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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 12/13/10

What is "The American Dream?": John Boehner vs. Barack Obama vs. Walter Trout

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Message Bud Goodall


We ain't working no more.


They got a stimulation package.   They say that's what it has to be.

Is it stimulatin' you?   It sure ain't stimulatin' me.

They handin' out money -" more every day.

I'm still waitin' for my cut, but it ain't comin' my way.


But lately I've been worried, about what I'm working for.

They call us "the working class,' but we ain't workin' anymore.

We ain't workin' no more.

--Walter Trout 

Listening to Trout makes me appreciate someone who truly has his "finger on the pulse" of working class America.   Listening to John Boehner, I don't get the same feeling.   In fact, what I see is a guy who once was in "the working class," a man who grew up in a large family working in his father's bar, but lost whatever connection he might have had to it.   He admits that two of his brothers are unemployed but lacks the will to support the continuation of unemployment benefits unless they are tied to tax breaks for the wealthy.   Boehner is, of course, now quite wealthy himself.  

I don't mean to be small-minded about his rise to wealth and privilege, but I also don't see him doing what he says the rich do with their tax savings: translating them into jobs for--say--his brothers.   Or your brothers.  

The American Dream is clearly an idea that we all share, even if we disagree about the particulars of how to attain it.   For President Obama, it is all about helping others.   For soon-to-be Speaker of the House, John Boehner, it is about helping yourself.  

What Walter Trout reminds us about, however, is that regardless of whether you buy into the right or the left on the particulars of it, these days it seems as if most members of both political parties in Washington are aligned against the working class.   What they call "common ground" looks a whole lot more like a thorough and hypocritical compromise of our core principles than John Boehner admits. What they are giving up is any shared vision of an inclusive American Dream.

What they are replacing it neither a vision of hope nor of work and opportunity, but instead what James Agee, writing about poor Alabama farmers during the Great Depression in his masterpiece Let us Now Praise Famous Men, called simply "the cruel radiance of what is."

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H. L. (Bud) Goodall, Jr. lives in Arizona where he is a college professor and writer. He has published 20 books and many articles and chapters on a variety of communication issues. His most recent books include Counter-Narrative: How Progressive (more...)
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