by Tom Adler
I was born in Vienna a month after Hitler marched into Austria and took over the country. I was one of the fortunate ones who got out. During the war I lived in a small town in New Jersey. I remember collecting paper and old tires for the war effort. There was food and gas rationing and little flags hung in the windows of homes where young men were away overseas fighting. One star was placed on the flag for each son or husband who was serving in the military. Some flags had three or four stars. If the star was gold, the loved one had been killed in action. I once saw two gold stars.
Back then everyone pulled together for the common goal of defeating the enemy. It felt good to be part of a country that was intent on not letting demagogues take over the world. When I became old enough I joined the military and then went on to become a lawyer. This country has been very good to me. I have always been proud to be an American and have always loved my country and enjoyed and understood the importance of the rights given to me by the Constitution. In the last few years, however, it’s become clear that our freedoms and way of life are being challenged by extremists who are intent on spreading their religious zealotry all over the world by randomly killing innocent people. It is a difficult problem that requires intelligent, forceful action.
The latest polls indicate that the President’s popularity is at 29%, the lowest ever. What our government has done to safeguard our country has been to act in a manner that is so deceitful, incompetent and reckless that the 29% must be comprised of those who have no understanding of concepts like the public good or who are just terminally uninformed. This is the government run by what President Dwight Eisenhower warned us about when he left office; the military industrial complex. It isn’t really necessary to go into the parade of horribles that this administration has put the American people through. The lies and deception Cheney and the neocons dreamt up to justify the Iraq war, the incompetence of Katrina; denying that global warming exists; ruining and evangelizing the Department of Justice, taking care of their fat cat friends through tax breaks for the rich; lining the pockets of corporations like Halliburton through sweetheart contracts and on and on. I no longer feel the need to argue about these issues since any thinking person that doesn’t realize how this country is being destroyed by this administration just doesn’t get it and probably never will.
The fact that Congress has been unable or unwilling to stop this runaway train is due to the fact that there has been no legislation that has been successful in stopping the lobbyists and their never ending stream of money, golf trips and favors which have bought and paid for our representative’s votes. Consider a recent bill that came before Congress that would have allowed the federal government to negotiate the prices of prescription drugs for the Medicare program. What a great idea—the American way - capitalism at its best –competition - let the market place determine costs. It went down to defeat because of the pharmaceutical lobby. As a result seniors will not be able to afford needed medicine or will cut their pills in half to make do. And lest we forget, the Surgeon General won’t be able to make a speech about it without clearing it with the White House and if approved he’ll have to mention Bush’s name three times.
So why the rant? Mainly to discuss the worst part of this; the apathy and unwillingness of the American people to become involved. Sure, everyone stands around the water cooler and says how dumb Bush is and makes jokes about his latest malapropism. But why aren’t people in the streets demonstrating? In Pakistan when the President removed the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, the lawyers, dressed in their suits and ties, rioted in the streets. In France, mention shorter vacations and you’ll have thousands of people waving flags and marching. The answer is that we are living in a “we generation”. As long as I get mine nothing else matters. Youngsters no longer have a sense of what this country is all about. A friend recently told me that her daughter was learning about cultural diversification in high school and the lesson was devoted to watching the movie “Borat”. The only thing that would mobilize the citizenry would be a compulsory draft. But the draft dodging Cheney and Bush and the faceless neocons who run their dog and pony show realize the political danger of sending the general publics kids to war. Instead they keep raising the length of time the worn out soldiers spend in this civil war and don’t give them the armaments to try to keep them safe.
In the face of a morally bankrupt administration seemingly intent on destroying our country what can be done before they are run out of office in 2008? People have got to get rid of the “I got mine” philosophy. And the people who haven’t “gotten theirs”; namely the poor and all of the other disenfranchised people who feel helpless to do anything, have to get involved. Demonstrate, vote, send letters and emails, put bumper stickers on your cars, attend meetings and speak up. How many of us are actively involved in the issues of global warming, health care, Iraq, corporate fraud and greed, healthcare, education, poverty, discrimination, lobbying reform?
Ordinary people fought for their freedom from the British and have fought oppressive regimes in many wars that were not nearly as important to preserving our republic as the war we are now in. If we the people don’t take charge by demonstrating our opposition to the war and the many other issues that are destroying our country, who will? America is being run by corporate and moneyed interests and ordinary working people have become secondary to their bottom line. The politicians have been bought and paid for. These are serious times for our country and I don’t see too many people doing anything about the forces of evil. No one else is going to win these battles except us.