On Why Human Rights is the Path Forward
So I have harped on this a lot, but this particular post is important because I am specifically calling out Representative Keith Ellison, who, to my eye, seems to have the right ideas in sterms of leadership of the Democratic party.
But I am also calling out anyone who wants to argue that there is something else to focus on, because, bluntly, whatever you think is the path forward, mine includes it, unless you are a regressive or a supporter of the fascist party calling itself Republican right now.
Libertarians generally oppose human rights in this basis.
Once again, the point of reference I am using is The Line — my collection of human rights and the line in the sand that I draw.
When I say “The Path Forward”, I do so from a basis of the cultural aspects that underlie much of American Idealism and, bluntly, Exceptionalism, because, whether folks like to admit it or not, what we people of minorities have to deal with is white folks buying into going along for the ride.
The overwhelming majority of disabled people, women, trans people, LGB folks, non-Christian Religions, people of color, and similar minorities are Liberal in their outlook and approach — and I say that in the sense of Traditional Liberalism as well as the sense of Social Liberalism.
At the heart of these ideas is the understanding that our job, as a nation, is to take care of each other in a combined effort — not a collective one — to give everyone a better chance and greater access to the ideas we have about what is a great life.
With the majority of people under 25 supporting socialism and communism, that’s an enormous voting bloc that also is built on the fundamental basis of opposition to economic inequality — which human rights (and specifically The Line as I have it written) eables while also dealing with the things that addressing economic inequaity does not deal with: racism, misogyny, transphobia, homophobia, islamophobia, etc.
Because a fundamental truth that people who argue primarily about economic inequality to not want to accept (or at least, that I can tell, given the constant defensiveness and evasion I get when I point this out) is that it is talking about wealth, and wealth inequality itself is not actually an underlying form of Oppression.
It is indeed still a form of oppression, and yes, it does have an intersectional impact, but, truly, as we have already learned, simply making poor people less poor does not in fact change or reduce any of the other issues that are in play.
Back even more, we have the 1950’s, which were an absolutely horrific time to be a person of color, woman, or other minority.
The history of our ability to address those things has been, without fail, one of incremental and patchwork progress that is stalled, pushed back, and then has to pick itself up again and move forward.
This is the “long arc” or history we hear talked abut, and I am here to tell you that if you genuinely want to make that change to economic inequality, then you need to ste it up a notch in how you adovcate, not abandon it.
Because it is a part of the overall effort, and, now, more than at any time in the last 80 years, we are in a situation where if we link arms behind a central, core, fundamental issue and abandon the notion of a piecemeal, this bit and that bit approach, that we can make a change that when combined with the focus on the city, county, and state elections will enable us to achieve something nearly everyone I talk to says is impossible: Run the board even more than the fascists are right now.
Because when you *do* listen to the white folks in the rural areas that changed the electoral vote equation, you do hear concerns and worries about jobs, about standard of living, about the way the the world around them is changing, and they are scared that they are being left behind.
But, beneath all of that, if you pay attention, what you hear is “we are worried about being made unequal in a world that is changing in terms of the economic levers and foundations (the shift from manufacturing to consumer that was begun in the age of deregulation under Reagan) because the support system of these people has been pulled out from underneath them.
They are worried about health care and a minimum standard of living, and hunger and being poor and because most of them do not have a higher education and are focused on the things they know far better than the more esoteric crap about global and national economic interdependence and the structural efficiency of resource trading and the importance and functional development in countries left behind initially during the industrial revolution that are being penalized for the mistakes of the nations that were not, they simply want to hear that they are going to have the ability to make life better for themselves and not fall apart while doing it.
Which human rights allows them to do far better and more successfully than the Regressive Fasicst plan currently in place does.
The thing is, we have to sell them on it The way that people sell cars, homes, and the whole idea of it being Morning in America.
Because if it was Morning in America in 1984, then this, right now, is Evening in America, and we had damn well better have a productive night before the new dawn comes.
So the question that people often wonder about when I talk about these things, selling Human Rights to them as a panacea for hunger, poverty, racism, misogyny, etc, is how the hell do human rights do that?
The reason most people ask that question of me is simple: while they think they know what human rights are, they do not understand human rights and the way they work, or the structure that I am proposing around them, and so never really take the time to examine it.
That is what I propose to do now for you. To make sure you understand what it is I am talking about.
