"I want my country back" is the rallying cry for conservatives.
Not being very conservative, I don't feel qualified to define their America. I know, though, what my America is.
My father came to America with his parents nearly 100 years ago. Like other immigrant kids, he went right to work. He picked slate in the coal mines of Pittston, PA. He was 11 years old. He stayed in the mines for 45 years, leaving when the Susquehanna River broke in killing 12 of his mates. He died 20 years later of black lung.
It would have been easy for pop to become disillusioned, but he never did. And he never lost faith that his family would prosper in the adopted country he loved. His America and mine is a country of hope, of pride and of a belief in the future.
It's full of people with a sense of community -- and a sense that America pretty much, not always, is a nation where you can go from the tenement to the penthouse with guts, work, and brains.
It is also a nation of people who think that when the playing field isn't level, the government will help make it so.
Sadly, my America has been pretty beaten up.
The Republican Party has allied itself with corporate America to create a nation as unequal as any since the Great Depression. During the Bush period of 2003 to 2007, 67 percent of the wealth made in America went to the top two percent of the population. Did they make it because of their talent? Hell no.
Like Reagan 20 years before, George Bush's first moves were to cut taxes on the wealthy and eliminate as far as posssible regulation of Wall Street. The results in both cases were similar.
Reagan came in with a 900 billion deficit He trippled that to 2.8 trillion deficit eight years later. Bush did better. He went from a 200 billion surplus to a 1.3 trillion deficit. Both Reagan and Bush claimed tax cuts would create jobs. It didn't happen with Reagan and as we know, America lost 800,000 jobs a month in the last year of the Bush presidency.
And as for cutting regulation on banks, America bailed out S&Ls in 1988 to the tune of 500 billion. 20 years later, we did it again. This time for 700 billion plus.
Two Republican presidents. Two massive bank bailouts following deregulation. A coincidence?
And what is House Republican leader John Boehner saying he would do if he were speaker? He would lower taxes on the rich and cut bank regulation. His words, not mine. More handouts to the rich and more of the same misery for middle America. That has tragically become the Republican approach to governance.
President Obama spoke this week of creating jobs, helping small business, and of America again being the world's education leader. He spoke of overcoming fear, and of hope and belief in the future.
My father would have been proud.
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