Chevy her son gave her when he worked at the now closed Chevy plant. And, they ripped off her change jar with ten years of pennies along with that nice red coat she wears to Christmas Mass every year, all stolen because that door has yet to be fixed.
And, that little adjustment that comes every year to bump up her modest Social Security check did not come this year. Congress passed and President Trump signed a cut re-designing how yearly changes take place for Social Security – something called the “chained” something. When she calls to find out what is going on, a simple call to the Social Security office – well – that office has moved to a location miles away due to “consolidation” because Social Security, according to her Congressman, is “going broke.”
She is hungrier each night. She is afraid as she tries to sleep. She can still walk but her ankles hurt. She can’t afford her medications; help for her meds were part of Obamacare that was eliminated. So, with the few pills she can afford, she has to split each pill to make them last. Late a night, with a shawl covering her face; she looks for food in neighbors trash containers as quietly as possible.
Months go by and the promises of “Make America Great” still stand in thin air. The Monsters are totally in charge. Clinics have closed, meals programs are no more. And the promised good jobs have not arrived.
It is now one year to the day since the 2016 Election. Benton, Wisconsin is a small town in the rural part of the state. Everything went Republican – everything. It went Republican because Trump promised to be different, to be on the side of the worker, to be on the side of seniors because “Social Security will not be cut.” He never said a word about the chained CPI cut that now impacts the cost of living increase each year. Plus, the elimination of community food programs means that the modest Social Security check effectively is cut even more.
An elderly woman living in small town Benton dials her daughter, a single mom with three kids. Both voted Republican. The elderly woman is watching homes get boarded up, kids walking to school with half a sandwich in their lunch box. The daughter is now working just one job because she could not get a baby sitter for the night job she had at the local bar.
The elderly woman says to her daughter, “Honey, you know I am not real political but I want to understand what is happening to us. Would you help me plan a meeting at our local church so we can talk to people and see what they are going through? I see news from Milwaukee and people living there cannot get heat for their homes and seniors have also lost their meals programs. I saw on T.V. that black and white seniors held a meeting with their Congressman to find out what everybody can do.”
She asks her daughter to call their local pastor and see if a small community meeting can be held and maybe they can get their Congressman to come at some point soon. Her daughter says “mom, I think that is a good idea. I will have to bring the kids to the meeting but I am sure that is fine.” The mom says, OK, and promises to start a list of people to invite.
All of this builds toward the following.
Real human consequences as described here will begin soon. Promises made to “Make America Great Again” will be stepped on by the Monster. Those promises will evaporate, fall victim to more lies, more excuses and of course, villains will be called out – “it is those people who are keeping you from a better job.” But, as older folks go without meals, as Social Security checks shrink, as unemployment payments run dry, as the community food pantry turns to dust, the whole idea of making America great again feels like what it really was – a reality show theme presented by experienced liars.
The, lesson, which is part of the core of what we love about our country, is as follows. There is one solution and one solution only. And that solution is called “democracy” and to make that solution possible organizing must take place. Organizing requires neighbors talking to neighbors, dialing the phone, writing invites to meetings, sending emails, clipping stories out of the newspaper and from all that forcing elected officials to provide answers, answers and answers. Massive town hall meetings must be organized. Money must be raised – a dollar from everyone to get started – a bake sale scheduled a week or two later. Petitions organized, face-to-face meetings with elected representatives.
And, no matter how many things they do to keep the community from voting – mean hearted reductions in the hours a polling place is open, taking two polling locations and turning them into one so that some people have to travel farther to vote, no matter how much they stop Sunday voting – organizing, organizing, organizing is the solution. Every two years, by constitutional design, members of the House of Representatives must come home for reelection. Senators go for reelection every six years.
Tough minded, determined, hard driving organizing.
If they don’t serve our best interests, if those elected in 2016 carry on with the lies, the con jobs, and the broken promises then we peacefully but aggressively organize and we remove them from office.
Democracy stops Monsters. It stops them cold.