The meaning of Memorial Day needs to be broadened.
We in the USA need to remember not just those who have died or risked death in one of the many wars the USA has been part of, going back to the original revolutionary war for independence from Britain. We also need to remember those who died or risked death or imprisonment in battles for the rights of workers to unionize, against Jim Crow segregation and for equal rights for all, for peace in Vietnam and against all imperialist wars, for the rights of women and lgbtq people, and against polluting industries and for the rights of nature and all its life forms.
The White House/Republican House debt ceiling bill underlines how important it is to draw strength from those before us who refused to accept unjust laws and practices, because this is a draft law which must be fought and fought right now, this week.
This legislation, if passed, would mandate the completion and operation of the destructive Mountain Valley Pipeline. It would roll back key provisions of the National Environmental Policy Act to enable a continued expansion of the fossil fuel industry. It apparently does almost nothing to advance clean renewables like wind and solar, including doing nothing to make it easier for new renewables to gain access to the electrical grid. It would weaken important social safety net provisions that help those of low income and low wealth while almost certainly increasing the nearly one trillion dollar per year military budget. And it requires student loan payments to restart for millions of young people.
There is no question that corrupt dirty-dealer Joe Manchin had a lot of do with this result. Joe Biden and his administration seem to have decided that appeasing this coal baron is the path forward when it comes to energy. They continue to disregard the statements made over the last two years by the International Energy Agency, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and, just recently, Pope Francis that the deepening urgency of the climate emergency requires that the world’s industrialized countries stop the expansion of new fossil fuel infrastructure.
Some progressives who get it on these and other issues nevertheless have begun to come out in favor of this latest version of the Manchin dirty deal. There is little doubt that on this one there will be a divide among those on the political Left. Those who openly support this flawed compromise will be saying, in essence, that Biden had no choice, which of course is just not true. For weeks other progressives, like Bernie Sanders and Ro Khanna, have been calling upon the Biden administration to continue to pay US debts on the basis of the 14th Amendment, but so far that rational argument has fallen on deaf ears in the White House.
At this point I have no sense as to where House and Senate members are on this latest dirty deal. What I do know is that, once again, those of us who appreciate the importance of fighting against, not weakly compromising with, the Maga Republicans and Democrats like Manchin, must flood Congress right now and every day this week, with calls and texts and faxes and tweets and visits to and actions at Congressional offices.
Let’s act in the spirit of our justice-seeking ancestors who have come before us, remembering our children and grandchildren and the seven generations coming after us. They are depending on us to take action right now.