Hook us up, Santa

My kids are pretty into Christmas, I’ll admit.

Somehow, despite watching absolutely no television (they can only have ~20 minutes/day of a video from the library, with no previews or commercials) and having parents who very rarely buy anything (Mommy does not have time to shop), they have grown some of the same propensity to “want” as most of the rest of our society, and this manifests itself, each year, in a Christmas list.

Truthfully, it could be a lot worse. My oldest son has asked for some paint in his stocking for the past couple of years, and they LOVE fruit snacks, so they each get a box of those, too. Other than that, it’s mostly some books and maybe a puzzle, some pajamas, and one special present for which they’ve been longing. It doesn’t get too out of hand, and we work in a lot of giving–the kids each choose one brand-new present they receive to give away without opening, and we divert much of what others give them before they even see it.

So, in all honesty, Mommy’s Christmas list is probably a bit more audacious than the kids’, a bit longer, and certainly more aspirational. Mommy wants a lot, and, while I’m committed to working hard to bring much of this about, it’s been a rather rough couple of years, and I figure that we could really use some help, you know? So if Santa can bring my daughter the dolls with snap-on outfit changes that she’s been coveting for months, surely he can hook us up with some social justice, too.

Here’s my list, edited to not seem too greedy.

What’s on yours?

  • Election protection: I want people’s votes to count in November 2012. I’m very concerned that efforts in states around the country, including notably my home here in Kansas, are eroding individuals’ abilities to exercise their constitutional rights, and that elections will be truly stolen under the guise of ensuring their “integrity.” Our nation cannot, and should not have to, withstand a confusing and unnecessarily contested election that destroys our confidence in the democratic process.
  • The DREAM Act: I’ll admit, Santa, that my faith is waning a bit, since I asked REALLY nicely for immigration reform last year and didn’t even get the DREAM Act in that December 2010 vote. Is there an example of more commonsense legislation that we’re stubbornly refusing to pass, even though it’s in our best interest? I’m not sure that I can think of one. These kids are incredible. Even our most ardent anti-immigrant policymakers, when confronted with them face-to-face, acknowledge that. Let’s give them a chance and give ourselves a break.
  • Progressive tax policy: OK, so maybe this is a bit like my daughter asking for Barbies (not going to happen). But what is Christmas if not a time to dream? Instead of a long list of what shouldn’t be cut (and what should be restored) in our state and federal budgets, what I want is a revenue foundation that would make those investments possible, while at the same time addressing the tremendous inequalities that are corrosive in themselves. We should have the money to do what we must, but we’ve got to collect it in a way that makes sense. As one of my students said in class this fall, “it’s all about the orange.”
  • Foreign debt forgiveness: Can’t we get out of the international payday loan business? We’ve collected what we were owed, many times over, and yet we’re still holding developing countries hostage so that we can receive our interest payments, despite the fact that their debt service cripples their ability to invest in their own economies (and people) in ways that would not only relieve suffering but contribute to prosperity (thereby reducing the need for our later intervention)! I’ll compromise; it doesn’t even have to be across-the-board, but let’s put real debt forgiveness on the table, now.
  • An invigorated movement for social justice, to make it all possible: Santa, I know you’re getting older, and I’m sure you’d like a break. The truth is, unlike elaborately hand-crafted wooden toys or correctly-assembled dollhouses, we can take care of this list ourselves, if we can build the kind of grassroots cohesion necessary to chart our own collective futures. I see signs, in the labor movement and with immigrant youth and in exciting campaigns that integrate social technologies, that this potential is within our grasp. I hope that this is the year that we look back on as having made the difference.

    I’ll set out the cookies, Santa. You know what to do.

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