My birth family was working class poor in the early days – my dad a roofer, slaving away in the hot Texas sun. By the time I was a teen, he had begun work at a General Motors plant in a union position, then over several years he worked his way into management as a night foreman.
But my early memories include: Dad coming home of an evening, sun-burnt and weary after a day on blistering rooftops. Mom scrimping to make seasonal earnings last throughout the year. Years barely above the poverty line when a sibling required open heart surgery and Dad’s meager paycheck had to stretch further to pay off doctors and the hospital. Without the GM opportunity (good hours, wages, health insurance) life would have been painful and brief for this working man.
I understand the financial and emotional pressures of the poor and the working poor who struggle for necessities without hope of much more – and in recent years, it has gotten worse. The gap between the wealthy and the poor has widened.
I can understand the average person’s frustrations as the world began to change, the good jobs seemed to evaporate, health care costs exploded, retirement became a chimera.
At the same time the rich improved their lot. Our government representatives did as well, living comfortably on excellent pay, and a separate health care and retirement plan.
I can understand why many voters grasped at the straw – the promise — that someone cared about them and would “drain the swamp” and make their lives great again.
Unfortunately those were empty promises as the first year+ of the new Administration has demonstrated, and there is no reason to expect any improvements over the next two years:
- The lives of average folks will not improve and in fact will worsen.
- Promised manufacturing jobs will go to computer professionals or robots.
- Cost of food and goods will rise with the loss of migrant labor in the fields and with shredded trade relationships.
- Education for their children will worsen as the focus and funding shifts away from public schools.
- Tax benefits for the average worker are miniscule compared to those given the wealthy and large corporations, and will disappear over time.
- Health care costs will rise as insurance markets crumble and doctors leave (particularly in the rural markets).
- Retirement age will get pushed further into the future and benefits will shrink as Medicare and Medicaid are raided.
- Their sons and daughters will be called to defend unnecessary conflicts and wars.
- Their grandchildren will inherit a country stripped of natural resources, public lands, clean air, clean water.
Fortunately, there is time for a course correction in the 2018 Mid-Terms and the 2020 Presidential Election. I believe there are leaders out there – moderate Democrats – willing to go to Washington, to roll up their sleeves, and clean up the mess created in the past year.
I believe that there are young visionaries entering politics who know the value of good education for all and the need for retraining that can support the shifting demands on our work force. I am pleased to see a wave of veterans who have entered races all across the country; a wave of women seeking office.
I believe that there are capable people who can serve us as statesmen, not politicians not side-show barkers. Leaders who can and will dig in to repair the damage of 2017-2020, change the trajectory for the average citizen, and build a stronger, modern America worthy of a place among other great nations in our complicated global society.
— Jonnie Martin