If I hear the word "dream" again during this Democratic Convention, I think I'll fling something at the screen. The time for dreaming is over. Harry Truman tried to bring us national health insurance and we're still dreaming about it. Europe has had public health care, free universities and a greener economy for decades now. But in America we still dream of such things.
Joe Biden couldn't stay away from the word either. It is particularly irritating with "American" attached before it. Biden wants it restored. He says Bush killed it. Biden wants what we dream of but never seem to get for everyone.
"Today that American dream feels as if it's slowly slipping away. I don't need to tell you that," Biden said, but he did anyway.
All this talk about dreams, realized elsewhere in the world, reminds me of a medieval peasant putting up with his present misery because the priest told him he'd get it all in the next world.
"He keeps talking about the same issues, family values," a Delaware delegate told CNN's Suzanne Malveaux in praise of Biden, whom the delegate has known all these years. That's the problem. He keeps talking about it. If these things were accomplished we wouldn't have to talk about them any more. We would just enjoy them like people in other countries do.
In his speech, Biden promised that Obama would improve health care and education. But Biden then wittingly or unwittingly gave away the reason why we haven't been able to achieve these things yet when he signed off with: "May God bless America and protect our troops."
Until we give up on glorifying militarism we won't solve any of these pressing social issues. We don't have the money for both.
But the Democrats won't face this. They won't level with the American people.
Instead Biden regurgitated the propaganda passing for news when he said Russia was challenging the "free and democratic country of Georgia," vowing that Obama and he would "hold Russia accountable for its actions, and we'll help the people of Georgia rebuild."
In fact it has been the reverse: neo-conservative foreign policy has challenged Russia right up to its borders with American client states, such as Georgia. The US runs pipelines through them. Central Asia is the battleground of the future as oil supplies dwindle and America keeps flexing its muscles.
The Cold War never ended for the neocons. Bush's father made a deal with Gorbachev that the US would not encroach on Russia, but his son's crowd reneged on that. They believe winning the Cold War was an opportunity to expand American power into former Soviet territory, a very dangerous policy that has led to the current crisis. Biden's words indicate an Obama administration would continue this neocon game plan laid out by Zbigniew Brzezinski 13 years ago in The Grand Chessboard. Brzezinski of course is Obama's chief foreign policy adviser.
One of Biden's applause lines was praising Obama, "who more than a year ago called for sending two additional combat brigades to Afghanistan." Is sending even more troops to Central Asia really something to celebrate? Is it wise to praise the military when we have no real enemy that can challenge us? When we should be taking care of terrorism with international police work, not war?
Social progress is put off as long as America maintains its military empire. Until troops around the world are brought home, foreign bases are closed and the defense budget is cut in half, we will keep hearing about dreams at political conventions.
Europe achieved social advancement only because it lost its empires, was exhausted by wars and then began spending the people's money solving problems at home, not on the military. America is not yet exhausted by wars, but it will be. The loss of empire is not voluntary and it won't be for us either. In the meantime our military presence abroad will stir up more resentment and terrorism and defense spending.
I've long heard the American-centric argument that it was the Marshall Plan and U.S. bases in Europe that permitted social democracy there. The Marshall Plan was set up to benefit American companies in Europe and provide a market for US goods more than out of the altruistic motives many Americans have been led to believe.
Since the first three CIA National Intelligence Estimates ever issued in the late 1940s said the Soviet Union was no threat to Europe or the United States, there was no need to turn Europe into an armed American camp either--except that it was good for the armaments business.
Until we stop worshiping the military and believing the myths of its benign motives abroad our social problems will grow worse. In the meantime, the Democrats have dreams to run on.
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