Baumann: We really are all in this together

Deb Baumann with her horse, Blue Moon, in downtown Upper Lake, California. Courtesy photo.

On July 4, I cowgirled up and rode my horse up and down the side of Highway 20 near Upper Lake, carrying a large American flag.

Cars and trucks honked, people cheered, and thumbs-up and victory signs were flashed by passing drivers. Some of the vehicles were rugged trucks with heavily tattooed gents who hollered “F***, yeah!”

As I smiled and waved in return, I wondered ... Would those guys be so supportive if they knew I was a Democrat?

I hope so. Because we really are “in this together.”

“E Pluribus Unum"”(Out of many, One) is our national motto. From the beginning, our nation has been diverse. Diversity of national origins, of creeds, of religions, of races, of languages. There have always been challenges, but coming together despite our differences has kept us going.

We really are in this together. Democrats, Republicans, Independents ... everyone.

This great American Experiment began in 1776, and it continues to evolve today. It is all about us, the citizens.

Today, this experiment has never been more in peril. Recent polls show that among registered voters, a majority of Republicans believe that the greatest threat to America today is ... Democrats. And a majority of Democrats believe the greatest threat to America today is ... Republicans.

If you are among those who feel one way or the other ... Congratulations. The Ruling Class has you right where they want you: Divided and antagonistic, neighbor against neighbor.

The only winners of this divide are the wealthy elites who have been waging (and winning) a class war against the rest of us for decades.

In our democracy, we should all be equal under the law. But we see something far different happening. Weird, wild, delusional conspiracy theories abound, while the real conspiracy is in plain sight: a system rigged to enrich the superrich and grind down everyone else.

Wealthy people live by different rules, in a system that does not hold them accountable. They buy their impunity with campaign contributions and lobbyists who instruct bought-politicians how to vote. The “free market” is being replaced by giant monopolies that crush small businesses.

How did our once-admired system fall into this sad state? What has happened to the Government Of the People, By the People, For the People?

The answer can be summed up in one word: money. Money unleashed on our political process by Supreme Court decisions in the 1970s. For most Americans, it has been downhill ever since.

Today, the bulk of the tax burden falls on struggling paycheck-earners, unlike the period following World War II, when wealthy people and corporations paid their fair share.

That was also the time of America's greatest prosperity, when a rising economic tide lifted all boats. That was the period when my own family rose out of poverty and into the middle class, thanks to programs enacted under FDR's New Deal.

Today, paycheck-earners are just so much cannon fodder, in an economic system which now serves the wealthy. It is not "China's fault" or "immigrants' fault." The blame rests solidly on elites who rig the system.

China has never stolen a single US job. Wealthy elites sent those jobs away, for the sake of a few percentage points more in profit. They sell us out because they have no loyalty to America. They do not care how much they damage the rest of us, if it means a few more pennies for them.

Those dudes in the pickup trucks ...? Cannon fodder.

The cowgirl riding along Highway 20 carrying the flag? Cannon fodder.

The majority of Americans, who are working and middle class? Cannon fodder.

It does not have to be this way. There are more of us than there are of them.

But we need to stop squabbling over manufactured culture wars and fake conspiracies, and focus our attention on problems that affect us all economically.

Above all, we must end the corruption. On that, 93% of all Americans polled, across all parties, agree. Big Money corrupts the process.

As a registered voter and involved volunteer, I am doing my part to try to improve things. I take my hat off to anyone who is doing the same, regardless of party. If your efforts are reality-based and in good faith, you have my respect, because in addition to being a Democrat (capital "D"), I am also a democrat (small "d") — a person who believes in citizens of a democracy working together toward common goals.

Lake County Democrats have been marching in local parades. We get lots of cheers along the parade routes, and the occasional "boo." The boo-ers have been led to believe that we, their neighbors, are their enemy. The truth is, we share many values and have many common goals. But we get our news from such different sources, that it is not hyperbole to say we live in different realities. This keeps us divided. And ... wealthy elites love that divide.

I hope that we can overcome this false division and come together again, as one people.

As a Republican president, Teddy Roosevelt, once said, "This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in, unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in."

We can do this. We must do this.

We, The People. United.

Deb Baumann lives near Upper Lake, California. At age 18 she registered as a Republican, then became an Independent, and then registered as a Democrat ... She always VOTES.