Nicholson: It’s not enough to stand against something; it’s time for progressives to promote things we stand for (column)
Back in the days of “W,” I railed against what were obviously lies designed to sway the electorate to support the misguided policies of a conservative administration bent on cementing corporate rule in America. Example: Saddam Hussein was hiding weapons of “mass destruction” in Iraq and the sooner we went in there and overthrew him, the safer we would all be. Obviously, nonsense.
Ten years after, we have Citizens United and Burwell v. Hobby Lobby Stores Inc. I met the sponsors of Citizens United once riding up the old Centennial Chairlift at Beaver Creek. “Do you realize what you’ve done, the monsters you’ve unleashed?” I asked them, “in the name of free speech?” They looked at me blank-eyed after what had been up to then a genial, if spirited, discussion. It might have just begun to dawn on them the floodgate of dark money they opened into our elections trying to gain equal ground for the conservative right against the “out-of-control” left.
The Hobby Lobby decision, helped by our own Justice Neil Gorsuch, then in the majority of the circuit court, may not have been envisioned by the intelligent, enlightened legislators on both sides of the aisle who crafted the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Now, the Gorsuch decision has emasculated and fragmented that law and our society, further giving anyone claiming religious freedom the right to discriminate. What a road these conservatives have turned us down.
As for climate change denial, the idea of drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge is not just a matter of conservation and preservation of natural habitat. Burning the millions of barrels of oil and cubic feet of natural gas would accelerate the demise of our planet’s atmosphere to levels that will not sustain us as we are today. Those are not wild claims. They are facts.
While corporate interests may well be beneficial to our continued access to cheap energy sources, the laws undergirding them require alteration for the sake of the commonweal. For example, shift the oil depletion allowance to provide for tax credits to those same corporate interests to develop and sustain alternative renewable energy sources. Seems simple, right? Except, when you have business-as-usual corporate interests and an administration rife with climate deniers and corporate enablers. These things must change or our children and their children will be breathing out of bottles.
It’s taken a while, but for those willing to step up and show an alternative American future that isn’t based on fear, let our voices be heard. I’m sure even a few conservative justices — intelligent, educated men and women though they are — like us, may admit their mistakes and help take us to where America is really great. That vision includes an America that welcomes immigrants like it did our parents, hard-working people who built lives here, businesses and educated their children.
Americans recognize that welfare takes many forms, corporate as well as individual. Those who have no need of our money and, indeed, should be denied it scream “socialism” while simultaneously putting out their greedy corporate hands to accept the oil depletion allowance and steal the government-subsidized research that gave us, as example, the Human Genome Project.
Today, private businesses patent their own combinations of genes for their own gain. I’m not necessarily against this, unless their idea for recouping their “investment” is to create an unaffordable and unattainable cure for some lethal disease they hope the government will eventually pay for again. What about our investment? This nonsense about how un-American and expensive it is to establish universal healthcare insurance when the opposite is true.
It is not enough to stand against something. It’s time for progressives to embrace and promote the things we stand for. These things are economical for us all — yes, even for the corporations. If corporations want to show what good citizens they are, fine. Let them put their own skin in the game and not just that of their own workers and call it theirs. We are not just against the current vision for America. The America we envision works for everybody, not just the few.
Gus Nicholson is a resident of Avon and Denver.