On August 1, I’ll celebrate my birthday (I won’t say which one). I thank all those people who have been, and continue to be, with me on my life’s journey.
I’m viewing the exhibits of the program “Rising Sun: Artists In An Uncertain America” (https://risingsunphilly.org), a collaboration between the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts (https://www.pafa.org/) and the African American Museum in Philadelphia (https://www.aampmuseum.org/); the theme of the exhibit is “Is the sun rising or setting on the experiment of American democracy?”
The theme comes from the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin, at the end of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787; looking at the sun painted onto the chair that George Washington, presiding officer of the convention, sat on, Franklin said, “I have often looked at that picture behind the president without being able to tell whether it was rising or setting. But now at length I have the happiness to know that it is a rising and not a setting sun.” (https://www.ushistory.org/more/sun.htm). It also comes from the African-American anthem, “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” written by James Welton Johnson, and put to music by his brother, J. Rosemond Johnson, with the words:
Facing the rising sun of our new day begun,/Let us march on ‘til victory is won. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lift_Every_Voice_and_Sing).
These statements show optimism about America, the idea that, despite our failing at being a “land of the free,” it could still fulfill that ideal. But, can we still say that? We’re in the middle of an epidemic of (let’s call it by its right name) fascism, and the symptoms include:
Attacks on the arts and education, with the “Moms for Liberty” attacking school boards and libraries over teaching the Holocaust, LGBTQ issues, transgender kids constantly being told they’re freaks and mutants, gay kids being assaulted in school (and the “adult” authority figures don’t give a damn), and the banning of classic works of art, such as Michelangelo’s David, because ONE-INDIVIDUAL-person is freaked about its nudity (but God didn’t put clothes on us when we were born);
the efforts to impose a certain system of religious belief into law, with the near or complete banning of abortions in certain states, and the discrimination, based on “religious beliefs,” against LGBTQ+ people;
the merging of governmental and corporate power, with the Trump-era tax breaks for billionaires and corporations, the Citizens United decision in the Supreme Court calling millions of dollars in campaign contributions “Free speech,” the treating of Supreme Court justices by billionaires to luxury trips and resorts (think Scalia and Paul Singer, Thomas and Harlan Crow);
the excessive veneration of “tradition,” a glossy look back at the ”good old days” (whenever they were), when certain demographics “knew their place,” when people had “morals,” when race and sexuality was never discussed openly—one obvious example is Jason Aldean’s rag of a song “Try That In A Small Town”;
the obsession with a “plot,” that some “enemy” is going to destroy “us,” like with the Q-Anon cult, and “Jews will not replace us!”;
obsession with “manliness,” like Josh “Crazy Legs” Hawley hustling his book Manhood, neo-fascist goons showing up at drag-queen story times in libraries, terrorizing little kids, waving their phallic symbols around trying to look like Rambo (a made-up symbol of “manliness).
My list is not complete; For further perusal of fascism, please read the list by the Italian author Umberto Eco (The Name Of The Rose, Foucault’s Pendulum);
Every election, the cry goes out: The two big parties are corrupt! We need a new third party! There already is the Libertarian party; the Green Party is preparing to run Dr. Cornel West as its candidate. Now, we have the party called No Labels, calling itself “centrist,” and their candidate is the “Democratic” Senator from West Virginia, Joe Manchin. (https://www.alternet.org/smartnews/manchin-no-labels/) There IS a danger that, for all their high-sounding talk, the No Labels group will take away some Democratic votes away from Joe Biden, and help trump get back into the White House—horror of horrors! Don’t kid yourself that this is a grassroots movement; Mother Jones has shown that the “party” is backed by billionaire political donors. (https://www.motherjones.com/politics/2023/06/no-labels-exposed-heres-a-list-of-donors-funding-its-effort-to-disrupt-the-2024-race/). (https://www.commondreams.org/news/no-labels-funded-by-billionaires).
Then there is the Forward Party, founded by Andrew Yang, former Democratic presidential candidate, along with former New Jersey Governor Christine Todd Whitman and former Florida congressman David Jolly. (https://www.cnn.com/2022/07/28/politics/andrew-yang-forward-party-whitman-jolly/index.html) (https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2022/jul/27/forward-republicans-democrats-new-third-political-party) Among the officials taking part is this endeavor are members of the Pennsylvania State Senate. (https://www.cityandstatepa.com/politics/2023/06/state-lawmakers-join-forces-forward-party/387752/)
There’s also the Movement for a People’s Party, (https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/rose-mcgowan-to-headline-movement-for-a-peoples-party-debate-response-301157216.html0, through which Cornel West originally planned to run for President. But this effort has lately been plagued by alleged lack of organization and sexual misconduct charges against its leaders. (https://statuscoup.substack.com/p/exclusive-movement-for-a-peoples) (https://thehill.com/hilltv/rising/558014-former-peoples-party-activist-describes-depressing-experience-with-group/)
They say elections have consequences, and they do; look at what happened in 2016. Our rights as citizens—the right to vote, read books, and elect our public officials, to live our lives—particularly the lives of our LGBTQ+ neighbors, our friends of color, women to control their reproductive systems—are in deep peril, and it’s NO DAMN TIME to indulge in third-party schemes. If trump is reelected, he’s be even worse: he’ll dedicate the entire federal apparatus to attacking his enemies, such as the federal prosecutors bring indictments on him; and he’ll load the top military positions in the Pentagon wit, not true, patriotic, dedicated soldiers, but partisan hacks doing his very bidding.
BUT, we the voting public are the not-so-secret weapon that will bring down trump and all his minions. SO, whenever there is an election, from President on down to township supervisor, get your all out there and VOTE.
Stay safe, stay strong, and stay together! Slava Ukraini! America will be free! Bye!