Tax the Rich
When Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Cinderella-ed her way into the Met Gala in a form-fitting white dress with "Tax the Rich" splayed out across what polite people would call "the back," it was a 1960s moment, maybe even a 1930s moment, when stars embraced activism and activists became stars.
Mother Courage, but with a foot that needs a glass slipper. Eleanor Roosevelt at the coal mines. A sign bobbing above the head of women striking cotton mills in Lowell, Massachusetts. The sign read, "Give Us Bread, But Give Us Roses."
For decades, very few politicians suggested charging the rich more in taxes. At best, some timorous little cutie running for office in Ohio would clear his throat and promise to "close the loopholes," as though government stupidity forced rich people to pay less than their fair share.
The rich buy government stupidity the way you'd buy a pack of off-brand cigarettes in a convenience store next to the battered, rusting hulk of an abandoned steel factory.
And you? You put up with it because, like all Americans, you're a lot more scared of really rich people than you are of government, so you will blame the government for any kind of hell rich people raise. This is because the really rich people have their thumbs on the throat of your $22 an hour job and can easily give it to a Mexican who'll do it for $16, and he won't be so fussy about wearing the safety goggles.
I'm more of a "Scare the Rich" guy than I am a "Tax the Rich," but I think the second is a good way to jump start the first.
So why wear the dress into the lion's mouth of money? A little too theatrical, no?
Look, I was a grubby little newspaper reporter for 40 years before I slid into a podcast and semi-retirement.
I've covered various events celebrating the lifestyles of the rich and thieving, and I've noted the half-dozen bedraggled, unfashionable protesters with their sincere signs and their wilting dandelion chants of "the people, united, shall never be defeated," and I've gotten a quote from the leader of the group. After that, I went inside to poach a couple of scallops wrapped in bacon and interviewed one of the rich men who organized the thing, whose Rolex cost more than my car.
So it was a lipsticked flag of defiance to send among the rich this young Hispanic woman with her sharp yet round shoulders on display, and her face eager and questing, and her message splayed across the part of her most men would look at first.
And it was, in its way, all of us. If I held public office, on that night, I would have traded my demure black tuxedo jacket for a white jacket with "Tax the Rich" written across a part of me that draws very little notice.
Go on, Cinderella. You don't need the prince. You have your own sword. Drape your body in soft white armor with a hard howl of defiance splashed across the place where you knew they'd look anyway.
To find out more about Marc Munroe Dion, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit www.creators.com. Dion's latest book, a collection of his best columns, is called, "Devil's Elbow: Dancing in the Ashes of America." It is available in paperback from Amazon.com, and for Nook, Kindle, and iBooks.