Stewart Acuff

Oct 9

This Fall’s Election

Drew Brees broke Johnny Unitas’ NFL record the other night for the most consecutive games with a touchdown.

Syria and Turkey are sparring along their border.

The Iranian people are suffering for the arms mania of their nation’s leaders.

In one month, we will hold elections in this country. The elections will decide whether we allow the old, poor, and young to die and suffer for want of Medicaid. They will decide whether this great experiment in self governance can last, or whether Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan, and Ayn Rand will succeed in turning a democracy into an oligarchy. The elections will also determine whether any workers will have a union that can challenge the Financial Elite, and whether we create education ghettos with your children and mine going to even more over-crowded and under funded public schools. Meanwhile the elite and the poor who win the lottery go to private schools that guarantee their future. This fall’s elections will decide whether the rich take even more power and force us to give up our dignity, and whether our kids will have to join a mercenary army to fight people around the world whose hatred for this country that once was the hope of the world is hated even more. November’s election will decide whether our wizards on Wall St. continue to slurp and suck at the trough of OUR pensions like hogs in mud to their knees at a trough of slop, and whether anyone tries to open her-his heart and bare her-his soul ever again to make the art the people make and love. The elections will determine whether we have to spend the rest of our wretched lives trying to explain where we were when they took over America.

600,000 Americans didn’t die from Shiloh to Gettysburg to allow Mitt Romney to turn America into his crowd’s bank.

17, 18, 19 year old men didn’t endure the Bataan Death March or the beaches at Normandy or all the other slaughterhouses to give the great experiment to those who will destroy it the day they take the pledge.

It has never been up to one man no matter how smart or well-spoken or inspirational or courageous.

No, it is up to you and me and everyone whose heart and soul still – in words written years ago – yearn for freedom, the kind of freedom Woody Guthrie said included three meals a day and what my Momma said was a good day’s work for a good day’s pay.

I know what they think of me and my people. We’re in the 47%. Everyone in my family started working at 5 years old with a hoe choppin’ cotton or pickin’ cotton cleaning and painting houses and barns or measuring and surveying the Mississippi River levee or cleaning fish and rabbits and ducks and squirrels and coons and whatever else. But didn’t none of us make much money. As Bruce says, we always took care of our own, but sometimes we couldn’t take care of everyone around us and Daddy has the Alzheimer’s after 50 years of preaching hard and Medicaid pays for folks to make sure he eats and knows what day it is and who I am and my sister Julia had an awful disease call Kushings Syndrome and I begged God to give it to me and they couldn’t do much for her at Mayo’s so the government helped us. I ain’t never not worked and I know I’m a 47%, but I know ALL my people worked to make this country.

So this is nut cuttin’ time, who wants it time, how much do we love our people and our country time!

Do NOT go gentle.

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Stewart Acuff is America’s best-known and foremost labor organizer. He is the former organizing Director of the AFL-CIO. Acuff has also written two books: Playing Bigger Than You Are: A Life in Organizing, and Getting America Back to Work, coauthored by Dr. Richard Levins.

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