NATIONAL TURNING POINT –IT'S UP TO US!
Opinion by Ron Leach
I had the fortune to be present at what could be a turning point for this country; the inauguration of Barack Obama. I was impressed with the ceremony and with the high spirited, optimistic and respectful crowd. I was heartened by the tone of our new President's inaugural speech. Many sense that this could be the a defining positive transition for our country, and I believe it must be a transformational turning point if we are going to be the nation which our founding principles compel us towards.
Our prior most recent major turning point as a nation was the inauguration of Ronald Reagan. However this turning point, despite the promise of a "new morning in America", was the turning point that led the United States to the current crisis that threatens the very future of our nation. In 1980, the country selected the front man for the powerful and the powerful's interests. He hit his marks and played to the cameras while he ushered the incremental reversal of the post war rise of the middle class. FDR's social contract which helped lift and provided economic security to our nation was slandered and the safe guards to our national social fabric shredded. Greed became good, self interest became paramount, and true fiscal conservatism was abandoned under a sea of red ink while "trickle down economics" became the cover for the systematic and socially destabilizing aggregation of wealth into the hands of the few. The weak, disenfranchised, and most vulnerable among us became scapegoat. Regard for our fellow man became weakness while religion became hijacked by a narrow radical minority as an instrument of extremist ideology and intolerance rather than an instrument of progressive compassion rooted in the teachings of Jesus. For nearly thirty years our country ignored our growing dependence on imported oil and the national security implications. "Liberal" (correctly defined as: favoring gradual reform, especially political reforms that extend democracy, distribute wealth more evenly, and protect the personal freedom of the individual) became a dirty word. The inauguration of Ronald Reagan set us on a course that has brought us to the point where the very survival of the United States can be questioned and the "shining city on the hill" has become the greatest perceived threat to peace in the minds of the wider world. We pray that the inauguration of Barack Obama is a turning point that sets a new course for our country that leads us away from the brink; a return to the principals that are the foundation on which representative democracy is built; however, it could easily be just a brief pause preceding a final plunge towards national irrelevance and fundamental collapse. We will make that determination via our active engagement or passivity.
Even amid these times of broad national crisis, there continues to be individuals' intent on placing their narrow ideology and self interest ahead of country. I have heard an elder staunch conservative who, while he openly proclaims his disappointment in the Bush administration, voices his hope that "the Obama administration will fall flat on its face"; narrow ideology trumping the critical needs of our country. Immediately after the new President left for his new home, Rush Limbaugh could be heard on greater than 600 radio stations nation wide as he picked apart just about everything about the inaugural ceremony and denounced President Obama's speech as one of the worst in history. The President's middle name was bleeped out over and over again while Rush contended that it was done by the "left wing media". The inaugural oath gaff, i.e. when Chief Justice Roberts miss-stated the oath, was played over and over to make it seem that President Obama had stumbled and imply incompetence. Yet, the radical right has notably chosen to ignore President Bush's consistent massacre of the English language for the last 9 years. The fact that this bias and partisan agenda is not laughable to their primary audience is concerning. But their audience is not looking for objectivity. They tune in to Limbaugh's "EIB" network, and others pushing the radical right's well orchestrated agenda, for their daily reaffirmation of beliefs based in hate, divisiveness, and intolerance delivered under the cover of conservative ideology and an exclusive brand of faux patriotism. These views and radical partisanship can only flourish in a vacuum devoid of open thought and exchange of ideas that is the right wing propaganda machine. There is a continued strength of this well funded, focused, and disciplined machine; despite being thoroughly discredited by the culminating collapse of the past year. This is what brings a sobering doubt to what otherwise should be a monumental joyous celebration of the triumph of American democracy that has been the election of President Barack Obama. Despite all that must be done for the preservation of this great nation, this "turning point" could be thwarted by the concerted and tireless self serving few who will unblinkingly place their narrow calculated self interest before the good of our nation.
If the country is to be saved (and I do not believe "saved" is too strong of a word), we the people must unite against this narrow radical right agenda. We must protest broadcasts of right wing hate and we must boycott sponsors of hate radio and ideology driven partisan "news" coverage. Take away the huge rewards offered to spokespersons for the far right such as Ann Coulter and see how long it is before they jump ship and start writing tell all books about the vast right wing conspiracy they were part of. We must counter e-mail chain forwards of right wing propaganda and we must start objecting when the flying monkeys of the radical fringe spew out the lies they have been brainwashed into believing. And we must do it in a respectful civil manner, thus contributing to the change in tone we seek in our politics. Civility will often shock the radial right true believers into brief moments of independent thought.
The radical right has found
great success by repeating their dogma incessantly until it is accepted
without subjection to critical thought. Our message of non-partisanship
and pragmatic solutions carries the yoke of overcoming inherent narrow
self interest, prejudices, ignorance, a crowded message market place
coupled with diminished attention, as well as the deep roots set by
the past thirty years of radical right message discipline and repetition.
The truth, facts, and pragmatic non-partisan solutions, can carry their
appropriate weight in the minds of the electorate only if our voices
can consistently and tirelessly deliver the message to all with equal
or greater conviction and consistency than the agents of intolerance
and self interest have shown for the past three decades. Only through
our relentless efforts will many of our election wary representatives
consistently muster the fortitude necessary to look beyond the always
present near term election and shelter of political expedience oft sought.
"Our time of standing pat, of protecting narrow interests and putting off unpleasant decisions - that time has surely passed. Starting today, we must pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America." - President Barack Obama
It isn't up to President Obama
to set the country on a new course alone. We have to get involved.