There was a time in America when there existed a "bootstraps positivity" that claimed to cure all ills. The line was that "a rising tide, lifts all boats," or "you can do anything that you set your mind to, if you want it badly enough." Indeed, the ABCs of this philosophy was represented by a group in my city that once launched the "Any Boy Can" program. Noting that even this program applied only to males, we move on.
Where today is that Horatio Alger, pull oneself up by one's bootstraps zest and zeal that permeated the bounteous last few decades? Especially from the mouths of conservative elements of the society, where is that guarantee that all one needs do is to click one's heels three times and wish for us to get back to Kansas? There was a time when Norman Vincent Peale and Og Mandino dominated the business airwaves. Positivism was the staple fed most of those who in this country were hungry for the fulfillment of economic participation. In fact, the pathways to success were quite conscribed, but the common belief was that any person not succeeding was simply not trying. America the beautiful embraced all who wanted to succeed.
Today, those mantras have been replaced with the language of deficit reduction. Interestingly enough, that reduction is offered by the same Republicans responsible for having bloated spending, especially on the ghost of the national security fixation that has drained this nation of its dollars and its life's blood. Those same charlatans have not yet offered a cessation of the tax reductions for the wealthy and for corporations but float any healing of the engorged economy that they have created on the backs of the poor.
Sadly, many of the rank and file Republicans who support such rhetoric seem to have no clue that any correction to this horrible economy comes at the expense of their dollars through these unwise and poorly considered policies. Republicans who earn less than $200,000 per year are like the abused woman who blindly repeats the assertion that he "hits me because he loves me." They then deny their gaping wounds and turn on the Democrats who've interceded because they can't stand to see the bleeding and wade into the fight to minimize the carnage. Ordinary Republicans in America who currently dot the landscape are why the poor will always be with us.
And Republicans are delusional to the point that they manufacture events rather than deal with the reality of their zealotry-sparked decisions. Republicans blithely sift through decades of bad policy, painting a competent face on the likes of Ronald Reagan as though by denying his un-American complicity (remember the "October Surprise") we will forget that this old and foolish curmudgeon introduced assaultive and combative language against government and thereby against the American people. They forget that Reagan almost single-handedly destroyed those unions that their grandparents had worked so hard to achieve and that he did so while snoring most of that time. And that there is no national awareness that this was Reagan's true legacy means that the Fourth Estate was asleep as well. Reagan made a deal with Iran to hold onto American hostages until after he was elected, so as to make Jimmy Carter appear incompetent, and no Republican remembers that act!
Though national media has been complicit in forwarding certain private agendas, they too have offered no solution for the problem of Wall Street banking's having run off with the national treasury. Talk about the need to take the profit motive out of reportage! No one has picked up the cudgel to control or reverse those forces that have placed so many Americans in economic jeopardy. Indeed, it seems that instead, those in control of our society and our lives have opened wider the "spigot of despair." The pressure now extends farther outward past the convenient and traditional societal "losers" now drenching those middle-classed White Americans who considered themselves more mainstream and impervious to harm. The "Tea Party" is the perfect solution for the guy who lost his car keys in the darkened parking lot a block away but keeps searching for them under the lamppost outside the bar because "that is where the light is."
Yes the rain descends while the politically determined "chips" are falling where they may. Teenagers are jobless at unseen rates. Who's giving them the old "rah-rah?" Black teens are unemployed at unheard of rates but no one is telling them to give it "the old college try." Perhaps that is because many young African-Americans seem to be reversing their having been enamored of education. Why go to college when a Black college graduate has less chance of securing employment than a White high school graduate? Can I get an Amen?
But should that be enough to silence those nationalist enthusiasts who in good times could not be avoided on this issue? Those Americans who were then motivated by nationalism are today united around their own perceived descent. And I hear no stumping for the Keynesian business model other than in Congress and the few "thinkers" that wouldn't know how to distinguish Socialism from Communism if either philosophy came up and kissed them on the necks. Indeed, a Harvard math professor has recently determined that the "rationale model" attributed to Keynes, Smith and "business" is anything but rationale. So there goes the neighborhood!
And if those racists, disguised wearing tea bags are to be believed--and Chicago is "Obamabahd," then where martialed are the Black/Poor forces? With more than a million Black residents, Chicago should be the crucible of new beneficiaries. There should have been an onslaught of new wealth and shifted power to merit media attention worldwide--new Black President and all! Where are all those carpet bagging Blacks with the good government jobs and the grants given them by a corrupt "Black" administration? Are they hiding under Rahm? Has Timothy hired them to take over when he leaves? Surely by now, David Axelrod must be an honorary member of the Black Caucus!
Indeed the only discernible recent political movement in this nation has been that of "Tea Partiers." The data shows that they have been the citizens buying more guns and ammo and most concerned about Blacks and Mexicans taking the jobs that their elected legislators have already shipped off to India. Shirley Sherrod received the backhand of the Obama Administration in a quick response to perceptions of Black favoritism. The lesson for Republicans here seems to be, "once you see the fruits of racism up ahead, don't lose sight of that goal."
Is optimism contextual? Is everyone allowed to intone that god bless America at any time, or just when things are going well for my particular interest articulated grouping? And don't everyone answer at once. Especially, I'd like to see those individuals who have not been negatively impacted by this new economy recuse themselves from the discussion. No military contractors need apply here either. I would like to hear from those heads of household, out of work, who must wait to hear if Republican Senators are committed to diminishing the deficits that they themselves have been instrumental in creating. Tax breaks for the wealthy and the corporations, extended unemployment benefits for the rest of us who have been forced from our livelihoods and homes by their bad policy! Has anyone asked why fiscal conservatism should be levied on the backs of liberals and the American working poor versus Halliburton and Wells Fargo?
So where are those oh so vocal winners of yore? And as "rising boats" go, are their ranks swelling these days? When one hears White males decrying Capitalism, you know that something is afoot in America. And from that normally silent "middle" demographic that Republicans and Democrats vie for, I'm hearing this war cry more and more. We forget that a rising tide can swamp a lot of dinghies as well. And to my knowledge most working Americans have never owned a boat.