We are the majority – Pennsylvania Capital-Star

By Jill Sunday Bartoli

In a democratic country founded on the rule of the majority beliefs of its people, why are we permitting the minority to rule and increase dissention, racism, inequality. violence and chaos?  Is this really who we are, or is this what our elected leaders have created?

Let’s take a look at the beliefs and values of the majority of US citizens.  The majority of us believe in the Judeo-Christian-Islamic ethic of respecting each other as fellow human beings and treating each other fairly and with kindness and dignity.  We believe that we should work toward more, rather than less, economic, educational and social equality.  We believe that caring for young and older citizens is our shared responsibility.  We believe in well-funded public schools for all children.  We believe in fair and equal opportunity for all of our citizens.

In Pennsylvania the minority views and policies were on full display in a Basic Education Funding Commission meeting in Harrisburg. In spite of the  constitutional inequity of our public school funding, and in spite of  over $2 billion already spent on privatization, legislators made uninformed, misguided and outdated arguments against fair funding for all of our public schools.

Their goal, it seems, is to keep starving our public schools, and keep throwing billions at private, parochial, charter and cyber schools, leaving millions of our poorest students behind in crumbling, poorly cooled and heated, under resourced schools.  They will not admit that their decades of under funding and unequal policies created the poorest schools.

The majority of us would never support this.

In Congress, our Pennsylvania representatives have embraced the Freedom Caucus ideals of creating chaos instead of working together for equality, fairness and justice.  Equal educational, economic and social opportunity are off the table while they bicker over leadership and put us at risk for a government shutdown.

The majority of us do not support this.

Nationally, our legislators have created one of the most dysfunctional, divisive and unequal systems of taxation in the world. Some of our billion dollar corporations and individuals pay little or no taxes.  The .1% doubles and triples their income, while millions of middle and working class families sink into poverty and despair.  Hence, we have the highest child poverty rate in the developed world.

The majority of us do not support this.

Currently, across Pennsylvania, there is a battle over control of our school boards, from dark money-funded Moms for Liberty and white supremacist endorsed candidates who favor banning books, excluding authentic history, and controlling the minds of our children and their teachers.

The majority of us do not support this.

The question is, how can we the people begin to take back control of the policies and practices that have put our democracy into a downward spiral?  Why do we accept outdated scarcity/”fiscal conservative”arguments (“we can’t afford this”) in the midst of lavish abundance?  Why do we accept escalating poverty, injustice, and racism when we know how to prevent this?

We could learn from other countries, who have begun to turn out at election time in record numbers.  Recently in Poland the people voted in record numbers to remove their autocratic leadership.  In France the people voted in large numbers to reject a far right candidate.

We, as concerned citizens of the majority, need to use our voices and our votes much more.  The majority of us do not want budget impasses, government shutdowns and a retreat from racial and economic justice.  We can call, write and visit our elected representatives to remind them that we are the majority, and we will vote for– or against—them.

Don’t be discouraged after a few unsuccessful attempts.  Don’t be put off by the misinformed, misguided, outdated arguments you will get.  Many of us have tried, failed, and tried again.  We’ve brought friends with us to show broader concern and solidarity, and joined with others in rallies and demonstrations.  This is what democracy looks like.  It’s messy, and sometimes frustrating. But it is worth fighting for if we want to build a stronger democracy for the generations to come.

Our young people have rallied behind a teenager from Sweden who said,

“Our civilization is being sacrificed for the opportunity of a very small number of people to continue making enormous amounts of money…It is the suffering of the many which pay for the luxuries of the few.

You say you love your children above all else, and yet you are stealing their future in front of their very eyes” -Greta Thunberg, 2018.

Greta also said, “The real power belongs to the people.”  Let’s join together with our young people and embrace our power as citizens of the majority.

Opinion contributor Jill Sunday Bartoli writes from Carlisle, Pa. Her work appears frequently on the Capital-Star’s Commentary Page.

Originally published at www.penncapital-star.com,by Capital-Star Guest Contributor

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