The Sound of Silence

April 5th is set to be a great night for television.

Tonight, Black girls will rock on BET, the NBA will showcase games with major playoff implications – and the deliciously addictive “The People vs. O.J.”comes to an end as we finally find out how the trial ends (shhhhhh!! No spoilers please!!!!)

But for those of us who are ’bout that political life, our attention will
will be fixed on the State of Wisconsin and the results of tonight’s presidential primary.
While we are focused on the state of badgers, dope water parks and cheese, lets reflect on how this midwestern gem became a case study of the American workforce, decimated by Republican politics.
Unfortunately, Democrats have not been much of a deterrent to this effort.

While the destruction of the middle class and the war on unions in states like Wisconsin and Michigan have been orchestrated by Republicans and their corrupt entanglement with lobbyists and financial interest, the Democrats, led by President Obama have been their silent co-conspirators.
For all of us who seek economic justice for the poor and the middle class, it is very important for us to never forget the way the Whitehouse intentionally stood on the sidelines when the people of Wisconsin were pleading for support to help protect their unions and dethrone Republican Governor, Scott Walker.
The centerpiece of this point are “Right to work” laws and the battle that took place in 2011.

Here’s a very brief explanation of “right to work laws” for those who are interested but are unfamiliar with this issue.
Despite it’s intentionally deceptive name; intended to conure sensations of an American pride and warm apple pie,  “right to work” laws actually ban unions from having contracts in which all employees of a company have to be represented by a union. In other words, companies can hire workers who don’t wish to be protected by a union. Now, there are many nuanced reasons as to why these laws are harmful, but to put it generally; they are dangerous because if all of the employees aren’t working under the same protections, then that incentivizes a company’s desire limit employee benefits and also increases the likelihood that the employer would hire less and less workers who wish to be repped by a union.

Those of you reading this may know that I’m a singer and actor, in addition to my work on this website so I’ll use an example for my friends in Broadway and touring shows.

Imagine that you’re in a production-tier show and that half of your cast is in the union and half are not.. #1: If the non union cast members weren’t treated with the same standard of fairness that you are, it creates not only potentially poor work conditions for them but also a less than ideal environment for you.
If working in an unbalanced and segregated work environment then you would have simply chosen to continue working on cruise ships and not on the “great white way”.
2. By telling producers of shows that make millions of dollars in gross sales that everyone in your kick line doesn’t have to be a member of Actor’s Equity, it won’t be long until everyone in your dressing room is a non-union artist being paid less than the standard wage. Why pay you thousands to do the work that someone else will gladly to do for hundreds?

The people of Wisconsin showed up in droves to protest this attempt to weaken their rights as employees. They literally took their dissent to the government’s door and filled the state building with 2,000 blue collar workers and citizens in a scene that seemed to be straight out of a Ron Howard film, taken from the pages of a Twain poem. The people had spoken. They just needed the support of the government that they elected to be the champion of the little guy; the one they had ‘hope’ would bring ‘ change’. But the calvary never came. Only a weak statement condemning the law and the governor but without any teeth behind it.You see, when president Obama was campaigning for election, he vowed that the opposite would happen.

“When I’m in the White House, I’ll put on a comfortable pair of shoes myself. I’ll walk on that picket line with you as POTUS, because workers deserve to know that somebody’s standing in their corner”

Much like his disappearing act whenever the teachers who helped to elect him protest and go on strike, President Obama has been shamefully silent in these matters. When you look at the level of support he’s received from large companies and financial institutions.. like Nas said “it ain’t hard to tell” why.

This is just one example as to why campaign finance and the influence of wealthy corporations over government is such a critically important voting issue in 2016.

When Hillary Clinton tries to brainwash voters into thinking that a candidate can accept large sums of money from ‘big-business’ without it presenting a conflict of interest, she points to 2 misleading facts
1) the fact that President Obama has been heavily backed by the same groups as she
2) her voting record that on the surface, does not scream of any sort of political compromise

This is misleading because in politics, neutrality is the new black.
Having a silent, non disruptive ally is as coveted as having a winning lotto ticket.

When big money corporations and Super Pacs are buying a candidate, they aren’t
always buying a vote. Sometimes they are purchasing silence –
and in times that are politically critical to the oppressed and the vulnerable, that silence can be a Republican or a Koch brother’s best friend.