Future in My Hand

There’s a song by Neil Young called “Loose Change,” the refrain of which aptly describes the state of politics in this exhausting election season. It goes:

“Loose change in my pocket / Future in my hand / Too many distractions / For me to understand.”

I was describing a recent political debate to a learned friend the other day over lunch. I gestured when I spoke about the criticism of Hillary Clinton’s wearing a $12,000 jacket to make a speech in which she spoke of inequality and poverty. I called it sexist, claiming that “No man would be criticized for his outrageously expensive suit,” and then I ranted on about the fact that one’s clothing was relative. And really, only a monk or a cloistered nun taking the vow of poverty would truly be worthy of making such a speech about poverty. Not Oprah Winfrey with her enormous charities. Not any rich person. Because, hey, even middle-class I would be considered rich by a homeless person’s standing.

There was something more about that discussion that bugged me, but I couldn’t figure out what it was.

My friend at the table quietly listened, nodding his head and agreeing now and again. Then he put down his fork and spoke in his characteristic gentle tone as he put my annoyance in perspective. He said, “These are only distractions to blunt the message.”

“Come again?” I said as I mulled over the meaning of his words. He repeated them again, and I said them aloud, forming the words with my mouth so I would not forget them. “These are only distractions to blunt the message.”

You see Hillary’s message was poverty and economic disparity. Those two issues can be denied until the cows come home, but they exist, and the economic recovery our country has experienced during the last 7 years has been largely unrealized by the masses. Income inequality is not due to laziness (as many insist) as much as the decreasing opportunities for upward mobility and unequal distribution of wealth in this country. In other words, working class people do not receive their fair share of profits from their efforts, since it all goes to the corporate class, the share holders, the CEOs, etc. Moreover, corporate welfare, tax loopholes, off-shore accounts, and hidden money which is not taxable, all add up to the middle and working classes paying an unfair share to run the government. Working class taxes would be lowered if the billionaires and corporations paid their fair share.

So yes, Hillary Clinton and her opponent SHOULD be talking about this issue as well as minimum wages, food insecurity, and college debt, among other pertinent topics.

Distractions. Emails that were sent just like those of Condoleeza Rice and Colin Powell. Benghazi that pales in comparison to issues surrounding the 13 embassies hit with 60 casualties under President Bush. Her gesturing like Jesus. Her tone of voice. Her husband’s behavior. Her clothes. Even her hair. Lordy her hair.

The future is truly in my hand and yours. It is up to us to wade through the distractions and recognize them as such so that we can understand the real issues and what is at stake for our country and vote responsibly.

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