Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Fall of the Mighty Whities Part III: The 150-Year-Journey

America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves.
~ Abraham Lincoln

My brain is churning this week, and my heart is fast in pursuit of understanding, so I warn you, dear readers, this post is lengthy. But I ask you, is it possible to write succinctly about a 150-year-journey?
This weekend we went to see Spielberg’s Lincoln. I highly recommend this film with its stunning, dark images, stellar cast, moving story, historical accuracy, and authentic dialog. I am so intrigued my mind keeps replaying scenes, and I can’t wait to see it again.

The film showed an intimate portrayal of Abraham Lincoln during the specific months that he pushed for passage of the 13th Amendment. His complicated character is shown in his intelligence, his folksiness, his internal struggles, his offbeat humor, his moral sensibility, and his determination.
"Do we choose to be born? Or are we fitted to the times we're born into?" he asks two soldiers in the telegraph office as he is composing a telegram to hold the Confederate delegation hoping to negotiate peace on a riverboat because he fears ending the war too soon will close the window of opportunity to get the amendment bill passed in Congress.
Radical Republican Congressional Leader Thaddeus Stevens played a big role in helping to pass the 13th Amendment. Wiki says this about him:
He defended and Native Americans, Seventh-Day Adventists, Mormons, Jews, Chinese, and women. However, the defense of runaway or fugitive slaves gradually began to consume the greatest amount of his time, until the abolition of slavery became his primary political and personal focus. He was actively involved in the Underground Railroad, assisting runaway slaves in getting to Canada. An Underground Railroad site has been discovered under his office in Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Though Stevens’ relationship with his Quadroon housekeeper, Lydia Hamilton, was revealed only at the end of the film, Wiki states their common law marriage was well known in Washington circles, where many people referred to Lydia as Mrs. Stevens.
In the film Stevens, who climbs into bed beside Lydia and hands her the original passed Amendment bill for her to see and read, suggests that she should come to the signing of the bill. She declines saying it would not be right to have his housekeeper attend such an event. It was a poignant moment in the film for me, a demonstration of the sacrifices we make out of our love for another, particularly when our relationships do not fit social convention.
I knew interracial relationships occurred back then as they always have since people of different races and ethnicities ran into each other (some consensual and some not, but I am speaking only of consensual couples in this case, not situations involving rape, violence, and oppression), and I find it interesting that Spielberg and scriptwriter John Logan chose to portray the relationship as secret. If it were truly known openly, it is proof of how complicated race is in our society, then as now. I imagine Spielberg and Logan viewed the relationship as the inspiration to Stevens’ thirty-year-long fight for the abolition of slavery and for race equality in America.
In one scene the congressmen debated whether passage of the 13th Amendment would open the way to giving blacks the right to vote. One congressman warned the others that soon there would be blacks in congress if they were given the vote, and, worse, women would expect to follow!
The movie couldn’t have been released with better timing, given this past vitriolic election and the continued trashing the Republican conservatives are raining down on President Obama. Maybe Spielberg purposely held the film’s release until after the election.  Could he have been that prescient or was he just waiting for the holiday moviegoers?
Certainly all this talk of secession from the Union now that President Obama has been reelected seems to warrant a history lesson. The seven southern states that seceded from the Union prior to the Civil War were not exercising their rights; they were traitors to the country. Their reliance on states rights to uphold the inhumanity and brutality of slavery was an abomination brought about by greed, power, and privilege. We need to acknowledge our history and not glorify the ugly parts of it.
After the movie, back in the car, my husband Ronald, daughter Mackenzie, and I talked about what we had seen. I came away understanding how important it was to get the 13th Amendment passed before the war ended, even without a plan for race integration (which truly did not occur until 100 years later with the Civil Rights Act of 1964). I also understood why the final argument in favor of passage was for legal equality and not race equality. At first I sided with Stevens who wanted to push forward the concept of race equality. But Lincoln counseled Stevens, in a private debate between the two, about the folly of using one’s moral compass to head true north, when the compass has no way of identifying the pitfalls and traps that lie in the path to stop one from completing the journey. He understood they needed to take one step at a time, and eliminating slavery was the first step. In real life Lincoln said of it, “As I would not be a slave, so I would not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy.”
