I had intended to revisit a troubling theme I continue to wrestle with, the compelling need for identity designation. First, I remain unable to competently articulate my thesis and second, the roiling wave of protest that has surged into the streets, hearts and minds of millions, though related, is a vastly more critical topic for this moment.
In the oft-memorized preamble to our Constitution, our founders left a lot of wiggle room for their high-minded, probably well-intentioned promise of “freedom and justice for all”, by using the phrase, “more perfect”. As uplifting as that may seem to a fourth-grader trying to commit this patriotic paragraph to memory, its implication, as borne out by both the previous and ensuing history, screams of the expectation and acceptance of imperfection. Our tainted and anything-but-perfect racial arc and the class structure that both coincides and runs parallel to it has, for all but the tiniest of concessions, been an abject failure. The disenfranchisement of non-whites in the United States of America has changed very little from the Jim Crow aftermath of the abolishment of slavery. People of color are targeted, policed, incarcerated and marginalized at every turn. Voting rights, education, health care, employment opportunity and compensation are not fairly valued or available, (Fuck you, Brian Kemp!), and the lip service given to these inequalities by every level of government is mostly whispered, unfulfilled blather.
The horrifying televised snuff film that was the contemporaneous reality TV documentary of the murder of George Floyd, has crawled under the skin, clawed at the heart and incited the anger of millions who have been suffering the unspoken rage of our stagnant social evolution. Suddenly, maybe spurred on by quarantined coronavirus boredom, we have the voice and the numbers to be heard and reckoned with and squandering this moment would be a travesty. This has to be more than cardboard slogans, toppled monuments and group chants. We are systemically broken and our systems, all of our systems, need comprehensive, wide-ranging reconstruction. As much as this is about the specific atrocity of police brutality toward people of color, this is more profoundly a spotlight on the inequity of possibility and the national embarrassment of calculated ostracism. How, in 2020, can there be debate and more unbelievably, inaction on the subject of lynching, (Fuck you, Rand Paul)? How, in 2020, are the rights to health and education and the most basic human respect still be topics for discussion in the United States of America, (Fuck you, Betsy DeVos)? How, in 2020, can we condone a minimum wage that condemns full-time workers to below poverty status, (Fuck you, Steve Mnuchin)? How, in 2020, can our legal system continue to over-criminalize and incarcerate otherwise forgivable offenses by black and brown people, (Fuck you, Bill Barr…and Bill Clinton)? How, in 2020, have we allowed our financial system to become so all powerful that income inequality has indentured 90% of Americans to perpetual fealty, (Steve again)? And for good measure, how, in 2020, have we still not accepted the equality of women by ratifying the ERA, (Fuck, fuckity, fuck fuck)?
Do I have any answers? Well, yes, I do. First, we need to turn up in the most unprecedented show of force, ever, in November to take back our government, all of it, from the Trumpian criminal enterprise. Then on January 21, 2021 we must hit the ground running, ready to reimagine what our more perfect union should be and quickly and ‘progressively’ legislate the hell out of it. Certainly, there will be mistakes, but nothing less than a top to bottom overhaul to set right our listing ship of state will do. We’ll need to keep our unifying outrage in high dudgeon to hold the feet of legislators to a righteous, unlobbyable fire. That Citizens United bullshit…gone, (Fuck you, John Roberts). We may need to increase the number of Supreme Court justices, (yes, that’s a thing), to neutralize the scummy appointments of the most egregiously corrupt jurists. And rather than vague and angry cries to defund police, we need to restructure public safety to live up to the already righteous motto to Protect and Serve. Infra-fucking-structure!!! Time to stop talking about it and rebuild our woefully deteriorated water and power grids, our crumbling roads and bridges, our public health and educational facilities, our parks and waterways. No budget number is too large to invest in our future by funding programs that will guarantee immediate, zero unemployment for our present. Maybe a Patriot Tax for the 1%ers who have profited most by the wrong-minded policies of the last century. Too radical…overly progressive…perhaps, more perfect.