They Shut Us Down, Now Let’s Shut Them Out

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Really, aren’t you just over it already?

Aren’t you over giving people who could not care less about you the power to decide what you eat, when you eat or whether you eat at all?

Aren’t you over watching the schools in your community crumble into a hot, social crisis mess, while the private ones across town -– the ones with the sparklingly white walls and 12:1 student-teacher ratio -– strive and thrive, producing the next wave of Ivy Leaguers? Don’t your kids deserve a chance?

Aren’t you over being scared every time you’ve got to take your child to the emergency room, worried that a few stitches and a couple of prescriptions will bankrupt you?

Aren’t you over allowing people who wouldn’t dream of setting foot inside your neighborhood, dictate the quality of your life and those of all you love?

While communities of color have found themselves on the receiving end of countless, infantilizing acts of disrespect reinforced by policies and legislation targeting the already poor and struggling among us –- like the House Republicans’ recent and mean-spirited call to cut over $40 billion in food stamps, literally taking the food out of babies’ mouths — for the first time in history Americans of all races, creeds and economic backgrounds find themselves sharing a similarly uncomfortable space.

At the mercy of a government shutdown with no end in sight, hundreds of thousands of us are unable to go to work (and if we are, we are not being paid for it), receive health care for our elderly parents, purchase formula for our newborn babies or send our school-aged children to Head Start programs (learning they will be unable to make up). A series of devastating circumstances former Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul brushed off last week as a “temporary inconvenience.”

Got it.

What needs to happen now is that we show them what it is like to truly be inconvenienced.

It’s time we stop standing on the sidelines and watch as even the hope of government safety nets like Social Security benefits and other critical government programs have been pulled away. It’s time to finally get in the game. Call it a movement of permanent “inconvenience” for those people in power who have played up to their wealthy constituents for decades, ignoring the plight of the regular, hard-working and often struggling American. In other words, they don’t give a damn about poor people.

Call it a movement of permanent inconvenience for extreme political factions like the Tea Party movement, a group that is so hell-bent on destroying Obamacare –- and Obama himself –- that they’d paralyze a nation, causing even our nation’s veterans, people who put their lives on the line for us, to stand on line at our city’s food pantries until WIC is able to hand out food stamps again.

Speaking of Tea Party Republicans, did you know that right now the House of Representatives currently has 234 Republican members to its 201 Democrats? Or that those numbers are changing? Democrats currently have a lead over Republican incumbents in 17 districts, and those 17 seats are all they need to take back the majority in the next election.

If you didn’t know that, consider this tidbit a freebie, a little something to motivate you to throw on your jacket and head to the polls next November when cities and towns across this nation put a whole new round of political candidates on the ballot. Remember where we stood together today –- helpless, angry and afraid that what little we had would continue to be taken away.

But pulling just any lever won’t do, you’ve got to know who these folks are that you’re voting for and where they stand on the issues that affect you. That means you’ve got to do your homework. Watch the Sunday morning political shows, hit up the cable news websites, follow your local politicians on Twitter. Be able to tell –- using examples from their platforms — who’s friend or foe, newbie for reform or incumbent for the tired status quo.

Remember these stories you’re hearing now of people who can’t access emergency medical benefits for their loved ones, people who are reaching into their retirement funds to pay their mortgage or taking on second and third jobs to keep the lights on. Remember the folks who put them in these dire circumstances and who is ultimately going to get us all out of this mess: you, me, US.

They shut us down, now let’s shut them out.

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