After the Iowa
caucuses, surviving candidates, Republicans as well as Democrats, are all
claiming to be for change. Am I being a cynic when, reflexively, I�ve concluded
that probably not one of them is really advocating meaningful change?
prophets in the Old Testament who singularly, in blunt and conclusive language,
spelled out the repercussions to come for the then existing ungodly behavior?
Well, modern replicas of such wise men are unwelcome in today�s America and any
and all criticism of our political and economic systems is deemed as heresy, an
unforgivable schism; and these neo-prophets are immediately tagged as
unpatriotic bastards at best.
Poor John Edwards!
He has been accused by the press and parasite TV-punditry for delivering his
Iowa speech, post-caucuses, in anger. That just isn�t tolerable in our
milquetoast, self-professed moderate America, where politicians must always
talk in hopeful, flattering ways of a resurgent God-blessed America just
waiting to gloriously reemerge if only we could correct our navigation by one,
maybe two degrees.
Just as Uncle
Ronald Reagan suggested (pre- and during senility): the only way to talk to
Americans is in a firm and convincing tone of unflagging optimism, reality be
damned. Never should the American populace be allowed to receive messages of
self-criticism that may contradict the nation�s infallible ways; messages
should be of hope that can come about by a tiny correction in course.
Politicians, unlike preachers or motivational speakers, are only allowed to
show anger when referring to foreign enemies � real or imaginary � and not when
the enemy is really found to be us.
By now, it should
be obvious to any student of American society and its econo-political folklore
that Americans don�t have a palate for any form of criticism, much less
self-criticism, of our capitalist democracy, particularly if it�s sacrilegiously
expressed . . . and with anger.
Once again, our
paladin-politicians are all clamoring to be candidates for change; yet, not one
of the �electable� candidates to the presidency has dared tell us how they will
effect such change in the areas where change is needed; and, to date, the best
they have been able to come up with are �slight corrections� in direction to
the war in Iraq, an improvement in health care (instead of commitment to the
right of universal health care) and other small changes that hardly represent
the revolutionary changes needed for a nation almost 180 degrees off-course
from the destination our citizens deserve; also those in the world who, rightly
or wrongly, view the US with great suspicion and fear.
At least John
Edwards dared to take head on an oppressive and predatory Corporate America,
which in and of itself not only caused him an irreparable rift with Wall
Street, but also indelibly wrote his obituary as a presidential candidate,
leaving Democrats with a final match pitting Oprah�s prot�g� and the lady
�experienced� in everything that is wrong in America, things many of us feel
she will not likely confront, much less change.
If there is one
issue, a fundamental principal issue that defines us as a people among all
other peoples in the world, one that not one "electable" candidate
has dared to touch, it�s America�s foreign policy and how we view and treat
other peoples throughout the world; and the complete overhaul we need to make
in this regard. An overhaul, not a tune-up! America�s long term viability, not
just as a superpower but as a trustworthy nation, rests not on its nuclear
stockpiles but in how the nation changes, how decent and good neighbors
"electable" candidate has dared to seriously commit his or her
efforts, if elected president, to seek harmony and reconciliation in Palestine
. . . and the rest of the Middle East and South Asia; not as an ally and
guarantor for Israel, but as a true proponent and advocate of a just peace
which long term will be the only thing that will guarantee the continuing
existence of that state. Nor has a single "electable" candidate
committed to reassure America of the fact that Muslims, secular or
fundamentalist, are neither terrorists nor Islamofascists just because some
misguided people tag them so, stating clearly that the first thing we must do
is to put a stop to all anti-Islam trash talk. Our ideas about the world may be
different, even clash, but that is no reason to stop seeking common ground in a
world where civilizations will have to eventually find enlightenment and melt
into one, unless humanity is bent on an early exit from this planet.
And that search for
harmony should not be restricted to the Middle East but to Latin America as
well, and those nations where our century-old meddling has unjustly aided
oppressive governments and abusive elite classes. Have any of these candidates
that invoke change expressed any goodwill towards those nations in South
America that are trying to find a better path of social justice for their
people, even if such path deviates politically from ours? Not one! And as for
Cuba, and the billions of dollars in economic damages that the US has inflicted
on its economy, its people, for a half-century . . . there is no outcry by candidates
for change, for reestablishing ties that will erase all ill-will. Nor has there
been any call for foreign policy change to provide help for Africa; nor for our
treatment of Russia; nor for the unyielding threats to the sovereignty of Iran.
But change in
foreign policy is not the change that candidates are talking about; theirs is
not so lofty and primordial change. Change for them is simply a palavering way
of promoting their candidacies, getting votes . . . and little else.
Of course, by the
time the two surviving Tweedledee-Tweedledum candidates reach their campaigns�
feverish pitch in late summer the recession will be in full bloom, in its third
quarter, without end in sight. That will provoke a �forced change� to the
For now, as we enter
2008, most Americans remain in complete political and economic denial just as
all declared presidential candidates promulgate change, but not the most
important change: foreign policy change. For without that change, America will
not engender a more humane, compassionate society, and a better life for its
people -- both material and spiritual -- and that change will not occur until
America divorces from that frightful hag: Pride, and takes on a youthful
friendly bride: Humility. But that�s not about to happen . . . not for a while;
certainly not this year.
� 2008 Ben
Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA),
where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at email@example.com.