What a lovely dream. An America of white picket fences, where every child is wanted, cherished, cared for, and truly has the opportunity to live up to his or her potential.
Sarah Palin"s world. But, sadly, only a small corner of ours.
The thing is, before we can live in Utopia, we have to build it. And a Utopia that is only for some of the people is hardly worthy of our American ideals.
It seems to us that we need to create that world before voting into office those whose views seem confined to their own world, lifestyle, and privilege, while ignoring the vast majority of Americans who, sadly, live on the other side of the white picket fence, where the resources and support that, say, a Bristol Palin can take for granted still remain nothing more than a dream deferred.
When that world has been created (and we believe it can be), there would seem to be little need for abortion.
But how narrow-minded and lacking in compassion it is to insist that an inner city teenager, with no support system and no way of caring for a baby, must either bring into this world a child with virtually no chance of living the American dream, or else submit to a backroom abortion.
Or are those behind the white picket fences planning on taking in and raising these children themselves?
And what of the viable, wanted babies who die because their mothers lacked adequate pre-natal care? Did you know that, at this point, our infant mortality rate rivals that of some Third World countries?
It"s ironic that we refer to Sarah Palin"s conservative stance as "pro life" when the only life it seem "pro" about is embryonic life.
What of all those - children and their parents - who suffer and die in America because they cannot afford adequate health care?
And those with a seriously ill child who lose all they own in an attempt to save that child, and then are left with nothing to provide for themselves or their families?
What of hardworking, patriotic Americans who nevertheless find their lives all but destroyed by medical costs that leave them bankrupt . . . or dead?
And what of the absolute joke of subprime lending? A reasonably intelligent third-grader ought to have seen that lending money at a higher rate of interest to the poor and middle class than to the rich was not a top-ten idea.
We mean, hey: if the borrowers were fighting to keep up with their initial loan payment, doubling it and expecting them to keep up was pure insanity.
Of course, the mortgages were bundled up and sold, deflating the value of many a 401K, while the lenders got to keep their profits and go on with their lives. And, as they knew would be the case, financial institutions that got caught in their game of musical mortgages could count on being bailed out by the government.
And now, as it turns out, by us, the American taxpayers!
But then, such activities only serve to underscore the Republican interpretation of Capitalism: profit for the rich. Of course, even the Bible tells us, "The poor we have always with us."
The Republicans will see to that.
Oh, now that we"re in a "crisis," everybody"s holding hands. But since Republican deregulation of the banks, how many hard-working Americans have already been dragged down into barely marginal lives? In the days before deregulation and trickle down economics, interest rates on credit - especially rates applied to those who can least afford them - were called exactly what they are: usury.
How in the name of all that is ethical and even marginally fair can it be legal to raise interest rates at whim, then apply those rates not only to any future credit (fair enough), but to outstanding debt from the past generated by credit offered at a far lower rate!
This has got to be the sweetheart deal of the millennium: offer a loan at an enticing rate, then change that rate retroactively whenever the lender feels like it!
Credit card companies actually use the term "fixed rate" in their advertising, then add, in smaller print, that they have the unqualified right to change that "fixed" rate at any time they choose, for any reason they choose. Or for no reason at all! Will someone please define "fixed"?
Yet Sarah Palin"s Republicans are still celebrating these Reaganesque tactics that have destroyed countless American lives.
No wonder Sara Palin refuses to discuss the issues. What "change" does she propose to bring to America if her policies are the very same as those that have led us into this nightmare?
But the real question is: why do we let her get away with it? Because she"s a woman? Hillary Clinton never needed to hide behind the gender defense, or to be "protected" from the media. She was proud of the platform on which she stood. And she fought like a woman!
So what is it that Sarah Palin needs to be protected from? Admitting to her narrow anti-woman, anti-humanity platform?
And, since her infamous interview with Charles Gibson, perhaps her terrifying, finger-on-the-trigger lack of understanding of even her own party"s worldview as well.
