Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Breaking The Chains That Bind

As we watch events unfold around the world today, celebrating the forty-fifth anniversary of Earth Day, we have to admit that we understand the feeling so many environmentalists often express: That our politics and media in the United States are too often chained down, with no significant hope visible, and no positive change likely in the foreseeable future.

Right now, in America though - especially in the fields of politics and media - this is not one of those times.

The current media landscape, across the board, is really nearing a tipping point of serious change. Ken Vogel & Mackenzie Weigner of Politico, as well as our friend Rick Ungar of Forbes, both pointed out last Friday that those who privately subsidize right-wing media - from Rush Limbaugh all the way to Fox 'News' - are beginning to make one thing clear: The days of millions of dollars of money for next-to-no-return at the ballot box will likely soon be coming to an end.

That certainly won't mean an end to right-wing hate media. There has always been an audience, however small, for the kinds of divisive political hate media that fills the airwaves today. If the political left has one lesson in business for the political right that its learned over the past decade, it's that when talented, motivated people are given even small opportunities to capitalize on a small audience, they can still be successful - or at least pay the bills.

Of course, Americans all over the country would be able to pay their bills better if our country's "minimum wage" was really a living wage - and not a way to keep people chained to their current economic status. Raising the federal minimum wage to a living wage is a concept the majority of Americans support - and it would certainly break those chains. With right wing hate-media collapsing, maybe there's finally a chance for those of us who exist in the political center to finally push through legislation supporting what the true majority of Americans want.

Sadly, though, we have a feeling that such a movement may take longer than usual reaching into some corners of America. Oklahoma for example, where the Governor recently chained minimum wage workers to a below poverty pay level, effectively declaring with a sneer, an ideological war against the working poor.

In case you missed it, Republican Governor Mary Fallin signed a law last week banning any city in Oklahoma from passing its own higher-than-state-level minimum wage. The new law also banned any city from enacting its own laws about paid sick days or vacation requirements.

If the tea party nuts on the far right truly believed the anti-big government slogans their extremist right-wing media pushes them to chant, you might expect there to be rallies against this kind of state government overreach. After all - nearly 75% of Americans support a higher minimum wage.

That support doesn't just come from the political left and center either.

This past week, a group of local Christian pastors in Florida stood up against the kind of dismissive and disgusting hatred of the poor that's pushed so often in the right-wing hate media. This occurred after a Republican member of the U.S. house sneered in a dismissive way towards one of his own minimum wage earning constituents at a public town hall meeting.

Indeed, on issues from the minimum wage, to universal background checks, to getting money out of politics, the overwhelming majority of Americans from the progressive center left through the moderate center right agree.

That same majority of Americans also seem to be coming to a realization: That as long as we stay exclusively in our own ideological camps, and refuse to work together, the oligarchs - the richest Americans, who consider themselves above both the left and the right - will use our divisions to keep us all chained down like slaves.

If right-wing hate media truly does begin to fail, as it seems set to do, maybe the moderates on the right really could join together with progressives on the left to make a moderate amount of progress for us all.

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