Sept. 13, 2013 By Jack Jodell.
When then-President Lyndon B. Johnson declared war on poverty in the mid-1960s, I was still too young to vote. Yet, as one after another of his ambitious Great Society programs were launched and implemented by a Congress who was courageous and much more committed to fairness and egalitarianism than the miserable and wretched band of bought-out corporate toadies we vastly overpay today, I somehow knew the country was in safe hands and was headed in the right direction. The evidence was all around me: Incomes in all categories were rising, especially at the bottom; labor unions were strong and able to deliver some actual income bargaining leverage for workers; and long-neglected and vitally important civil rights legislation was finally being adopted. The country was showing definite signs of economic and social progress. Then came the distrous war in Vietnam, a huge political mistake by LBJ. After that came Nixon and Kissinger, Watergate, the weak presidency of Jimmy Carter, with Reagan, Bush I, a mixed-results presidency under Bill Clinton, a neocon foreign and economic disaster under Bush II and Cheney, and, finally, the less-than-fully-satisfactory presidency of the nation’s first elected African-American President, Barack Obama, all to follow. Liberal America – the one I had grown up in during the late 1950s until the late 1970s – was, very regretfully, gone. In its place has been put a neoconservative nightmare, and it has been a living hell.
By the time I was finally able to vote, Richard Nixon was already in office. Slowly but surely, he began a long process of dismantling beneficial economic and social programs which has continued to this very day. The country gradually became more conservative, a process which accelerated greatly with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980, and went into hyper-speed during the Bush II administration in the first decade of this 21st century. Since the advent of the horrific 9/11 attacks, this country has entered a new and more sinister phase – a very unhealthy one, in my estimation.
George W. Bush, DICK Cheney, and Donald Rumsfeld – perhaps the most UNholy trinity this nation has ever produced – lied us into a very costly and thoroughly unnecessary war in Iraq, and then plundered the tiny country to ensure a strong American presence and dominance over Iraqi oil for a long time to come. They introduced – for the very first time in American history – the adoption of torture as an accepted and even desirable way for our military to obtain information from enemy combatants. Like a bunch of thugs, they also implemented a policy of rendition, which meant that, at their whim, people could be secretly picked up anywhere in the world and forcibly removed to a hidden detention center of their choice. with absolutely no advance notice whatsoever. Over the years, they have enabled a shadowy National Security Agency to randomly spy on the bank records, personal phone calls, and every email sent by anyone in the country. They have wantonly shredded the Constitution with these paranoid overreactions, all in the name of preserving “national security.” They have even suspended the writ of habeas corpus – something that has been the cornerstone of western law since 1215 in pre-Renaissance England!
I DO NOT EVEN RECOGNIZE THIS COUNTRY ANY LONGER – in their paramoidal zeal to “protect” us, far-right extremism is actually destroying us! Led by its severely deluded Tea Party faction, the now reactionary Republican Party has gripped the Congress in a hopeless deadlock and is severely hampering thef ederal government’s ability to properly function. It has effectively paralyzed government and is threatening to shut it down altogether. Worse than that, the concurrent rise in corporatism has devastated the United States. Wall Street long ago corrupted the Republican Party and is now wreaking havoc on the Democratic Party as well. Egged on by notoriously short-sighted reactionary Republicans like Phil Gramm, Democratic President Bill Clinton foolishly spearheaded a disastrous deregulation drive which culminated in the repeal of Glass-Steagall. Freed from regulatory burdens, Wall Street banks immediately embarked on a wild speculation spree. This, of course, led to the recent horrible Great Recession of 2008. As unemployment rose to heights inseen since the 1930s, wealthy Wall Street bankers were bailed out by Democratic President Barack Obama. Despite totally inaccurate and even utterly ridiculous clains by the far-right of “socialism”, the very wealthiest 1% have steadily gotten richer and richer, while the MAJORITY 99% below them have steadfastly been losing ground. This is inexcusable and wholly unsustainable for a modern so-called “democracy.” Amid this senseless and unjust chaos, one can very justifiably wonder “where is sanity?”
But that illustrates our current problem perfectly, for America is no longer a democracy but has de-volved into a sordid plutocracy. This is no longer the country I was born into, with justifiably rising expectations and the promise of justice for all. The power of Labor to obtain better pay and working conditions for all workers has all but been destroyed. Wealth disparity is rising rather than shrinking, as it had begun to do in the 1960s before all this recent madness set in. Until the wealthy end their paranoia and abandon their obsessive and oppressive greed and manipulation of the economy, this country is NOT worth protecting or worth fighting for! That won’t stop the neocons, though. They simply will not rest until we have engaged ourselves in yet anoter war. This time, the victim will be Iran…
For well over a decade, polls have shown that a large majority of the public believes that the United States is on the wrong track. I agree with that majority wholeheartedly.
The Civil Rights era of the 1950s and 1960s produced great benefits for the entire country. Let us resolve, right here and now, to spend the next two decades in active pursuit of an equally beneficial ECONOMIC RIGHTS ERA for ALL Americans, and end forever this tyranny of corporate slavery the wealthy have trapped us within! Let us reduce the record wealth disparity we have today, and let us strive to end pay discrimination against women, the poor, and non-whites. Let us dedicate ourselves to work toward definitely and finally achieving ECONOMIC JUSTICE for ALL!