I feel strongly that almost 150 years later, we are still taking steps toward race equality and our journey is not nearly over.
A couple of weeks ago one of the white guys at the golf range handed Ronald a photocopy of a column from his church newsletter. I’ve reprinted most of it below:
Prophetic Prospective
United States citizens, at least those who chose to exercise their franchise to vote this last presidential election, decided to return President Obama to the White House for four more years. This reelection of President Obama has received rave reviews from the European and Middle Eastern political leaders. European leaders who basically embrace the same political philosophy as President Obama see this reelection as an opportunity to advance their political agenda. Arab and Muslim leaders await the Obama administration’s acceptance of the Muslim agenda to move those nations touched by the Arab Spring into the establishment of an Islamic world more in line with Sharia, the Islamic law, as the law of each of their nations.
As Christians, many of us have questions as to how it happened. Mitt Romney lost and Barack Obama won. I am not going to analyze the results, but I do want to remind each of us of the biblical response that we must have as we look into the future…
God instituted human government 4,500 years ago as recorded in Genesis 9:6. God instructs Bible-believing Christians to be obedient to those elected and He reminds all of us that He, God is the One, who puts people in their political positions, Romans 13:1. The Lord reveals in Revelation 17:17 that He will use world leaders to have His will played out in the Last Days. God’s Word also calls for Christians to pray for all those who are in positions of authority – as is our president, Timothy 2:1 – 4.
Let me share several prophetic thoughts with you. Bible prophecy speaks of how the financial structure of this world will be controlled by a world leader, a one world leader, the Antichrist from his headquarters in Babylon, the modern-day state of Iraq…The conflict in the Middle East will also be center stage of the Last Days.
This whole scenario is like reading from prophetic passages of Bible prophecy. Europe and the EU are at least the infrastructure for the revived Roman Empire as foretold in Daniel 2 and 7 when it talks about the ten toes… and the ten horns. An Islamic based government in the 23 Arab states and the Muslim states of the Middle East prepare this region for the future described in Daniel 11, Ezekial 38, and Psalm 83.
God has used human government to fulfill Bible prophecy in the past and He will do so as well in the future. Political leaders will indeed help set the stage for prophetic passages in God’s Word to be fulfilled.
~ A minister from NC
The white guy asked Ronald for a response. Ronald, who knows the Bible better than most Evangelicals, immediately started to parse the column and Biblical references (most of which I left out to save on space and your time, dear readers). Finally the man got frustrated and said, “I didn’t ask you for a sermon!”
“No,” I said to Ronald from my hotel room up in the northeast, as we spoke on the phone, “he didn’t want a sermon. He wanted you to agree with what it said. Doesn’t he get that if he believes God chooses who wins, that God chose Obama?”
Now that I’ve reread it (instead of hearing it over the phone), I see the author is predicting that Obama’s reelection signals the End of Days. Hasn’t every generation thought that certain events were harbingers of the end? The Civil War (and every war) must have made people wonder if the end was near with the loss of over 620,000 soldiers and another 420,000 injured.
Here are a few more letters published this past week in my local paper the Winston-Salem Journal. They, like the article above, also predict the dire consequences of President Obama’s reelection.
Congratulations! Elections certainly do have consequences. Witness the 950 jobs lost from Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center – in my opinion, thanks to Obamacare.
Tighten your seatbelts, because our “tyrant and chief” is just getting started.
~ Peter Wilson
Not This Time
It’s over…but I don’t get it. More than 50 percent of the voters picked the candidate who has been the most divisive president in my lifetime, which has been for almost three quarters of a century.
I have always understood why people have picked one candidate over another, but not this time.  I always felt if my candidate lost, so be it. I could live with the opponent for another four years. But the past four years have been nothing but a failure. Of course, a lot of freebies were handed out.
