To Divide and Conquer…the Middle Class

In the wake of the State of the Union address, the camp on the right seemed to be following it’s party line, with every comment pitched to the nearest journalist. the GOP is dead set on lambasting President Obama, for what it seems, anything he has to say: “Ladies and Gentlemen of the United States, it is impossible to find something cuter than kittens meowing!” The Republicans would fire back with, “…This President, and his administration, are deliberately misleading the public. It is a well known fact that puppies barking are the cutest thing we have to offer the public. It’s what they want!”

It is a bickering match for the sake of bickering. The two parties in the US political melee are not unlike an old married couple, who recognize they have no one else to turn to, and no where else to go, so they channel the hate and misery inside them, and devote the rest of their time on earth to making their partner equally miserable.

Or, a simpler metaphor: it’s 4th grade, President Obama is the kid who wears head gear and has a different horse sweater for every day; and the Republicans are everyone else. He’ll just never win.

And as if knocked on the knee with a little hammer, their proverbial leg jumped forth in the form of the official Republican response, given by the Indiana Governor, Mitch Daniels. Mr. Daniels, in response to the State of the Union address, said: “No feature of the Obama presidency has been sadder than its constant effort to divide us, to curry favor with some Americans by castigating others…As in previous moments of national danger, we American are all in the same boat.” And, our cute friends in the schoolyard punch-up that is the race for the Republican candidacy, said something painfully similar.

Newt said Obama, “seemed to be setting up an entire year of divisiveness, an entire year of getting nothing done.”

And Mitt, so far, has been the only one not to use some derivative of the word divide. Instead, he used the tax cloud hanging over him, to bash the President’s desire to raise taxes on the wealthy.

But, it’s not the big bully club that’s bothering me, but the hypocritical statements given by the Republican base that distresses me. This constant notion of division, and the inflammatory buzzwords such as “extremism,” used elsewhere in the response, to instill a frightening word into the minds of the public. Or, more directly, the impressionable minds of America.

Let us return to the use of the word, division; divide, and so on. The claim that Obama is creating, or attempting to create, a divide between the have’s and have not’s. Firstly, does that not exist now? Has that divide not existed for time immemorial? What were the great castles of medieval Europe for? To create a divide between those with money, and those without. By including himself in the citizens who should be taxed more, he is throwing down the gauntlet, accepting that something must be done, and if in fact Mr. Daniels believes that we are indeed, “all in the same boat,” than surely he wouldn’t mind picking up a pail to help bail out some of the water that has leaked into our ship? It is this perceived idea that increased taxes directly takes money out of our pockets, which is harmful, and ultimately detrimental to the nation as a whole. Increased tax does not have to go to welfare programs, or a poor immigrant needing medical treatment (though it should…tis the christian duty to help those less fortunate, but that is another left vs. right argument, for another day), but rather to services used by all: improved infrastructure, better trained police and fire units, schools and teachers better geared towards investing in youth, and so on.

The fact is, we are in the same boat, some just have better cabins than others, but the end result is the same: we sink. Do you wish to die in luxury, or save the ship?

The divide is ever present because people are not capable of getting jobs, because they are being sent abroad for tax breaks, or the poor education system didn’t prepare them for the job market.

It’s a sad state in American politics when voters listen to the leaders of their party discuss financial envy, and a country divided, while they are on welfare, unable to find a well paying job…and agree with it; incapable of seeing that they are who the left is trying to help. That this divide is at the heart of the Republican nomination race. Who is more republican than the other? Who is more Christian? Who is more conservative? That guy is too liberal, and he does this or doesn’t do that, don’t vote for him. It’s all the same rhetoric fed to bash the incumbent, which is being used to bash each other.

If President Obama is being accused of dividing the country in his attempt to revive the middle class by reminding the population that people such as Warren Buffet pays less in income tax than his own secretary, then what is the Republican tussle in the primary’s, and the promise to keep the wealthy, very wealthy, and the poor, very poor, via tax reductions?

It’s the road to a wealthy future.

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A New Big Brother?

Rebel, revolt and reshape. It’s the rage of today, with the occupiers occupying; neo-conservatives fighting social initiatives; and the Arab Spring washing over an entire region. What we’re seeing today is a spike in what the students across the ages have been waging: a war against the establishment.

It’s only natural, right? The status quo can’t maintain forever. Man has proven that in every society someone prospers, and someone suffers. But now, protests are taking a different shape. They are being mobilized quicker, and on larger scales. With the rise of the Internet, and social networking, organizers can, within moments, bring the disenfranchised together with only a well-placed email.

Creating a new stir is the SOPA and PIPA acts, which seek to dictate how the Internet is governed.

Internet powerhouses, Twitter, Google, Wikipedia and the like, teamed up to lobby a halt to the progression of the bills. They enlisted users to contact their local legislators to show displeasure over the invasion of their right to search for porn, and pirated music–or, as it’s commonly known: surfing the web without restriction. These social networks used their own devices to reach the public, in a way that no other institution could, to seek support. But, what are we to do when the tools of resistance are used by those being fought against? Or, does the fact that it was the social networks who led the charge against congress, alter this idea? Whether or not, these companies have undoubtedly altered the way people communicate, and subsequently, how a cause is furthered. So, is it far fetched to believe that since websites such as Facebook and Twitter have promoted the waves of change, they cannot enlist their users to repay the favour in their benefit?

SOPA would have severely altered the way websites such as Wikipedia and Facebook operate, so it took little more than to dangle the idea of the government peering over a users shoulder each time they logged into their accounts to incite fury, leaving the Internet giants only to suggest what the bill might mean if passed.

Tumblr bellowed, and the mass answered back. Wikipedia called, and the mass responded. Shutting down the sites for an extended period of time was the planned protest, and more or less, it worked.

This was a big victory for the Internet community. Not only because it combated a bill that was too invasive, but also because it brought a new form of lobbying to the table. Without the typical flood of money rushing through the halls of Capital Hill, a bill was scrapped. But more importantly, it was a victory for the youthful voice, which has been forced to endure blow after blow in the protests of the last twelve months. But, should the mass be pleased? These Internet companies are apart of the same 1% the occupiers are fighting against. And they, in essence, ordered the youth of American to respond, and they did.

Was it blind allegiance? Or was it a marginally informed conscious decision?

I raise this question because, the Internet is, more or less, a youthful forum, and much of the youth in America blindly swallows, and subsequently regurgitates, whatever ideas their favourite media figure spouts. The talking heads on Fox News, or professional jokesters of the prime time Comedy Central news shows, are examples of this. And though these examples live in the cultural lexicon, they are not the largest pool culled. That honour rests in social networking sites. Politicians, pundits and grassroots movements overwhelm websites like Facebook and Twitter, trying to reach the youth vote, and the youth opinion, because they are young enough to only know a life online, and possess an innocence that fails to warn them of the possibility of their own impressionability.

Are these Internet companies’ giants on the public’s side, or are they another international business venture manipulating a loyal and dedicated user base to achieve their desires? At this point it isn’t clear, but what is certain is that Internet companies can mobilize a great deal of people, in a short amount of time, and that a new form of lobbying has arrived, and may have a lasting impression in Washington.