The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. wasn't the only one who had a dream. He was able to express his dream until it became the unifying force and inspiration of a nation. Most of us have dreams. If we have children we have dreams for them of a better life in a better society and in a better place than we lived. My dream is that my children will live in a society and nation that cares for its people, all of its people, not just the wealthy few and the global corporations.
Now when I look at our country I see a nation more and more built upon fear and hatred. Luckily, the fear and hatred is still mostly directed outside of our borders, but it is still fear and hatred none the less. We should understand that fear and hatred can easily be redirected to ourselves. One only has to look at how quickly the present administration, with the help of a complicit corporate media, was able to direct hatred toward our own allies to a point where French wine was being poured out in the gutters and there was talk of removing NATO headquarters from Brussels Belgium and a veiled threat that The Hague could be bombed if anyone at the World Court would dare to think of bringing war crimes charges to members of the American Administration.
We are now living in a country that no longer has habeas corpus or other protections assumed to be guaranteed to us as a birthright. At the whim of the President alone an American citizen can be whisked away to a remote place and be tortured or to be never seen again. I would imagine that even King George III would be envious of the great dictatorial power that George W. Bush wields upon his own people.
As I look out at the rest of the world today, I no longer see my country as the beacon of hope and land of dreams. Instead, I see countries in Europe carrying the torch of freedom, opportunity, hope and yes, dreams. Countries whose citizens take health care for granted, whose citizens have more free time, live less stressful lives, have better pensions, more modern transportation systems, more responsive governments and more collective concern for one another.
Critics will say that the European model is not free, that they pay higher taxes than we do. My answer is, not that much more. We pay much more for health care but we don't call it a "tax," we call it a "premium" since it is paid to a private insurance company that marks it up thirty percent, the old American way. If low taxes are the criteria for a strong economy then I suggest we look toward the island nation of Hatti as a model for low taxes. We are purposely letting our wonderful Social Security System and Medicare System deteriorate saying that we can't afford it. Yet, we can offord to spend Trillions of Dollars on a military system designed more and more to control the world and beyond. We spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined. We are now number one only in the strength of our military and the stress level of our population. We lag far behind Europe in health care, education, transportation, general infrastructure, infant mortality rates and overall quality of life.
What led me to write this particular commentary at this time? Two things. The trigger was a story of a soldier in Lexington, Kentucky facing his second tour of duty in Iraq who was at a hospital seeking mental help when he was arrested in the middle of the night for allegedly being absent without leave.
Spc. Justin Faulkner insists his superior officers at Fort Campbell knew about his mental problems but refused to provide adequate treatment.
On Thursday, Faulkner checked into a Lexington VA hospital, where doctors told him they wanted to keep him until Monday for observation. Police showed up at the hospital shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday to take him to jail. “It’s humiliating, degrading,” Faulkner, 22, of Stanton, said in an interview Monday with The Associated Press minutes before his release from the Fayette County Detention Center. “It’s made me lose respect for the military. To come and arrest me at the VA, it wasn’t like I was trying to hide, trying to run. I was getting help. I am being punished for getting help.” read the whole story
The second and underlining reason for this commentary at this time is the Barack Obama story. At a crucial point in our nation's history we have a very fundamental choice to make between the Democratic candidates. I see it on the one hand as a guarantee of having a repeat of the Clinton Administration with the same basic cast of characters ranging from mediocre to brilliant. I also see an administration that turned its back on the labor unions and working people who elected him in favor of the large multinational corporations. By supporting a "free trade" policy without concern for unfair labor practices and the protection of the global environment President Clinton set into motion the devestating effects that we are now seeing in the nation's economy and the deterioration of our country on the world stage. To compare the Clinton administration favorably with either Bush administration is setting the bar at near ground level.
I for one do not believe that we should elect leaders. The founding fathers endeavored to set up a constitutionl government that would do the will of the people subject to the rights of the minority. There is no mention anywhere that I can find in the constitution or in the writings of the founders about electing leaders. Indeed, we elect people to represent our collective wishes. The reason for the people of the United States holding thir elected represetatives both in Congress and the White House in such low esteem is that these institutions are not fullfilling the will of the American public. We have the technology to provide our government with some very accurate polling data regarding the wishes of the American public. However, these polls are generally ignored by our elected representatives. Instead, very wealthy and powerful interests who will provide our representatives with the resources to get reelected get their way. We must change our mind set to one of electing followers not leaders. We then must follow up at election time to see how well these "followers" have indeed followed our wishes.
Which now brings me to Barack Obama. I see in Obama some hope for a better tomorrow. His speaches are inspiring. But more importanatly he keeps on saying that he will not lead nor follow but will walk with us. Now that is a fundamental change in mind set. He also has the education and the right experience to be Preident of the United States of America. These are the reasons that I am now supporting Barack Obama.
Readers comments are always welcomed.
To receive Wayne's e-mail commentarys click here