Tuesday 27 Sep 2016

Same Old, Same Old
AJ Robinson

I was watching a Tea Party protest a few months back, and I saw someone hold up a sign that read, "Keep Your Government Hands Off of My Medicare." I had to laugh! Yet, I also had to stop and think.

I've seen this before. Back in the early 1990s, the government was working on changing welfare. Oh, were the people protesting! The thing is that the changes affected more than just those who got welfare checks. There were the government employees; the lawyers who helped people get welfare and so on.

Yet, those weren't the people protesting. No, those who received welfare protested most loudly and showed up at protest rallies, along with a few liberal protestors. The other people stayed quietly in the background, literally and figuratively.

Some of those protestors ended up sounding so silly. I remember one woman standing at a podium and declaring that she worked hard for her welfare check. I had to laugh! Wasn't that a contradiction in terms, much like the angry Tea Party man with the sign?

If it weren't so sad, these incidents would be truly hilarious. In both cases, these people were very sincere, in their belief, that something was being taken from them. They were or are going to be worse off, for it.

Now, I don't know how ultimately their lives will turn out, but I can't help wondering about those people behind the scenes: the lawyers, the politicians and pundits - the people who make a living off of such people - just what affect they're having on all of this. After all, someone had to pay to get these people to their big protest rallies and, in some cases, some major money is made by insurance companies, lawyers etc who profit by maintaining the status quo.

It seems to me, the next time we hear about someone protesting something, before we roll our eyes and dismiss them, we should ask ourselves two questions: first, how would we feel if the shoe was on the other foot, and second, is there someone else manipulating things behind the scenes?

Because, in the case of the first question, we should remember that power, as fame, is fleeting; there will come a time when we, our political party, is out of power, and we should ask ourselves, how are we going to feel when we're out of power? Won't we want the other side to treat us fairly? So, maybe showing a little understanding to the minority party when we're in power will earn us "brownie points" when the tables are turned.

Then, with the second question, we should also ask, do these people have a legitimate complaint or are they exploited to advance an agenda belong to someone else? In the case of the latter, we need to shine the light of exposure on such people. Having a legitimate gripe is one thing, but being used by others who merely want to garner power or money by manipulating people - that is quite another.

May we all be wise and smart enough to tell the difference?

Combining the gimlet-eye, of Philip Roth, with the precisive mind of Lionel Trilling, AJ Robinson writes about what goes bump in the mind, of 21st century adults. Raised in Boston, with summers on Martha's Vineyard, AJ now lives in Florida. Most of the time he writes, but sometimes he works at Disney World to renew his fantasies and get a few dollars more. AJ writes, with insight and passion, about his family and his dog. His liberal, note the small "l," sensibilities often lead to bouts of righteous indignation, well focused and true.

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