By Nancy Churchill
A Progressive Visionary
Every now and then, a phrase comes along that cuts through all the bitter conflict, the hostility, the intoleration — an essential principle so bombastic, so profound, so universally true that it just bowls you over and brings you to tears.
In 1968, the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. recounted how he’d promised his children to do everything he could to get them good educations, the kind millions of children would miss out on. “I don’t want you feeling you are better than they are,” he cautioned them. “For you will never be what you ought to be until they are what they ought to be.”
That was just such a phrase for me, a precept that’s been missing from the dialogue.
“BREAKING NEWS:” reads the e-mail. “The NY Times says Koch Attacks Boost Republican Chances to Seize Senate!
“ALARMING: The Kochs just funneled at least $1.8 million into three more deadlocked battlegrounds … [spending] a whopping $20 million since August, and their ‘unusually aggressive early run of television ads … has largely gone unanswered.’
“To fight back, we need to raise $120,000 for our Koch Rapid Response Fund in the next 72 hours. Will you help us today?”
There, you find that more than $6 billion was spent in 2012, the most expensive election on record. Outside groups spent more than $1 billion, and a quarter of that came from secret “dark money” sources. “Super PACs” spent more than twice what the parties did, and “91 extremely wealthy individuals contributed over 60.5 percent of all spending.”
And my measly $25 can fight this?
“[T]hanks to Citizens United,” the site continues, “American democracy is on fire sale to the highest bidder … [that] can only go on as long as the Constitution honors the [legal fiction] that corporations are people.”
How can we direct our efforts to help the least among us when only the rich control our elections? They “score” legislative votes, threatening to “primary” legislators who might be tempted to stray from the corporate agenda and vote his or her conscience. Far from government by consent of the governed, this is government by obstruction and retaliation, and only We the People can save it.
A rebellion in New Hampshire (https://www.facebook.com/nhrebellion) aims to “ensure that all presidential candidates talk about the issue of corruption wherever they go.” You don’t have to be from New Hampshire to join the spirit of that campaign, to “score” legislators — every candidate in every race in every place — by demanding to know, “How are you going to end corruption in Washington?”
We must …
• End the corporate assault on democracy by reversing Citizens United (http://freespeechforpeople.org/McGovern);
• Insist they pass the American Anti-Corruption Act (https://represent.us/); and
• Counter false, corporate-friendly, “unusually aggressive television ads” by turning the tables and voting for the candidate dedicated to ending corruption.
“For we will never be all we ought to be until they are all they ought to be!”
Nancy Churchill was raised in the D.R.C. (Congo), raced stock cars on short dirt tracks for 25 years, and is a proud, lifelong member of “We, the People.” She lives in Oregon, Ill.
From the Feb. 5-11, 2014, issue