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Bulldozing Progress


A former mayor of Cushing used to complain about welfare, especially for the city’s darker-skinned citizens.

He was having coffee one afternoon at a local fountain and complained to his coffee drinking buddies that the owner had hired two black ladies to run the place.

“Let me get this straight,” a friend said. “You don’t want to give them welfare, but you don’t want to give them jobs?”

I see the same mindset in today’s GOP. You don’t want to give them healthcare or education, but you don’t want the social safety net, either. In fact, the GOP seems hell bent on bulldozing a century and a half of progress toward a stable economy and social justice.

Consider the misnamed Reconstruction. The South may have surrendered at Appomattox, but they didn’t have to educate black children or let their parents vote. Or give them justice under the whites-only justice system.

Different party then, but the same story.

How much did poor whites give up in the name of superiority? How much are they giving up now?

At the end of the 1800s, men amassed great fortunes at the same time as orphans lived on city streets and immigrants and children of the poor worked in factories. The owners had all the rights. Complain. You’re fired. Hurt on the job. You’re fired. Try to unionize. You could be shot, in the name of self-defense, of course.

Along came Monopoly-Buster Roosevelt. He didn’t care much for Indians, but he got the job done for white workers.

After the excesses and gambling of the ‘20s, another Roosevelt pushed through social programs that gradually brought us out of the Great Depression. The Department of Agriculture addressed the disaster caused by the plowing up of grasslands in the Midwest.

Infrastructure. Investment in science and a trip to the moon. Civil rights. Voting rights. Clean air. Clean water. Education opportunities for minorities. Overtime pay. Equal pay for women. Access to healthcare.

We’ve slogged our way forward, one bill, one administration at a time, with a couple of backward lurches.

Ryan, Pence, Bannon, and the presumed ringleader, although I have my doubts about who is in charge, are doing their best to undo in their first couple of months what it has taken us a century and a half to accomplish.

Sharon Martin lives in Oilton, OK and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer

March 20, 2017

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Sharon Martin


Educator & OEA member Sharon Martin lives in Oilton and is a regular contributor to The Oklahoma Observer.

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