The Historic Election of 2008
"In the future days which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms. "The first is freedom of speech and expression. ... "The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way. ... "The third is freedom from want. ... "The fourth is freedom from fear."
Those Four Freedoms were enshrined in the State of the Union speech by President Franklin D. Roosevelt in January 1941, just months before Pearl Harbor, the most devastating attack on America to that date. Today, seven years after another horrific shock to our collective system, we are embroiled in an election that the entire world recognizes is of truly historic proportions -- and not just because of the amount of pigment in one candidate's skin, or even the centuries of slavery and discrimination with which his race has been burdened. Simply put, the election of 2008 is no less than an epic contest between hope and fear: hope that can set us free, and fear that can be -- and is -- exploited to keep us divided and conquered, by powers-that-be both foreign and domestic.
Government, Though Imperfect, Is Not the Enemy. It Is Us!
"We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America." -- Preamble to the U.S. Constitution
Surely unrecognizable to Abraham Lincoln -- who gave his all to preserve the federal government of the United States -- the Republican Party today has as its bottom line the mantra that government is part of the problem, not part of the solution. But government, of course, even as imperfect as it is, is the one and only body constituted for we citizens to secure our liberties, as by reigning in those who would -- intentionally or inadvertently -- oppress us.
That truth has come down through history to our challenging modern times, when corporations exert more control over the lives of ordinary individuals than any government ever did at the time of our revolution. There is nothing inherently evil about a corporation; it is, of course, a truly remarkable creation for turning a profit. But by the same token, there is nothing inherently benevolent about a corporation; it exists in law for the enrichment of its shareholders, not necessarily the benefit of society at large. It is, thus, a legitimate and vital role of government to regulate the commerce of corporations, so that the rights of all are protected.
Indeed, even the security of corporations themselves is enhanced by prudent government action. The severe financial crisis we are experiencing today is a direct result of the deregulation -- not the regulation -- of business in recent years. New Deal reforms saved the banking system -- and thus American capitalism itself -- during the Great Depression; it will take likewise wise and far-reaching action by our government to quell the current crisis and restore confidence in our historically debt-ridden public and private sectors.
For the GOP to continually attack government as the enemy is tantamount to attacking whatever we as a people can and must do together in order to survive and thrive, as it has necessarily been since the dawn of civilization.
"[T]hat the strong may not oppress the weak." -- From The Code of Hammurabi
Obama: Uniting Our States
"A house divided against itself cannot stand." -- Abraham Lincoln, Paraphrasing Jesus Christ
This year, as four years ago, the electoral map of the United States is eerily reminiscent of the Free State / Slave State map of the Civil War. Moreover, that pattern of Blue States and Red States is repeated throughout the country as "blue counties" and "red counties" -- the former more urban, the latter more rural, the swing votes mainly in the suburban and exurban regions.
That divide seems at times to be as unbreachable as it is untenable: No nation can long survive as a nation if its people are permanently balkanized along lines of race, creed, religion, or any other difference. Looking at it another way -- and that is how a democracy is supposed to function, isn't it? -- it is easy to tell a nation's enemies from its allies: Your foes want to divide you; your friends want to unite you.
"[T]he end of the U.S. as united states" -- The Stated Goal of Usama bin Laden
"We must all hang together, or assuredly we shall all hang separately." -- Benjamin Franklin