Democrats & Liberals Archives

State of the Union

I listened to a President who took office based on a lie speak about the State of the Nation last night. His words were full of self praise even though his speech writers put ‘We” in his mouth many times over the night. He declared war, not only on Terror, several times last night, but on all of the policies of the man whose words he used in the close of his message, FDR. Based on that speech alone, either this man is dangerously delusional, or he believes that he is a great leader, in which case the danger of his delusions infects our whole nation tragically.

Our nation is divided between a core of voters who believe that his policies will bring prosperity and power to our nation and the core of those who see that such a perception is unrealistic. Those policies will in the end impoverish our middle class and destroy our image abroad. Those policies will weaken our economy so much that maintaining our military forces, on which his foreign policy is wholly based, will eventually become impossible. He lied in the convoluted and studied way that all such leaders lie, with the confidence of a victor in a battle that has been fought from the earliest times of recorded human history. His victories like his competence at governing are small things, but they will gradually rob this nation of its wealth and the world’s trust. I watched those Democrats in the US Senate who tried to work with this man as he spoke. Their every effort was thwarted by his sole interest in strengthening his position with his base. He has left unfunded those parts of the legislation that they fought to include. Their faces showed their knowledge of this man’s betrayal of his nation’s future.

The Republican Party has, in order to form a more perfect coalition of disparate groups, in the last three years denied its roots as a conservative party, and pursued a radical agenda. Last night this President lied to them about the results of that agenda in at least three ways. The first lie was established by positioning the War in Iraq as a “Victory” in the war on Terror. Lie two was created by claiming that the economic bubble that we are riding today is substantial and enduring. Lie three was founded in the idea that inclusiveness in our nation cannot allow marriage between people of the same sex. There were a lot of other lies but these three will suffice.

The lie about the victory in Iraq is one we all would like to believe, but events in Iraq do not approach the picture painted by Mr. Bush last night. He cannot allow the Shiite majority to control the government of Iraq. That is why he is fighting to maintain control of how an interim government will be formed. It is also why we are now seeking help from the UN to bolster our weak position regarding an election there with the lie that an election cannot be held there today. This is the same UN that his Administration declared irrelevant when it warned us that a war on Iraq was not justified.

If we are fighting our war there for Democracy it is Democracy of a strange and elusive kind indeed. It was about the oil when Iraq was pieced together by the British, French and US after the fall of the Ottoman Empire. It is about the oil there today. Freedom is a term that falls easily and often off of the lips of this President. His Administration has freed no one in the world, including his own citizens, by declaring preemptive war as our strategic choice. The cost of this lie about victory in Iraq is high in lives and dollars, both are borrowed from our next generation.

Lie two, about the economy, is a lie that will only become evident as this recycled bubble economy again loses air over the next two years. We have a bubble in technology stocks again and that bubble includes a new player, Nanotechnology. The Nanotech companies are being pursued like those of the Internet were; as a force for a new economy. This is an old economy based on work and production and consumption by the working class. In a world where jobs are fleeing our shores faster than we can create new ones this bubble expansion cannot endure.

Our housing bubble is particularly tragic because of the illusion of wealth it has created for our Middle Class and those below. That bubble will deflate as soon as the interest rates rise and slow the purchasing frenzy that low interest rates have created. When it deflates, the equity held in homes bought with a lifetime of earnings will shrink or disappear. A substantial portion of the purchasing power, which fueled the consumer driven expansion in our economy, came from equity drained from those homes.

The homes of our nation are the greatest repository of wealth held by the people of the Middle Class and below. The combined value of those homes is close to forty trillion dollars. In a real estate bubble deflation, one third of that value could disappear over time. At least one quarter of it will be gone quickly. Ten trillion dollars removed from the current perceived value of homes will hurt for a very long time. It will bring millions of bankruptcies that will damage our financial institutions and make home purchases harder for the next generation of citizens, our children. That is the price of this lie.

The third lie is that this nation’s institution of marriage cannot survive the development of a means to use it to treat homosexual couples as equals under the law. When the price of your love is the hatred of those around you, as it has always been for those who love people of the same sex, it is tragic for both those who love and those who hate. Fear is the main component of this particular lie, fear of those who live lives that are different from those of us who count themselves “normal”. To make the norm acceptable first you must destroy the hopes of those who do not fit in. That was the meta message in Mr. Bush’s offer of support for a constitutional amendment to prevent same sex marriage. This would be the first constitutional amendment in the history of this nation to deny certain citizens rights available to the rest. That such a reversal of the historical national trends, toward our acceptance of differences in human beings is possible, speaks volumes about the kind of leadership this President offers. It is the leadership of cruel lies, told loudly and often, that history will prove false, and we will all pay for, for a long time to come.

Yes the State of this nation is strong! It is strong in spite of, not because of, one President’s lies. This is the nation that invented liberty and has always defended it when the need became greatest. Its actions in pursuit of the joined ideals of freedom and liberty have not always been balanced or consistent. That is the nature of a Democracy composed of people; it is imperfect because of the imperfections of all of us. We are a people who have done great things in our past and will again in our future. In our past our ancestors worked and fought to make this continent our own. Not always perfectly with justice toward all, my Indian ancestors can testify to that. My French ancestors fought with them slept with them and married one of them in those times.

Now we are a nation trying to formulate how to use our power in the world. We have great power; it is the power of a free and sovereign people which is being badly used by our leadership today. It sometimes has been used badly before, in our past. It is the power of the nation with the greatest military force on earth and the most powerful Economy ever created. We have changed the world, more people hunger for freedom because we exist than did in all of human history before we came on the scene. Less people are starving today per million humans alive than in all of human history. That is true despite a world population that is greater than at any other time in history. Our Green Revolution is one of the main factors in that equation of success.

We have had great leaders and we have been badly led before. We have been led by the cronyism and lies of those who weaseled their way into power when the people were not watching carefully enough. We have also been led by the genius and decency of men like Lincoln and Washington and FDR, by the intellects of Adams and Jefferson, by the faith and integrity of honorable men like Carter and Truman. Our days as a Republic are not over despite those who would use our power to make this nation an Empire. That group includes some of those gathered around this President who clapped for his lies yesterday.

We will find new and better leadership again, if not in this election then in the next or the one after that. We are a patient people and often fearless in our pursuit of a future where all men and women can live free. We have done that foolishly when our impatience led us to act too quickly in places like Vietnam and Iraq, and wisely in WWII when our existence was threatened. We will continue to govern ourselves, sometimes well and sometimes badly, in spite of all who would have it otherwise, even those Imperialists who live among us.

We will conquer our fear and win this war on terror the only way we can, by working hard and long to make this world a better place for all who live in it. Black or White, Brown or Yellow, Muslim or Christian, Buddhist or Atheist, Heterosexual or Homosexual or all of those in between, this is our world. It belongs to the people, not to the leadership. Leaders will come and go, nations will rise and fall but the people will triumph in the end. They will win out over oppression and degradation in part because this nation once embraced liberty and freedom over security and fear, as it will again. We will cling to those ideals regardless of any number of lies told about the State of this Union because they are two of the greatest ideas ever created by the minds of human beings. God bless you all and keep you more in love with liberty and freedom than you can ever be with security and wealth.

Posted by Henri Reynard at January 21, 2004 8:23 AM