All Rights Reserved © 2004 Thomas W. Day
Do yourself a favor and read a book. Not just any book, but this book; There's Nothing in the Middle of the Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos, by Jim Hightower. Jim is one of those characters that corporate/political America would label "a bleeding heart liberal." Jim calls himself a "progressive." Anyone who meets this ex-politician, sometimes talk radio host, unashamed Texan would have a hard time labeling him as anything other than an immensely practical American. Which is pretty much all it takes to be defined as liberal in this corporate right-wing environment.
If you think corporations should pay for the environmental damage they do to the health and property of others, you're a pinko-commie liberal. If you think that cutting government costs should include cutting corporate welfare, eliminating tax breaks for the ultra rich, and returning government agencies to their intended tasks of protecting citizens and the country's best interests instead of acting as corporate PR and legal defense hacks, you're a left-wing, socialist liberal. At the core, the American majority is liberal, but they are so indoctrinated to believe that philosophical stance is a bad thing that they mislabel themselves as conservatives and shoot themselves in the foot on Election Day, year after year. And the rich get richer, the government becomes less concerned with "by the people, for the people," and we become more like the countries most of our ancestors fled to come here.
It's easy, natural, and understandable to give up and say, "What can I do? The voters are idiots, the politicians own the political system, the big corporations own the economy, and my tap water is so polluted that my whites are no longer whiter." In human history it appears that regular intervals, somebody, somewhere, comes to the realization that the Powers that Be only exist at the will of the working classes. The ability to manipulate the effort and ingenuity of people who actually accomplish work is all that provides them wealth and power. More often than not, the someone who comes to this realization is simply driven to become one of those manipulators and that sort of "revolution" is about as revolutionary as repainting an old car. We have that sort of revolution, every 2 years, in the US. We call 'em "elections," but they have become something more like paint jobs.
The 2000 and 2002 national elections were among the shoddiest paint jobs in American history. If the next few years don't spawn some sort of reaction from the middle, working class I think it's safe to say we've seen the beginning of the end for American dominance in world economic and political affairs. If we can't run honest, democratic elections, we can't demand the respect of countries that can. If our corporations become money laundering institutions for international corporate criminals, working people will find other places to invest their money. If government loses the faith of working people, the value of our currency, our trade, our position in the world will devolve to nothing more substantial than fear of our weapons of mass destruction.
Without respect, fear is a double-edged sword. Fear motivates opponents to resolve the emotion. You can't remain afraid of a school yard bully without either trying to run, hide, or find allies and strike back. That's true for our country, too. American citizens are once again considering immigrating to more neutral countries, Canada being the most popular. Hiding isn't an option, so fear and terrorism are the likely to increase if we continue on the international bully path. France has been more successful than anyone would have imagined at turning the European Union's attention from the north, Russia, to America. Islamic fundamentalists are rallying followers to protect themselves from undirected the US's 9/11 retaliation. If Islamic countries join with the EU against the US, we will have isolated ourselves from a large portion of the world community.