Four days after a major hurricane battered Puerto Rico, leaving the entire island in a communications and power blackout, regions outside San Juan remained disconnected from the rest of the island — and the world. Juncos, in a mountainous region southeast of the capital that was slammed with Maria’s most powerful winds, remains isolated, alone, afraid.
Just like they let New Orleans drown, and California burn, and Houston flood, and the Midwest rust. I’ve been saying it for years. Don’t think you’re immune. Don’t think you’re safe. If they can do this to your neighbor they will do it to you.
Our fate is your fate.
It’s hard to quantify right now the sense that America has given up on America. It’s hard to describe. Talk to any 10 people and eight of them will give you the idea they live under some kind of hostile occupation of which they’re not in charge. Turn on Fox any day, any time, and you’ll hear that the government is nothing but a burden, nothing but thievery, nothing but waste.
Turn on any non-Fox TV station and all you hear about politics is that “Washington” is broken and nobody can get anything done. All politicians are alike. All are liars. All are corrupt. And our votes for or against them are meaningless.
So where does that leave us? Angry and scared, ignorant of our own history, wanting so badly to matter but ready to laugh at anyone who tries to, gravitating toward the loudest voices and the easiest answers, paralyzed anytime anything happens that’s real.
Of all the damage done, I can’t think of much that’s worse than making us afraid of ourselves.
Why else do we do nothing in times like these? I mean it, what other excuse do we have? We have wealth unimaginable and courage uncommon, we have problems we can actually solve and the way I know that we can solve them is WE DONE DID THIS BEFORE.
The country that pulled off the Berlin Airlift could save those dying in Puerto Rico.
The country that rebuilt Europe could restore clean drinking water to Flint, Michigan and any number of other towns similarly afflicted with lead contamination and malignant neglect.
The country that sent a bunch of guys to the freakin’ moon on the advice of a slide rule and some punch cards could engineer ways to keep cities from flooding.
We WANT TO, that’s the worst thing. We want to do the big stuff. Those people bitching about their taxes? Scratch their surfaces and in most of them you find this incredible longing to matter, to see the end of what they contribute, to know they’ve made their mark. We donate over and over and over to charitable causes wanting to make a difference, and forget entirely that our tax dollars make a difference, too.
(A lot of that is bad news blaring YOUR TAX DOLLARS ARE BEING WASTED 29 hours a day, but buy some fuckin’ ear plugs for that crap already.)
Our tax dollars sent someone to the moon, and food to Berliners, and bricks and mortar to Poland. We pulled together for the things we like to remember, for the moments we were proud of ourselves. We made the decision to do so, and yeah, a solid 35 percent of people were pissed about it but once upon a time we didn’t let them hog the mic and ruin things for everybody else.
We can do this for Puerto Rico. We can do it for Flint, we can do it for Houston, we can do it for all of us. We just have to stop thinking we’re powerless.
And we have to vote anyone who tells us to hate and fear ourselves and each other the fuck out of office now and forever, strike their names from the rolls of society, turn our backs when they walk down the street.
I saw this MSNBC chyron this afternoon and nearly choked on my coffee:
— ThinkProgress (@thinkprogress) September 25, 2017
“Washington” isn’t broken. “Washington” isn’t dysfunctional. “Washington” isn’t ignoring natural disasters and refusing to pass bipartisan bills and ramping up white supremacist rallies and defending the killing of unarmed black people and gutting the half-a-loaf healthcare protections we managed to achieve while people were screaming about death panels.
A GOP Congress is trying to make sure you can get kicked off your employer’s health insurance plan and have nowhere to go. A GOP president is bitching out football players on Twitter like National Racist Grandpa. And GOP party-run media are setting a daily agenda that ignores the voices of those most in need to let a bunch of comfortably situated loudmouths claim white victimhood.
Enough pretending that we can elect Breitbart-addled rage-monkeys for fun because government is just a big ironic joke. Six days of the year when disaster strikes it’s an actual fucking job, and none of these people have any interest in doing it.
We don’t have that luxury. We don’t get to shirk our responsibilities. We don’t get to imagine that the governments we’ve been electing lately can handle this kind of thing. We did this to ourselves and we need to fix it because if it’s not you today, it sure as hell will be tomorrow.
I got it tattooed on my fucking arm a few years back.