2008-06-27 / Columnists

The Progressive

Commentary By John Paul Culotta

A few days ago, my wife, Louisa and I were taking a long walk on a beach. The sky was a bright blue and although the day was sunny it was not too warm. There was a gentle breeze. Birds were singing. Boats were gently rocking with the gentle waves. It was a perfect day. Both of us forgot our aches and pains. All of our family and financial problems appeared far away. Although my 92-year-old father-in-law was in the hospital, we felt some peace. We forgot the turmoil of raising a teenage girl. Thoughts regarding our 80-year-old house and how to improve it were no longer prominent. We were just in the moment.

Often, we are so proud to be American that we also lose sight of the problems the nation faces. We know our nation has and is a beacon of hope for many on planet earth. We are proud of the land of opportunity and sometimes do not want to recognize barriers that exist that often keep many in misery and poverty. We are proud of our worldrenowned hospitals and forgot the barriers to an adequate medical care for many of us. We are proud of our efforts to bring democracy to others and are not shocked when this really means plans to place 60 military bases on foreign and Iraqi soil, limiting liability for our private corporations and military in that country. We are proud of the sacrifice our soldiers make and are often not aware of the dreadful reception some of them receive in VA facilities. We need to observe more diligently the discrepancies in American political, economic, and social life.

Many of us are aware that a historic first will happen soon- that a biracial man will be the candidate of a major party for the highest political office in the land. At the same time, racial barriers still exist and need to be addressed. Many Americans are living in poverty. Many are white. Too often, the lives of men and women who work in unsafe jobs, have inadequate incomes, or are denied needed medical care, or educational opportunities are not the center of political discourse.

Americans want leaders that are similar to them in habits and belief. Some political pundits pander to the blue-collar worker by having candidates portray themselves as bowlers, hunters, baseball fans, and people who drink whiskey with beer chasers. The results are farcical. Blue-collar workers want candidates that espouse safe working conditions, adequate wages, empowerment and a voice in the halls of Congress and the corridors of the White House. Many believe in strong, honest unions. A government that encourages unions to be the voice for the worker will ensure a voice to many who are now voiceless. There is a need to address these issues. In the past few years Americans in all parts of the nation have read of mining and construction accidents. We are now aware that many Americans have not shared the benefits of a strong economy. Candidates need to address the barriers posed by Ivy League schools, inadequate or lack of medical insurance, inadequate public school education, exorbitant credit card and banking fees and interest rates.

If love of country cannot be an excuse to be overbearing overseas and in denial of domestic problems. Walking on the beach can make you forget problems but reality will prevail. True patriots will want to improve America. Happy Fourth!

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