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The Only Thing to Fear….

The Only Thing to Fear….
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BY DON PORTOLESE

Many in this country are clearly afraid. We can hear it this election louder than ever before. Big changes are before us, and many people do not understand these changes well enough to cope with them appropriately. As conservative politicians and pundits stoke people’s fears rather than lead us to possible solutions, we are fed the biggest myth of all: That we can somehow dial ourselves back to a simpler time. A time when white, Christian values and manufacturing jobs were at the very core of our social fabric. That is not only impossible but downright delusional.

One of the greatest fears conservatives have is the current demographic shift in this country. Waves of non-European immigrants are literally changing the face of the U. S. White Protestants and their values held sway over most aspects of American life while this country was coming up in the world. However, these same values no longer apply to modern-day America. Rather than embracing these changes, conservatives have decided to cling to this antiquated view of our country and whine that their way of life is under attack. Their fears are very real (to them, anyway.) However, many of them are neither realistic nor productive.

These changes are not only ethnic in nature. Conservatives are losing ground to younger generations who are becoming more tolerant of “alternative” lifestyles. A Gallup Poll in 2014 shows that 55 percent of participants approved of same sex marriage. That percentage increases to 73 percent when asking whether people approve of equal rights for LGBT people. People have also taken a different approach to marijuana and other drug laws as well as how drug addicts and other criminals are treated in our society.

This tolerance of the LGBT community and same-sex marriage. This understanding of drugs and crime as diseases rather than purely criminal activities is growing as we grow more tolerant. We still have a lot of work to do regarding race in this country. However, if we truly want to work toward a more inclusive society, who can we trust to look out for people who are not white, republicans or democrats? The conservatives’ Frankenstein monster-cum-republican nominee is answer enough.

Despite all of the republican subterfuge, people are beginning to understand that the biggest and most dangerous divisions in our society are economic. Conservative news media exploit darker divisions in order to keep their followers so cross-eyed with anger that they fail to see things for what they are. By blaming our problems on immigrants and minorities, conservative politicians deflect responsibility for running roughshod over the interests of those that elected them. But, hell, they can sure whip them into a frenzy at republican rallies.

An even greater fear involves the loss of manufacturing jobs. As conservatives have consistently voted in favor of relaxing regulations on large businesses, corporate America has been given carte-blanche to maximize profits by shipping their manufacturing overseas. Relaxed banking and financial regulations allowed them to move their headquarters out of the country and pay little to no taxes. While a good deal of this began under Bill Clinton, there is no denying that conservatives have been championing it all along. In this, they are also trampling on the wishes of their own constituents.

Although one of the major issues for republican voters is to stop offshoring jobs, GOP politicians recently filibustered a proposal by democrats to stop tax breaks for companies that do so. What’s worse was the conservative reaction when people called them out on it. Tom Donahue, President of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, had this to say, “People who lose their jobs to outsourcing, should stop whining…” While attack ads funded by the Chamber of Commerce (and more dubious sources) have put the blame on democrats, job loss in the manufacturing sector is clearly a result of the republicans’ unabashed support for outsourcing jobs to other countries. The GOP nominee blames job loss on poorly negotiated trade deals. How can we negotiate better trade deals when conservative politicians (who should be playing on the side of workers and their families) are clearly representing the interests of large corporations who offshore jobs?

This brazen disregard for voters has sown the seeds of disquiet in our country. People are justifiably angry with establishment politicians. Unfortunately, most republicans are so whipped up into a lather that they can’t see who is screwing them. What the GOP nominee has given some is an angry voice to mask their fears. They can now hide behind a mob-mentality bravado and blame everyone that is different for the problems with our system. With little understanding of how our economy and political processes work, they can ignore the facts and blame Obama and his progressive agenda for all that ails us. They reside in a bubble of media-doctored inaccuracies that prevent them from seeing who is truly looking out for their interests. They also fail to see that some of the changes we face are inevitable and that fighting them is simply a no win situation.

Yes, we need to bring jobs and tax revenues back to this country. But the “bottom line” of business is not going to bring them back. What we need now is a properly functioning democracy with everyone’s interests rather than lobby interests at the heart of its agenda. We can’t say that government is incapable of solving the problems we face while we continually starve it of the proper legitimacy and funding to truly even the playing field for all Americans. We can’t continue to believe that tax breaks for the rich and trickle-down economics are going to be the economic engines of tomorrow. Democrats may not have everything right, but they are much more braced for the changes we need to make than their republican opponents.

We really have only one direction in which to move: Forward. We need to take stock of our past, embrace these new challenges and see to it that none of us that wants to continue on this journey is left behind. We have to train those who have the desire to learn, so they can participate in this changing economy. We must invest in places hardest hit by economic upheaval, so that the promise of tomorrow is no longer overshadowed by the job losses of today. We must invest in infrastructure to build the country of tomorrow and bring more jobs to people who need them now.

Let’s face it, our society is going through some major growing pains. The ground is being pulled out from under us by forces that we barely understand. Technological advances (and, yes, some poorly negotiated trade deals) have shifted the labor landscape. We have to make major changes in our educational institutions in order to cope with an increasing demand for high tech jobs. We need to retrain millions of workers to meet the demands of today, not yesterday.

How can anyone say that republicans are equipped to lead us into the future when their fear of change has them so tenaciously clinging to the past?

 

 

 

 

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