From Wisconsin to Arizona: an Assault on American Freedom

If conservatives succeed in cutting government by the people for the public good, our lives will still be governed, but now by corporations. We will have government by corporations for corporate profit. It will not be a kind government. It will be a cruel government, a government of foreclosures, outsourcing, union busting, outrageous payments for every little thing, and pension eliminations. -Professor George Lakoff, Untellable Truths.

The basis of American democracy has always been empathy.  Whenever people in this country have prioritized taking care of each other, it has given rise to an ethics of excellence.  This demand for excellence permeates people’s expectations of their government, helping them to rise above difficult times by ensuring that their collective priorities revolve around protecting and advancing their access to opportunity and properity.  Suppress that very important value of empathy to take care of one another and our democracy runs into the danger of crumbling down, stifling our freedom to pursue success.       

That’s what’s been at stake in Wisconsin, with all the firefighters, policemen, teachers, students, and others that are deeply concerned that their freedom to pull and band together (or as it is more commonly known, “to collectively bargain“) will be taken away by Governor Scott Walker, under the pretenses of  “cutting deficits” when in reality it’s throwing the entire state head first into a sort of shock doctrine, or as Professor Lakoff put it in his post What Conservatives Really Want:

Budget deficits are a ruse, as we’ve seen in Wisconsin, where the governor turned a surplus into a deficit by providing corporate tax breaks, and then used the deficit as a ploy to break the unions, not just in Wisconsin, but seeking to be the first domino in a nationwide conservative movement.

It’s worth noting that such type of assault on our freedom to pursue a better life is not unique to Wisconsin.  Democracy can be a messy thing and can sometimes get in the way of profit and greed.  For this reason, our politicians often do the bidding of corporate interests as exemplified by Governor Walker to keep democracy out of the way:

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This web of corporatist influence spans the globe and touches almost every single aspect of our lives, resulting in cycles of oppression and cruelty for the human race.  As previously reported on this site, an underlying common thread in the recent Egyptian and Tunisian social crises was the unregulated out-of-control food pricing that was significantly a result of Wall Street greed.  Additionally, corporatist trade agreements like NAFTA have been compounding on the situation, suppressing not only American workers’ wages, but also Mexican workers’ wages, resulting in massive increases in immigrants crossing the border into the U.S. to try to pull their families out of oppressive poverty. 

Once here, immigrants are discriminated against, used up, and thrown away when their usefulness runs out, without hardly ever being thanked for their positive contributions to our country.  Just take a look at what just happened in Arizona: not satisfied enought with their neo-nazi SB 1070 law, conservative Senators in that state’s legislature are now moving towards denying children of immigrants access to K-12 public schools.  If you thought that was enough callousness, well, that’s not all they’re up to: those senators are also now poised to take a vote on doing major cuts on that state’s version of medicaid, thereby turning their backs on their own people by denying them much needed care. 

In this race to the bottom, just what is our country turning into?  When we turn against our fellow brother and sister with such cruelty not only are we betraying the soul of our democracy but we are killing our freedoms in the name of corporate greed.  In this tragic state of affairs, one can’t help but ask “is there hope?”  According to Mr. Lakoff, there is, and it is unraveling right in front of us in Wisconsin:

Is there hope?

I see it in Wisconsin, where tens of thousands citizens see through the conservative frames and are willing to flood the streets of their capital to stand up for their rights. They understand that democracy is about citizens uniting to take care of each other, about social responsibility as well as individual responsibility, and about work — not just for your own profit, but to help create a civilized society. They appreciate their teachers, nurses, firemen, police, and other public servants. They are flooding the streets to demand real democracy — the democracy of caring, of social responsibility, and of excellence, where prosperity is to be shared by those who work and those who serve.

It is often said that “illegal immigration” suppresses wages.  Well, unions help boost wages and our standard of living, not only for whites, but for people of color.  Need I say more?