During this holiday season, Americans should be grateful for many things, but there is nothing to be thankful for from Conservatives, and especially Republicans. In their attempt to obstruct the Obama Administration and elevate corporations to the ruling class, Republicans are not helping to provide jobs, adequate wages, homes, medical care, or safety nets for older, unemployed or infirmed Americans.
Like the Obama Administration, Liberal groups, and Secular Humanists, Franklin Delano Roosevelt believed that Americans deserved security in their lives, and worked tirelessly to provide the very things that today’s Republicans obstruct and deny for citizens. Republicans fought tooth and nail to stop Social Security for older citizens and it is no different today. Republicans propose the hideous idea that health care, unemployment protection, a living wage, and economic protection are privileges and not an inherent right for being an American citizen.
Roosevelt believed otherwise so strongly, that he proposed a Second Bill of Rights in 1944, and as is happening today, Republicans obstructed and rejected his efforts for no other reason than to favor the corporate and industrial giants so they could continue reaping obscene profits at the expense of hard working Americans.
President Roosevelt’s 2nd Bill of Rights was a simple, five point proposition that every American should support and benefit from. However, like we see today, Republicans manipulated the narrative to block Roosevelt’s efforts at providing security for the working class, poor, and infirmed. As history often reminds us, some things never change, and Republicans never stopped punishing working Americans so the wealthy can prosper.
In the 2nd Bill of Rights, FDR proposed that every American has the right to:
1 A job.
2 An Adequate wage and decent living.
3 A decent home.
4 Medical care.
5 Economic protection during sickness, accident, old age or unemployment.
These five items seem like a no-brainer, and as FDR proposed, seem perfectly acceptable in the richest nation in the world then, and now. Republicans in 1944 didn’t think Americans deserved these rights, and in 2010, Republicans still don’t believe every American deserves any of FDR’s proposed rights.
Republicans have blocked jobs bills because they were supported by President Obama, and in fact, also blocked legislation that would take tax incentives away from companies that outsourced Americans’ jobs. In both cases, Republicans sided with wealthy corporations and claim it is the right of business to deny jobs to Americans so business can reap higher profits and enjoy tax-free status.
In 2010, Republicans are considering abolishing the minimum wage, and are fighting to prohibit workers from joining unions that would enable American workers to earn a living wage. Again, their goal is protecting corporations so they can pay poverty level wages while they take in record profits.
Republicans also attempted to block financial reform that would hold banks accountable for the mortgage fraud and predatory lending practices that are causing millions of Americans to lose their homes. The Republicans and conservative groups like Koch Industries and the Heritage foundation poured millions of dollars into groups whose sole purpose was to block health care reform because they feel that medical care is a privilege and not a right. Now that health care reform is law, Republicans’ goal is to repeal the Affordable Health Care Act so every American cannot have adequate medical care.
Roosevelt did manage to enact Social Security so Americans will have economic protection during their old age, but Republicans want to abolish or privatize that system so Wall Street can have the funds to lose in the next market meltdown. Recently, Republicans blocked unemployment benefits for people who have lost their jobs to outsourcing, and claim unemployed workers are lazy, and by extension, asking for entitlements. Besides losing their jobs, they have lost their health care, homes, and a decent wage.
After World War II, Roosevelt’s 2nd Bill of Rights was included in the constitutions of Germany, Italy, and Japan after the Allies defeated them. Interestingly, those three countries are more financially stable, their citizens live longer, are better educated, more content, and more prosperous than Americans. The Allies knew that to create stable governments with productive citizens, they had to guarantee basic rights like those on Roosevelt’s list.
Americans should be thankful that they live in a semi-free country, but there is little else to be thankful for these days. Republicans have made a point of denying basic human rights to Americans in exchange for obscene corporate profits that translate into more obscene campaign contributions for Republicans. It is a vicious cycle that shows no sign of letting up, and now that the conservative Supreme Court has given more freedoms and rights to corporations, the cycle is a feedback loop that guarantees Americans are easier rape victims of big oil and corporate greed.
So Americans should say a collective Thank You to the Republican Party for rejecting Roosevelt’s 2nd Bill of Rights in 1944, and a bigger Thank You to the 2010 Republicans for continuing to deny basic rights like adequate health care, homes, wages, jobs, and economic security during old age. However, their Thank You should be sarcastic, and it should be expressed with contempt for Republicans’ gifts to the wealthy and corporations. One can be absolutely sure that German, Italian, and Japanese citizens are extremely grateful they have Roosevelt’s 2nd Bill of Rights; their happiness, well-being, and contentment prove they are indeed thankful. Americans should be so lucky; Thank You Republicans…for nothing.
Audio engineer and instructor for SAE. Writes op/ed commentary supporting Secular Humanist causes, and exposing suppression of women, the poor, and minorities. An advocate for freedom of religion and particularly, freedom of NO religion.
Born in the South, raised in the Mid-West and California for a well-rounded view of America; it doesn’t look good.
Former minister, lifelong musician, Mahayana Zen-Buddhist.