Born in the U.S.A: The forgotten American

Shuttered factories. Rising health care costs. Exploding student loan debt. The highest income inequality since 1929. What do all these things have in common? These issues, of which I have listed only a few, are symptomatic of a problem in America – the “forgotten American.”

For the past four decades, the wealthy have had a buffet, while the rest of us have scraped by with the crumbs, they call it “trickle-down,” but all we’ve seen is the down – never the trickle.

Who has forgotten Middle America, the toilers and those who make America what it is today? The blame is bipartisan. Conservatives have continually pushed “trickle-down,” though the result has been “trickle-up” poverty. Liberals have shirked away from their populist heritage in order to draw in Wall Street cash. No one has stood up for the rights of labor, no one has stood up to yell “stop!” for the forgotten American.

But the times, they are a-changin’. The forgotten American is fighting back, and the political class should take notice. Last week, thousands of Wal-Mart workers stood up for the dignity of their work in the face of employer opposition by going to the picket lines. The forgotten American voted on Nov. 6, and he or she voted out the darlings of the far–right in favor of the friends of the American worker.

The forgotten American must hold the line and keep up the fight. There is much more to be done, much more to be said–the working people of America are going to have to work overtime to restore equal opportunity for all.

Democracy, it can be said, is the most radical form of government ever devised. Power rests in the hands of the people, not the powerful. We live in radical times, and radical times call for radical solutions at the ballot box.

The spirit of Washington can be changed by those who hold the power. There’s not enough Wall Street cash to stop the coming revolution in American life–the revolution of the common man and the common woman.

There’s an old labor song that perhaps puts this best. “Solidarity Forever” was written in 1915 and is probably the most famous labor anthem, outside of “The?Internationale.” Here’s what Ralph Chaplin, the labor activist who wrote the song had to say:

 

In our hands is placed a power greater than their hoarded gold,

Greater than the might of armies, magnified a thousand-fold.

We can bring to birth a new world from the ashes of the old

For the union makes us strong.

 

We, you and I, have the power to make this country a better place for ourselves, our families, our friends and our communities.

It’s time we exercised that power.

 

Column by Devin Griggs, opinion editor. Devin serves as vice president of finances for the Murray State College Democrats.