An acquaintance told me last year that Rachel Maddow spends too much time talking about abortion rights and social issues (lady parts and gay stuff) - he told me that it would behoove those on the left to talk more about economic issues and the broader burdens of our nation. Longtime readers of this blog, and people who know me probably know that the conversation turned rather heated. It ended with a filibuster from this acquaintance and the proverbial 'we'll have to agree to disagree'.
That conversation comes back to me often. When I hear about states taking away voter rights, women losing the right to choose and the topic that is at the tip of everyones tongue these past few weeks, marriage equality I think about that conversation.
It came back to me again when I read this opinion piece
, in particular - the beginning comments and the last comments.
Oligarchy Exists Inside Our Democracy
By Ed Walker, who writes regularly for Firedoglake as masaccio
Suddenly it looks like we are seeing political victories for progressives, on LGBT rights, on issues important to Hispanics, even occasionally on issues important to women. At the same time, we lose every single battle over economic issues. (snip)
The primary impact of this leverage in the hands of the minority is on economic issues. The oligarchy is just as divided as the rest of the population on social issues, like immigration, LGBT rights, women’s issues and similar non-financial matters. It turns out that, for example, some of the oligarchs have family or friends or are themselves LGBT. Their interests in wars and other kinds of issues are also divided. Because of that, democracy could theoretically work on those issues. It’s only those economic issues where the rich are on the same team, and they always win those battles.
And that’s exactly how things are working out. On matters of direct interest to the oligarchy, they win. You can have your silly laws about marriage or abortion as long as they get their way on money. It’s a lousy bargain, and it doesn’t have to be that way.
In reading this column, the author - just as my acquaintance - did is separating social/civil rights issues from economic ones. That isn't the *oligarchy* doing this, it is people on the left -- progressives. While there is much to be said about oligarchy in this country, we would behoove ourselves not to be our own enemies.
We don't need to blame the oligarchy when we have people on the left that are actually engaging in conquer and divide.They may not realize it, but it is exactly what they are doing. If we allow the left to define everything in economic terms versus
social/civil rights-- as opposed to social/civil rights AND
economic terms, together as one idea, we become more and more like our friend of the other aisle. To take it one step further, separating social issues from economic ones pushes us further and further into Neoliberalism
-- some progressives (such as the author of the piece above) may not be aware of. If the desire to force the focus on economic issues (social security as one example) as separate from things like LGBT rights, women's rights, Immigration rights -- well, we are doing the work of the right and helping them carry out their agenda.
We lose when we stop seeing that equality and human rights ARE about economic issues. One cannot exist without the other, and to diminish that thought is literally doing the work of the oligarchs.
Suddenly it looks like we are seeing political victories for progressives, on LGBT rights, on issues important to Hispanics, even occasionally on issues important to women. At the same time, we lose every single battle over economic issues.
It appears that to whine about oligarchs is easier than to realize that there is no sudden here. People have been denied equality for a long time in this nation. LGBTers don't have equal access to social security STILL. There are 1138 things they don't have that straight people have. You'll have to forgive me, but to whine about this oligarchy when we have brothers and sisters still looking for equality seems counter-productive to the progressive movement. Seneca Falls, Selma and Stonewall were about money just as much as equality. When people have the same rights as white men have always had in our nation, then we have more economic equality. Women at one time were not permitted to own property-- and as thus they were married into families for financial security (anyone remember something called a dowry
?) . Our equality wasn't just about being able to vote, it was about being able to be financially independent. It was about being able to choose who we fell in love with and how we could educate ourselves. The same can be said about the abolition movement and later the the 1960's civil rights movement. Brown V Board of education and Loving V Virginia are just two cases that come to mind. Today we see it with the marriage equality and gay rights. Here in this nation, in the year 2013, a person can still be fired for simply being gay. If that isn't a social economic issue, I don't know what is.
We will always lose as long as we are lead to believe that economic issues such as social security are separate from social/civil rights issues such as LGBT equality. It's precisely what Neoliberalism and the 'oligarchs' want. Let's stop doing their work for them. Don't believe me
In fact, the scientists studying climate change and activists on the issue can explain the many ways that slowing the rise of the oceans WILL in fact help all of our families. To me, that moment highlights one of many ways that the GOP in 2012 is trying to talk about the economy and families while simultaneously promoting social policies that harm both.
Both New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell (he of the mandated transvaginal ultrasound) this year have insisted that attention being paid to social issues (read: abortion, contraception, gay marriage) are distractions from talking about economic issues.
We have a lot of economic problems in this country, there is no question about this. We will always lose when the left does exactly what the oligarchs want.
Equality/civil rights is an economic issue; it can't be separated or else it will all fall apart. When it falls apart, we go backwards -- further into oligarchy. That is just what the GOP wants.