Charles Dickens, Thomas Jefferson and a little Bob Dylan Thrown in Will Get You ‘Truth’

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of light, it was the season of darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” Charles Dickens from A Tale of Two Cities

Most of us know this quote as the opening paragraph from A Tale of Two Cities by the remarkable Charles Dickens. And you likely also know that in A Tale of Two Cities, Dickens was offering us a close-up view into 18th century England, and across the Channel, in France. If you know about the disruptive state of affairs in England and France during this time, perhaps you’ll appreciate the allegorical reference of these phrases for us here today, more than two and a half centuries later.

With these remarks, Dickens described an age of radical opposites taking place just a few miles apart, separated only by the English Channel. It speaks of contrasts and comparisons between two cities in the midst of a revolution. And while it kept its storyline focused on London and Paris, it was certainly representative of far more. He was pointing to a major conflict between family and love, hatred, and oppression, good and evil, light and darkness, wisdom, and folly. Now if that doesn’t sound frighteningly familiar, you may want to just cease reading this now…

On Wednesday of this week, the absolute best and worst of our Nation were on full display simultaneously. While an armed rabble of seditionists breached and occupied our Nation’s capital in what is arguably the greatest threat to our democracy this nation has ever known, in Georgia – yes, I said Georgia – the very spark of that same democracy was being rekindled and casting light on what we must all now pray is a new era of American greatness. I would truly never have believed either of these stories if I hadn’t been witness to them as played out right in front of me on Wednesday, January 6, 2021.

The first of our two stories is how, after four years of his lies, deceit, greed, and indifference, an immoral, would-be tyrant lead a small, but dangerous band of misinformed followers to our nation’s capital building – “The Peoples’ House” – to try to take and keep what he had lost in a safe, fair and solemn election. There, they breached the doors of that sacred shrine to freedom, occupied, vandalized, and desecrated its hallowed rooms and halls. Even after the people had spoken and said no…not you…and not this anymore. Nature will write the remainder of that story, but It was, hopefully, the final act of a maniacal autocrat and his last trampling of the long-respected principles, practices, traditions, and laws that set our nation apart.

The second of our two stories is one of triumph. Of longshots paying off. Of the mighty being brought down by the lowly. A story where two champions of democracy, against all odds, are triumphant in their pursuit of victory in their races for the US Senate, becoming two crucial stones in the great wall defending our republic. It is the story of how sanity, stability, reason, and safety are restored to a nation savagely abused and neglected for four long years, but ultimately unbowed.

Yes, Wednesday, January 6, 2021 may well be the second date on the awful, but thankfully very short list of days that will “live in infamy,” but I cannot help but wonder if in the longer arc of history, we won’t look back and recognize it as a day that may well have ended in the tragic death of the greatest experiment in representative democracy the world has ever known but was instead given a rebirth. I wonder if the tragedy of that day will be the near-death experience that was needed to shock this nation into recognizing the weakened and ignoble state in which we now find ourselves because of our own corrosive, petty, spoiled, child-like actions.

It has been said that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants.” And like so many things of late, this quote is most often used badly out of context and far from its initial meaning. It comes from a letter Thomas Jefferson wrote to William Stephens Smith on Nov. 13, 1787 regarding Shay’s Rebellion in Massachusetts. While Jefferson was sympathetic to that cause, he did go on in his letter to note that such seditious acts were all too often fomented by treasonable actors to enrage ill-informed factions, and that the remedy to these uprisings, was to “set them right as to facts…” In short, truth!

As did Jefferson, I too believe that democracy must be vigilantly protected, and truth be the sword it wields against the mischaracterization and falsehoods of those who would have us ultimately lose our freedoms by telling us that they alone are the only means by which they can be protected and defended. History is replete with tyrants who subdued and subjugated a people in the name of protecting and defending them. Our only hope against such evil is the cold, glaring light of truth, so that we may never fall prey to the darkness and fallacy of specious promises ever again… Vagaries and platitudes such as those we have heard, over and over, these past four years.

Okay, I’ve given you Dickens and Jefferson, but I also promised some Dylan, so I will finish with this: “Come senators, congressmen, please heed the call. Don’t stand in the doorway. Don’t block up the hall. For he that gets hurt will be he who has stalled. The battle outside ragin’ will soon shake your windows and rattle your walls. For the times they are a-changin’. Wow! Could he have been more prophetic?

