If you want to keep Social Security and Medicare safe and sound, work for college affordability.
If you want urban mass transit, work to bring cell phone signals and Internet connections to every rural doorstep.
If you want public workers to be respected and valued, work to make the minimum wage a living wage and create new protections for nonunion workers in the private sector.
If you want to arrest climate change, work to end mass incarceration.
Focusing only on what you want won’t get you what you want. Your wish will be society’s command only if those you need standing with you and voting with you get what they want too.
The political landscape is littered with single-issue groups with enormous clout. Each is on an island, not concerning itself in the least with what’s happening on the next island over. Even the very strongest of them – like the once-mighty teachers unions – can find themselves suddenly isolated and vulnerable. We need each other. City dwellers need rural folks. Seniors need teens and twenty-somethings. White collar professionals need blue collar laborers. Otherwise the billionaires will keep on winning.
Organizations or institutions devoted to the common good are hard to find. Political parties should be so oriented, but in this era of legal bribery they are preoccupied with accommodating each individual interest group. They seem to think if you add up enough special interests the sum total will equal the public interest. It never works out that way.
We live in an age when the dominant political philosophy is me-firstism. The idea that greed is good and selfishness begets productivity has been pounded into us daily. We’re taught the illusion that each of us is self-made and that we can make it through life without ever needing another’s help, thereby freeing us from any sense of responsibility for the well being of others. In reality, this philosophy only makes us a nation of cats, totally dependent on others but fully convinced of our own independence.
The answer to me-firstism is to think we first. If you want to save Social Security, work for college affordability. We’re all in this together.