“So we beat on, boats against the current...” F. Scott Fitzgerald The Great Gatsby
The long drive home in the evening. Endless traffic and gridlock, all of us like one animal curling our way through the streets, inching our way forward. One hour to travel a mile. Plenty of time to ponder recent events:
Nice to know we are pawns in a political game. Multi-millionaires in Congress make deals that favor the rich. Tax cuts for the wealthiest two to three percent of the nation? Oh, yeah, we will throw in the middle class cuts and reluctantly add another thirteen months of unemployment. Meanwhile, the 99rs, or those whose unemployment benefits have completely run out, must shuffle through the holiday season with no income. Worse, the talking heads in Congress call them “shiftless” or “lazy.” They are “people who won’t get a job until the government money runs out.”
I do not understand why people in this country do not realize that our government favors only the wealthiest Americans. That two to three percent—billionaires, many of them, and many times over—dictate our policies, our economic system, our very future.
In this last election cycle, many middle class voters elected these shyster politicians into office because they were sick of the other side. But what Americans fail to understand is that those newly minted senators and representatives are at war with us. This country is suffering through what has been predicted for years: the disappearance of the middle class. In gathering speed, only two classes remain: the very rich and the poor. Many people are now without homes, without retirement savings, without jobs, without any recourse whatsoever. People in extremis discarded in the art of the deal! Banks got the bailout; human beings got nothing.
Who knew back in January, 2009 when we celebrated the inauguration of our first African-American United States President Barack Obama, that his race would be his only legacy. We elected the first black president, and that is all he turned out to be. I had hoped for so much more, but I should be used to potential heroes disappointing us. It is childish to believe that heroes come along and save the day, and I am an adult now. “Yes, Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.”
So I am driving the streets in the falling darkness of another evening. I truly believe we have lost our way. We worship at the altar of Oprah, of pundits and charlatans. And there are pretty shop windows, malls full of people, everyone frantically preparing for a Christmas we can no longer afford, so caught up in our holidays of orgiastic buying. We are Americans, and this is who we are.
If we have any hope in this country, in this world, of ever rising to our potential, this much is clear: it will not be Barack Obama or John Boehner who leads us home.
Remember the words of Alfred, Lord Tennyson: “’Tis not too late to seek a newer world.”
At the end of the day it is we who must save ourselves.