Does anyone really believe that thousands of people in cities all over the country are spending weeks carrying signs and sleeping in the parks because they want to hang out and be cool, as Fox News would lead us to believe? We have seen demonstrations like this before with respect to war, but never with respect to the economy. They come from every background, are of all ages and are simply fed up. Many are desperate. They are sick to the core of wealthy bankers, corporate CEOs and Wall Street fat cats flooding election coffers to keep politicians in place who really do not give a whit about the poor and unemployed.
If ever we needed our elected officials to stand together, it was in support of President Obama’s comprehensive jobs bill. It took courage for Democratic senators to stand behind the president and vote for this legislation. Democrats rose to the occasion—all except two: John Tester of Montana and Ben Nelson of Nebraska. More concerned about reelection than about doing the right thing, these two let us down when we needed them the most.
In the August 23, 2010 issue of Newsweek, an article titled “The Best Countries in the World” reported on an extensive survey that included the aid of an advisory board made up of Nobel laureates and renowned academics from around the world. The survey chose five categories of national well-being—education, health, quality of life, economic competitiveness and political environment—and compiled metrics within these categories against which they rated 100 nations. Of the 10 countries of the world that finished ahead of the U.S. in overall ranking, the U.S. may have more billionaires than all of them put together. Could this explain why 64 percent of all people surveyed about Obama’s jobs bill felt that the small additional tax on multimillionaires and closing a few corporate tax loopholes was not only fair, but long, long overdue?
So maybe we might want to start listening to those thousands of people demonstrating in our cities all over the country, before the last vestiges of hope completely disappear. Many have already given up on the system. Do we really want to wait until peaceful demonstrations turn into rioting and, once again, we call out the National Guard to shoot our college students? We have seen this nightmare play out before. It was bad enough returning home after my second tour in Vietnam, but watching as the carnage unfolded at Kent State University was simply unbearable. I do not think that as a nation we can survive that again.