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Not One Bad Guy

Like all action movies, my personal favorite, Die Hard, has one nefarious villain. If only our brave and solitary hero can make it to his lair and destroy him in time, we will all be safe!

This sort of thinking is part of this political moment as well. Many of us hope that if Trump is removed from office, by indictment, impeachment, the 25th Amendment or even the ballot box in 2020, then we will all be safe.

The sad news is that there is not one "bad guy" at the root of all the problems we face, and there is no lone hero who can take him out.

The prophet Amos railed against “those who imposed taxes on the poor so as to afford their stone houses and delightful vineyards,” he knew that it was not solitary actors, but systems of oppression which rendered so many people hungry.

The oligarchy that Amos railed against as an affront to God has not gone anywhere. Jane Mayer writes in Dark Money: The Hidden History of the Billionaires Behind the Rise of the Radical Right, “The Koch [family] were unusually single-minded, but they were not alone. They were among a small, rarefied group of hugely wealthy, arch-conservative families that for decades poured money, often with little public disclosure, into influencing how Americans thought and voted... Each was different, but together they formed a new generation of philanthropist, bent on using billions of dollars from their private foundations to alter the direction of American politics.”

With that in mind, I want to highlight for you two events coming up which are about the long term fight to make this a more just country.

  • On Wednesday, March 27 the Poor People's Campaign will be holding a People’s Hearing at 6:30 PM at the Cunneen Hackett Art Gallery in Poughkeepsie. A Poor People’s Hearing presents a space to lift up the voices of those directly impacted by these the distorted priorities of our government and economic leaders, and to continue demanding action to address these crises. Hearings are also opportunities to build unity and organization across historic lines of division. I will be speaking at the hearing, but the real impact is hearing hearing from people on the front lines of these crises, rather than candidates or elected officials. Regardless of the party they represent, the role of elected officials at the hearings will be to listen and they will not be given the stage, or the microphone, at any point in the hearing.

  • The following week, on Wednesday, April 3, Nobody leaves Mid Hudson will be holding their first solidarity member meeting at 7:30 PM at Beacon Hebrew Alliance. This administration has used fearmongering and xenophobia to divide, distract, and advance an agenda that hurts all of us. Through our struggle to stop deportations, keep families together, and support our undocumented neighbors, we are building the united front necessary to win an agenda that works for all of us. Come and learn about the role you can play in building a powerful movement for immigration, gender, and economic justice with Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson. Childcare and snacks will be provided.

I hope you will join me at these events. In the words of Michael Walzer, “We still believe, or many of us do, what the Exodus first taught, or what it has commonly been taken to teach, about the meaning and possibility of politics and about its proper form:

  • first, that wherever you live, it is probably Egypt;

  • second, that there is a better place, a world more attractive, a promised land;

  • and third, that “the way to the land is through the wilderness”. There is no way to get from here to there except by joining together and marching.”

The problems we face as a country were not caused by one person, nor will they be solved by one person. The problems we face confront all of us, whether we are primarily vulnerable to antisemitism, or racism, or islamaphobia, or climate change. The problems will be solved by  all of us who are vulnerable to a system that was not set up for our benefit coming to work together.

I hope you’ll join together with me and these worthy organizations to march together through the wilderness.

Sat, July 20 2019 17 Tammuz 5779