Less than a month after Dylan recorded that song, President Kennedy was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, on November 22, 1963. The next night, Dylan opened a concert with “The Times They Are a-Changin’.” He later told biographer Anthony Scaduto, “I thought, ‘Wow, how can I open with that song? I’ll get rocks thrown at me.’ But I had to sing it, my whole concert takes off from there.” What Dylan didn’t yet fully understand is how truth is democracy’s only real defense.

Democracy requires “the truth,” however good or bad it may be. And it must be repeated with more volume and greater frequency than the corrosive falsehoods of the would-be tyrants and depots who are always circling democracy, looking for a chink in its armor. Because the greatest truth is that democracy is fragile, and beautiful, like a glimmering piece of crystal or a small, delicate bird. If we learn nothing else from these past four years, we must come to understand that democracy is tenuous at best, and always, always under threat. Then, when the vigilance of true patriots becomes the very sunlight, air, and water that feeds that same “tree of liberty, precious democracy may be kept from crashing down around us. Because, as Bob Dylan told us, “The Times They Are a-Changin’.”

November 17 Is #SaveThePostOffice Day

Dear Sisters, Brothers, Community Partners and Friends,

Thanks to the dedication of postal workers, 65 million Americans successfully cast their mail ballots this election.

Postal workers put in long hours, did special sweeps of facilities and made extra deliveries to make sure our votes were delivered.

On November 17, we’re coming to deliver our demands for a thriving, public Postal Service. Find an event to join or host one in your community!

The dedication of postal workers kept mail ballots moving, but now that the election is over Postmaster General Louis DeJoy plans to resume his disastrous policies that created delays and chaos this summer and fall. 

At the same time, the Postal Service’s finances are still devastated by COVID. The House has passed $25 billion in COVID relief twice, but this administration refused to deliver that aid before the election. 

Join us November 17 to demand funding and reverse DeJoy’s delays.

The unprecedented success of vote by mail this election is more evidence that we should be expanding and strengthening the Postal Service—not undermining it. 

I hope we’ll see you Nov. 17 to #SaveThePostOffice,

Joe Biden – The Most Pro-worker, Pro-labor Nominee in a Generation

Senator Sherrod Brown is speaking directly to Ohio Ohio’s working families this week, speaking directly to them about why Joe Biden is the most pro-worker, pro-labor nominee in a generation. Here’s the first video of a series we’ll be featuring this week. Please feel free to share this and all of our posts with anyone you feel could benefit from the message. Thank you!

 

Tell Your Senator: Support H.R. 6800, the HEROES Act / Aprobemos la Ley Heroes (H.R. 6800)

America faces a crisis on three critical fronts: a public health pandemic, an economic free fall and long-standing structural racism. Working people need safe jobs, economic security and freedom from systemic racism. Delivering on economic essentials included in the HEROES Act is an absolute minimum requirement for stopping the free fall into even deeper and deadly racial inequality.

 

Watch the Cincinnati AFL-CIO Video Call To Action!

H.R. 6800, the Health and Economic Recovery Omnibus Emergency Solutions Act, includes an emergency workplace infectious disease standard; gives aid for state and local governments, public schools, the U.S. Postal Service, and pension funding relief; keeps workers on payrolls to avoid mass layoffs; extends unemployment insurance; provides more direct payments to working people; extends health care coverage; provides housing and food benefits; and much more.

Of course, as is the case with any legislation, the HEROES Act is not perfect. We would urge Congress to protect mine workers by requiring not only the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) but also the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) to issue an emergency temporary standard on infectious disease.

In addition, since there is no consensus in the labor movement about the GROW Act (which authorizes composite multiemployer retirement plans), we would suggest further review and debate on it as the HEROES Act moves toward enactment.

Working people are desperate for our leaders to put partisanship aside and do what is right for our health, our economy and our country. The HEROES Act is a major step forward.

CLICK HERE AND use the form to be connected to your U.S. Senator.