As you can tell by now, my choice was former Gov. Mitt Romney. Here was an honest, decent, intelligent man who felt it was a privilege to help others, yet he was demonized by the opposition and the press, including this paper, with all sorts of falsehoods.
I’m not the smartest guy in town but would someone explain how this happened? Do we go through another four years of bickering and higher unemployment, dividing the country even more? I hope not. We cannot afford more of this and while I hope I am wrong, I see the middle class disappearing. And while I’m not an overly religious man, I wonder if this is a test from God to see if we as a nation can survive.
I love America and I hope the best years of my country are not in the rearview mirror.
~Art Frauenhofer
How very fortunate America would have been to have Mitt Romney as our leader. His is so experienced, so competent and so honest. Instead, we have returned to the hopelessness, ineptness and deceit of the last four years.
My fellow Americans, it will not be all right. We will suffer; our children will suffer; our grandchildren will suffer. And, yea, the Journal will suffer. But, thank God, Sandra Fluke will get free contraceptives.
~Janice Dooley
The consequence they seem to predict is the end of the White reign in America, the day when a black president is accepted not just for the novelty of being the first black president but because the majority of Americans loves, trusts and respects him and his leadership.
Racism played a role in the election campaign but it did not change the outcome. Yet I can only think that there are people out there who are afraid of the demise of white privilege just as there were people 150 years ago who feared the consequences of freeing the slaves.
I see it quite differently, though. Maybe more like Thaddeus Stevens, I see what America can be after this hard fought election: inclusive, diverse, and celebratory of how this country was built by the contributions of many races, ethnicities, and cultures. I envision a new America that honors equality and fairness, in word and in action. No one is asking for “free gifts” as Romney accused Obama of rewarding to a majority of voters. We just want race and gender equality. That’s not a free gift; it is morally and ethically the right thing to do.
But I have the feeling that a good many white people don’t feel that way, and they are hoping and praying God will intervene and give them back the entitlement and privilege they don’t openly acknowledge. Yet they fight for it and accuse others of wanting it.
One of the white guys at the golf range told Ronald he doesn’t think everyone should be able to vote. He believes that an elite group, unnamed but probably white and wealthy, should be the only Americans eligible to elect our country’s leaders. Ronald wondered, as he related the story to me, if the white guy included himself in the elite group. No doubt.
Lincoln also said, "Whenever I hear anyone arguing for slavery I feel a strong impulse to see it tried on him personally."
Maybe Mitt Romney, Donald Trump, Rush Limbaugh, or the white guys at the golf range would be willing to walk in the shoes of the 47% for a week. I don’t think they would last an hour. So why are they trying to determine our destiny?
Another white guy at the golf range told Ronald a couple of months ago that, all things being equal, the wealthy would still be wealthy and the poor would still be poor. In other words, wealthy people are smarter, more able, and more motivated than poor people who, he said, are too lazy to change their circumstances.
I believe the days of elitism and race advantage are coming to an end.
I’m disappointed that people are using the Bible to spread hatred and bias and that they are unabashed about mixing church and state. It was true in Lincoln’s era, too.  The Bible was used to justify slavery and unequal, brutal treatment under the law and to predict the dire consequences of ending the social order. Such predictions and prophecies render us spiritually, morally, and ethically bankrupt.
Are people afraid of the new multiethnic America? Yes. I know they are. But haven’t we been moving away from Euro-centric culture (many Americans seem opposed to European socialism; I wonder how they define their whiteness) since the first Pilgrims landed on America’s shores, since America opened its arms to immigrants (the Native Americans being the first to allow strangers on their shores)? Haven’t we always had different cultures mixing to create a culture that is singularly and uniquely American? What are we afraid of?
I wrote the following comment on Facebook and attached the political cartoon below it:
When people hate so much they want to secede from the country they claim to love, we need to invite them to the table so we can offer them the chance to talk about it and to show them we love the country as much as they do and we don't plan on going anywhere. I know, they haven't offered that to us, but I think the high road is the better route, even if it takes a little longer.

