As everybody knows, our GOP-dominated Congress is deep into a full scale “sabotage America” campaign. Everything is under massive attack, from our negotiations with Iran to the perfectly legal way Social Security Disability Insurance has always been funded. (More info here in 1. below.) Their full scale demolition derby could dismantle almost everything about America as we know it. They are even willing to see the climate disruption radically drying out our American west go unchecked. I’m not going to go into any more detail here—you already know it all of that. The real question is what can we do now, while we wait impatiently for 2016?
Although I sometimes start with a positive framing suggestion, in this case we have to call a spade a spade first. That’s why the title of this piece includes the phrase “sabotage America.” But it’s not just the GOP Congress that is acting out so badly. Some important parts of the media have jumped on board—among others, 60 Minutes repeating lies about Social Security and disabled recipients of SSDI all being cheats and malingerers. (See note 2. for others.) Recent history suggests that the media can be turned around more easily than right wing congress members by skillful, massive social media push back. Stopping their PR machine is vital. So that looks like the place to start. Ask these mainstream media venues why they are jumping on the right wing “sabotage America” bandwagon, and warn them to stop it right now.
However, we on the progressive left still have some homework to do about the way we use language. Recently my own regional newspaper, The San Francisco Chronicle, wrote an editorial critiquing last minute right wing congressional sabotage of the bipartisan Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. The editors ended their remarks by saying that “compromise” is necessary for good national leadership. But today the word “compromise” has become a poison pill in the U.S. Using it just guarantees failure. Instead we should be talking about how true American patriots “collaborate” or “cooperate” to keep America moving forward. It’s the best way to talk about what will actually rebuild America. One state that raised taxes, wages, and stopped the cuts is showing good results—the Minnesota economy is rebounding. Others have raised the minimum wage. The results are in. Austerity government fails. So say: “GOP spending cuts push America down. “ Good, patriotic American politicians work together to “raise America up!”
1. For more information on this particular dirty trick, widely seen as the opening wedge of a full scale attack on Social Security, see the following:
2. Other media outlets reporting lies about and Social Security and SSDI are described here:
The exact quote is “Reports that SSDI is riddled with fraud and overrun with false claims have showed up in an ideologically diverse array of news sources over the past two years, from public radio’s This American Life to CBS’ 60 Minutes to the conservative media machine. The reality is that just 41 percent of those who apply for disability benefits receive it thanks to the program’s uniquely strict eligibility rules and stringent, multi-layered application process. Among those who do clear the program’s hurdles and enroll, fraud is extremely rare.”