Frankly, we have never been so afraid for our country as we are right now.
Eight years ago, we truly respected Senator John McCain. But his seven-year trip to the Bush-infected right in order to win his party"s support, trumped by his selection of a far-from-ready running mate obviously chosen solely for political gain, sadly and finally puts the lie to his "country first" slogan.
Perhaps saddest of all is that, eight years ago, we believe that Senator McCain really did put country first, just as he had done for most of his life. Until, apparently, winning came to matter more.
His campaign has become one of ugly distortions, with Sarah Palin inserted as a smokescreen to prevent discussion of the real issues and to keep Democrats from staying on message.
Is it us, or is their something beyond absurd to make it sound like a terrible thing to look into the credentials of a woman who could be a heartbeat away from the presidency of the United States?
We actually heard Fred Thompson telling his audience that the media hates and is attacking poor little Sarah Palin. Shame on them! How dare they ask questions of the woman who would be vice president?!
Good grief! What an insult to all women to demand that Governor Palin be treated with kid gloves because she"s a woman! Either she"s up for the job, or she isn"t. It"s better we find that out now, don"t you think?
And how about "family values"? To keep the white picket fence in place, Sarah Palin"s conservative position utterly devalues the families of those outside her elite little community.
How many marriages are destroyed, how many lives marginalized, how many dreams buried to appease corporate greed?
Like sacrificial victims of old, we allow ourselves to be tossed into the volcano to appease these new "gods," lest they outsource our jobs to countries where the citizens are already more desperate than we are.
Will we continue to appease these "gods" until we, too, have become a Third World nation?
Remember, too, that beyond the white picket fences, this great big country of ours has cities. And "the projects." And joblessness. And hopelessness.
To mock the community organizers who try to deal with the myriad and painful problems of the inner city doesn"t sound a whole lot like the unity that"s being preached.
Moreover, it highlights the elitist - and sadly limited - view that one apparently has from behind a white picket fence.
Yet the media, delighted by Sarah Palin"s beauty, wit and personality, have chosen to spotlight the admittedly charming messenger while all but ignoring the rather self-righteous and plutocratic message.
Have we really become so lost in the image is all ideology that we"re content to see a possible future president sold in the media as if she were Lindsay Lohan or Britney Spears?
A free country can only continue to be so with an honest media and an honest legal system. Increasingly, we seem to have neither.
The media seem to use every opportunity to distract voters from the issues with a constant assault of inane trivia. Why is that, do you think? Do they believe we"re so dumb that we care more about lipstick than about the future of our beloved country?
Although from some of the comments we"ve been reading on AOL, we have to wonder if they have a point.
For example, there was the woman who commented that she didn"t want a First Lady with thick lips. Now, there"s a tribute to critical thinking if ever we heard one.
Let"s see: if the black guy can see that you have health care, that your kids have a decent education, that you have a job and a roof over your head, that women get equal pay . . . well, his wife"s (lovely, we think) lips don"t exactly sound like a deal breaker.
But if we continue to worship form over content, this great nation - perhaps the most noble experiment in the history of humankind - will have failed.
And that failure will be a catastrophe not only for us, but for the future of the world.
Look where we"re going. Is this the America our Forefathers believed in?
- Our economic system is dominated by corporations (the greatest fear of Abraham Lincoln).
- We"re deeply in debt to foreign powers such as China (for the record, Iraq now has a surplus . . . and yeah, we know: the irony is that Republicans condemn those "darn liberals" for their "tax and spend" policies. But . . . uh . . . who left us with a surplus, and who is leaving us with an all-time high deficit?).
- We"re the only Western nation without a universal health care system.
- Our legal system has devolved into justice for those who can afford it.
- The nation"s wealth is pooled in the hands of the minuscule few (the greatest fear of men such as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin).
Look, Communism has been proven not to work in the real world. But Free Market Capitalism can only work IF THERE REALLY IS A FREE MARKET! Since corporations dominate the market, it is no longer free. Greed has compromised capitalism beyond recognition. The market no longer sets the price: the corporations do.