La Ley de Soluciones de Emergencia Omnibus de Salud y Recuperación Económica, H.R. 6800, incluye un estándar de emergencia de enfermedades infecciosas en el lugar de trabajo; brinda ayuda a gobiernos estatales y locales, escuelas públicas, el Servicio Postal de EE. UU. y alivio de fondos de pensiones; mantiene a los trabajadores en nóminas para evitar despidos masivos; extiende el seguro de desempleo; proporciona pagos más directos a personas que trabajan; extiende la cobertura de atención médica; proporciona vivienda y beneficios alimenticios; y mucho más.

Por supuesto, como es el caso con cualquier legislación, la Ley HEROES no es perfecta. Instamos al Congreso a proteger a los trabajadores mineros al exigir no solo a la Administración de Seguridad y Salud Ocupacional (OSHA) sino también a la Administración de Seguridad y Salud Minera (MSHA) que emita un estándar temporal de emergencia sobre enfermedades infecciosas.

Además, dado que no hay consenso en el movimiento laboral sobre la Ley GROW (que autoriza los planes compuestos de jubilación para empleadores múltiples), sugeriríamos una revisión y debate adicionales a medida que la Ley HEROES avance hacia su promulgación.

Los trabajadores están desesperados por que nuestros líderes dejen de lado el partidismo y hagan lo correcto para nuestra salud, nuestra economía y nuestro país. La Ley HEROES es un gran paso adelante.

Utilice el formulario para ser conectado con su senador de los EE. UU

Solidarity In The Midst Of Separation

In 2010, Barack Obama walked into the well of the House to deliver his annual State of the Union address and declared: “A new decade stretches before us.” He spoke to us of our frustrations and anger, many of which were fresh, open wounds inflicted upon us by the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. But then he quickly pivoted to a more optimistic note and said, “In this new decade, it’s time the American people get a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength.” Well, from where I sit at the close of that decade, that optimism has yet to be born out.

In the decade since Barrack Obama first sounded that now remote note of optimism, political, cultural, and economic gaps have widened, hearts have hardened, and anxiety born of a prolonged financial crisis, has come to define so many of our behaviors, relationships, and conversations. Divergent ideologies now determine even the sources by which we gather our news and harvest our information, resulting in alternative and irreconcilable truths. And then, just when you think the world cannot become more divided, a thing called COVID-19 comes along and adds a literal twist to what had been only a metaphor as we spoke loosely of “a nation divided.”

Well, if you are still reading this after that rather stark assessment, let me tell you that I say all that to better illustrate this… Amid all this, let’s try for a moment to take a slightly different perspective … a more horizontal view of this darker interpretation of our culture. We may even find some silver lining. To the extent that this world of ours has continued to function in these terrible times of political division and COVID 19, we have been given a unique and inspiring look at the true face of our nation. As unsolvable as it all may seem, to the extent that America continues to galumph its way along in spite of the ineptitude and false hopes of it so-called leaders, it does so riding squarely on the solid, reliable, steadfast backs of its hard-working middle class.

Yes. The hard-working people of America’s Labor Movement have once more proven to be the “not-so-little engine that could.” It’s you… it’s us… it’s our Sisters and Brothers in Healthcare, Public Safety, Building Trades/Construction, Food Workers/Retail, Transportation, Public Sector, Education and US Postal Service putting your lives on the line every hour of every day. To the extent this nation is functioning, you can thank a Union Worker. Bravo Sisters and Brothers! Its us!

So yes, live humbly, but take pride in each other… and in the very noble work we do…work too often performed in silence and out of the view of the more strident minority. However, know that today, you are heard! You are seen! Your voice rings out in the sound of our hammers and in the squeaking of our brakes…in the roar of our engines, the quenching of fires and the easing of pain… in our hands — the hands that do God’s noble work… the hands of America’s Unions! You are America at its best!

You my Sisters and Brothers are why this nation will persevere. You are why we will continue and pull out of this…Because we persist, we will see more and brighter days ahead. And here, as we stand once again… on the edge of yet another new decade, it may yet prove out yet that in this new decade, the American people will get “…a government that matches their decency, that embodies their strength.” We have the opportunity to get it right this time.

So, thank you, Sisters and Brothers, for all you do… and for all that you are. A sometimes seemingly ungrateful nation sees you now and is indeed grateful. And what they see is the absolute best of this nation’s character and its hope. You have shown them what is truly meant by “Solidarity forever!”

God bless you and God bless America!