Tuesday, December 21, 2004

Greenville’s Turn

Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wisconsin) took a trip through Alabama after the election and came back with some observations on what the Republicans have done in the South.

The people of Alabama appear to be among the most generous and most unsung philanthropists in this country. What they give is unimaginable to many others and they give it time and again: They regularly give their turn at the American dream to someone else. And they give it simply because they’re asked. So many people in Greenville don’t seem to have basic healthcare coverage or promising job opportunities. Meanwhile, their children volunteer to risk their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan. I can only be humbled by their sacrifice.

But because I am a lawmaker and a student of history, I also know who has been asking them to give so much. And I can only wonder how many more generations of central Alabamians will say yes when the increasingly powerful Republican Party asks them to be concerned about homosexuality but not about the security of their own health, about abortion but not about the economic futures of their own children. As my wife and I drove through Greenville that night, I thought how fundamentally unfair this all is in order to support an increasingly radical conservative movement.

Now, some may think that Alabama and Wisconsin are the polar opposites of American politics. But in both states I’ve found that — along with sharing a sincere appreciation of a good turkey dinner — too many hardworking people are losing their battles for decent paying jobs and adequate healthcare. I’m tired of seeing the power-hungry persuade the hardworking people of this country that the only way to preserve important values is to vote against their own families’ basic interests. I believe that the working people of both states have sacrificed for other people’s agendas for too long. And I believe that any political party or political movement or political candidate who would consistently say this would be heard throughout America.

We need to go to the Greenvilles of every state, red and blue, and say, “Thank you. You’ve sacrificed long enough. Now it’s your turn at the American dream.” [Salon.com]

A con artist knows that his mark will give up his last dollar if there is a glimmer of hope that they could win the big jackpot with that last dollar. That’s how the Republicans do it.