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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

An Ode to the GOP

The Republican Party reminds me of Oscar Zoroaster Phadrig Isaac Norman Henkle Emmannuel Ambroise Diggs, otherwize known as the Wizard of Oz, or the huckster whose balloon was blown off course and wound up in the Land of Oz. As a wizard, he disguised his true identity until Dorothy peaked behind the curtain and saw just an ordinary man.

The wizard of the Republican Party is Fox News, which continuously espouses gibberish, mistruths, and exaggerations to sway their impressionable listeners into believing everything the Democrats promote is destructive to America, from social service to healthcare programs, from marriage equality to immigration reform, and to levying higher taxes on individuals and businesses who can afford to pay more.

In my opinion, the solution is to get a hundred or so buses. Gather as many Republican lawmakers from federal, state, and local government entities as possible. Escort them onto the buses, lock the doors, and start driving.

Drive through the strip-mined areas of West Virginia, the hog farms (and lagoons) in North Carolina, Cancer Alley in Louisiana, the refineries and chemical processing plants on the Texas coast, and the fracking operations in North Dakota. Treat them to produce grown in these areas, and some local tap water. Ask them about their viewpoints on the EPA, ask them about creating and enforcing regulations to protect the environment. Inquire about their viewpoints on Superfunds, and whether lawmakers like Governor Chris Christie should be allowed to let violators pay a fraction of the cost for cleaning up their messes.

Because it would be cruel not to feed politicians on the bus tour, give each of them $7.25, the federal minimum wage, as a daily stipend. Stop at WalMart stores along the way, and allow them to use their $7.25 to purchase their meals. Remind them that someone who earns minimum wage gets just $290 for working 40 hours a week. Remind them that, most likely, they can’t afford to spend much more than 12.5 percent—an hour’s pay—of their earnings on food.

The bus tour continues, traveling through America’s great cities. Because fresh air never hurt anyone, the air conditioning would be turned off, and bus windows opened as they traversed through the downtown areas, the industrial areas, and the impoverished neighborhoods of Detroit, Muncie, Chicago, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Miami, Fresno, Buffalo, Newark, Toledo, Milwaukee, St. Louis, McAllen, and Brownsville (TX).

They could play a game along the way, to determine which side of the bus could count the most abandoned and boarded-up homes and businesses.

Another game would entail having the lawmakers guess the percentage of people they see on the streets who have access to basic necessities, from housing to food, from healthcare to higher education or training programs, from reliable transportation to the ability to secure a job that pays a living wage.

To help them understand today’s economic conditions, they could role-play what they’d do if they had been born into a family where the primary income earner lost their job—perhaps because their job was outsourced—and couldn’t find another one because few were available, and they were competing with hundreds of other job seekers. What would they do if they could no longer pay their mortgage or rent, and ended up on the street?

If some of the travelers started to feel distress from the polluted air, remind them that more than one in five children have asthma in large, polluted cities. Also remind them that only a small percentage have access to healthcare and medication to control their asthma. In Chicago, people are twice as likely to end up in the hospital for asthma as elsewhere in the US. And black Americans in Chicago are five times more likely than white people to die of it.

Obviously, several cities in America have issues. What about rural areas? Traipsing across the country would no doubt provide these esteemed politicians with the opportunity to check out how people live in smaller towns. They’ll pass by miles of farmland and see the only people who are willing to do the backbreaking job of harvesting crops. They’ll have the opportunity to inhale the aroma from feedlots, and maybe have an entertaining stop at a slaughterhouse where workers are expected to work at breakneck speeds, often in unsafe conditions. It’s good to learn how food doesn’t magically appear on the shelves.

Along the way, they will also pass through towns and neighborhoods of “ordinary” middle-class citizens, working hard every day, dealing with their personal challenges and issues from raising kids to juggling bills and obligations, from overcoming setbacks from injuries and illnesses to dealing with an unwanted pregnancy, from paying off student loans to finding an affordable place to live, from struggling to pay a mortgage to even dealing with returning from active duty.

What the politicians might learn is a billionaire and a farm worker have many things in common. They’re both AMERICANS, and therefore have the same inalienable right. While it’s easy to say everyone has the opportunity to get an education, secure a great-paying job, purchase a house, obtain medical care, and accumulate wealth, these aspirations are becoming more difficult to achieve in an America that favors businesses and special interests over its very own citizens.

However, most of us are not dumb nor naïve enough to believe such a humbling experience would ever take place. Yet, on the flipside, any sort of corrective action short of this would simply squander taxpayer dollars.
Then again, when have our politicians seen a single cent of our money they didn’t want to waste?