Entering 2008 in complete economic and political denial

After the Iowa caucuses, surviving candidates, Republicans as well as Democrats, are all claiming to be for change. Am I being a cynic when, reflexively, I’ve concluded that probably not one of them is really advocating meaningful change?

Remember those prophets in the Old Testament who singularly, in blunt and conclusive language, spelled out the repercussions to come for the then existing ungodly behavior? Well, modern replicas of such wise men are unwelcome in today’s America and any and all criticism of our political and economic systems is deemed as heresy, an unforgivable schism; and these neo-prophets are immediately tagged as unpatriotic bastards at best.

Poor John Edwards! He has been accused by the press and parasite TV-punditry for delivering his Iowa speech, post-caucuses, in anger. That just isn’t tolerable in our milquetoast, self-professed moderate America, where politicians must always talk in hopeful, flattering ways of a resurgent God-blessed America just waiting to gloriously reemerge if only we could correct our navigation by one, maybe two degrees.

Just as Uncle Ronald Reagan suggested (pre- and during senility): the only way to talk to Americans is in a firm and convincing tone of unflagging optimism, reality be damned. Never should the American populace be allowed to receive messages of self-criticism that may contradict the nation’s infallible ways; messages should be of hope that can come about by a tiny correction in course. Politicians, unlike preachers or motivational speakers, are only allowed to show anger when referring to foreign enemies – real or imaginary – and not when the enemy is really found to be us.

By now, it should be obvious to any student of American society and its econo-political folklore that Americans don’t have a palate for any form of criticism, much less self-criticism, of our capitalist democracy, particularly if it’s sacrilegiously expressed… and with anger.

Once again, our paladin-politicians are all clamoring to be candidates for change; yet, not one of the “electable” candidates to the presidency has dared tell us how they will effect such change in the areas where change is needed; and, to date, the best they have been able to come up with are “slight corrections” in direction to the war in Iraq, an improvement in health care (instead of commitment to the right of universal healthcare) and other small changes that hardly represent the revolutionary changes needed for a nation almost 180 degrees off-course from the destination our citizens deserve; also those in the world who, rightly or wrongly, view the US with great suspicion and fear.

At least John Edwards dared to take head on an oppressive and predatory Corporate America, which in and of itself not only caused him an irreparable rift with Wall Street, but also indelibly wrote his obituary as a presidential candidate, leaving Democrats with a final match pitting Oprah’s protégé and the lady “experienced” in everything that is wrong in America, things many of us feel she will not likely confront, much less change.

If there is one issue, a fundamental principal issue that defines us as a people among all other peoples in the world, one that not one electable candidate has dared to touch, it’s America’s foreign policy and how we view and treat other peoples throughout the world; and the complete overhaul we need to make in this regard. An overhaul, not a tune-up! America’s long term viability, not just as a superpower but as a trustworthy nation, rests not on its nuclear stockpiles but in how the nation changes, how decent and good neighbors Americans become.

Not one electable candidate has dared to seriously commit his efforts, if elected president, to seek harmony and reconciliation in Palestine… and the rest of the Middle East and South Asia; not as an ally and guarantor for Israel, but as a true proponent and advocate of a just peace which long term will be the only thing that will guarantee the continuing existence of that state. Nor has a single electable candidate committed to reassure America of the fact that Muslims, secular or fundamentalist, are neither terrorists nor Islamofascists just because some misguided people tag them so, stating clearly that the first thing we must do is to put a stop to all anti-Islam trash talk. Our ideas about the world may be different, even clash, but that is no reason to stop seeking common ground in a world where civilizations will have to eventually find enlightenment and melt into one, unless humanity is bent on an early exit from this planet.

And that search for harmony should not be restricted to the Middle East but to Latin America as well, and those nations where our century-old meddling has unjustly aided oppressive governments and abusive elite classes. Have any of these candidates that invoke change expressed any goodwill towards those nations in South America that are trying to find a better path of social justice for their people, even if such path deviates politically from ours? Not one! And as for Cuba, and the billions of dollars in economic damages that the US has inflicted on its economy, its people, for half-century… there is no outcry by candidates for change, for reestablishing ties that will erase all ill-will. Nor has there been any call for foreign policy change to provide help for Africa; nor for our treatment of Russia; nor for the unyielding threats to the sovereignty of Iran.

But change in foreign policy is not the change that candidates are talking about; theirs is not so lofty and primordial change. Change for them is simply a palavering way of promoting their candidacies, getting votes… and little else.

Of course, by the time the two surviving Tweedledee-Tweedledum candidates reach their campaigns’ feverish pitch in late summer the recession will be in full bloom, in its third quarter, without end in sight. That will provoke a “forced change” to the campaign.

For now, as we enter 2008, most Americans remain in complete political and economic denial just as all declared presidential candidates promulgate change, but not the most important change: foreign policy change. For without that change, America will not engender a more humane, compassionate society, and a better life for its people – both material and spiritual – and that change will not occur until America divorces from that frightful hag: Pride, and takes on a youthful friendly bride: Humility. But that’s not about to happen… not for a while; certainly not this year.