THE BLOG

Homeland Time in America

12/04/2012 11:44 am ET | Updated Feb 03, 2013
  • Janet Langhart Cohen Author, 'Anne and Emmett,' a one-act play; Co-founder, Race and Reconciliation In America

It's time to stop performing forensic autopsies on the Republican Party. No more eulogies, please. The GOP isn't dead. Right wing extremists -- the same ones exposed so brilliantly in Steven Spielberg's, Lincoln -- have captured, and are consuming the core of a once-admired, moderate, political party. The racists, bigots, anti-science and anti-government zealots are like vampires. Until Republican moderates, such as Jeb Bush or Jon Huntsman, drive a stake through that place where a heart is supposed to be, the ideologues will continue to pull them into the darkness of defeat.

It's also time to turn off the television's talking heads and focus on the needs of the American people. Our roads, bridges, power grids are approaching the condition of those in the third world. They need to be repaired. The social safety net has been shredded for millions of Americans. The middle class has been hit hard by the recession, but the poor have been hit harder and neither presidential candidate ever mentioned them during the campaign.

How can we tolerate treating the poor as if they are invisible? Do we think that poverty doesn't exist if we don't speak its name? Why has the "war on poverty" been declared a failure, but after our government has spent nearly 4 trillion dollars and lost thousands of lives in Iraq and Afghanistan, we're told that we have to wait for history to judge whether the wars have been successful?

President John F. Kennedy issued a call to action when he declared, "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich." Well, the many who are poor are predominately black. In virtually every economic and social category -- employment, health, housing, education, safety and judicial fairness -- the black community lags far behind the rest of American society.

For the past four years, we've been told to keep our heads and voices down, to be patient and satisfied that we've helped make history. Meeting the needs of the most disadvantaged among us is more important than one man's place in history.

President Obama has a full agenda to be sure, including preventing our country from going over the "fiscal cliff." The world will continue to demand America's attention. But something is very wrong with our priorities. When violence explodes and people die in the Middle East, members of our national security team immediately fly off to the region, anxious to stop the killing.

People die every night on the south side of Chicago, where I used to live, but there are no network anchors eager to cover the carnage or leaders pledging assistance to stop the violence and heal the broken lives.

We established no fly zones and no drive zones in Iraq and Libya, but we tolerate drive by shooting zones in our inner cities. This policy of deliberate neglect is shameful and must stop.

Protecting our national security must always remain President Obama's top priority. Securing our borders against enemies will fail, however, if we are unable or unwilling to protect the welfare and quality of life of the American people -- the ones who are dying here, and those who are going to be called upon to pay more taxes, enjoy fewer benefits and endure more hardship in order to restore our country's greatness.

Mr. President, it's Homeland time in America...

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