And lest we forget, the core of American belief is DEMOCRACY, not Capitalism. Surely the ideal has never been to sacrifice the former on the altar of the sadly corrupted latter.
So why have we - as patriotic Americans - not been horrified by the hateful phrase, "trickle down economics"? It might have been said by the Lord of the Manor to his serfs. Or the CEO to his employees as he modified their health care plans, eliminated their 401Ks, shut down the plants and factories on which they depended for their livelihood, and floated away on his/her platinum parachute.
But please bear in mind that trickle down economics is still applauded by conservatives and is, in fact, the centerpiece of Republican economic ideology.
Are we - proud, patriotic Americans - really content with being serfs?!
Hey, we like the white picket fence as much as anyone. But we"d like it for all of us. Surely it is the height of naiveté to believe that now, in 2008, it is a common American experience. And we find it truly terrifying that we would consider choosing an administration that would legislate for this nation according to such a narrow, exclusionary view.
What does "changing Washington" mean, after all, if the ruling powers still believe that crumbs trickling down from on high should be good enough for the American people?
Moreover, to mock those who are on the other side of the white picket fence, many of whom are lucky to get even the least particle of leftover crumbs, seems horribly cruel. And we are not a cruel people.
So for the love of God - and the love of Country - please: listen to what this charming, beautiful, bright woman is saying. Exactly what is it she would do as vice president? Or even president?
Side with McCain in denying women equal pay? Refuse abortion to a raped teenager? Tax health insurance benefits? Allow credit card companies to impose rates in excess of 30%, whether their bills have been paid on time or not?
Where does Governor Palin stand on the issues? Right now, she"s reading from a script. And on this basis, there are those who would actually vote to put her in the White House.
Since you have been denied critical information, on what whim are you basing this choice?
Then, there"s the matter of our fundamental American belief and one of the reasons for the very existence of America: separation of Church and State.
We have always prided ourselves on having the liberty to follow our consciences. But now, we are threatened with having that choice taken away, replaced by a religious definition of life that was even considered problematic by the likes of such great religious thinkers as Aquinas and Augustine.
And what about the frighteningly Hitlerian subject of book banning? Granted, Governor Palin neither banned nor burned any books that we know of. But even asking about how to go about banning books is more than a little disturbing, don"t you think?
Are we to assume from this that, had she been able to ban books, she would have? At any rate, it might be a good idea if someone would ask the question.
If they could, that is.
Governor Palin"s being "protected" from the media is . . . well, pretty amazing. A woman who could be our next vice president - even our president - some six months from now, and the media is not allowed to ask her questions?! Frankly, this seems like madness.
And we do wonder why the media hasn"t made an issue out of that rather than out of a tube of lipstick.
Interviews scripted and kept to a minimum, to be followed by a single debate: that"s not much to go on. And we have to wonder: will Joe Biden be considered sexist if he dares to challenge anything Governor Palin has to say?
We"re fine with Joe Biden, by the way. We believe he is a good choice to be a heartbeat away from the presidency.
But we believe Hillary Clinton would have been a great choice as well, and we celebrate the possibility that she may be in that position in the future.
Yet for any woman to entertain the thought that voting for Sarah Palin has anything on the planet to do with a vote for Hillary Clinton is . . . well, ugh! Sarah Palin is about as much like Hillary Clinton as a pebble is like the Rocky Mountains!
And what"s this stuff about Sarah Palin being "just like us"? When did that become the standard for a potential president? Didn"t we get over this "the guy I"d like to have a drink with" business after eight years of George Bush?
Frankly, we"d like our president to be just a little bit smarter than we are. And a whole lot more knowledgeable about economics and international affairs.
Until now, all candidates from whichever party have been held to the same standard. After months of campaigning, there"s very little we don"t know about where they stand on the issues, and we"ve had time to decide if we think they are prepared to hold the office of President. They have been asked the hard questions, and their feet have been held to the fire until they either answered them or left the arena.
