Sermon on the Mount Two Millennia Later

It was a much better setting for Barack Obama in mile high Denver than Jesus of Nazareth had in Galilee almost two millennia ago. Mountains versus hills, and a crowd probably 500-fold! And just as Christ is said by many to have given the central tenets of Christian discipleship on that momentous occasion, Obama gave an acceptance speech that defined not just the tenets of the Democratic Party but his vision of America; many of us, however, came away with the unchanging reality of the sad state of politics in America.

Barack Obama’s acceptance speech on August 28 as presidential candidate of his party has been described from inspirational to transformational plus other laudatory terms; certainly by those in his party and so-called independents as well. The speech had carefully crafted content, almost as comprehensive as that which Christ delivered at the Mount, and one would be on the mark saying the speech was eloquently delivered, with as much or more finesse than that usually exhibited by televangelist preachers throughout this God-blessed America, and probably with far more believable zeal.

This speech, timely delivered on the anniversary of Martin Luther King’s memorable “I have a dream” speech of 45 years ago, capped perfectly a four-day convention in which unity and change were the two themes. Party unity is widely believed to have been achieved after Hillary and Bill gave convincing, even humbling, speeches to assure America, Democrat America in particular, of their unqualified endorsement of Senator Obama. It could be argued that it really had a lot to do with the Clinton legacy which had been dangerously put at risk during the course of the last six months; or, perhaps this concession to the party was but a prepayment on future political knighting for daughter Chelsea; or, even a way to be able to have Hillary’s personal loan of over $10 million to her campaign retrieved somehow, all or even part. But unity was achieved.

Change as a theme proved to be not as coherent an issue, and much of the change espoused by Obama and his party, was (is) really Pyrrhic, perhaps no more than a few incrementally positive degrees from the type of government and society in which we live today. And that means same wars; same foreign policies; vassalage to Corporate America; and a totally irresponsible blindness to what is happening to America’s economy. On the latter, returning to the pre-Bush tax structure, as proposed, will not suffice, the gap between rich and poor has widened to an obscene extreme during the past quarter of a century… since Reagan’s presidency – and his voodoo economics – not to exclude the Clinton years when all those millions of jobs created, and for which his administration takes credit, were for the most part low-skill, minimum wage jobs.

Salve Barack Caesar! The Democratic Party has convened and found you to be worthy representative of the party to become CINC of the United States, and leader of the “free world;” for come next November it is another Commander-In-Chief that will be elected. And here we are, thinking that we’ll be casting our ballots for a president… not a Chief of Police empowered to protect the wealth and power of an elite; a person that will be expected to allow such elite to plunder and enslave at will, as in the recent past. That is in truth the power that Americans have at the ballot box: the selection of a CINC.

Granted that we have known all along that politics in this US is the closest thing to a cruel joke, with Tweedledee and Tweedledum (our duopoly of Demos and Republicans) mockingly tell us that people do rule, and that we are a democratic nation. Now, as if that ongoing cruelty weren’t enough, there are some Democratic politicians espousing an even greater bipartisanship. For the sake of national purpose, they claim. Are they favoring that we be governed by TweedleOne? Or is that too weirdly homo-incestuous since Dee and Dum are brothers? Well… maybe they turn out to be enantiomorphs!

Other than party unity the convention brought Democrats another success story: making history by selecting the first African-American candidate in American politics selected by a major political party. And that brings to light a major source of problems in American politics: this is a nation where its citizens have one critical priority; one concern; one issue… letting the rest take care of itself. Women, blacks, religious zealots, and other identifiable groups have for the most part one item agendas; and the rest becomes secondary or even irrelevant. War and social justice have had diminished interest; war being waged “elsewhere” and social justice not very fashionable in a consumer society.

Thusly, these primordial issues were not addressed at the convention, properly or at all:
1. Bringing to trial for international crimes and genocide, Bush, Cheney and all the other responsible officials in the administration (Kucinich’s effort just a gesture).
2. Open discussion on the true state of the economy and how, why it came to be.
3. A “no holds barred” discussion of American Foreign Policy going back as long as it need be to ascertain the reasons for our imperialistic policies with, (a) Latin American countries; (b) our rigid and incestuous relationship with Israel; (c) our coveting efforts for Middle East oil; (d) our asphyxiating treatment of Russia and unnecessary challenges to its legitimate zone of influence and interest; and, (e) our attitude, economically and militarily, towards other upcoming global powers.

Should we be surprised that the real issues, the real major problems facing the nation were never honestly addressed? Something, rest assured, that will also be the case with the Republican Party Convention scheduled for next week.

The Sermon on the Mount at Galilee addressed important issues for Christianity with the Beatitudes and the reinterpretation of Mosaic Law. The Sermon on the Mount in Denver’s stadium gave us great oratory with the usual political Platitudes and the same old interpretation of American Exceptionalism. Obama is unquestionably no Jesus!

If it is change you expect with an Obama presidency, it will come from an eyedropper. Whether Americans accept it or not as an irremediable truth, their politics are being ran by Corporate America and the Pentagon. The show staged in Denver was sponsored by them… and so will the one next week (GOP) in Minneapolis-St. Paul.

It’s unfortunate that a charismatic leader with a very likely sense of humanity and social justice needs to find accommodation in his soul – read, sell his soul to the devil – if he is to achieve top recognition in American politics. It only took Obama two years to do so. But that’s how it is with American politics. Love it or love it… that’s our choice!