Yesterday Iposted a story of the death of a New Orleans area woman. It’s a story I just can’t shake. Antoinette had a history of mental illness. Over the weekend police were called to a disturbance and Antoinette was taken to jail. All too often now in NOLA it is the police that are left to deal with the those suffering from mental illness. There are only 17 psych beds in the entire city. When Antoinette was released from jail she refused to go with her family and took off on her own. At 3:30 am on Sunday, 2 tugboat captains reported to police that there was a woman splashing and swimming on her back in the Mississippi River singing gospel songs. At 5:19am Antoinette’s lifeless body was found by Harbor Police.
Singing Gospel Songs.
Think about that.
A tortured woman splashing on the Mississippi River, swimming to her death, Singing Gospel Songs.
This is tragedy. No…this Should be tragedy but in our America today it is not. There was not a bed of care for Antoinette, literally and figuratively. I ask Why. There is not one good reason. And there are many more Antoinettes. Just readthis terrible story today.
Yet there is not two genuine words or deeds emanating from our leaders to adequately address what is happening in New Orleans. There is not the care, compassion or capital to lift the bodies, minds and souls of our people suffering there. We can and will write about the continuing incompetence of FEMA and the waste of federal contracts and trailers and levees and wetlands. But we must acknowledge that we are failing each day in New Orleans. People languish in hopelessness as their lives and beings are marginalized. And they continue to die. A person can only take so much. New Orleans is a Petri dish for discovering a human being’s breaking point.That is the story of New Orleans now.
Today I see there are posts atThink Progress andFiredoglake on a conference hosted by The Center for American Progress for Democratic leaders under the rubric of “Securing the Common Good.”Here is how the common good is defined…
The common good approach to politics represents a clear break with the radical individualism, corruption and greed that define contemporary American life. It marks the end of a politics that leaves people to rise and fall on their own.
And it is atriculated politically asthus…
Under a progressive vision of the common good, government must pursue policies that benefit everyone equally. It must ensure that opportunities are abundant and that even those who have been left out and left behind can get the help they need to succeed. Common good progressivism does not meant that everybody will be the same, think the same, or get the same material benefits. Rather, it simply means that people should start from a level playing field and have a reasonable chance to improve their stations in life.
The Gulf Coast screams to us of the failure of conservatism and the need for a progressive common good approach to define who we are and how we will act as Americans. It is not too late for New Orleans. We have opportunity at hand just weeks away. But beyond that we must be mindful of rebuilding and not just the Gulf Coast but in who and what we are as individuals and as a people.
So I put to you what Christy put to her readers…
what is it that motivates me as a progressive? What motivates you? What is it, at your core, that keeps you involved in politics — where do you want to see this nation of ours, your community, all of us — go, in the next few years? Why are you a progressive?