Why are we lowering the bar for Sarah Palin? She is competing for the same crucial position as the rest. It seems to us that there are a lot of questions that must be asked. And answered. And soon. The election is almost upon us.
Competence matters (remember Katrina?), so let"s not buy that silly bill of goods that looking into Sarah Palin"s credentials is some kind of crime. Surely we can see that the real crime would be not to.
For example, consider Governor Palin"s rather extreme right-leaning views. We say that we abhor the repressiveness of Muslim-directed religious states, and yet we seem ready to embrace the very same thing. Calling totalitarianism Christian does not alter its intent.
How ironic that, so often, conservatives claim to be the true patriots, while condemning liberals as being "Communists."
Well, if that"s so, then Washington and Jefferson and Franklin and Adams and Lincoln were Commies!
Because if this is what you really want - an America where, according to recent studies, the richest 1% control approximately 35% of the nation"s wealth while the bottom half of the population is left with less than 3% (and the gap is growing) - at least be aware that it is not the America that Jefferson and Franklin and the rest of our Founding Fathers had in mind.
In fact, they considered equitable distribution of the wealth to be so fundamental to democracy that they would have preferred establishing ways to limit inheritances.
So if democracy is to be sacrificed on the altar of greed, at least let us have the good grace not to call this plutocratic ideology "patriotism" or "the American Way." It is neither.
Until we change the status quo, Sarah Palin"s American dream will continue to be reserved for those behind the white picket fences.
The greatest fears of patriots like Jefferson and Lincoln will have been realized.
So as we decide on the candidates who would best serve America, perhaps the key questions should be: who are we? Who do we want ourselves - and our country - to be?
Be careful here. Being presented with a woman running for vice president really does not get us off the hook of refusing to vote for someone we know to be better because we . . . oh, my: we"re not allowed to say this, are we? Racial prejudice is openly practiced. Just not as openly admitted.
But look inside yourselves: why else would you choose this continuing trickle down into serfdom that remains the totally unchanged economic policy of conservatives like Palin and McCain? You know: McCain the Deregulator. And proud of it! Until last week . . .
Of course, McCain readily admitted that economics is not his strong suit. So he chose as his economic advisor the now-notorious Phil Gramm, the guy who said the recession is all in our minds, and we"re nothing but a nation of whiners.
But if foreign policy is supposed to be Senator McCain"s strength . . . well, it was a bit unsettling to discover that, during a press interview, it became clear that he failed to recognize the name of the Prime Minister of Spain.
Anyway, here"s the thing: even if you hate the idea of someone like Barack Obama being your president, surely you can acknowledge that he didn"t advocate teaching sex to kindergartners.
Nor did he send a pack of lawyers to dig up dirt on Sarah Palin (although we sincerely think somebody should be taking a long, hard look at the governor, just as a long, hard look has been taken at the rest of the office seekers, don"t you?)
And come on now: you know Senator Obama is not a Muslim terrorist.
Surely you get that the lipstick thing was a deliberate avoidance of addressing the issues.
So. Why the lies and the distractions?
Could it be an unwillingness to debate the issues so crucial to each and every one of us?
As true Americans, who long ago declared that liberty and the pursuit of happiness were the right of all people, we can"t afford to be sidetracked. And we owe it to our country to question the agenda of those who would seek to do the sidetracking.
So isn"t it time to put away the lipstick and the image is all and the narrowest, most petty version of what America can be?
Time to require truth from our candidates. To insist, male or female, that they prove their readiness for office. To demand they stick to the issues.
After all, this country belongs to We, the People. So what it will become is, in the end, up to us.
We can fulfill the dream of our Forefathers and at last make this truly a nation with liberty and justice for all.
Together, we can change the world. Together, even Utopia is possible.
Only . . . well, consider this when you pull that lever in November: Utopia is not something likely to trickle down.
You have to vote for it.
Source by Bob Brooker