Monday, March 20, 2006

"I am Here to Protect You" (Run!)

Well, it seems as if there will be no need for me to further develop my case for geopolitical psychosis (see yesterday's post). You see, Dick Cheney has done it for me. So let's move on directly to our Monday with McKenna section.

Yesterday while eating supper, I watched a news clip of our fearless leader (George Bush) speaking about his domestic surveillance program. I wasn’t paying strict attention, but my ears pricked up when I heard the president say: “I have to protect you” … the emphasis on YOU (and not us) said it all.

This is not a man of the people (of course we knew that already), but it also signifies the larger disconnect between the American people and the right wing cabal who run the country today.

George Bush is not leading us in the manner of democrats (small D); he’s imposing his will. He has more in common with strongmen and dictators (or Sheiks) than with the run of the mill democratic head of state. And like a lot of eventual strongmen, he probably believed in the earnestness of his mission when he started running for president in the late 1990’s. But at this point it’s all about maintaining power; thus the secrecy and continual self-justification.

American leadership has not always been like this; in fact, the current tyranny is rather new to the Presidency—at least we can credit the Bushies with a spirit of novelty. Recently, I looked into the past, at the texts of a few of FDR’s Fireside Chats. Here's a sampling of what I found—this one's from February, 1942, when the war was not going well.

We are calling for new plants and additions — additions to old plants. We are calling for plant conversion to war needs. We are seeking more men and more women to run them. We are working longer hours. We are coming to realize that one extra plane or extra tank or extra gun or extra ship completed tomorrow may, in a few months, turn the tide on some distant battlefield; it may make the difference between life and death for some of our own fighting men. We know now that if we lose this war it will be generations or even centuries before our conception of democracy can live again. And we can lose this war only if use slow up our effort or if we waste our ammunition sniping at each other.

Here are three high purposes for every American:
1. We shall not stop work for a single day. If any dispute arises we shall keep on working while the dispute is solved by mediation, or conciliation or arbitration -- until the war is won.
2. We shall not demand special gains or special privileges or special advantages for any one group or occupation.
3. We shall give up conveniences and modify the routine of our lives if our country asks us to do so. We will do it cheerfully, remembering that the common enemy seeks to destroy every home and every freedom in every part of our land.

Doesn’t that sound stirring? Of course, FDR was wealthy, and of course he was not himself going to suffer from the war (though he was profoundly affected by disability) – but throughout we have a stirring call to shared effort and even more important, shared sacrifice. And the sons and daughters of the well to do served and even died.

So when we think of the legacy of the past 5 years: tax cuts for the well to do, tax breaks for industry, lack of enforcement of environmental and safety laws, and a failed foreign policy that forsakes negotiation in favor of bullying, I hope we all know what to do this November, and in 2008 – turn the bums out.

--T. McKenna

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