Maryland Green Party Response to State of the Union Address, 2023
Hello, my name is Justin Sindall, I am the membership coordinator for the Green Party of Maryland, and an Alternate Delegate to the Green Party of the United States' National Committee.
And despite what you've heard from a bunch of rich politicians down the road from me in DC, the state of our union is tepid at best, and the folks who spoke, clapped or those who sat on their hands during the joint session of Congress just now are the bulk of the reason for it.
We have major issues in this country, & while I'm sure you heard a lot tonight about the economy, it doesn't take a genius to know that the economy is doing terribly for working people in this country. If you feel like you're working harder & getting less for it, that's because you are. People like the president & those defending his policies like to tout how many jobs were created, but it shouldn't take you four of those much-hyped jobs to make ends meet in this country. Almost 2/3 of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. This is not only immoral, it's unsustainable. The super-rich cannot continue to starve the working class into submission. The top 1% of people worldwide have accumulated 63% of all new wealth created since 2020 according to Oxfam - imagine if they got the 37% instead, & the 63% went to those who labored for their keep.
The president likely also mentioned the Inflation Reduction Act. I view this in a similar way as to when the two major corporate parties pushed bills with nice sounding names that ultimately made life worse for Americans, such as the Help America Vote Act, the Affordable Care Act, the PATRIOT Act, & the USA FREEDOM Act & the CARES Act. If only Shakespeare knew that the answer to "What's in a name?" was propaganda, he could have warned us. Now, more than ever, we need to increase the minimum wage to a living wage of $25 per hour and index it to inflation. The media likes to make it seem as though Kyrsten Sinema & Joe Manchin single-handedly killed the increase in minimum wage proposed in 2021, even though they had help from 6 other Democrat senators, including the two senators from the President's home state of Delaware.
Inflation - at least this inflation - has been driven by corporate greed, and you should check the payroll of anyone who says otherwise & find out who's signing their checks. And speaking of signing checks & corporate greed, the push to union-bust by corporations such as Starbucks & Trader Joe's, & the continued drop of union membership in the wake of record corporate profits, should stick in everyone's craw the way it sticks in mine. We need to repeal Taft-Hartley & call for a general strike in this country.
Experts are now reporting a return to $4 per gallon gas in the summer ahead, with minimal plans at best to build or restore this country's once-hulking rail infrastructure into something to be proud of once again. Softening the blow for Americans means ensuring that they can choose to leave their cars at home in the vast majority of the country. Most Americans can't afford electric vehicles. A quick view on Carmax just now puts the lowest-cost model at $10,000. And our environment can't afford the massive lithium mining operations necessary, nor the strain on our power grid. When 71% of all emissions come from 100 companies, most of whom are in the business of resource extraction, the push for net-zero emissions by 2030 has to start cracking down on the corporate world first, not in already-struggling families' pockets. We need true public ownership of the rail lines in this country, & we might not have awful situations play out like the train derailment, forced evacuation, & controlled explosion of toxic gas in East Palestine, Ohio.
The state of our union is tepid, too, because of concerns of COVID-19, an overall lack of healthcare, & a lack of proper focus on technologies that we know work. The rich folks that went to Davos as part of the World Economic Forum had portable HEPA filters in their interview rooms. How come our schools & offices haven't been fitted with similar filtration systems, or worse, they got shut off after 2021? Americans are spending the most among OECD countries for the worst healthcare results. It bothers me that every other OECD country except for New Zealand has banned direct-to-consumer pharmaceutical ads. A patient-led national health service & coverage free at the point of service, that's not tied to a job you hate, is the gold standard that Americans deserve & should demand.
The state of our union is strained because of the corporate consolidation of housing in this country. Private equity is buying up houses so they can rent back to you at a hike of 15, 20, 30 percent or more. This, too, is unsustainable, predatory behavior that belies the greed of the ultra rich. 1 in 7 houses that were sold in the top metro areas of the United States were sold to corporations, not families. A whopping 30% of home sales in majority Black neighborhoods were to investors, with all other zip codes averaging 12%. A true housing guarantee in America would punish corporate squatting, clogging the courts with eviction notices, & demand an end to unaccountable corporate landlords. We cannot "come together" when the forces of capitalism are subjugating more people to worse conditions now than they've likely faced in their entire lives. The rate of homelessness has almost doubled in the last decade. Corporate overlords should not be able to collect a single dime if they can't maintain the properties their tenants are renting out. Housing should be a human right, & it's a scarlet letter, signed in our own blood, on this country that it isn't.
And we haven't even scratched the surface of the unaccountable war machine. We haven't talked about how many millions we wasted to shoot down a runaway balloon, when we just had one of a similar nature come untethered from a local Army base in the mid-2010s. We haven't talked about trading one war for another, or how the United States has continued to be the major player in why a ceasefire hasn't happened & the prime reason peace talks haven't happened. The video that went viral this past week, of President Biden alongside a video of himself, saying that "If we send tanks, it's World War 3 we're talking about" followed by his announcement to send tanks to Ukraine, is depressingly apt for the way our military industrial complex operates. The Pentagon should not get a dime until they can clear the backlogs of audits that they've failed, and the United States should get out of the business of trafficking death & destruction around the world.
We deserve better, folks. We deserve better than being told the police were being "defunded" only to watch those same police budgets grow, often at the expense of everything else I just mentioned. We deserve better than the deadliest year for police shootings in a decade. We need to force police misconduct settlements to come out of the officers' pension funds, so that it hits THEM in the wallet & so their colleagues would be more inclined to turn on a dirty cop. We deserve better than tearing down precious urban natural resources to build a training ground for police to re-enact brutality on our citizens. We deserve better than cover-ups & outright lies about what happened by cops who won't be actually held to account.
We deserve better than a drug war that drugs won a long time ago. We deserve a healthcare system that prioritizes health, not medicating the pain away, which in turn helped create the opioid crisis we're struggling with today. We deserve better than an archaic prison system that fosters repeat offenders & recidivism, rather than actual rehabilitation & re-entry into the free world. We deserve better than corporate America being able to slap a "Made in the USA" label on something made with modern-day slavery, otherwise known as prison labor. Black & Brown communities across this country have bore the brunt of these barbaric policies, and we deserve better as a society than to continue choosing barbarism over socialism. I wonder how many that were sitting there in Congress tonight would condemn the horrors of capitalism on the record?
And we deserve better than a false choice in 2024. We deserve better than two parties that have teamed up to empty America's coffers & left us all to foot the bill in increased austerity & a decreased quality of life. We deserve a future for working class children to believe they can thrive here & that their best hope for advancing in life isn't to find a way out of this country & into one with a decent social safety net.
The state of our union is tattered & torn because we've allowed these two political parties to get away with murder, sometimes literally. They murdered the American Dream a long time ago. I don't even think George Carlin's right on this anymore - most all of us go to bed & wake up knowing that the American Dream is really our waking nightmare.
We deserve better, but the only way we're going to get it is if we organize together, fight, & raise some hell. If you're interested in joining forces on taking back this country for the people, I encourage you to go to gp.org/register to join your local Green Party, & visit gp.org/join to sign up to volunteer. We can't do it without you. For myself, my partner, Devonie, our puppy, Gudetama, the Maryland Green Party, & the Green Party of the United States, thank you all, let's get to work, & Stop Cop City.