If you have followed my recent posts, you know that I believe the recent right-wing push towards extreme bigotry and hate-mongering is a sign of desperation. America’s demography is changing. it is growing younger and browner. At the same time, population is shifting from the northeast and midwest, to the so-called sunbelt: states with large Hispanic population.
The Bush regime recognized the growing importance of the Hispanic vote, and worked aggressively to reach out. Today’s Republican party has been siezed by right wing sycophants such as Beck, Gingrich, Limbaugh and Palin, and has eschewed policy entirely in favor of race-baiting.
We simply cannot let them win.
Extreme polarization is a dangerous gambit because it is relatively easy to combat. All we have to do to defeat it is to refuse to become depressed. Simply showing up at a town hall and publicly encouraging your legislator to stand up to sycophants can have a huge effect. It defuses negativity and empowers like-minded individuals who are feeling timid to stand with you. Now is the time to joyously celebrate our successes. Nothing defeats negativity more effectively than a diverse group of people coming together to celebrate how far they have come.
For years, my primarily Hispanic and Native American county has been in the news for its high rates of drug overdose deaths. At the beginning of the Bush years, prominent Republicans decided that our county would become the poster child for the War on Drugs, and began marketing heightened militarization of the Mexican border as a remedy for widespread addiction. If you followed the issue as it was reported in the press at that time you would probably believe that our community has been utterly overrun by Mexican gangsters (not), and that we desperately need the Department of Justice to move in and take over the reigns of our corrupt local government (not). The drug problem is rampant because our local, non-corporate community providers just want to gobble down tax dollars without providing services and do nothing other than argue amongst themselves (not).
I am organizing a big event this Wednesday to give the lie to that disingenuous meme. Senator Bingaman will be joining us as we unveil our health care reform successes: an innovative, state of the art health commons housing multiple agencies within a single complex; a mobile immunization unit also staffed by multiple agencies; and two years of data proving that our local efforts towards care coordination are extremely effective. A dance troupe of Hispanic youths lead by an openly gay artist will perform. Hispanic musicians will sing. We will eat locally grown and prepared Native American food. Local youth will display their art in our lobby.
The chair of our board of county commissioners is celebrating in his own way by posting op-ed pieces in the statewide papers to draw attention to our success. We are pushing several memes: “Yes, we did!”, “Government works when it works together,” “A Rio Arriba Health Care Reform Success,” and “We All Have Health in Common.”
Do not underestimate the power of the individual and the community to make a difference.
Now is the time to organize your own house party, picnic, op-ed or other activity to celebrate our successes!