Lincoln took the high road, even as he questioned his own methods and the power of his office. The country, with the Southern States once again part of the Union, took the high road and enacted the 13th Amendment. As Lincoln counseled Stevens in the film about the virtue of using one’s moral compass to head true north, we have to walk in that direction, but avoid what the compass cannot foretell, the pitfalls and traps that may stand in front of us. Let’s relocate our country’s moral compass, find true north, take the high road, and, avoiding that which can stop us in our tracks, complete the journey to race equality. 

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Fall of the Mighty Whities Part II: The Gift of Visibility

Mitt Romney chalked up his loss to Obama giving gifts to certain people, the 47% he infamously spoke about, effectively buying their votes. These gifts included health care coverage on parents’ plans for individuals up to age 26; amnesty for the children of illegal immigrants who call themselves the Dreamers; partial forgiveness of student loans; and access to contraceptives. It’s nothing that Republicans haven’t been saying all along in one way or another, but Romney quickly found out that his GOP peers distanced themselves as if he were a pariah.
Newt Gingrich said, “I just think it’s nuts. I mean, first of all, it's insulting. The job of a political leader in part is to understand the people. If we can't offer a better future that is believable to more people, we're not going to win.”
Was his statement a revelation or the first step to hoodwinking the populace with a different approach? I don’t consider much of what Gingrich says as even close to the truth, so, of course, I suspect the latter. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t be open to the GOP changing course, but at this moment, it seems unfeasible.
I was traveling for work last week and left my red swing state to arrive in a northeast blue state, so I had some time off from politics other than tuning into MSNBC in the evening back at the hotel. One night Ronald and I watched Chris Matthews together by telephone.
Ronald, on the other hand, continued his daily trek to the golf range where the white guys on the porch also talked about how Obama stole the election. I realize that 49% of America might not be happy with the election results, but, then again, many of us spent 8 years unhappy with President Bush, and there was a good deal more evidence of a stolen election back in 2000 than the skimpy evidence Republicans are holding up as proof today that the 2012 election was stolen from them. I’m finding difficulty in believing that it is something other than racism that is causing the backlash.
One very strange accusation came from Maine GOP Chairman Charlie Webster a week ago. He said, “dozens [and] dozens of Black people [came] in and voted on Election Day. Everybody has a right to vote but nobody in [these] towns knows anyone who's Black. How did that happen? We’re going to find out.” 
He later issued an apology. I guess he was like a social studies teacher I worked with when I student taught in the Syracuse City Schools back in 1978.
“The invisible poor,” she exclaimed in the faculty lunchroom one day. “I’ve never met a poor person. Do they exist?”
Yes, Virginia, they exist, and a lot of them are your students. Not only do poor people exist in America, but also blacks and Hispanics and Asians and Native Americans and mixed race people and gays and lots of others of all races, ethnicities, and socio-economic status. America is not just a country full of wealthy, heterosexual, white people.
Ronald discovered once again that he does not matter the way the white guys, who hang out on the porch at the golf range, matter. They had all taken out pictures of their wives to show one another. Ronald, trying to prove that he is just another American guy despite his dark skin, wandered over to the CRV to dig into his man bag for a photo of me.
A black guy, someone Ronald has spoken to on prior occasions at the golf range, stood next to his car loading his clubs into the trunk. Ronald showed him my photo and said he was going to show it to the white guys on the porch.
“You do realize where we live,” the other black guy counseled. “It’s not accepted down here.” (Note for new readers of my blog – I’m white and Ronald is black.)
“I know where I live,” Ronald said. “That’s why I’m showing it to them.”
He stepped back up on the porch and displayed the photo, taken at work for my ID card a few years ago. Two white guys stood up and left without so much as an acknowledgment. Another said, “I’ve seen that photo already.”
True, he had. Ronald had shown it to him and a couple of the other white guys on the porch before.
“You also met my wife,” he reminded him. The white guy and his white wife were dining one evening as we entered the restaurant and were seated at the booth directly behind them. Introductions were made, and, when they finished dining, they stopped at our table for another ten minutes of small talk.
“I don’t recall that,” the white guy said. Ah, the invisible interracial couple!
Sunday night Ronald, our daughter Mackenzie, and I went out for pizza and wings at our favorite pizza shop (okay, the ONLY pizza shop we patronize down here). The young white woman, who usually works behind the counter and who always hands Ronald’s debit card back to me, was off that night. The white guy behind the counter was friendly, called Ronald “boss,” and even gave us a discount card because he knows we eat there a couple of times a month.
One of the white guys from the golf range was sitting at the counter behind us waiting for his order to be completed. Ronald turned to acknowledge him but the white guy dropped his head. He later walked by our table to go to the men’s restroom, and he dropped his head then, too. Ronald had spoken to him often over the course of three years. They had shared bowling plaques and awards they had each won, like Ronald’s 299 ring, and they had spoken about golf.
Ronald told the white owner of the golf range about being ignored by the white guy when he went Monday to hit balls.
“Well, he probably didn’t recognize you out of context,” the white golf range owner told him.
“Why not? He’s seen me for over three years, and we’ve had lengthy conversations. I recognized him,” Ronald said.
“But he’s never really looked at you,” I told Ronald when he related his conversation with the white golf range owner.
The invisible black guy!
So I agree with Romney on a certain level that Obama gave us gifts. He gave us the gift of acknowledgement, the gift of mattering, and the gift of visibility. We are not invisible. We exist. Some people just don’t see us.
Ronald and Dianne in 1976

