2004-10-29 / Columnists

The Progressive

The Choice

For the past few weeks, the media has been focused on the non-issues of this campaign- the hairstyle of the candidates, the Vietnam War service of the candidates, the role and style of the candidates’ wives, the opinion polls, and the offspring of the candidates.

Folksy personal stories about the candidates to demonstrate their character and their commitment to American and traditional values have been part of the campaign. The silly season began early and the campaign has been nasty and ugly. Radio and television talk show hosts are allowing the wildest scenarios that listeners can conjure up to be expressed in order to liven up their programming. It is no wonder that Americans are tired and disappointed with the body politic. This year’s election may be the most important one in our lifetime. It revolves around two different political philosophies. We must chose between them.

The GOP has had a history that has contributed to our nation’s growth and well being. It was the party of Lincoln and Eisenhower. It was also the party of the abolition of slavery, free trade, anti-trust legislation, balanced budgets, and the Interstate highway system.

The Democratic Party also had an important role in our nation’s development. It is the party of Roosevelt (Franklin) and Kennedy. It is the party that gave us Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, rural electrification, the right of workers to unionize, Medicare, head start, voting rights, and civil rights.

Both parties were able to achieve their objectives when the members of the opposite party were able to compromise and work for the common good. Unfortunately, this spirit of bi-partisan cooperation is missing in our nation today. Close elections at the national level will only exacerbate the situation. Americans should be aware that the distrust we have in our political leaders will only increase if we do not challenge them and the media to discuss the real dramatic and increasingly drastic issues of our day.

More than five hundred years before Christ, Lao-Tzu, the Chinese philosopher wrote about leadership: “ As for the best leaders, the people do not notice their existence. The next people honor and praise. The next people fear and the next people hate. But when the best leader’s work is done the people say ‘We did it ourselves.’ Leadership is inseparable from responsibility. Having personal priorities when your nation needs your service ala Cheney is inexcusable. Leadership needs to be shared. Workers need to be part of the power structure. Dissenters need to be protected. There should be no witch hunters. The authority of society must always be challenged. This nation does not need thought police. Torture should not be condoned. Our nation should not turn over to our allies who use torture, any prisoner we capture.

The Geneva Conventions were signed to protect American soldiers. Let us abide by the conventions.

Our nation faces a cynical world. We take military action ignoring input from most of the international community and then request those we have ignored to share the burdens of our actions. In this regard, it is Bush who flip-flopped. He is now advocating the position of the Democratic candidate.

A few years ago we were given the ugly spectacle of a presidential impeachment. During the past four years, we have witnessed broader scandals including the speculation in real estate and agricultural land causing many to have no possibility to own a home or run a family farm; corporate tax avoidance scandals such as Enron and Tyco and corporate avoidance of responsibility to the civic health of the nation, the lack of adequate healthcare for the entire population of the nation, the casino like atmosphere of the Stock Exchange, the overcharging of the government by drug companies, the continuing layoffs of American workers, and the lack of jobs that will give our youth a future. Such behavior is an affront to American workers who have a daily struggle to feed and clothe their families. The burden of fighting international terrorism both in physical and financial terms is on the backs of the least privileged in our society.

The nation needs a candidate that will speak out and stand for working and middle class Americans. We need to put an end to the Bush administration’s bidding for special corporate interests. There needs to be a more equitable tax structure in this nation. Tax breaks for the super rich (including Kerry-Heinz) must stop. It is a national disgrace that as many as 43 million Americans have no health insurance. We must not despoil America’s most precious places such as the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

The Bush/Cheney team has had plans that would, according to many economists and worker representatives, weaken Social Security and Medicare. Although Social security remains solvent for many years to come, the GOP has used fear tactics to have the youth of this nation believe that their benefits are in jeopardy. In recent years defined pensions for workers by employers have become almost extinct. This again is a sign of economic hardship for the American people.

The Democrats are pledged to stop the disastrous policies of the Bush administration. The nation needs a change. Vote for this change on election day

By John Paul Culotta

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