Dog in the Manger Nation

You’ve heard that phrase before? It is variously attributed to some random Greek, the fablemeister Aesop and the Gnostic gospel of Thomas:

Jesus said, “Woe to the Pharisees, for they are like a dog sleeping in the manger of oxen, for neither does he eat nor does he let the oxen eat.”

So there was that bristling dog, guarding that manger full of hay – which he couldn’t eat, but yet, when the hungry oxen tried to take a few mouthfuls, the dog growled, snapped and chased them away.

I’m reminded of the dog in the manger when I hear Gadsden-flag-waving Tea Party stalwarts complaining about how some of their tax dollars go to help poor, unemployed, disabled and elderly Americans.  I hear that dog in the manger growling when rich people sipping expensive champagne on the deck of their yachts complain about the tax rate being raised to that which they paid under President Clinton. I hear the snarling when pundits and presidential candidates demean and belittle the suffering of middle class Americans. I’m reminded of the dog in the manger when I hear Mitt Romney exalt his hard-working wife Ann, who chose the noble career of motherhood when she stayed home to raise her five sons – and then again when I hear that same Mitt Romney opining about the “dignity of work” and demanding that any poor woman with a child over two years old leave her child in daycare and go to work for the meager welfare dollars she gets from the government to support her children.

And when Republicans (and one Democrat) blocked cloture for the Buffett Rule in the Senate, I’m hearing that dog’s rumbling growl escalate into full-on red zone snarling and barking (according to Cesar Milan, the “Dog Whisperer,” a red zone dog is a “serious threat.”).  The Republicans have flooded our nation’s dialogue with phrases like “redistribution of wealth,” and “socialism,” which, in dog-in-the-mangerspeak, covers anything, any program, any new law or proposal that has to do with establishing any kind of fairness or relief of the burden on America’s middle class. The Republican dogs—er, Senators — stand strong in their mangers overflowing with money and stalwartly guard it for their masters, refusing to let the hungry, the poor, the sick and the elderly have even a single penny to ease their suffering and then they even demand that the bread be taken from the very mouths of hungry children and given to the rich. After all, we wouldn’t want those poor children to grow up to be lazy slackers, now, would we?

The GOP has made it very clear whose interests they represent. They represent the wealthiest Americans, who have gotten even more bloatedly rich over the last ten years, while the rest of the American people have suffered through the worst recession since the Great Depression. They have the nerve to tell us that social justice is a bad thing, that extending a helping hand to our fellow Americans makes them weak and lazy, all while they acquire more and more riches. And worst of all, some Americans have believed them, and have turned their anger on their fellow Americans. They too now stand guard in their own mangers and growl at anyone less well off than they, even if the manger they guard is a rundown doublewide in the backwoods of Louisiana or a crumbling house in a dying town in the Rust Belt. They have turned us against each other.

It is up to us to take our nation back from these dogs in the manger. The hay belongs to us. We need to claim it in November when we step into the voting booth to vote.

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