In another time and another place, the captains of the automotive industry might be tried for crimes against humanity. This week they paraded like mindless peacocks before Congress with arrogance, insolence, a brazen audacity that is almost impossible to describe. Adding further insult to injury, with collective hats in their hands, they pleaded for a monetary reprieve that would allow them to continue to hold both the American economy and millions of workers hostage to the most pernicious mismanagement of our domestic manufacturing sector history has ever recorded.
So pathetic is this sorry story that Congress was left collectively scratching its head and wondering if in fact the American people could allow even this grossest level of malfeasance to go unpunished, while at the same time realizing that the costs of allowing the industry to self-destruct most likely far outweighs the benefits of rescuing it from an ignominious death.
While the stock market, and hence the bulk of middle-class retirement savings, cascades under the relentless waves of bad economic news, while the economy sputters to a virtual halt, while unemployment claims climb to stratospheric levels and layoffs mount at a dizzying pace, deep in our hearts we know that even this clueless and callous Administration cannot afford to watch the unfolding economic apocalypse without dipping deeper into the seemingly inexhaustible money well that drains from our children's future.
It seems almost impossible to imagine a more debilitating ending to what will be one of the darkest periods in American electoral history. The hits just keep on coming. Jimmy Buffet sings "if we weren't all crazy we'd all go insane," well this seems like one of those times. It seems like the only good news we have had in a long time are the results of November 4. And keeping with the rock lyrics motif, maybe it is always "darkest just before the dawn."
We must and we will rise above it, but you simply cannot wonder how different things would have been had the Great Heist known as the 2000 election not happened. The lost lives, lost international integrity, lost savings, lost homes, lost jobs, lost momentum with respect to domestic programs, including alternative energy development, repairs of our crumbling physical infrastructure, a broken health care system, and a rapidly shrinking middle class, all point towards a government on political autopilot. We have been rudderless for some time, and it shows. The cumulative toll in terms of dollars is staggering, but in terms of damage to the societal psyche it is incalculable.
The challenges ahead are so daunting as to make even the calmest and shrewdest heads spin. The call to public service is now more urgent than at any time in our nation's history. Obama is the right person at the right time, but he will need to summon legions of individuals dedicated to the prospect of toiling in the fields to resurrect and reconstruct a strong and vibrant society.
Placing aside our anger we must strive above all things to do the right thing, and this means removing as many obstacles to progress as possible as we build a better world. It means setting aside our differences and our prejudices.
The lessons of the last eight years are harsh, yet we must learn from them and never allow them to be repeated. The next two months simply cannot go fast enough, for as we sit here today the Administration is plotting to undercut the wishes of the electorate and the opportunities for last minute mischief remain. So put on your work boots and roll up your sleeves and join in the effort to reclaim our country. Can you think of a better way to spend the next four to eight years?
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