There’s a proposal floating around the country called a “Contract for the American Dream.”
It’s an ages old dream, simple in its scheme, a dream where everyone has a place of employment (JOBS, NOT CUTS!), roofs over our heads on homes we own and secure futures for ourselves and our children so they can pass the good fortunes on.
The dream eases me into a “What if?” kind of modality. Like what if tomorrow Obama woke up truly realizing that the Good Old USA is in a kind of “do or die” situation. Either he, and Congress, does something or we, in spirit, without a doubt, will surely die.
And what if he reacts to our crippling emotional pain and, metaphorically if not actually, says to whoever has, as their domain, arranging for when he boards his ever ready plane: “Tell my people we’re heading to Wisconsin and Ohio. And before we go I’m going to need some camping gear and a cool ride, a colorful volkswagen van, or something. I’ve got to do this right. I’ve got to get down to the real nitty gritty because life beyond these walls ain’t looking too pretty.”
Man, when the prez shows up as I see him in my “What if” frame of mind, he would blow our minds, because generally we’re not seeing him as one of us and thusly he can’t represent us unless he gets out among us and listens to us. People would feel the energy from the gesture the moment he sets up his tent and plops down anywhere on the ground in the heartland right now and gave the battered folks out there one of those warm and cuddly “Mo’Nique” (Check out BET) hugs and shook their hands the way they need to be shook. How else could he better understand at a visceral level what they’re going through?
Oh, I dream, don’t I? But it’s either that or scream into the madness and that is what it is: Insanity. Our government proceeds in one of the most crucial moments in the world’s history as though it is completely out of touch with reality.
But if the president came out here with us, literally, he could go back to DC with the backing of working people throughout the country and begin his very next talk before Congress with: “I already knew, but the past few days I’ve experienced firsthand how the middle class is dwindling before our very eyes.
“Hey, I saw crumbling dams and bridges and levees. We need workers to bring them up to par… I saw green jobs already underway. We can help such enterprises get way along the way… If we’re to nurture our children’s minds we need to know who they are so our schools, which we must save and restore, should be steeped in the arts for nothing gets at who one is more than how they express themselves artistically… Early childhood education for all… Medicare for all…Fair wages and benefits through collective bargaining for all, like FDR intended it to be… Secure Social Security for all… Fair elections for all… Fair tax rates for all, including Wall Street…We must end the wars and invest in a nation that’s worthy of us all…
“What I’m saying to you today is I’ve just come off a camping trip where I hung out with plain everyday struggling folks who are mad as hell and I’ve learned from our history that mass anger that goes unrelieved is a monster that can be conceived in the time it takes one second to segue into the other: Watts, 1965; London, 2011. We don’t want that.
“We want to call on our will to better ourselves like our nation’s leaders did during the Great Depression when they created the WPA (Work Projects Administration) that enabled workers to carry out public works projects that included the construction of public buildings and roads and operated large arts, drama, media, and literacy projects. It fed children and redistributed food, clothing, and housing. Now it’s our turn, here in the 21st Century, to accomplish such great things. It’s time to take heed to the cries of our people. ‘JOBS, NOT CUTS!’”
So, what if Obama doesn’t take such a camping trip or some facsimile thereof? What happens to us? To the world? What must be done is certainly no simple task but I think these are the questions that our nation has to ask – because the same old same old that we’ve seen the past few weeks is definitely not the way to go.
Image courtesy of mikekline via flickr.com