As for the hoped for Staffer of Rep Ellison who is reading this, I realize that my particular attacks on the Right are not friendly — but at this point, as a mid life mixed race trans woman widow with Hispanic children and issues of poverty who needs a freaking job and until then doesn’t have to worry about anyone knocking her for speaking her mind, I really don’t care about their feelings.
Since the populist (which factually means it appeals mostly to white people, btw, in a dogwhistle remnant of older ideas) sentiment is economic empowerment, I will spend some time on that, but I am not going to sell it to you.
I am just going to tell you how this works.
So let’s start at section one.
1.2. The Government has an obligation to undertake and ensure to all citizens within its territory and subject to its jurisdiction these rights without distinction of any kind, such as
Ok this is part of the secret power behind the The Line. It reads conventionally. The government’s job is to ensure that all it’s citizens get these rights. But the job is also to undertake to make sure they get those rights. I need to tweak the wording (lifted it whole cloth from the UDHR), but the idea here is more than merely that they are passive in their efforts around this.
The idea here is that the government is an active participant in the making sure that all citizens get their rights.
This is somewhat different than at present, where we have a passive approach. You have to stand up for your rights, and you can petition the government to do something but it is not the focus of their efforts.
1.3. The Government will take appropriate steps to ensure the realization of these rights.
1.3.1. The Government, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to be free from hunger, shall take the measures, including specific programs, which are needed:
18.104.22.168. To improve methods of production, conservation and distribution of food and water by making full use of technical and scientific knowledge, by disseminating knowledge of the principles of nutrition and by developing or reforming agrarian systems in such a way as to achieve the most efficient development and utilization of natural resources;
22.214.171.124. Taking into account the problems of both food-importing and food-exporting countries, to ensure an equitable distribution of world food supplies in relation to need.
1.3.2. The Government, recognizing the fundamental right of everyone to the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health, shall take the measures, including specific programs, which are needed:
126.96.36.199. The provision for the reduction of the stillbirth-rate and of infant mortality and for the healthy development of the child;
188.8.131.52. The improvement of all aspects of environmental and industrial hygiene;
184.108.40.206. The prevention, treatment and control of epidemic, endemic, occupational and other diseases;
220.127.116.11. The creation of conditions which would assure to all medical service and medical attention in the event of sickness.
Now, this changes things up a bit. There we have hunger and health care in a nutshell, and those are among the first rights and the government’s job is to make sure that no one goes hungry or is sick.
Now some would argue that we achieve that through such things as medicare and medicaid and WIC and SNAP and the assortment of programs related to those things.
But what about that 25 year old black lesbian who doesn’t have kids?
“Get a job” is the neoliberal, conservative, libertarian response. It is the inhumane, immoral, unethical response.
It is those things because all you know about the 26 year old black lesbian is that she is a 27 year old black lesbian who is aging before your eyes while you argue about whether you should be helping her.
She is capable of taking care of herself, many will say. There will be prompts — well, is there something that stops her from doing it? I she ill, does she have a disability, does she, can she, will she…
These are all distinctions. They should not matter when we are talking about human rights.
And that is the first lesson. That 28 year old has now aged 3 years while we try to come up with a way to *not* fulfill our obligation to make damn sure she doesn’t have to worry about hunger or health care.
This is the next secret to my Line — the Without Distinctions Rule. Go look for it. It is in there at the top.
What that means is that we cannot use those things as reasons to make adjustments for people — so even if they can take care of themselves we should have the government capacity to make damn sure that she never goes hungry and has decent healthcare.
Now my example applies to white folks, as well. And that, of course, is how we would sell it. And those on the other side would get caught up in that idea that someone needs to deserve it on the basis of some distinction in order to justify the whole thing and guess what…
Right then they are arguing against human rights. Because human rights are not something you get only if you are needing them or i there is some sort of distinction that separates you from others.
That person, now 29 years old, has continued to age while we argue about whether or not we should be doing something for them.
That is the problem, and it comes from a form of thinking that was first promoted during the Post War world as a result of how we have sold Civil rights and LGBT rights and women’s rights and the rest.
Now that she’s 30 years old, and has gone for 5 years with us bitching about should we do something, can we start actually doing something now that we understand it is our job to so something?
Today we have the capacity to ensure precisely that, provided we maintain our international responsibilities and linkages and further the goal of human rights worldwide.
So why are we still arguing about it? Because of the forces within the Liberal sphere of influence which have come over to us from the conservative side — voices which are important to hear in terms of deciding on how we achieve these goals, but not in the act of setting these things as goals or determining that we must do them.
This is a key.
So the trick, of course, is to make these rights a matter of law. to make them an active part of the goal of Law and of Justice.
