Curtain Raiser

Beyond Labor Day, Colltalers

First of May is back to relevance in America, it seems, after decades of being vilified and relegated to almost oblivion by corporations and conservative politics. There’s even some expectation for record attendance at nationwide rallies and acts of protest scheduled for today.
While celebrated as a holiday all over the world, it’s disheartening how Labor Day’s been stripped of political substance in its country of origin. The renewed focus is obviously due to the man who’s just completed one the most bizarre 100 days in office by any U.S. president.
Most Americans don’t know that the date traces back to what’s now known as the Haymarket Affair, on May, 4, 1886 (look it up) and that it was a coalition of worker groups and left-leaning parties what set it up as a labor movement symbol. And that the first Monday of September, when the date is officially marked in the U.S., was a deliberate presidential decision aimed solely at diluting its meaning.
It is appropriate to be a bit hopeful that the damage already inflicted by Trump and his administration has at least one possible silver lining: the American people may be experiencing an awakening of sorts, an urgency about the need to regain control over their nation’s destiny.
Or it may rain heavily all over, so to give would-be protesters a perfect excuse to stay at work – did we mention that May Day is not a holiday in the U.S.? -, but we cautiously doubt it. In fact, the coincidence of coming at the tail end of that artificial presidential timeframe may actually add an extra layer of importance

of taking it to the streets, even risking one’s day wages (but mercifully, not the whole job).
The ‘100 Days,’ unofficial U.S. standard observed since the 1930, is artificial because it’s an attempt, by media and pundits, to frame the naturally chaotic first days of a new incumbent into a neat package, that supposedly illuminates the presidential agenda going forward.
It doesn’t, and it rarely revealed much insight into what the new administration was to become at the end of the term. But with this one, its moral compass seems so out of whack that a magnifying-lenses moment such as this serves to expose what should be blatant to everyone.
Never in a little over three-month period so much has been done to disrupt, in the most dangerous possible way, what little confidence people had in the power of government to be an equitable, just force at promoting and preparing all forces of society to a better future.
Speaking of the office, there’s no record in American history of a president that’s used the White House as a buying and selling bazaar, and a first family not the least ashamed of taking advantage of its privileged position to actually profit from it. And in such a short time too.
The same way, no one had heard of cabinet officials being nominated for positions to which they showed no qualification, and worst, had spent considerable personal resources in their prior lives to fight and undermine the very offices they now head. And it’s all done with not even a hint of remorse or genuine humility to learn something on the job, even as their actions will impact millions around the world.
Then again, that should be the media’s job, and it brings us to another fact, highlighted by that artificial standard, other than the fact it’s mainly a media construct: the analysis, so far, of Trump’s first months in office are deeply disturbing in their lack of real critical substance.
Instead of emphasizing his dishonesty as a leader and risky stands in world affairs, which reveal ignorance about the issues and disregard for others’ input, the picture being drawn by review over review is that of a widespread, concerted effort to normalize his shortcomings.
While he makes them all look like unpaid private interns, he gets a free pass on his incoherent foreign policy U-turns; unguarded reliance on military hawks to make war and peace decisions, and the complete useless, and numerous, executive orders he’s signed. He gets his every whim covered, but not the serious national security threat he chooses to ignore when he plays golf at his vulnerable Florida resort.
Questionable ties with Russia, his and of members of his family and administration, refusal in releasing tax statements, stunning one-page ‘tax reform,’ that crudely helps the wealthy and himself, blatant nepotism and cronyism, there are so many staggering issues the media should be hammering about now and it’s not. No wonder that, at the latest poll, some 36% of Americans said they continue to support him.
They either haven’t got the memo, and that’s almost criminal from the part of news organizations, with the constitutional duty to inform taxpayers, or the harm to common decency and so-called good values of governance have already been too extensive for repair.
The world has suddenly got closer to a nuclear holocaust since Trump is in office, prospects to a worsen of climate change conditions increased, as will the deficit if his tax ‘gift’ to his class goes through Congress (it probably will), and unemployment, since there’s been no serious labor proposal to speak off so far. And yet, headlines of his 100 focused on his personal ‘change,’ in office, or his Tweets.
Thus, who needs to be reminded that there’s still 1,360 days to go of this, specially if they’ll be more of the same? Well, pretty much every American. Yes, it may be hard to ask those already stretching themselves to keep their paychecks, to go out today and make their voices heard, as doing so may risk their jobs. But it’s the only way those coming thousand days won’t be any worse than the current status quo.
The powerful will always find ways to demonize May Day, and those demanding decent jobs, healthcare, housing. On cue, during the general strike that paralyzed Brazil last Friday, a sub-mayor not just forced workers to spend overnight at the job, but also recorded a video with them, and claimed that it was their idea, and wrote on social media, that he supported workers’ rights, just ‘not on business days.’
The world is out, today, for Trump is not the only threat to peace and to a reversal to global warming, hunger, and income equality. Millions are voicing their defiance in France, refusing to allow Le Pen to use domestic terrorism to restrict civil rights, and more will be all over Europe and South America. They’ll be doing the bidding for oppressed masses in Asia and Africa, who may not be able to do so.
The planet defenders will be out too, along those fighting for gender justice, women reproductive rights, and above all, the right of every man and woman to have a job with which to provide for their families, to have peace to prosper, and to have hope for a healthier future.
Let’s protest for the right to party, to celebrate life and not being a slave of the machine that has proven over and over to serve only the minority at the top. This May Day is about work as it’s also about free education, clean water, affordable housing. It’s about demanding honesty from political leaders, and equality for all. In other words, it’s about a dream we need to make into reality. Join us and Happy May. WC


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