Exports and Imports

While the economy is still struggling, the United States is successfully exporting democratic ideals, and motivating citizens in oppressed countries to stand up to their oppressive governments and secure a measure of liberty and stability they have not yet known.  Unfortunately, via our capitalist and conservative political spheres, the United States is also importing authoritarian oppression at a fast pace, too.

In Tunisia, a republican movement of citizens and disenfranchised people voted with their feet and their hearts, toppling a dictator.  In Egypt, kindergarteners, children, adolescents, young adults, older adults and mature citizens gathered in peaceful protest, filling Tahrir Square in Cairo and in other cities, and pushed “President” Hosni Mubarak off their necks.  In Libya, Iran, Bahrain and Yemen, government of the people is becoming a popular refrain, where citizens fatigued with oppressive and corrupt regimes choose to lay down their lives by standing up for their rights to receive their due.  Democracy, it seems, is being exported.

Here in the United States, however, Republicans with a capital R seem to believe that the rights and responsibilities that citizens across the globe are exercising are “UnAmerican”.  In Wisconsin, public employees are being denied by the elected Republican governor and legislature their right to assemble (collective bargaining) and their right to petition for the redress of grievances.  Governor Walker has exaggerated a budget deficit in order to nullify their contract, and at the same time attempted to quell the voices of the workers by stripping them of the right to bargain collectively.

Much like the thugs hired by the Egyptian president, who stole US State Department vehicles in order to attack the peaceful revolutionaries in Tahrir Square, Governor Walker’s associates have bussed in thousands of actors, disguised as concerned citizens of the Tea Party Movement, to berate, confuse and antagonize the protestors (read: teachers, nurses, etc.) in Wisconsin.

The parallels – large numbers of economically challenged lower and middle class workers struggling peacefully to receive their just due from economically advantaged politicians and political actors – between the exported democratic ideals and the imported authoritarian oppression are clear and striking.

It’s important to realize, then, that in order to continue espousing our democratic ideals and speaking about the rights of the people, we must fight here in the United States to insure that they are not usurped by people whose priorities are money before people.

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must, like men, undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” – Thomas Paine, 1777

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