Friday, November 9, 2012

Fall of the Mighty Whities

I heard the thunderous boom of the political right crashing down on Tuesday evening. The Leviathans of conservatism, arrogant with self-entitlement and the privilege that comes with power and money, toppled like the Atlantic City Boardwalk during Hurricane Sandy.
Some conservatives, many of whom confidently counseled that Obama’s 2008 win was an anomaly, thought they had catastrophically lost the country. Others worried aloud that they had lost their majority status of power and entitlement. Karl Rove demanded that TV stations, including conservative Fox News, recant the prediction that Obama had won Ohio, thus winning the election. Donald Trump called for a revolution, one quite different from the one I called for in my last post You Say You Want a Revolution. The next morning Rush Limbaugh opined, “In a country of children where the option is Santa Claus or work, what wins?”
I can only wonder if the wealthy campaign backers, the ones Romney courted in his infamous 47% speech that was secretly recorded by wait staff, are suffering buyer’s remorse.
I want to think the Republicans learned something from the election, but I’m more inclined to think they didn’t, especially because of the manner in which they took their losses. I can still hope though.
Maybe I can help them through this apparently dire tragedy. This is what I think they can learn:
1)   It’s not about power; it’s about empowerment.
2)   It’s not about who has the most money; it’s about who has the most heart.
3)   It’s not about white superiority; it’s about the equality of our diversity.
4)   It’s not about tokenism; it’s about open acceptance and seats at the table.
5)   It’s not about being king of the hill; it’s about moving mountains to level the playing field.
6)   It’s not about legislating Christian dogma; it’s about respecting religious freedom.
7)   It’s not about paternalism; it’s about what we can learn from one another.
8)   It’s not about staying the same; it’s about evolving into something better.
9)   It’s not about exclusion; it’s about inclusion.
10)   It’s not about race; it’s about the content of one’s character.
11)     It’s not about gender restrictions; it’s about gender parity.
12)     It’s not about abortion; it’s about educated, safe, and accessible reproductive health options.
13)     It’s not about entitlement; it’s about lifting the quality of life for all Americans.
14)     It’s not about denying history; it’s about reconciling our future.
15)     It’s not about hatred; it’s about the noisy and riotous negotiation to consensus.
16)    It’s not about lying to gain the edge; it’s about embracing the truth of our changing country.
17)     It’s not about extremism; it’s about understanding the centrality of the greater good.
18)     It’s not about the right or the left; it’s about the full continuum of conviction.
19)     It’s not about the 47%; it’s about the 100%.
20)     It’s not about the end of the world as you know it, or, as Ronald heard today, an “Obamanation;” it’s about the roar of a united voice in America.
Out of the ashes rises the Phoenix, and you, my dear Republicans, can share in the rebirth of America as a country that embraces its diversity and cares about all of its citizens. We will not exclude you, nor will we be punitive toward you. We welcome you to the new America.

