By Tom Ehrich
We the People 1, Boston Plutocrats 0.
That was the score in a recently ended effort by the wealthy of Boston to lure the 2024 Olympic Games to a city totally unsuited for such crowds. (Beach volleyball on the Common?) Money worked in secret, then talked loudly. Get a grip, said the people. This is our city. Oops!
We the People 1, Bigots 0.
That was the score when a group of bigots mounted Confederate flags on their pickups and drove noisily through a black girl's birthday party shouting hatred. The people refused to bow their heads in fear. They were like the black musician who played the tuba to drown out racists attempting a parade.
We the People 1, GOP Gaggle 0
This, oddly enough, is the current score as the candidacy of Donald Trump surges. His over-the-top rhetoric probably will sour soon enough. But for now, he is appealing directly to the guts of Republican voters. To my eyes, he blusters a distasteful message,. But I'm not the target audience. The people who march beneath the GOP banner finally have someone who says what they think.
We the People 1, Law Enforcement Bullies 0
Look at how much we now know about police brutality. Bystanders record assaults and show them online. Victims push back -- assuming they survive. Their families go public immediately, not the least intimidated by out-of-control cops. Meanwhile, the vast majority in law enforcement who are decent officers are being forced to call out vicious colleagues.
People seem to have figured out that haters, like all bullies, get nowhere if they cannot make us afraid. When the people choose not to be afraid, a better day dawns. I'm sure this is confusing to latter-day Klan types, because not long ago their dead-of-night raids on isolated rural blacks kept blacks in line.
I see similar confusion among latter-day McCarthys, who wave lists of supposed villains but find that their attacks on "socialists," "commies" and "God-hating liberals" evoke little more than laughter. The standard right-wing religious trope of seeing conspiracies and religious oppression behind every tree are doing little more than making Christianity look stupid.
Have the people suddenly grown in wisdom? Maybe. More likely, thanks to social media and real-time communications unfiltered by corporate-leaning news media, the people are more visible. We have voice. We don't necessarily agree. In fact, we are probably as divided as ever. But we are also not stupid, or sheep-like, or comfort-driven dunderheads who can be talked out of our best interests by clever hucksters.
The supposed "monsters" aren't monsters at all. They're neighbors. Now we know what they care about. Odd as it might seem, the more I listen to Tea Party types, the more sympathetic I find them. I don't agree with a thing they espouse. But I hear their confusion about a world spinning out of control, and I understand the real injustices and suffering that the wealthy are causing them.
Scores will go up and down. The greedy and the bigoted will make common cause to deny voice to the people. But I think the people are pushing back.