Blue Collar Buzz, Entertainment, Features, Law and Politics, Multimedia, New York

Seeking Common Ground

November 13, 2017

By Bill Hohlfeld

One of the guests on our last broadcast was Doug Cunningham of Worker Independent News. An old friend and colleague, Doug 

Bill Hohllfeld behind the Blue Collar Buzz mic this week.

always brings to the table a great mix of hard facts, keen insight, and heartfelt sincerity. During our discussion of the most recently proposed tax reform bill put forth by the Republicans, Cunningham laid out hard facts and real figures as a means of disputing the notion that this tax reform bill is in the best interest of the middle class and poor in our nation, and that in fact, the lion’s share of the benefits would go to both our corporations and our wealthiest citizens. I won’t repeat them all here, but would instead urge you to listen to the podcast in its entirety and judge for yourself.

Instead, I’d like to address a larger issue that Doug raised. During his discussion of the tax reform bill, Doug told us, and I’m paraphrasing here, that we need to start remembering that we are all Americans. We need to start helping one another, so that we can all do better. We are all in the same boat, is the metaphor that comes to mind. Intuitively, I agreed,but simply looking at tax structures, to me, it is a question of treating the symptom but not the cause.  It just won’t suffice. We need to get out of that boat we are all in and reach common ground.

I needed to work out for myself how we get to that place. In our current political climate, it sometimes seems as though we are impossibly divided, and more polarized than ever before in history. I think not. In fact, I think there are many more issues that unite us as a people and a nation than divide us, and if we start approaching the issues that way, we just might make some headway.

O.K. You may point to the current dispute we are having about confederate statuary. But the truth is, there is no real threat of anyone seceding from the union over this issue, and brother will not bear arms against brother until we are all knee deep in bloodshed, as happened once before. This latest in a series of heated arguments about which granite pieces remain in our public parks will be resolved without another civil war. And before anyone jumps to the conclusion that I am minimizing the tragedy of Charlottesville, let me assure you I am not. It was a disgrace and a horror. What I am doing is pointing to the fact that no matter how much mileage the sensationalist mainstream press gets out of that story, the truth is, the overwhelming majority of Americans were saddened and appalled by the tragedy, and as heinous as the crime that was committed was, the person responsible for it and the handful of neo-nazis and white supremacists that supported it, were in no way the voice of the American people. What I see is common ground.

There is more common ground than we sometimes realize. It needs to be explored. We are all horrified by the recent shootings in Texas and Las Vegas. The frequency of gun violence has not left us as callous to it as some would have us believe. Yes, many of us, myself included, believe it is important to preserve our constitutional right to own firearms, and we don’t think we owe anyone an explanation as to why. Whether we use them to hunt, or for target practice,  or to bolster our sense of security for home protection, or simply hang them on the wall and look at them is our business. Yet, even when people who hold such strong opinions on gun ownership are polled, the vast majority of us want sane and just legislation enacted. Again, I see common ground.

The list is inexhaustible. I have yet to meet a fellow citizen that is in favor of allowing our sick and our elderly and our children to be abandoned. But I have met many who continue to work hard every day to support themselves and their families, who are frustrated by an elite class of politicians,corporate CEOs, entertainers and athletes who, while they shell out 5 or $10,000 for a seat at the table with the candidate of the week, either lecture, condescend or lie to us from both the left and the right, while the cost of the waste, fraud and mismanagement gets paid for by plumbers, teachers and insurance salesmen. Nobody I know wants to hear about a tax plan that will save or waste trillions of dollars ten years into the future. It’s just a guess, with the only “science” behind it being about as reliable as the kind of thinking that caused the crash of 2008. What most people I speak to are interested in is how much more money will be in their paychecks next week. Now that level of information is useful and fertile common ground indeed.

A little honesty would go a long way. So, instead of creating catch phrases like “There are no illegal people,” which are designed to tug at heartstrings, and euphemisms like “undocumented worker,” which make it sound like someone has left his driver’s license at home, let’s just say we have people who have entered the country illegally, and admit that while they may not be competing for jobs like Mayor of a sanctuary city, they are competing for jobs in industries like meat cutting, manufacturing and construction. Let’s continue to be honest and admit that many of those jobs are not “the ones that no one wants,” but in many instances were the very jobs that were the mainstay of countless American families. Once we do that, the arguing about who is right may just stop long enough for people to have a fruitful conversation about what is right in this nation of immigrants, so it can come to terms with both its past and its future by enacting immigration reform now. That conversation can take place on common ground.

Let’s replace identity politics with a type of politics that contain an honest desire to ensure that everyone gets equal protection under the law. Let’s not set the environmentalists against the industrialists. We can build, expand and improve our infrastructure, our economy and our standard of living simultaneously. When we do that, we plant and plow common ground. The harvest is a safer, more prosperous, and yes, a happier America for everyone.

LaborPress’ “Blue Collar Buzz” airs every Sunday night from 9 to 10 p.m. on AM970 The Answer. Listen online at LaborPress.org, or check out the library of past episodes at www.am970theanswer.com.

 

November 13, 2017

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