I’m sixty and I haven’t protested much since the sixties, but I’m about to buy a new pair of jogging shoes and start again.
Sadly, I’m not one of those 60-year-olds who can be labeled with “sixty is the new forty.” Uh, not for me. I live in a hot state, but I can’t tolerate the heat without getting sick. I’m diabetic and stress raises my blood sugar. I’m going blind and can’t drive much anymore.
Every so often I catch myself trying to act as if I’m twenty or thirty again and later my body shrieks at me, “Have you lost your mind?”
But the sixties are still part of me. The 1960s. A time when I stood at barricades facing cops in riot gear, and watched them try to provoke us into doing something they could arrest us for. I passionately believed in civil rights, and I passionately believed the war in Vietnam was wrong. I was willing to put my body and my future on the line.
I don’t have much future anymore. It sometimes shocks me to realize I’m only fourteen years younger than my mother when she passed. Ouch. Anyway, it’s not my future I’m worrying about. I’m worrying about the future of my kids and grandkids. I’m worrying about the future of everyone’s grandkids.
And I am disgusted. I may not be eighteen anymore or even thirty, but I’m about to pretend I am again. I’m going to get those new jogging shoes in the hopes that my knees and feet won’t wind up hurting so much I can’t walk for a couple of days, and I’m damn well going to rally.
The last rally I went to was over Health Care Reform. Just me and my partner in the frigid January cold outside the Federal Courthouse. I called it the Two-A**ed Rally, because there we were, two freezing people holding hand-made signs. It didn’t much raise my hopes for the power of protest in this country.
Then Wisconsin happened. The remaining youthful blood in me fired up. Now the numbers were becoming meaningful, and when the numbers grow you owe it to yourself and future generations to make your voice heard when it will actually make a ripple. As I used to type endlessly in my typing class in high school: “Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their country.”
It certainly is. The slumbering giant of the American public is starting to wake to the conservative plan for them: no unions, no health care, no jobs (well Speaker Boehner said he didn’t care when told the Republican budget would slash at least 700,000 jobs). The American public is starting to realize that the top one percent income bracket would like to see the rest of us working for less than minimum wage and grateful for whatever scraps fall from their tables.
Getting rid of unions is the final step on their road to control. So far they have served us “trickle down” which if you’re on my end looks more like: You may get a job, you don’t get paid much, and some wealthy guy is going to be able to buy house number eight. They cut welfare, they’re about to cut Medicaid, which doesn’t seem like a BHD until you need it – and plenty of us have unexpectedly needed one of the other during the recession of the last two years. We’ve finally realized that a secretary does indeed pay more in taxes than Warren Buffett, we’ve finally noticed that big corporations like Exxon and Citibank don’t pay any taxes at all, and we’re becoming increasingly aware that conservative policies have caused infrastructure and small business to rot from the inside out.
We’ve finally realized that “trickle down” defies gravity and sends waterfalls of money upward to the top economic brackets and big business.
We’ve even finally realized that stockbrokers don’t create wealth, they merely steal it and then get paid million dollar bonuses for getting away with it.
So we’re getting pretty annoyed out here. Wisconsin was the match, and I think it landed on tinder.
At least it did with me. I’m going to another rally on March 8, called “Florida Awake!” to protest the proposed policies and budgets of our almost-a-felon governor Rick Scott. And this time it’s not going to be Two-A**ed. I haven’t even signed up for it yet, but the last time I checked, dozens had signed up in my city alone. Since there will be a rally in every major city in the state, the numbers of any one rally won’t look huge. But together they’ll say a lot.
So I’m going to pretend I’m young again. I’m going to make a sign, get those jogging shoes and stand out in the heat with my walker.
Because everyone’s future matters, and we’re watching the Tea Party try to flush us all down the toilet.
If there’s a rally anywhere near you on these issues, for heaven’s sake put on your jogging shoes and go. If you wait, it may be too late.