By focusing law making on the act of dealing with human rights part of the law, it undermines the efforts of others to interfere with that effort. This is another reason that it needs to start at the city, county, and state levels.
Let’s back up a sec and look at how that is achieved:
1.1.3. The State shall, as Agent of the People, look to Human Rights first when making laws, and no law shall abridge a human right unless there is a compelling purpose that is demonstrable for all persons under the Jurisdiction of the State, and;
18.104.22.168. That such efforts be narrow and specific to the need being addressed;
22.214.171.124. That such efforts be the least restrictive means by which the goal can be achieved;
126.96.36.199. That the goal not be based in the interest of and benefit to only a given segment of private enterprise.
So we have a structure by which laws — all laws, really — have to be made under what we think of as Strict scrutiny as a matter of law itself.
That is scary, though — but it is part of the sales pitch. It effectively frees up the space created by the argument of overreach and expense, by requiring laws such as regulations to achieve their goals in the least restrictive manner possible.
Which means people have to get creative in determine how to achieve a goal in a way that applies to everyone, while also doing it in a manner that does so with the least impact.
That is the small government sales pitch, really.
Next we get to address poverty.
3.11. All Citizens shall have the right to an adequate standard of living for themselves and their family, including
3.11.1. adequate food,
3.11.2. clothing and housing,
3.11.3. and to the continuous improvement of living conditions.
3.12 All citizens shall have the right to personal bodily integrity, without interference from the Government, in such a manner that what is within the confines of their body is their property
3.12.1 This grants a right of privacy for one’s self, and
3.12.2 Ensures that persons cannot be compelled by Government to submit to invasive actions on their person without due process and cooperation.
This one allows for that. Indeed, when you consider that the State (government) must actively and willfully ensure this for all persons within its jurisdiction, it becomes an even greater deal, since that means that the State must find a way to make sure that everyone has the ability to provide these things for them.
The most obvious solution here — and one which can be made to appeal to those who oppose medicaid and the rest — is a universal basic income.
But the solution itself is something that we can figure out later — first we have to make it clear, and a matter of law, that we have to do something about it.
This is a theme I will talk about a lot — first, establish that we must do something, as a matter of law. Then we can fight about how to do it, instead of should we even bother. And that includes the other side. IF, by law, they cannot argue Boo, then they can either be silent, or argue about how to do something positive.
That’s a pretty powerful and very radical concept then, if it forces your opponent to take your side.
Now a lot of folks will say “well, how do we pay for this? To which I say “cart before the horse. ” This isn’t about how we pay for it or how we do it. This is just about us getting to the point that we have to, must, need to do it, and also setting forth these multiple human rights as such — because we need to do that.
Enforcing these human rights is another thing we can get to after we make it a part of the law that laws must be in service to human rights.
Now, we can build our argumetns for paying for these things and for enforcing them through the human rights as a basis as well, but when you shift the argument from one side being “we don’t do that” to “we have to do it this way” you effectively shut off and shut down an entire set of opposition, and you shift from speaking about fearful things to speaking about hopeful things.
This is the other thing — to steal from another civil rights politician, you gotta give them hope.
We are giving people hope — hope that these rights, which include rights of work (and will eventually include rights of small business, but not corporations) and rights of income, can be used to make their lives better — if only those people who have been opposing these rights for years will get out of office.
Because let’s be real here: The opposition is built, almost entirely, on two basic broad standards: business is the focus, and human rights get in the way.
They oppose LGBT rights, women’s rights, bodily integrity rights (heh, see how I got that in there after including it above), civil rights, voting, and a host of other things and they are actively trying to dismantle the systems by which the half assed efforts towards those rights have been achieved so far
They are promising to do that.
While they are doing that, they are depending on tax dollars from states where the most successful of them are the very ones that have been actively working on building on human rights in this manner, if not this brazenly.
oh, you want to help kids get an education and make sure that college is lower cost? It’s in there.
You want to make sure Unions can organize and protect there members, its in there.
You don’t like the idea of being a member of a union if you don’t have to? Its in there.
What isn’t in there is the stuff relating to Corporations. Including Banks. Those are a ball of wax that I will write about again shortly, and the solution to them is also within the ideas of human rights, and making sure that they do not have the power and sway they do now.
That, however, is for next time. At 3k words I think I have explained enough for now.
Read The Line. Make suggestions. Take it as a template. And go out and let’s make it the law of the land.
(oh and my fave part? No more secret slavery! Yep, its in there…)