National Commentary

4 Big Gains for Justice, Equality

nfbentonpicBy all accounts, 2013 has been an eventful year, a good one for those who look at events not day-to-day, but from the standpoint of what Dr. Martin Luther King called that “moral arc of the universe that bends toward justice.”

Dr. King added such bending is conditional upon the determination of justice-minded persons, and in 2013 some major achievements for such efforts were realized.

Knowing that few things done, no matter how meritorious, cannot subsequently be undone, we move forward with the constant conviction that the best years of our lives still remain ahead. Holding to that conviction is the single finest idea for a New Year’s resolution I’ve come up with.

In this spirit, the most significant developments of 2013 include the following, tentatively ranked for importance:

1. The Affordable Care Act is implemented. Its enemies have remained relentless in their efforts to denounce, lie about and discredit this seminal achievement, as they’ve done throughout the process leading to its passage and implementation, and they’ve had a heyday pointing fingers at the glitches that accompanied the roll-out of on-line registration this fall. Note that none of these critics offered ways to fix the problems, but only to insist that they’re proof the whole thing is a bad idea.

But over the next few months, Americans will discover that this is one of the greatest new government-led benefits to a majority of the population of our lifetimes, right up there with Social Security and Medicare. Howling enemies of the program will continue their relentless attacks, as they did with the implementation of Social Security and Medicare, but this plan will work, and anyone who dedicated too much political capital to bad-mouthing it will find they did so at their peril in coming elections, as soon as the mid-term elections next fall.

2. The world’s most powerful institution attacks“trickle down economics.” It was not the elevation of Pope Francis, but what he said once in the driver’s seat of the world’s most powerful institution that has set a precondition for a new global counteroffensive against the American-led obscene escalation of economic inequality. In his 50,000-word treatise delivered in November, the Pope used sharp language to denounce core, darling economic precepts of the “free market” radicals who dominate Wall Street and the U.S. Republican Party, those who’ve cut off food stamps and extended unemployment benefits to millions of Americans just this month.

Cautioning against the “idolatry of money,” the Pope set a marker for the rise of a sorely-needed new broad-based social force needed now more than at any point since the darkest days of the robber baron excesses of the 19th century industrial revolution. Buoyed by the Pope’s authoritative comments, organized labor, community activists, an array of religious institutions and political parties in all corners of the globe can unleash a push-back not seen in far too long to redress economic injustice and set humanity back on a much better course.

3. The whistle blow of the century exposes a totalitarian octopus to the light of day. Edward Snowden’s heroic effort to alert the American people, and the world, to the massive overreach of the National Security Agency’s spying mega-kraken may, as some feel, be too little too late to undo the monolith poised to wage a global war against enemies of the ruling elites on this planet, but then again, maybe not. The revelations have nothing to do with whether or not any abuses of the system have yet occurred, although the fact a federal judge said they’ve failed to stop any terrorist incident so far is important. This operation amounts to military intelligence thugs run amok, not excluding open-faced lying to Congress.

Any notion of a genuine democracy is fundamentally threatened by such an operation, and it’s better we know how tenuous our democracy really is.

4. Full equal rights are extended to all Americans, at last. A Supreme Court decision, state elections and public opinion polls have come to strongly support the extension of “equal protection under the law” to the last category of Americans systematically denied them until now, to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transsexual citizens.

 

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