It was just yesterday that we shocked the world and elected Barack Obama as our 44th President of the United States. It was just yesterday that we carried our dreams into the White House to reform healthcare, Wall Street, education, immigration, climate, the Iraq and Afghanistan wars and repair our deeply broken relationship with the rest of the world. It was just yesterday that we delivered on many of these reforms, but now we know we must continue to push for even more.
No longer will children with pre-existing conditions be denied healthcare. No longer will students be extorted by student loan companies and be denied access to higher education. No longer will someone be punished 100x more for selling the same amount of crack cocaine compared to powder cocaine. No longer will women be subjected to less pay than their male counterparts in the workplace. No longer will we have an open-ended time line in Iraq or Afghanistan. No longer will we let Wall Street control our economy by betting against the future of America. These are just a few of the major accomplishments we achieved within just 22 months. It is not time to give up our on dreams. In fact, this is the time to dig deeper into our core convictions, finding strength in our resilience and support our team. Because as my brother, Rev. Run, says "team work makes the dream work!"
If we don't wake up on Tuesday and rush to the polls, by the end of the day, we will find ourselves with an Alice In Wonderland Congress, where up is down and wrong is right, and lies are truth and hating diversity is seen as patriotism. In the new Alice In Wonderland that is today's Republican Party, Sarah Palin is the Queen of Hearts screaming "Off With Their Heads"; Glenn Beck is the Mad Hatter with all his tears; Rush Limbaugh is the Cheshire Cat, laughing at the madness and loving it.
Unless moderates and progressives quickly put aside their disenchantments and VOTE on Tuesday, we will wake up on Wednesday to newly elected politicians whose meanness, duplicity and downright madness is unique even by the standards of past American moments of extreme right.
Just a few years ago there were unshakable standards of American inclusion in American politics. Trent Lott lost his Senate Majority Leader job for one speech in which he praised the politics of Jesse Helms; George Allen lost his senate seat and with it his presidential ambitions, with his famous "Macaca" moment. These gaffs however are nothing compared to what is now accepted, by a large part of our voting society, as not just acceptable but actually energizing hate speech by candidates for high office. Sharon Angle, with her overtly racist statements and ads against "brown" immigrants, sanctioning of the violent overthrow of a democratically elected US government, and forced births to raped children, is actually ahead in Nevada. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Joe Miller of Alaska and Carl Paladino in the New York Governor's race, allow their storm troopers to trample on reporters and activists. Lies about the president's nationality, about "death panels", about immigrant crime, FEMA internment camps and other loonie theories, keep getting repeated in the vast echo chamber of a joined up paranoid blogosphere hard-wired into public discourse via Fox News, even after they have been soundly refuted. This is new territory for America. And if we don't come out in droves on Tuesday, the message we send is: we didn't know that change takes hard work, and because we didn't know that, the hate filled rhetoric won.
The current election is something new, and very dark indeed, for the American public. And the vast majority of us don't realize what's at stake because we just aren't used to this kind of hatred. We think it'll go away. Think again.
If we don't vote, we will open the door to a dark, hallucinatory chapter in American politics of deep unconsciousness, hatred and lies. The Republican establishment can't tame this movement - history is filled with examples of the opposite happening - of the movements taking over the party, both from the extreme left and the extreme right. When money and fringe movements meet at the right time, and the majority doesn't act to stop them, the movements take over and destroy civil society. And today those movements want to kill government, when we need it functioning and active in a fragile recovery from the worst recession in our lifetimes. They want to blame ethnic groups that have nothing to do with why we're in a recession.
Make no mistake: this is a civil rights election. If you're black, brown, Latino, moderate, gay or lesbian, if you're a scientist seeking facts, a Christian with compassion, an economist who wants to avoid the next depression by keeping the government working during a fragile recovery; a journalist who wants the truth; a moderate who wants America to lead the world in education and freedom - you are the target. Vote or suffer the consequences.
On the very same night after you are done voting, I'm launching my reality show, Running Russell Simmons, on Oxygen at 10:00 pm EST, to show a vision of the other, future-forward, inclusive America: multi-racial, diverse, creative, entrepreneurial, gay and straight, Black, White, Asian, Latino - it embodies the spirit of entrepreneurialism, inclusion and creativity that makes this country unique in history. Where people work to do well by doing some good along the way. Where business has an empowerment message even in the worlds of fashion, glamour, media and TV.
Ask yourself which America you want, and then, please, vote vote vote.
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