“Her Mother Whose Sweatshop Wages…” It’s Our Turn

A voice that definitively announces its intent without speaking; a voice of lasting action that speaks covertly:

“Her mother, whose sweatshop wages had gone to her brother’s education, left behind secret college savings for her daughter and a will to accomplish what Celia had been denied”, as quoted in a broad Intelligencer remembrance by Irin Carmon.

Celia Bader died the day before her daughter, Ruth, graduated from high school knowing that she had put in place the mechanism to launch her daughter’s brilliance. Celia’s voice, as surely as any and every voice lives in others, spoke lovingly, forcefully through the ages.

For those of us who felt the blood drain out of our hearts last Fri, there simultaneously arose sweeping, almost overwhelming gratitude and reverence for the strength, brilliance and humor of the woman whose life we were gifted.

Ruth’s brilliance and evolved awareness of inequality were inversely proportional to the lack of precedent of such cases when she began bringing them on behalf of clients of the ACLU.

Carmon: “In the 2013 voting-rights dissent that earned her the Notorious RBG nickname, Ginsburg offered an addendum to Martin Luther King Jr.’s suggestion that the arc of history eventually bent toward justice: “if there is a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.”

The “steadfast commitment” Ginsburg added to King’s statement is becoming increasingly hard to discover in the minds and hearts of the American electorate.

A strong voice in dissent is as powerful as any from a bully pulpit or Chair. Ginsburg’s voice led us to recognize, and elevate, her as a thought and action leader we accepted and, ultimately, honored. We slowly began to recognize the stark inequality she challenged.

Inequality in and of itself, as sinister as it is, is only the precursor to a permanent downward spiral into authoritarianism. Today, there is a real risk of the McCarthyism of the 1950s – careers, families, livelihoods destroyed – spreading like a cancer at the ignorant, malevolent, pernicious behest of the current president and his enablers. Those cancerous tentacles are now undermining the integrity of most American institutions – including governmental agencies designed specifically to enhance and protect our lives.

Our voices in dissent need to arise in bellowing defense of our sacred Constitution and way of life. Americans are not immune to the wretched, unprincipled damage we see occurring in Washington every day. We are living it – and we are the only ones who can stop it.

Lincoln Project podcast guests Alex Givney and Camille Francois alert us to the execution of raw power for its own sake as “soft authoritarianism, on the way to tyranny.” Their documentary, Agents of Chaos, details exactly how we, as citizens have been the successful targets of chaotic interruption of our civil society.

Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s legacy is secure. The legacy of our country as a true democratic republic is reliant exclusively on our acting upon her addendum of “a steadfast commitment to see the task through to completion.”

She recognized unfair practices as unfair to everyone. Regardless of our personal political preferences, we acknowledge that universal unfairness, as well. We must now recognize and act upon the challenge of our collective lifetime – that we are, indeed, what we’ve been waiting for, that it’s our voices alone that will protect us.

Whose voice is living through you? What sacrifices did your family make that you have lived to benefit from? Whose life will you benefit? 

Whose life will I benefit?

Use your voice. Bellow. Now.

#useyourvoice

#ruthbaderginsburg

 

If You Have a Voice, Let’s Change the Narrative

“The United States has always been, and remains, what we make it.” the ACLU

If we scratch the surface of what causes us to act and are truthful with ourselves, we recognize that progressiveness has nothing to do with ‘us’ and everything to do with ‘us, all’.  We’ve then admitted to ourselves that our ‘why’ in moving a progressive society ahead has, as its origin, that empathetic impulse to improve all lives. It arises from seeing ourselves in others.

Nowhere is it written that progressiveness is not associated with broad planning and activism. It’s not about angry, separatist political thought. It’s about changing hearts and minds.

The American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU, has a 50-state plan for what it calls People Power, founded only last year. The beauty of the movement is multi-faceted. It’s meant to be flexible to encourage activists to move on local issues while standing on the long-established structure and funding of the ACLU. “Local chapters [are] already in place, as well as funding for a long-haul effort”, says Marshall Ganz, who organized for the civil rights movement in Mississippi in 1964 and was the architect for Barack Obama’s grassroots campaign in 2007.  I canvassed for President Obama in Cincinnati, and the structure of the campaign was masterful. It was built in a way that got commitment, respectfully, from each and every potential voter as to that person’s candidate preference, no matter the number of contacts required to do so.

Ganz makes an important distinction between ‘mobilizing’ which is what we largely see today – reactive – and away from ‘organizing’ which is local, broad and powerful.

In an interview with The Nation, Ganz says the ACLU changed their motto to ‘We the People.’ “That’s a pretty significant reframing. If you think of yourself as, ‘We the lawyers who are defending rights’ versus ‘We the people who are fighting for our rights’ – that’s a very different idea.”

“If there is one thing I will give Donald Trump credit for, he has given birth to what may be a golden age of citizen activism.” — Anthony Romero, ACLU executive director. Faiz Shakir, ACLU national political director and architect of People Power, is “leveraging a movement… that builds out long-term infrastructure to prevent the next Trump.”

The ACLU says, “We’ll do the work in the courts. You do the work in the streets.”

Interested in changing hearts and minds?