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"On Losing The Cold War"

     The best bully pulpit, in this day and age, is not a pulpit,
and not a novel nor an information-packed expose, certainly not a
scholar's chair at a university, and not an Internet Web-site
[how can people find it?].  The best bully pulpit is not a
talk-show host microphone [the yelling has become unconvincing],
not a TV news broadcaster's desk [maybe it could be, but it
isn't, since it has been purchased by the advertisers and they
have become so shrill we no longer believe them] - no, the best
bully pulpit, for old-fashioned Truth-Tellers is the comic
strip.  If I were 20, instead of 65, I would learn cartooning.

     That elephant, representing the Republican Party, holding
his head in lamentation, wondering how to create an issue people
would really care about in the 1992 election, admitting, "God, I
miss the Commies_" - the cartoonist nailed the truth, and put it
out there where we could all see it and react to it as we

     Tom Tomorrow did it just recently, as he mocked the
right-wing attack on "liberals" and all their causes.  They skulk
around, those liberals, looking for unsuspecting victims who
could be persuaded that their causes are good and just - things
like food stamps for the hungry, health care for the sick
and disabled, work for the able-bodied, an end to slavery and
racism and sexism and all that.  And one of his favorite air-head
characters says, "Don't they know their side lost the Cold War?"

     "Universal health care?  That's a damned Communist idea!  A
wicked idea!  Health care is not a right, and the public health
be damned.  Let `em die!  There's too many of `em anyway." 
Usually one doesn't hear that put so flatly, but it is an
attitude that seems to have gained legitimacy, just because the
Union of Soviet Socialist Republics came unglued.  People are
taught to hate Fidel Castro and "Communist Cuba," because in Cuba
they have universal health care and universal education, even
though we don't.  The owners and rulers of our country don't want
either of those things here, and don't like that little country,
setting such a bad example, ninety miles from Miami.  Doesn't
Castro know his side lost the Cold War?

     Actually, both sides lost the Cold War.  The people of the
former Soviet Union are in serious trouble, having wasted their
experiment in equality on armaments.  The people of the USA, an
alarming proportion of them, are also in trouble, with the safety
net in shreds, job security a mockery, one serious illness or
accident separating most families from utter disaster - the
zooming stock market does not make real daily life for millions
any better.  None of these desperate people own TV news channels,
so they can't gainsay the constantly cheerful message about "the
booming economy."  They just try to eke out a living and stay out
of the hospital or the jail.

     This superpower also wasted its experiment with "government
by, for and of the people," on armaments, and the government that
is left, which has fallen out of the hands of the people and into
the hands of those who give and take bribes, continues to waste
its substance on armaments.  This "only surviving superpower"
cannot honestly claim to have won anything, with a debt of $4
trillion, more than all other government debt on the surface of
the planet.  And to say, "we licked the deficit," doesn't mean
the debt has been taken care of; it means that for one particular
year we didn't add to the debt, very much.

     "What?  Minimum wage?  A minimum wage large enough to
actually live on and rear children on, including health care? 
That's a Communist idea!  You keep bringing up class questions,
trying to stir up class conflict, class warfare - that's a
Communist thing to do!  Don't you know your side lost the Cold

     Ten percent of the people own eighty percent of the stuff -
I made those numbers up, but I know it's worse than that, that
is, fewer than that own more than that, and fewer and fewer own
more and more every year since the Great Prevaricator became king
of the world_  If class warfare can be avoided simply by labeling
the statistics "communist," that will be a good trick.  I do not
believe it will work.  Some of those "liberal" ideas, especially
that of equality, may have to be reconsidered, after all, later,
if not sooner.  "Domestic tranquillity" is tied to something that
looks and feels very much like equality.  The irony is that it's
in our tradition, from long before there ever were any
Communists, unless you assign the label "Communist" to the
prophet Amos, and Thomas Jefferson.

February 17, 1998
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Copyright © 1998 Harry Willson

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