Listen to the young people

I like Joe Biden personally, but that doesn’t mean he can win the presidency. Young people won’t vote for him, and they have to live with the consequences of this election a lot longer than I do.

Joe Biden won’t win.

You can argue with that all you want, scream bumper-sticker slogans at me, hate people who won’t give in to your demands — and Joe Biden still won’t win.

In fact, no “moderate” will get young people out to vote. Here’s why:

Young people are getting out of school with a mountain of debt and no real job opportunities. They know we need real change if they are to have any chance of the life my generation was handed.

But we Boomers are a selfish lot. It has always and only been about us. Give us the power to change America for the better, we said in the 1960s. Our parents’ generation balked at that, so we protested, promising we would fix everything if they just passed the baton to us.

Then 1980 came. We had graduated college, paid off a few thousand dollars in debt, bought homes and started to save for retirement. Suddenly, our attitude became “I got mine, get your own,” and huge numbers of us voted for Ronald Reagan to secure our holdings. God forbid we should help people who were less fortunate — we just accused them of being lazy while we watched Republicans crush unions and steal our nation’s wealth.

Now, we’re at the age our parents were in the 1960s and ’70s, and we’re even more determined to hold onto power. We don’t care that our so-called leaders are denying science to the point that they’re endangering the very planet we call home. We are nearing the point of the collapse of our entire ecosystem, and no matter how “clever” we are, we can’t survive that as a species.

But sure, let’s suck the last few drops of fossil fuel out of the planet and allow it to cross the threshold of our ability to survive. I don’t care how smart humans are, we can’t breathe methane, and we can’t survive a broken food chain.

Young people know all this. They know that if we continue on our current path for just a few more years, we will kill the entire human race, perhaps within their lifetimes.

They know a vote for a moderate is a vote to continue along the current path of everything-for-profit and damn the consequences.

They need health care, and moderates say we really can’t fix that. Gradualism is the key, here, they say. Well, a single-payer system was proposed by Theodore Roosevelt more than a century ago. How’s that for gradualism? Oh, and more Americans die every damn day we don’t fix this — approximately a half million since my son died from this cause 11 years ago. But, yeah, what’s a few hundred thousand human beings?

Young people need a living wage, but moderates say we should raise it up to $15 over the course of five years, even though it would have been $23 now if it had kept pace with inflation. If you’re making $7.25 an hour, you need that money NOW, not in five years, when it will be worth even less.

Yeah, I know. You’re going to invoke the courts. They already have the courts. Mitch McConnell has been quietly stacking the courts for years. And a moderate who appoints moderates won’t fix that, either.

Young people look at all this and demand better. If we don’t give it to them in the form of a candidate who they’re willing to vote for, we will lose again, just as we did in 2016.

We Baby Boomers can continue to hold onto power while the entire planet crashes, or we can step aside and let the next generation take the reins. God knows they can’t screw it up any worse than we did.

‘What are you gonna do?’

Sherri White-Williamson, a specialist in energy regulation and law, who is retired from the EPA, now works to make all out energy safer and renewable, issued a challenge to everyone on the Poor People’s Campaign Truth and Poverty Bus Tour to go home and DO something.

In the three years my son battled cancer, he often played the Cancer Card.

What that meant was if he wanted something, or if he didn’t want to do something, he would whine, “But I have cancer!”  Then he would laugh, whether he got his way or not.

In the days before his death, he told me I was about to get a card that would be hard to top — the Dead Kid Card.

“I don’t want it,” I said. “I want nothing to do with it.”

He shook his head. “Doesn’t matter what you want. It’s there. It’s being dealt as we speak. What I want to know is what are you gonna do with it.”

I told him I didn’t know and he shook his head again.

“Nope, I want to know. What are you gonna do?”

I thought for a moment and told him I will work for access to health care for everyone. Real access, not a high-deductible insurance policy that just puts money in the pockets of the 1 percent, but real, meaningful access.

He sank back into his pillow and smiled.

“Good. I approve. You have my blessing,” he said. “Go get ’em.”

Eleven years later, I’m still working on it.

Last week, I went with some of my fellow activists in the NC Poor People’s Campaign on the National Emergency Truth and Poverty Bus Tour across the state to visit people affected by poverty.

We saw people doing, including the first homeless/formerly homeless Street Medic Team, based here in Asheville. We met homeless activists in Charlotte, several of whom got on the bus and traveled with us.

We met environmental activists in Robeson, Scotland and Duplin counties. One of them was Sherri White-Williamson, who retired from the Environmental Protection Agency and now works across Eastern NC as an activist fighting the deforestation causing catastrophic flooding, the proliferation of industrialized hog and poultry farming and the Atlantic Coast Pipeline and other fossil fuel enterprises.

Sherri spoke to us in Robeson County and again in Duplin, and she told us to go home and do something.”

“You’re all excited now, enthusiastic about working to improve things,” she told us. “But coming here and learning what’s happening is not enough. You have to go home and do something.

“What are you gonna do?

In the 11 years since my son breathed his last, somewhere near a half million Americans have died from lack of access to care.

I worked for the Affordable Care Act, even though I was uncomfortable leaving insurance companies in the mix because I feared they would work to sabotage the law — which is exactly what has happened.

So, I continue to work to educate people about why we need to do what every other so-called developed country has done — find a way to get access to health care to everyone.

But I can’t work in a vacuum. Health care is not the only issue we need to address because if we get health care to everyone and we don’t fix the environmental devastation or raise the minimum wage, stop the endless wars or fix voter suppression, we’re still screwed.

We need activists for this fight. We need people to work with us.

We as a nation need you to pick your issue or issues and join the fight.

We don’t need online petitions because they never, ever, ever result in any change. Never. Sitting at your computer and typing in your name, e-mail address and phone number does nothing more than give some political hack your contact information so they can inundate you with requests for money.

Donating to a cause is great — the Poor People’s Campaign could sure use some financial help, as could any number of other causes — but these are perilous times and we need people to be in the streets.

We need people who can register voters and educate people on the issues — God knows the corporate media don’t peddle much beyond propaganda.

We need people to run for office — school board, city council, county commission, state legislature — and work for real change.

We can’t do this if people just stay home and go along to get along.

We need you in this fight because this is a fight for our very existence as a species.

What are you gonna do?

Think about it. We don’t have a whole lot of time left.

 

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