Monday, November 5, 2012

You Say You Want a Revolution

You say you want a revolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
You tell me that it's evolution
Well, you know
We all want to change the world
But when you talk about destruction
Don't you know that you can count me out
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right

You say you got a real solution
Well, you know
We'd all love to see the plan
You ask me for a contribution
Well, you know
We're doing what we can
But when you want money
for people with minds that hate
All I can tell is brother you have to wait
Don't you know it's gonna be all right
all right, all right
~ Revolution by the Beatles, 1968

Mackenzie, who is staying with us while transitioning to a new city, is working as a server while she is here. She needs to work a job that offers flexibility for when she is performing as a dancer and aerialist. She has seven years of experience in upscale New York City restaurants, where a good proportion of wait staff are performers, and both restaurants she contacted down here quickly offered her a job. She chose the one that is closest to us.
Last Saturday night she worked the dinner shift and, generally, at least in NYC, Saturday night dinner shifts reap good tips. She had a table of seven, the tab was over $150, and she thought the customers enjoyed their dining experience. She received a one-dollar tip.  Her base pay is under three dollars per hour. Added together, that’s not even close to being a living wage. Yet the restaurant general manager admonished her for not buying the uniform they’d decided they wanted their servers to wear a week ago. This, after she had already purchased a shirt to their specifications (a shirt that looks exactly like the shirt they decided upon and was actually more expensive) and had been wearing it for the two months she’s worked there.
She said, “I didn’t make any money. How do you think I’m going to pay for the shirt?”
Some of her colleagues commute forty minutes each way, and they can barely afford to fill their gas tanks, let alone buy shirts, and pay rent and utilities. Yet they are expected to give service with a smile.
Low wages are common here in this right-to-work state. So are jobs that don’t offer benefits such as health insurance. There is another reason restaurants on the whole are lacking business and tips are often less than the standard 15 – 20 percent. It is because many people are still suffering economically, and though things are getting better slowly, we could suffer major setbacks if Romney wins the election.
About half of America will disagree with that statement.
Low wages are becoming a trend everywhere in our country, though. Manufacturing jobs, the path to a middle class living in the 1950s through 1970s, have been replaced with low paying service jobs. Even for the few manufacturing jobs left in America, most are paying lower wages after chasing out the unions. I know my own company moved manufacturing out of the Northeast in order to close out the union and operate more cheaply overseas or in right-to-work states.
Executives are making more than ever and creating a class of super rich individuals. Mitt Romney supports them in continuing to make super salaries and receiving super perks, because he believes their wealth will “trickle down” to the rest of us. I don’t believe it. I haven’t seen it.
Some people are talking about a revolution to take back America, but when Ronald and I talk about it, we often say, “It won’t be the revolution people think it’s going to be.”
The reason we say that is because we need to come together, not push apart, and this election cycle is proving just how far apart we are. It isn’t the average American, you and me, who we need to rise up against. It’s all of us, the 99%, who need to rise up against the 1%.
“It’s not the haves versus the have-nots, it’s the have-it-alls versus the rest of Americans,” says Jacob Hacker, co-author of Winner Takes All: How Washington Made the Rich Richer and Turned Its Back on the Middle Class.
He and his co-author Paul Pierson talked with Bill Moyers in January 2012 about the premise of their book. Their research has led them to the conclusion that in the last thirty years politics has changed our economy through organized combat funded by the super rich. On issue after issue our politicians cater to the rich and ignore the rest of America.
As I watched the interview a few days ago, I realized that this election clearly illustrates their premise.
As mentioned in an earlier post We Built This, the economy of the 1950s was good for everyone. There was better income distribution, and though the wealthy continued to get wealthy, everyone else was doing well, too. A rising tide lifts all boats, as Pierson and Hacker reminded me during the interview.  Further, they said middle class Americans had a voice through Labor unions, civic organizations, and the government.
After the 1960s the gap in wealth distribution grew as a result of failed domestic policies. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that almost all Americans, the 99%, lose in a shift where rewards are concentrated on a small segment of the society. Lobbying and big money fueled the disparity by getting directly involved in government. This election highlights the disparity. The Koch brothers and other billionaires have funded tens of millions of dollars to support the Romney/Ryan ticket.
Pierson said, “There has been a thirty-year war in which the sound of the voice of ordinary Americans is quieter and quieter in American politics and the voice of business and the wealthy has been louder and louder.”
I’m scared about Tuesday’s outcome. Can money really buy an election? I believe so. Can tapping into people’s fears and prejudices sway votes? I believe so. Can voter suppression work its insidious magic? It worked in 2000.
