Political Consciousness From the Daily Grind

Commenter Dale Coberly asked for this particular story to be posted.

Renown Covid Restrictions Defier is Really Asking For A Better Government 

“We got a government that has taken the stimulus money and gave it to special campaign donors and special interests, abandoning me, and putting me in a position where I have to fight back, okay?

You could’ve given me money and I would gladly walk away for sixty days and let this virus settle down. I’m not gonna do it (without help) alone.”

Dave Morris, owner of D&R’s Daily Grind Cafe, is not afraid to say what is on his mind. He is curious though, whether anyone in power cares to listen. Though the Portage, Michigan business owner has garnered a good deal of attention since his impromptu broadside against the government and COVID-related shutdowns went viral, his curiosity remains justified. Because while figures like Tucker Carlson and Matt Walsh implicitly tokenize Morris as some sort-of antigovernmental warrior, it appears the substantive frustrations of Morris and the millions of other people in this country have remain unheeded. In reality, these frustrations stem from the government not serving as a guarantor of adequate material conditions for its people.

“I see the things we’ve lost since I was a young man raising my children. Pensions are almost non-existent for the normal working man and healthcare is non-existent. Twelve years, I can’t afford it, Affordable Care Act – not affordable,”

Morris laments.

Reflecting on his union experiences, Morris expresses disappointment in a union structure that sometimes appears to absorb people into behaving akin to the kind of figures unions typically rally against.

“When they’ve got a big, huge facility up in northern Michigan, and they’ve got a big place on Black Lake and every time a union president retires, they build him a cabin on that lake…this isn’t what Walter Reuther fought for”

Morris and D&R’s Daily Grind Cafe join a barrage of people and small businesses across the country facing confusion, disappointment, and the looming threat of closure amid the COVID-19 crisis. The government’s Paycheck Protection Program has been under constant scrutiny as reports have shown massive blunders intrinsic to the program with:

These and other inherent flaws to the PPP have dogged millions of people, particularly the poor or minority communities who bear the brunt of not only the medical threat of COVID-19, but also the issues of access – by ways of explicit discrimination, or not being among wealthy or well-connected bank clients. 

For Dave Morris, the conspiracy is not about the existence or suffering laid out by COVID-19 –  rather, it is how those in power manipulate structures as they exist in order to benefit themselves and their associates. These notions of conspiring officials were grounded in concrete examples for Morris – such as the reports of alleged insider trading committed by multiple Senators and their family members.

“We know they were inside trading for years. We’ve seen it happen with COVID. We’ve seen our senators and some people in very high, powerful positions bail out on one stock and grab another one and watch that baby go up 400% a month. I pay attention to those things and it infuriates me as a citizen of this country. It is not getting the exposure it should get and it bothers me.”

While Congress had remained incapable of promptly instituting a comprehensive program to address emergencies, millions of people are facing:

  • the loss of employer-tied healthcare,
  • the looming threat of eviction.

Congress still found it within themselves to tie together a whopping $740 billion dollar military budget.

Morris relates America’s ostensible bipartisan dedication to military spending more broadly to a two-party system hounded by money in politics.

“Everybody says you got to have a strong defense – how strong does it got to be, okay? We could get some money out of there and help the American people with healthcare maybe, right?

This isn’t working. And there’s two parties up here, really one party I fear. And it’s just not working – and greed is going to destroy us from within,”

Morris says.

“I also believe, when it comes down to the candidate of the party, they all get to spend the same amount of money. There’s no reason that money buys all the commercials, okay? There’s no reason that this guy just spent hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars, where does all that money come from? And meanwhile, the guy down here that might be a better guy, he doesn’t have the funds. So he gets snuffed out so early in the program. I’d like to see a universal program that says number one: let’s open the door, we want to hear them.”

When I asked Dave Morris about Medicare-for-All, he condemns the exorbitant costs of medicine and healthcare generally in America.

“The hospital can charge what they want, the pharmaceuticals can charge what they want. Everybody’s out to make massive profits. If you can charge $5,000 for a pill that I can get in Canada for $200, you have to ask where that’s going. It’s hard for me to believe we pay so much for insulin, and in other countries you don’t have to.”

Morris is critical of rejecting government action while allowing insurance lobbyists to dictate policy. Consequently, he does not envision the fruition of national healthcare while greedy forces still pervade halls of power.

I think there is alternative energy out there that needs to be looked at. The quicker we get there with it, then the better off we’ll be. Again, get the big oil companies out of the business.

I don’t want to say put them out of business, but get their influence out of Washington, so we can expand these electric vehicles much quicker than what we’re doing it. You got that influence from lobby groups up there that prevents law from getting done. But I think there’s some things in the Green New Deal that are probably good . . . there’s certainly going to be jobs with that and there could be plenty of jobs created. We have to look forward to the elimination of the fossil fuels and oils and things,”

Morris explains.

Yet these and other popular ideas – such as an increased federal minimum wage and the legalization of marijuana are yet to be actualized or dignified on a federal level. And this disconnect between popular opinion and material realities substantiates Morris’ perception of America being led by a political duopoly that largely caters to the interests of a few, while only a handful of leaders meaningfully attempt to seek recourse for the anxieties Morris and millions of other people intimately experience. In this way, Morris’ eagerness for a transcendent political project appears quite justified – but is largely not dignified.

Morris and millions of other people remain skeptical of those in power, and continue to wonder why masses of people cannot come together to build a government that takes care of everyone. If conventional media outlets and public officials cannot engage these feelings head-on and dignify them, rather than treating them as outlandish, Morris is correct in surmising the need to eagerly support a new wave of media and public officials.