OPED: What most politicians don’t get: “It’s about dignity. It’s about respect.”
As someone slightly addicted to politics, I listened to a lot of speeches these past two weeks. And given that “prime time” in Egypt is 4:00 AM, the big speeches from the Republican and Democratic conventions drastically cut into my sleep.
I heard a lot of rhetoric. Some made me cringe (Paul Ryan, Robert Wexler), some made me dumber (Clint Eastwood), some made me wonder what planet I was on (Mitt Romney), some made me cry (Michelle Obama), some made me proud (Jared Polis), some made me smarter (Bill Clinton), but one speech surprised me: Joe Biden’s.
Biden’s speech made me cry, made me proud and made me smarter. Admittedly, I have never been much of a fan of Joe Biden, until these last four years. And despite Joe’s (can I call you Joe?) numerous detractors, I will argue this: there is not a politician on earth who better embodies and communicates the pride and struggles of every day, hard-working people.
Joe Biden simply gets it:
… The rest of my life, my dad never failed to remind me – that a job is about a lot more than a paycheck. It’s about dignity. It’s about respect. It’s about being able to look your children in the eye – and say honey, it’s going to be okay, and believe it was going to be okay…
Dignity. Respect. Joe.
In a political age fueled by 24/7 news, twitter, economic stats and figures and charts and think tanks and pundits and experts, for workers, it is really very simple: dignity and respect.
The downfall for Mitt Romney, Paul Ryan and the Tea Party is their lack of dignity and respect for the American worker. Bashing the automobile bailout, bashing public sector workers, bashing unionized workers, bashing the unemployed, opposing equal-pay-for-equal-work, opposing an increase to the minimum wage, failing to mention our troops – all of these slights collectively deliver a giant middle finger to workers. Their message is lower paychecks, less rights, you are a drain on society, you didn’t build shit, and you are on your own.
I look forward to November when US workers can respectfully and with great dignity crush Mitt Romney.
Joe’s message about dignity and respect is lost on many politicians, not only in the US, but also around the world.
Take Egypt, where I am currently sitting for example. Do any of the political forces in Egypt truly understand the Egyptian worker? Do leftists relate to the struggle for dignity and respect in the factories and fields? Do liberals advocate for better paying jobs, better working conditions?
A quick look at this week’s headlines says the answer is, no:
- Leftist parties protest against the ‘Brotherhoodization’ of the state
- Constitution Party does not lack enthusiasm
- Left criticizes IMF loan, but to little effect
- As Egypt’s Islamists Cement Their Rule, Can Secularists Reclaim the Revolution?
Do you really think an Egyptian worker earning 12 LE per day, who’s oldest son can’t find a job, who’s daughter gets harassed walking to school because there are no police, who’s wife struggles to feed his family with rising food prices cares about the “Brotherhoodization” of Egypt? Or the IMF loan? Or what next Friday’s protest is about?
They want dignity and respect. They want a better future for their children. They want to able to feed their families. They want to look their children in the eye and say, “honey, it’s going to be ok.” And they want to believe it.
They want someone to fight for them. To understand them. To offer a better tomorrow.
The liberal/secular/leftist forces in Egypt today are parties of “one” – they glorify their one semi-famous leader, complain about the Brotherhood in their
villas headquarters and disregard the important arithmetic of building coalitions and inspiring the masses.
Political parties are not social clubs; they are meant to empower the masses, to fight for the improvement of people’s lives.
Want to stop the “Brotherhoodization” of Egypt? Well, you have two choices… continue to whine, protest, boycott and tweet your way to defeat… or organize and inspire workers and win.
Building coalitions is hard work, but it is how you win. You have to have a message that inspires and unites and an organization that empowers.
I much prefer winning over whining.