I suppose many feel that President Obama is part of the machine but I can’t help but believe he has compromised where he needed to in order to move his initiatives forward, like the Affordable Health Care Act which resembles Mitt Romney’s Massachusetts plan rather than the single-payer plan he originally envisioned. He believes our greatest recovery is in building out from the middle, as in the middle class, as opposed to the GOP trickle down theory.
The closest we came to a revolution in recent years was in 2008 when Obama’s grassroots fundraising helped him win the election. Hatred and fear were running high, and racism had an obvious impact, but he still won.
A little over a year ago the 99% tried to create a revolution, but I think they lacked organization and an agenda. Maybe they had the right idea, but implementation was haphazard at best. Camping out on Wall Street might have sent a message, but it didn’t have any teeth behind it and no way to make change happen.
This time around, unlike in 2008 when I wasn’t using social media, I receive about five emails a day from various liberal groups such as Emily’s List and MoveOn.org that give information and plead for donations. They worked.  I donated often, and I have high hopes for another win for President Obama despite a nagging uneasiness.
But the GOP is organized as well, and I get several phone calls and mailings a week from organizations such as the American Family Association and the National Organization for Marriage. They are trying to jump on the coattails of the super rich to force social issues changes that will impact the civil rights of some Americans.
I worry that people are concentrating on the wrong issues when we argue over a woman’s reproductive rights or the rights of two consenting people to have a legal union that protects them as a couple. When life seems overwhelming, people seek to control what they can.
In this right-to-work, religious, and swing state North Carolina, people’s words and deeds have frightened me. They use strong language in describing how white people feel disenfranchised by minorities  (racial, ethnic, and gender minorities) and how they will fight, violently so if need be, to retain their position of racial majority and the privilege that goes with it. It is their version of a revolution.
I don’t want to see people fight over the single piece of pie that is left to the rest of us after the super rich have taken their share. There is more than enough pie for all to have a hearty slice. A rising tide lifts all boats. So when we all do better, businesses will see more business, and people like Mackenzie will make decent tips because the people they are serving will have more to spend. But we need to do it peacefully, in collaboration and in consensus.
Jacob Hacker said the following during the interview:
“When citizens are organized and when they press their claims forcefully, and there are reformist leaders within government and outside it who work on [citizens’] behalf then we do see reform. This is the story of the American democratic experiment of wave after wave of reform leading to a much broader franchise and a much broader understanding of the American idea.”
I agree. We need to start a revolution.
Martin Luther King once led a revolution for civil rights and racial justice for all Americans. He said this in his commencement address at Oberlin College in June 1965:
“Now there is another problem facing us that we must deal with if we are to remain awake through a social revolution. We must get rid of violence, hatred, and war. Anyone who feels that the problems of mankind can be solved through violence is sleeping through a revolution. I've said this over and over again, and I believe it more than ever today. We know about violence. It's been the inseparable twin of Western materialism, the hallmark of its grandeur. I am convinced that violence ends up creating many more social problems than it solves. This is why I say to my people that if we succumb to the temptation of using violence in our struggle, unborn generations will be the recipients of a long and desolate night of bitterness. There is another way - a way as old as the insights of Jesus of Nazareth and as modern as the techniques of Mohandas K. Gandhi. For it is possible to stand up against an unjust system with all of your might, with all of your body, with all of your soul, and yet not stoop to hatred and violence. Something about this approach disarms the opponent. It exposes his moral defenses, weakens his morale, and at the same time, works on his conscience. He doesn't know how to handle it. So it is my great hope that, as we struggle for racial justice, we will follow that philosophy and method of non-violent resistance, realizing that this is the approach that can bring about that better day of racial justice for everyone.”
Here is a photo of Civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. sitting in a jail cell at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, AL (Bettmann/CORBIS).

I feel much the same way Hacker did at the end of his interview with Bill Moyers. He said, “The optimistic message is that politics got us into this mess and, potentially, politics can get us out of it.”

The Beatles ended their song Revolution with the following stanzas:
You say you'll change the constitution
Well you know
We all want to change your head
You tell me it's the institution
Well you know
You better free your mind instead
But if you go carrying pictures of Chairman Mao
You ain't going to make it with anyone anyhow

Don't you know know it's gonna be alright
Alright, alright
Vote. Make your voice loud and let it be heard. Start the revolution.