Working Class Hero

This past Tuesday would have been John Lennon’s 71st birthday. My mind always takes me to him every October 9th; I can’t help it. I will play a Lennon song or two, and post on Twitter or Facebook. He was one of the voices I listened to back in the Viet Nam War era; his words and songs called to me — he told me in verse that we are all one, that no one is better than anyone else, and how people struggle daily to survive in the richest nation in the world.

Lennon inspired me to be a good member of society; his words resonated with me. I can hear him in his British accent explaining to Dick Cavett or Mike Douglas how the wealthy of the world have abused the very workers they have made their fortunes on. His call to arms, so to speak, expressed the ideas of fairness, humanity and peace.

There are so many examples of out of control capitalism and its effects on struggling people. The coal miner, the migrant farm worker, the factory worker — history has well-documented reports of abuse, death and intimidation. Just a couple of weeks ago, Mitt Romney used coal miners for a photo-op at a rally before which the owner of the coal mine forced the miners to show up or risk being fired. The other day a multi-millionaire time share industry CEO threatened his 7000 workers with termination if they vote for Barack Obama. Bosses have for years intimidated workers over votes so this is not unusual or isolated.

The struggling middle class has seen its influence and wealth withered away over the last 40 years by wars, recessions and politicians who only care about themselves and their wealthy backers. Reports of Congressmen using information they learn from running the country to buy and sell stocks prior to the stock market collapse for their advantage have permeated the air and yet not one wall street CEO was prosecuted by anyone in the aftermath of the greatest economic collapse since the Great Depression. And, at the same time, Americans are packing prisons at record numbers with more Americans in prison than all of the other countries of the world. 

The face of America has changed so much in the last 40 years; factories have been replaced by strip malls and suburban sprawl. Instead of ‘What can I do for the country?’ we get ‘what have you done for me lately’. America has become a consumer nation with an identity of militarism, opulence and greed. The American dream has been tarnished if not completely turned into something out of a 1950′s Sci-Fi movie — but instead of body-snatchers, America has greedy people focused on themselves and no one else.

The current face of the American politician has also changed and not for the better. John F. Kennedy called on the youth of America to go off to strange lands and show the world America was the shining star for all to emulate, and the place to which people immigrate to become part of the family of the greatest melting pot ever assembled.

Today, many politicians care very little about anyone but themselves. There are some like Senator Bernie Sanders who actually care about the face of America but there are too many others like Paul Ryan who care only about selfishness and wealth. All the members of the Senate are millionaires and almost 60% of the House are of the same social status. There are fewer than 50 members of the house who live like most members of the middle class; the rest live a lifestyle most working stiffs only dream about.

The upcoming Presidential election present a clear choice: does America want a man who thinks the average middle class person makes $250,000 and believes half of the population are leeches, or a man who grew up like so many Americans, raised by a single mom and a grandmother and who has struggled for everything he has earned, including the presidency of the United States. My choice is easy, and I am voting for Barack Obama because he is me.