Each year as I teach the French Revolution in my class, I am struck by parallels: the chasm of distance between rich and poor, a national treasury depleted by foreign wars, a corrupt layer of untouchables whose influence in government belies their disinterest in the people being governed, the burden of taxes falling disproportionately on an under-represented working class. Read, in this post-modern age, from left to right: our well-documented economic divide, Afghanistan and Iraq (the latter times two), corporations shockingly bestowed with “personhood” by our judicial system, the 99%.
Listening to political debates on details of women’s health that should be outside the realm of politics, I am struck even more by how detached from reality our population and those vying for political leadership can be. We applaud the people’s movements of the Arab Spring, yet denigrate those who voice their outrage through the Occupy Wall Street movement. We debate political minutiae while people in our communities go hungry. We fatten the coffers of those rattling around in sprawling domiciles (plural) while our children’s education is eviscerated by lack of funds from property taxes (and no, it isn’t the teachers’ or the unions’ fault).
While I do not advocate putting those hedge fund pricks’ heads on a pike, somebody somewhere needs a wake-up call. But Americans are too complacent to rise up and revolt, with their multiple channels of streaming entertainment, news programs that inflate opinion to 24-hour coverage, game boys and smart phones: anything to keep us playing and brainless.
I will say this for the frogs across the pond: as we debate whether or not insurance should cover contraception, they have replaced radiation-exposing (cancer-causing) Mammograms with non-invasion, no radiation Thermography. While Republicans try to choose between two versions of self-interest, the French Socialist candidate is ahead of the incumbent in the polls.
Perhaps there’s a way to avoid the bloody aftermath and go straight to the heart of the matter. We can create our own version of what has failed in the past. Where men have floundered, let the women take over! Sisters, it’s time for our voice to out shout theirs (with all due respect, of course).
sidebar: Ignorance is Strength by Paul Krugman in The New York Times
(I saw this after I made this post and it backs up some of my argument.)