We Americans are a strange lot in many ways. For reasons that I cannot explain, we seem to have an ingrained need to create idols in our minds to which we ascribe the mantle of celebrity. That in turn, gives them the license to engage in all sorts of deceptive behavior which we not only covet, we swallow hook, line and sinker. I never cease to be disappointed in myself when I fall for that same line, and I am always a bit disappointed in myself and vow to be more perceptive in the future. But, like so many of us born under the red, white and blue, that vow always seems to elude me. So much for indomitable will and personal resolve.
No one in recorded history was so taken by the persona of Barack Obama as when he gave that great speech to the Democratic National Convention. I was absolutely certain that he was a leader that had been sent from heaven to save the world. You have to admit, he gave new meaning to the word “charisma.”
However, in the intervening years the luster has faded and I am able to see and hear what he is really all about. He may look and sound good, but at the end of the day I am persuaded that those who have him pegged correctly are right. He is a fraud. He is nothing but an illusion of what we want to believe, not the real deal. He is not a leader. Rather, he is a seducer of those who want or need to use him for their own ends. That explains why he is the darling of every huckster who wants to make a quick buck by sweet-talking the average American out of what should be rightfully his and passing it on to those who only get fatter and richer off of his ability to pander to those who simply want more from those who have so little to give. And, moreover, no one ever calls him on it!
Look at how cozy he is with Jaime Diamond and his cohorts on Wall Street and in the financial sector of our economy. Look at how he panders to the advocates of free trade, the oil and coal industries, Prime Minister Harper of Canada, big defense contractors, the fat cats who are in a race to ship their businesses overseas for the benefit of tax breaks that only accrue to the detriment of the working people of the United States.
Look at his penchant for “privatizing” everything for the benefit of great wealth and unlimited power. Just take a close look at what he has managed to engineer for our prison system and education. Now, I ask you, how are we better off because of those bright ideas? Prisoners are used by the state for cheap contract labor and our children are given an inferior education all in the name of making more money for those whose greed knows no limits. Look at the sad state of the entire infrastructure of the country so billionaires can pay less in taxes and shift the burden of public services, more and more, to the taxpayers.
I was mesmerized by the recent line up of the richest people in the
how they are giving most of their money away, not for the benefit of the
taxpayers, but so they can control how their money is spent for the “common
good” whatever that means. It may have
been their money that was going for a greater good, but you can bet your "bippy" they will have managed to maintain absolute control over how that money is
spent, and I seriously doubt it will be for the common good!
One of the great benevolent billionaires of our time, Warren Buffet, who now owns one of the largest rail systems in the country (BNSF) is sending trains down the Columbia River Gorge and on to the pristine environs of the Northwestern West Coast, as far as the eye can see, all loaded with petroleum and coal destined for Asian countries. I rather suspect he will be perceived as the entrepreneurial genius he has become, all because the polluting energy will not be burned on our soil and polluting our atmosphere but, rather, that part of the equation will occur halfway around the world. The prize in all this is the ability to boast that the pollution is the fault of the consumer of those products. All we are doing is making a quick buck from the process – the spirit of free trade. Give me a break! But, the local politicos are just lapping up the promises and the prospects of “bringing jobs to the Northwest.” Go figure.
The latest to catch my eye is the current search for a permanent home for the Obama Family when it finally sinks in that they have managed to funnel all they can respectably take after the mantle of “President” finally sinks in for the long haul. It is reputed they are looking at a posh place in Rancho Mirage on the California Desert that would be fitting, not so much for what they are but what they have become. The place they ostensibly have in their sights used to be the opulent residence of the Annenbergs, one of the richest men on the planet at the time he built it. I supposed it would be asking too much to expect the newest graduates of the White House to settle for anything less. But, they do like money, power, prestige and prominence, don’t they?
Bill, Hillary and the cadre of adoring admirers that became their legion of power and influence during their years in government were great mentors for the Obama’s. The mere fact that they would select the
alums and their lot for their role models tells us all we need to know.
Let me pose a few salient questions for us to contemplate:
1. Wealth and power do not equal preferential treatment at the expense of the common good.
2. Elected officials are there to serve the people; not vice versa. They work for US and they take their marching orders from US!
3. The cowboy mentality and renegade posturing we revere and emulate do not make us any better than the rest of the world, despite what we may want to believe.
4. Republicans are not ordained by God. They may think so but, at the end of the day, they are simply intoxicated by some false belief that God is on their side.
5. Democrats do not have a corner on what is deemed progressive. They just like to think so but, in the end, all that gives them is the license to steal less conspicuously than Republicans.
6. Words and phrases that may suggest a common good and a common future are not subversive nor do they undermine the viability of the country.
7. Yes, Virginia, there is such a thing as vulgarity and poor taste. Just because Mommy and Daddy think there is something magical about their genitals does not make it so. There is such a thing as human decency and good behavior that trumps that myth.
8. Money does not make the person. The person makes the money and it is for the good of everyone, not just a select few who have managed to delude themselves into believing that it gives them preferred status in society.
9. To work harder, longer hours and for less money does not diminish the stature of those who labor under those conditions. They have just as much merit in the eyes of Our Creator as any other human being. Work is honest and noble. Stealing, pillaging and plundering are not.
10. Democratic Socialism is not a dirty term. It is a democratic form of government that is there to serve the people and to make society a better and more equitable place to live. The Scandinavian Countries proved that a long time ago and it remains one of the most viable and sanest forms of government in the world today.
11. This planet we fondly call “Mother Earth” belongs to all of us equally. No one has squatter’s rights despite their insistence in the false belief that they do.
12. We are here as custodians of this country and all it has to offer its citizens.
13. We are not here to save the world at our expense. That is a common obligation we share with others, equally.
14. Wishing will not make it so. Hard work, integrity, decency, honesty, fair play, and a common concern for each other will.
In the final analysis only the collective “we” can make this one of the “Greatest Countries on Earth,” as can every other citizen of every other country can and should do for themselves.
Frankly, I think our system of government has outlived its usefulness. It is not there to serve us all, equally, but to facilitate the dubious ambitions of those elected to office by those who still harbor the notion that there is such a thing as “equality.” The only solution I see as realistic and feasible is a complete review and audit of what we actually have compared to what was intended, and then we set ourselves to the task of righting the wrongs that have occurred since 1776. Ambition not withstanding, it could and should be done. The question is are we up to the task and are we up to the cost of making it reality for the welfare of all of us?
Given what I see as a prevailing malaise that is endemic within us as a once determined and proud people, I seriously doubt that we have the will or the means to be sufficiently honest to set ourselves to the task and make it really happen. Perhaps the pundits that see nothing but folly in that notion are right. Maybe our reality is that while we may be watching Nero tune his violin, our modern day
Rome is in the process of simply preparing to
incinerate itself all over again and right before our very eyes. Then what do we do?
By turning against each other and ourselves we may be setting the stage for the Great American Dream to simply evaporate before our very eyes. That would be the ultimate tragedy, wouldn’t it?
The Sagebrush Philosopher
July 23, 2014