God Bless The Occupiers, And May The Church Listen

It’s so clear that the GOP/Tea Party “grassroots” is devious and dangerous, and thank God the last month has brought about a true groundswell of dissent — dissent that speaks for the marginalized and refutes the pernicious cynicism of the Right.

Where were these “deficit hawks” during the eight-year orgy of waste and spending that was the Bush administration — an administration that inherited a surplus and bequeathed to the nation, and its Presidential successor, unprecedented debt? They only came out when Barack Obama came into office. I find that telling, and you should as well.

The evil of the Iraq war and the wrong-headed military approach in Afghanistan, which drained funds for social services and infrastructure maintenance, were funded on the backs of the poor and middle class — while the rich enjoyed enormous tax cuts unfathomable in time of war. Those tax cuts remain; the richest Americans currently pay taxes at Eisenhower-era levels that serve as a complement to government favor bestowed on them and their corporations. The rich have lobbyists; winning their tax cuts from their pals in the Bush White House and Congress was a breeze.

Meanwhile, those of us who aren’t making a quarter-million a year or more shoulder the burden, and those jobs that pay us wages that, adjusted for inflation, are no greater — and sometimes less than — 70s-era workers’ pay. Housing is often out of the reach of the middle class, and so are college educations for their kids. Retirement investments are trapped in a turbulent economy, their kids’ schools are being stripped to a bare-bones shell of “the basics,” and jobs are drying up, or changing shape to temp, consulting, or contract work that don’t come with benefits. The United States has, undeniably, the most advanced medical system in the world — but all of the technological possibilities in the world mean nothing if its country’s poor and middle class can’t even access it. And very often, they can’t, and so people die from diseases that likely could have been successfully treated if access were available. It isn’t.

The rich have lobbyists; winning their tax cuts from their pals in the Bush White House and Congress was as easy as cajoling candy from a rich uncle. The Democratic Party, which should honor its legacy of being the voice of the disenfranchised, has gone impotent, and organizations that have long championed the cause of the poor and middle class, the disenfranchised and marginalized — the NAACP, the Childrens’ Defense Fund, Common Cause, and other public interest groups have been demonized by a right-tumbling media and left disabled by shrinking donations from those they seek to help.

Most tragically, the Church has deserted the poor and hopped into a bed softened by the cushy pillows and sweet, soft sheets of “ministry to family,” “pro-Americanism,” “anti-immigration,” “family values,” and other relatively safe topics that please the Pharisees of culture and heap disdain on the poor. You can slap “Jesus” or “Christian” on something, but it doesn’t make it Christlike.

Speaking out for “the least of these” isn’t popular and isn’t profitable, and the toxic rhetoric of the day has even those whose welfare is the focus of an organization’s efforts questioning if they really are, after all, “un-American,” or “pro-death,” or “criminal,” or otherwise nefarious and suspicious. So people, fed on a diet of lies, suspicions, and pandering to their fears and dislikes, flock to things like the Tea Party, hoping to be heard. They’re heard, certainly, and the chorus they raise is pleasing to the very people whose policies and practices harm those in the ragged, misinformed, and angry choir. It’s a desperate and pitiable song, but it pleases those in power. That must look a lot like support and succor to the throng.

So who speaks for the poor these days?

The Occupiers, the 99 Percenters, and those protesters and demonstrators who don’t believe the lies of the GOP, refused to be co-opted by the media, and realize that the string-pullers of the Tea Party have precious little interest in actually crafting policies that would help them. They’ve seen the whoring and the seduction, and in my mind, the tremendous majority of them are the movement from the Left-Center this nation has needed for decades. God bless them and keep them from the cops who’ve been told to find them dangerous. They’re largely on the side of truth, and truth is, indeed, a very dangerous proposition. May the roots and foundations of un-Godly power structures begin to crumble under the voice of the Occupiers.

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