|RANT FROM FEBRUARY 1998
"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 pleased. 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 War?" 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