POLITICS: Where we’ve come from, where we’re going, and where we better

In Columns, Features, Pieces to Peter's Puzzling World by Peter Webster

Life is political-along with other things, of course. We live in society and our social lives are political. That’s pretty obvious.

We deal with politics on a daily basis and politics deals with us on a daily basis. No way to keep that from happening. We may want it to not happen, but it does.

Which income groups get the highest and lowest tax rates is a political matter? Who has to submit to monthly inspections of income or living arrangements is determined politically?

Whether or not the country is engaged in war, how good the schools are, how good the medical care is-political.

There are two ways for us to deal with politics: reactively and proactively. The former means we react to political decisions, once they’re made; the latter means we get involved with the decisions
before they’re made and thus influencing-if we’re lucky- the outcomes.

In the last seventy-odd years, we’ve had some good things happen through political actions. Old age is no longer a threat to decent living; in fact we live longer.

Skin-color has less and less to do with where people live or sit on busses. The lack of financial resources doesn’t always deny people the ability to get medical care. We have unemployment insurance.

A smaller percentage of the people go hungry. Kids are healthier. More babies survive childhood. People with disabilities get better educations and find more jobs. These advances have to an extent been made possible through technology, sure.

But, too a greater extent they’ve come through political actions. The big changes happened starting in the 1930s, with a plan put forward by the president, Franklin Roosevelt, known as “The New Deal.”

That’s when Social Security, unemployment and AFDC came along; that’s when the government stepped in to provide a “floor” -a safety net- for citizens of our nation.

Before that, there wasn’t anything except a few paltry charities.

Later administrations provided more assistance: the GI Bill, making it possible for hundreds of thousands of ex-military people to attend colleges and to buy their own homes; food stamps, to provide food assistance; Medicare and Medicaid for the elderly and the poor to get health care; the Civil Rights Bill, finally began insuring that People of Color would at least be able to vote.

And, recently, we’ve had the Americans With
Disabilities Act. All of these have been politically legislated attempts to even the playing field for those born without silver spoons-and for those at the mercy of forces like “The Market” beyond their control.

What’s going on now is an attempt to dismantle these governmental supports. Starting with the presidential campaign of Barry Goodwater, back in the 1960s, government programs have been seen by conservatives as States-the overpowering presence of the state in people’s lives.

To these conservative thinkers, a large government was considered Communist or Socialist-not that people distinguished between the two economic systems.

Big government was what the Soviet Union had, the Soviet Union was Communist, therefore big government was Communist. Since Social Security and similar programs were promoted as part of a big government,
they were also Communist.

Anything similar to a Soviet program was Communist, in fact. The logical argument didn’t hold up, but it didn’t matter. I regularly correspond and argue with people who still claim Roosevelt and the New Deal were part of the Communist Conspiracy to rule the world, and, for that matter so are the “international [read: Jewish] bankers.”

So, the conservatives, having gained control of the executive and legislative branches of government, want to dismantle those programs.

Besides, they’re costing a lot of money and with the shift in taxes from the rich and from corporations to the middle classes, there isn’t enough money to spread democracy throughout the world.

As disabled people we have benefited from many of these programs. So have seniors, people of color, and the poor, single parents. The list of beneficiaries is long. We need to work together to preserve these
programs, and to preserve the progress that has been made in recent years.

The opposite of progress is regress. We don’t need that.

OK: end of rap.

Here are a couple of links that provide contact with supportive groups working on political issues:


A project of the National Coalition for Disability Rights (NCDR)

If you need to know who are your representatives in Washington, and where
they’ve stood on various issues, this is a very valuable site:

What are your views on this? Did Peter hit it right on the money? Or miss the mark altogether? Let us know at nathasha@audacitymagazine.com or join the Online Forum.