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LETTER: Time to take the government back

To the Editor:

Watching the DVD copy of the magnificent Civil War movie, “Gods and Generals,” I was struck by the strange way that history is repeating itself. Then, the Republicans fought to free the slaves, while Democrats from the South fought to keep slavery.

The “civil war” that is going on in the U.S. today is not like that bloody war of 150 years ago. Still, it is totally disrupting the lives and fortunes of millions of U.S. citizens. We witnessed a government shutdown that left many outside of the small effort to put the employees of government, military and non-military, back to work with a decent income. The normal functions of government, e.g., federal aid for health care and education, for rebuilding infrastructure by creating jobs for the unemployed, as under President Roosevelt, have been disrupted or cut out entirely by Republicans in control of the House.

What is remarkable is the way the positions of the Republican and Democratic parties have reversed. Today, the Democrats fight for programs that will give job security and benefits to working families and the unemployed. Republicans continue to blame the poor for being poor, while refusing to acknowledge the numbers of poor citizens in the U.S. grew from the 1970s into the ’90s, when U.S. companies shut down their operations in the U.S. and moved to Puerto Rico, Mexico, and later to Asia, even Vietnam, where a friend’s son has worked for 10 years, teaching Vietnamese to operate machinery that manufactures equipment that is sent back to the U.S.

The normal course of politics in our country has been totally disrupted by the Citizens United decision that gave corporations the right to pour unlimited money into election campaigns based on their “freedom of speech.” The one little bit of power left to the people is the right to vote, although Republicans have found ways to cut back the numbers of eligible voters. We must use that remnant of political power to elect politicians who work for all the people, like Rick Weiland, who is running for U.S. Senate, urging us to “take it back.”