I found two thought-provoking articles on the CommonDreams.org website that illustrate the political reality most Americans will be confronted with as they look for needed leadership in 2012 to overcome the status quo that threatens what we once were as a people.
The first is Danny Schechter’s “Oh, The Pain of The Believer: Barack’s Betrayals Offer Lessons We Can’t Deny”. It’s theme is along the lines I recently posted here on my growing discomfort with the Obama presidency. Schechter does a better job I think than I did of conveying a sense of betrayal by Obama.
He highlights several areas that were put out there before us but went over our head because we were sure there was more there to support than to wonder about.
“He’s invoked the spirit of the civil rights movement but was not part of it. He treated Dr. King as a monument before the new memorial was conceived, embracing him as a symbol of the past, not a guide to the future.
He took an anti-war stance on pragmatic grounds only, preferring Afghanistan to Iraq. He hasn’t extricated us from either battlefield.
He spoke for the people but served the power. His wanted the other side to love him too, even as his stabs at “bi-partisanship” proved non-starters.”
But like Schechter we were all lulled by the need to replace the economically and socially damaging Bush/Cheney administration and the possibilities that Obama could reverse that trend. “[T]here are times when the unexpected, even the unbelievable occurs” Schechter opines. “I had seen Mandela go from prison to the presidency of South Africa.”
Schechter’s argument is so compelling that I am even more inclined than I was when I wrote my piece on this topic to simply bite the bullet and NOT vote for Obama. This in spite of the fact that several good things have been implemented under his administration which if they endure the test of time will be a benefit to many of us. I also realize that whatever the GOP puts up to run against him that they will no longer be guided by a reasonable moral compass that is inclusive of all Americans but by the self-interests of the wealthy and corporate leaders, along with their Tea Party associates who still hold to an imperfect concept of the “free markets” and think everyone is comparable to Ayn Rand’s fictional Howard Roark character.
The chiseled character of Howard Roark played by Garry Cooper in the 1949 film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s book, The Fountainhead
Atcheson makes a marvelous comparison of how the GOP, through concepts fostered by Rand, is out to destroy the accomplishments of government that is capable of doing many good things. The analogy he uses of those of tenants receiving rent decreases as services are slowly taken away from them brings one of the most vivid illustration of how corporate interests are working to fulfill Grover Norquist’s dream of shrinking the federal government to a size that can be “drowned in a bath tub”.
Atcheson calls it the Ayn Rand six step.
- Step one: discredit government.
- Step two, starve it.
- Step three, when the underfunded government can’t perform, stand back and say “I told you so.”
- Step four, create the myth of the individual uber-alles– the Marlboro man on steroids;
- Step five, if anyone gets wise, find a scapegoat and blame it on them – gays, immigrants, government workers; government working gay immigrants.
- Step six, when things get bad, divide and conquer – “if it wasn’t’ for them…
The government bogeyman that the GOP and now their Tea Party controllers are trying to present to us is really a government that has enabled a strong middle class over the years. Yes, we don’t gain this benefits for free. But neither are they undeserved hand outs as theRandian crowd suggests.
What many of these people forget is that the amount of those taxes that most Americans pay is small in comparison to the benefits they receive. Once these benefits are taken from us then we are individually expected to provide such basic services that most people’s wages can ill afford individually, like adequate schools and their teachers, police security, fire fighters, roads, parks and a safety net to aid those most vulnerable in our society – the working poor, the elderly and the mentally and physically disabled.
Atcheson sums up our dilemma here:
The solution to bad government is good government, not no government.
The solution to envy and jealousy at public sector employees’ pension and benefits is not to strip theirs, but to get ours back.
Our strength comes not from how the strongest or luckiest among us exploit the rest, but from how we come together as a country to do that which we must do together. Indeed, we are great in proportion to how we treat the least fortunate among us, not the most.
The reason it feels like the United States is collapsing around our collective ankles is because it is – if we relinquish all responsibility to “the market” it will strip the walls, tear out the pipes and wires and raise the roof, selling our present and future to make a quick buck. That’s what markets are supposed to do.
So the reality I find myself waking up to is do I act on understanding that despite the good things Obama has done can I in all good conscience vote for a man who appears to have misrepresented himself, OR, do I choose the lesser of two evils and vote for him to prevent those special interests in this country from undermining the least powerful whose only fault is that their age, color, education and cultural beliefs are not shared with those who control, by hook or crook, the mechanisms that ultimately determine our fate?
- Why Grover Norquist’s “Taxes Are Evil” policy is Killing the Middle Class (woodgatesview.wordpress.com)
- America’s Middle Class Still Losing Ground