Spring Has Sprung, The Revolution Has Begun

Revolution is as unpredictable as an earthquake and as beautiful as spring, as the recent uprisings in the Middle East shaking the foundation of that volatile region and the populist uprisings burgeoning in our own backyard to counter Governor Kasich’s attempts to put the final nail in the coffin of the Ohio middle class can attest. Its coming is always a surprise, but its nature should not be. Revolution is a phase, a mood, like spring, and just as spring has its buds, shoots and showers, so revolution has its epicenter, its bravery, its hope, and its collective solidarity.

No revolution vanishes without effect. The Prague Spring of 1968 was brutally crushed by the Soviet Union, but 21 years later I was in Prague as a second wave of revolution liberated Czechoslovakia. Alexander Dubcek, who had been the reformist Secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, returned to give heart to the people from a balcony overlooking Wenceslas Square: "The government is telling us that the street is not the place for things to be solved, but I say the street was and is the place. The voice of the street must be heard."

The voice of the street has been a bugle cry this year. You heard it here in Ohio at the Statehouse in Columbus, on the steps of Public Square in Downtown Cleveland, and from our brothers and sisters in Madison, Wisconsin. But the rulers who thought their power was the only power that mattered heard it last and with dismay. Many of them are nervous now, trying to tamp down uprisings and subvert the democratic process driven by a blind and narrow idealogy.

We need to be vigilant--our endurance will be tested and millions will be spent by some of the most powerful people and corporations in America in the coming months in an effort to continue the downward spiral of representative government, rights and wages. Enough of us have finally taken notice that destroying living wealth to create financial wealth is an act of pathological insanity and we need to begin treating money as a useful tool for managing our economic choices rather than as the end to be maximized.

As a nation, we no longer have a sense of the collective. Today’s revolution must be to re-embrace the American ideal and the American collective that once seemed not only utterly desirable, but essential. Because America, in turn, was identifying with the collective, with every class. It wasn’t as if the rich weren’t going to get richer; it wasn’t as if the poor didn’t have a harder life. But everybody, certainly from the time of the New Deal, believed in the ideal that we were all in this together. Or at least enough people bought into the notion that the poor, the middle class and the rich were all invested in the same collective outcome. Nobody was going to get there on their own.

It was a time before gated communities. It was a time before charter schools. It was a time before capital had demoralized labor. When you believed your tomorrow might be better than your today, even if it was only going to be marginally better, or even if it was your kids that were going to have it better. If you were invested, and if you got up, dragged yourself to work every day, there was going to be a place for you. When that held, patriotism couldn’t be made to seem naïve; it was real, not contrived. Belief in the nation-state was plausible.

You hear conservatives invoke socialism to suggest that we shouldn’t have an actuarial group of 300 million people and keep all of us a little more healthy by sharing. It’s a thoughtless triumph of ignorance.

Both Republicans and Democrats fear telling the truth. The collapse of integrity over taxes is near complete. Corporations, Wall Street and their CEOs are making unprecedented profits and not paying taxes at a rate even close to what was paid under Eisenhower. Do people think America wasn’t ascendant and an upwardly mobile society under Eisenhower in the ’50s? Nobody was looking at the country then and thinking to themselves, “We’re taxing ourselves into oblivion.” Yet there isn’t a politician with guts enough to tell that truth because the whole system has been purchased by the rich. We need to honestly look back to move forward.

Chris Perry

My family and I relocated to the City of Lakewood from Oregon in October 2008, to be near my wife’s extended family here in the Cleveland Metro Area. I have two children (ages seven and ten) that attend Lincoln School.

I currently work for the City of Lakewood in their Water and Wastewater Department. One of my many responsibilities is working to help make Lakewood more compliant with the Clean Water Act. Prior to that, I worked for Legal Services in their Mortgage Service and Foreclosure Prevention Program as a Foreclosure Prevention Specialist.

In addition, I have over 25 years experience as a community organizer, director of a non-profit, writer, lobbyist, demonstrator, board member and lifelong community activist and volunteer. I am passionate about economic and social justice as well as environmental causes and identifying and addressing the root cause of social, economic and ecological ailments that undermine our long-term prosperity and sustainability.

I have organized, led and been an integral part of successful political, environmental, economic development, sustainable agriculture and social justice campaigns.

My vast experiences include the following: Campaign manager for a successful city council and county commissioner elections; led the effort to uncover racial bias within a particular county Department of Human Resource Center, which resulted in the State of Oregon conducting an intervention and removal of certain staff and caseworkers; successful rural economic development and renewable energy legislative advocacy; worked in coalition with the United Farm Workers Union to lead consumer boycotts and negative publicity campaigns regarding the labor and environmental abuses taking place at the nation’s largest dairy and feedlot operation located in Eastern Oregon (Three Mile Canyon Farms); development or enhancement of farmer’s markets and farm to school programs; part of a coalition that pressured the EPA to enforce the Federal Clean Air Act with regard to the industrial agriculture and dairy business, in particular Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFOs), who were in non-compliance due to a loophole in farming practice definitions; co-founder of the Blue Mountains Conservancy Land Trust, La Grande, OR, which I organized and incorporated in 2007 in a successful effort to help lead the negotiating effort of the public acquisition of 3,700 acres to become a county park, thereby preserving a historical public recreation area; environmental justice writer for Clean Water Action; Foreclosure Prevention Specialist in which I was able to help over 300 families to avoid foreclosure and keep their homes.

In my spare time I enjoy time with my wife and kids and I have a passion/addiction for running marathons and ultra-marathons.

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Volume 7, Issue 7, Posted 10:26 PM, 04.05.2011