Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Religious Lefties, the Culture War, and the Supreme Court (Part 1)

I have been trying, desperately, to stay focused on my Seminary studies over the last 2 days since Justice Antonin Scalia died.  But the political junkie in me, as well as someone who spent time in the political trenches of the American Culture War, has seen an opening to advance in the theater of the Supreme Court in this conflict between reason and hate, as well as grassroots action on different legislative maneuvers that might reframe some traditional polarized issues in the United States.


When I speak of the Culture War, I often hear opposition from many Unitarian Universalist ministers, as well as friends in social action who believe that language must be all-inclusive and free from barrier in order for radical inclusivity and unconditional love to spread.  I contend that the constitutional crisis we face with the Senate leadership's refusal to hold hearings on President Obama's pending Supreme Court nominee is part of a larger matter of democratic process.  By using this time of crisis to highlight our ideological beliefs of universal salvation, as well as the inherent worth and dignity of every person, through political and grassroots action, we can not only advance our ideals, but we can frame the battle lines on important legislative and political issues to come.

Example #1: Immigration

After Justice Scalia's death, what was expected to be a major defeat for Rationalists, and the Obama Administration, in providing a legal path for residency for undocumented workers will now result a tie in the court's ruling, meaning that the constitutional question of whether President Obama can take unilateral action without Congress will go unresolved.

This is the perfect moment to those on the Religious Left to contact their elected representatives on the state and Federal level and voice support for the rights of those who come to the U.S. to build a better life for themselves and their families.  This simple act is often ignored by Rationalists, because given the toxic political climate -- that is partly due to many decisions of the Conservative Activist Supreme Court -- that individuals cannot influence their representatives in government.

That is false.  Legislators, particularly on the state level, listen to their constituents, and really listen when organized groups set up events in their districts.

UU Legislative Ministries, as well as people of conscience everywhere, should be using this moment to seize the initiative,take the time to contact the people who represent them, and remind legislators that plenty of American voters think those who come to the U.S. seeking a better life should be a recognized as people with inherent worth.

Example #2: Unions

The Purchased Lobbyists and Corrupted Legislators in State Capitols across the country have annihilated the capacity of hard working people across the country to earn a living wage, thanks Right-to-Work-for-Nothing laws.  26 states -- including, tragically, my home state of Michigan, hub of the creation of the Middle Class 80 years ago -- have passed this equivalent of economic servitiude.  The Supreme Court was expected later this year to gut the ability of public unions to ensure a livable wage for those who go into public service.  Scalia's death means that public unions are saved from oblivion, at least for now.

But playing defense constantly means eventual defeat.  It's time to open up new fronts in the Battle for union organizing and a fair playing field for workers across the U.S.

  • It's time to push for a repeal of the Federal Labor Management Relations Act of 1947, which allows states to destroy unions and working-class families
  • Protests should be organized outside of city halls and state capitols across the country, with workers whose wages have been lowered and their jobs put in jeopardy at the forefront.  Constituents should demand meetings with state legislators to hear what they will do.  Republican lawmakers will suddenly be on defense, now that they cannot rely on the Supreme Court to legislate from the bench.
  • New laws should be proposed in Statehouses to mandate higher minimum wages; to expand Medicaid; to establish a wage floor and guaranteed minimum income to prevent homelessness.

Now is the time to strike!  Now is the time for people of conscience to think about how to take advantage of the new political reality in Washington, because for the first time in decades, positive legislative action can be demanded without fear the destructive Judicial activists will tear down the progress made!  

If everyone who believes in the inherent worth and dignity of every human being were to speak up to those in power now -- right now -- we could see a revolution within the system that so many think is broken beyond repair.

I think I've found my theme for this new blog, at least for a while.  Stay tuned as I continue to hone my message.  This may help me determine what type of ministry I will pursue.

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