Retiring the elephants

Posted on 13 Mar 2015 at 7:50am

GOP-elephant

Haberman-Hardy-The news that Ringling Brothers Circus is phasing out elephants in its show is heartening. Elephants are large animals, and spending most of the year in rail cars traveling has to put an amazing amount of stress on these beautiful creatures.

And so as the performing elephants retire, I am reminded of the other performing elephants, the far-right wing of the GOP. These ponderous pachyderms — like Louis Gohmert and Ted Cruz — have mastered the trick of grabbing the media spotlight with their preposterous statements and patently unconstitutional laws, such as the recent spate of alleged “religious freedom” bills that would give people the right to refuse service to LGBT people base on their “deeply held beliefs.”

All of this stems from the same-sex marriage debate, which is still raging in legislatures across the country in anticipation of a U.S. Supreme Court ruling favoring same-sex couples.

But in reality, it is all just a show. It is designed to get the media spotlight and distract us, specifically to distract the more liberal among us. While we spend our money and energy swatting back these nuisance bills, the real agenda of the right wing continues full force.

If you have to ask what that is, they have been successful.

The United States is presently an oligarchy, run by the richest and most economically powerful folks our country has ever seen. The days of the Gilded Age look pale in comparison to the amassed wealth of folks like the Koch brothers and the Walton family.

These people, including some who have a slightly more progressive bias, are benefiting from our distraction. As we spin and toil, they pay little in the way of taxes and continue to pull far more out of the economy than they add.

As job creators, they fail miserably.

The latest job numbers are heartening when it comes to numbers of employed, but disturbing when it comes to the jobs created. Most are in the service sector, which means near minimum wage and essentially no real economic power.

Essentially, there are lots of “burger flipper” jobs being created and scant professional and manufacturing positions.

Why? Well, because the manufacturing sector, which was once the backbone of America, has been outsourced. Professional technology jobs are also in the same boat, and that boat is sailing for the Far East while the term “offshore” becomes more common in our daily parlance.

A report by Forrester Research quoted in a New York Government study predicts that 3.3 million U.S. jobs — including 542,000 computer jobs — will have moved offshore by the end of 2015.

It is all in the name of cutting costs and increasing productivity — which really just means higher profits for corporations and fewer good jobs here at home. Since I have lots of friends from the LGBT community as part of the tech business, this move directly affects them and me.

At present, we give tax breaks to companies that move jobs overseas by allowing them to defer some taxes and avoid others by deducting the cost of moving the jobs as a “business expense.”

Meanwhile, those of us on the liberal side waste time arguing over the latest insane statements by Ann Coulter and Bill O’Reilly.

The elephant in the room is a big fat GOP one, and it’s dominating our discussions and our energy while the oligarchy rules with impunity.

What we need to be paying attention to is the movement to enact a constitutional amendment that will restore Congress’s and the states’ ability to establish campaign fundraising rules. Such an amendment would overturn Citizens United v Federal Elections Commission and get the tsunami of corporate funds out of politics.

Needless to say, no Republican will ever vote for such an amendment, since it would essentially cut off their money supply. So we have to take the long view.

As a voting block, the LGBT community can wield considerable power. In the last election exit polls showed 5 percent of voters were people who identified as LGBT, and that number is enough to tip the scales.

We need to spend our time and energy electing people who are more likely to be not just sympathetic to our rights, but who will work to move our country away from the oligarchy it has become and back to a democracy where people are people and corporations are artificial constructs for doing business and not artificial “people.”

It’s time for our country to do the humane thing and retire the elephants. Put them out to pasture where they can trumpet and clomp around without damaging our rights and our essential freedom.

Let them bellow about cutting the debt, something at which they have a dismal record. Let them pretend to favor the middle class, a class that has been struggling since Ronald Regan instituted the myth of “trickle down” economics. Let them trumpet about “job creators” who failed miserably to create jobs under the Bush administrations, the very administrations which gave them immense incentives.

Let them spout their insanity about LGBT people and look instead at the sad failed record of heterosexual institutions like marriage.

We cannot afford to continue to be distracted by their ridiculous circus act. We have the real work of justice and equality to do.

Hardy Haberman is a longtime local LGBT activist and board member for the Woodhull Freedom Alliance. His blog is at DungeonDiary.blogspot.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition March 13, 2015.

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