Do we remember and honor Martin Luther King Jr. because he sat and waited for integration to happen "with all deliberate speed" or is it because of his letter from a Birmingham jail, his march on Washington and his willingness to give his life for the cause of humanity?
When we think of Gene McCarthy, is it for "going along to get along" or his gutsy challenge to a sitting president of his own party to halt the carnage in Vietnam?
Did we honor Gaylord Nelson for his timidity in protecting our environment or was it his tough leadership and his concept of Earth Day?
So where are the leaders of today?
Nearly all that come to mind are outside the formal political structure. To name a few: Jim Hightower, Jesse Jackson, Michael Moore, RFK Jr., Amy Goodman. They lead by example or by "belling the cat." They stake out a position and do so boldly.
What troubles me is the question raised by friends around the country, "Where are the Democratic leaders in Congress when the cronyism and incompetence of this administration are out there for all to see?"
With Katrina exposing the payoffs through no-bid contracts to contributors to President Bush and his pal Haley Barbour, not to mention the total, if not criminal, negligence of the administration and the racism inherent in the response to Katrina, where is the leader of the Democrats? Where is the Democratic plan, the vision? Are we forever stuck with posturing senators such as Joe Biden, Hillary Clinton and others who are best described as "careful" because they want to be president? Clinton moving right, Biden moving to left of right, Kerry just moving.
With 45 million people without health care, is it not possible to lay out a Democratic demand for a single-payer universal health care plan, making health care a national right?
Someone take the lead. Please.
This is a moment like no other. We can't afford Katrina relief while fighting in Iraq and we shouldn't be there anyway. We are not prepared for another disaster and everyone knows we must raise taxes to pay the bills. Everyone except George Bush. Who will challenge him with the truth?
With the complete corruption of our electoral system, isn't it possible that Democrats (or even one Democrat) would find it in their souls to demand and fight for public financing of campaigns? While McCain/Feingold helped a little, who is kidding whom? Big money controls the White House, the Congress, the state legislatures and indeed the courts. The mediocrity we find in public life is a direct result of money dominating our system. Who is leading the way? The band is ready and the people are already dancing. Will any leader take the floor?
In case you forgot, we have troops with targets on their backs in Iraq, where it appears our incompetent and disingenuous policies have taken the country to the brink of civil war. Where are the Democrats? Have they muzzled Howard Dean and John Edwards, two people who are not afraid to speak out? Are there no Gene McCarthys? Bobby Kennedys? Or J.W. Fulbrights?
Fannie Lou Hammer said, "I'm sick and tired of being sick and tired." Well, so am I. Why won't Democrats in Congress lay it out for the people?
The majority of the American people have lost confidence in Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Condoleezza Rice. You can't fool people forever. Eventually we catch on. But where do we turn? To super cautious senators who primp for the cameras, look senatorial, but sound hollow? I don't think so.
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