As the speech by President Obama drew to a close last night, Bruce Springsteen’s “We Take Care of Our Own” boomed across the arena loudspeakers. The closing cadences of his speech were punctuated by stories of real people President Obama met along the way and how they give him hope for the future. Not the bumper sticker, posterised version of that word, but a real hope learned through struggle, commitment and a will to survive and grow in the face of great difficulty.
That’s this US election choice in a nutshell. Cynicism and corporate greed vs. hard work and, yes, hope. It is a choice between validating and enabling the cancer rotting away at the fibre of the USA, or saying to rich and powerful special interests… no. No more, you have enough and we’ve had enough of the lies and raw hatred you spew.
This next 60 days and 1,416 hour of cable news will define the USA and be the one time where the billions of dollars we feared last year flooding the airwaves to buy this election can be either summarily rejected as the controlling, influence peddling bribes, hate mongering propaganda and lies they are. Or the USA simply abandons its moral leadership role forever and resorts to allowing politicians, the military and corporations to bully its citizens and the rest of the world into submission.
There is zero hope in that.
Too many of us remember growing up in a culture where lying was unacceptable. Too many of us grew up in a time where opposition meant honest debate, strong disagreement but also compromise and building something to move us forward together. Too many of us remember a time where lifting your friend and neighbour up when life handed him or her a rough patch, was both charitable and good vs an opportunity to kick more sand in their face whilst suffering.
I’ve spent a decade and a half in ‘socialist’ Europe where the words of this editorial’s title are simply a given. When I arrived to live in a rural Dutch farming community in 1998, I saw how people banded together in times of crisis and prosperity. Whether helping my brother-in-law build his barn one brick at a time on weekends, transport slate roof tiles on the back of an old tractor’s rickety trailer or celebrating the birth of my niece by constructing a 25 foot high cartoon stork outside their farm announcing to the world the arrival of baby Ilse, everyone there shares together in the work, sacrifice, pain and joy.
The social safety net and NHS here in the UK are ridiculed and lambasted by the US right as socialist when we know the real meaning of ‘taking care of our own’ involves neither corporations nor profit.
These values are being lost in the USA. Lost in our gadgets and smart phones we can no longer cross a road without risk of being hit by a car, let alone see our neighbour suffering. We’ve been lulled into a cocoon of high fructose sugar and ‘Angry Birds’ where we yell at each other online with righteous indignation whilst politicians steal our government and fulfil their own crass interests and enrich themselves at everyone’s expense.
While in another, a Democratic President was impeached, terrorists crashed airplanes into the World Trade Center and America became a dark, distrusting and angry land. Here in the UK, terrorists bombed the public transport system in 2005. The reaction by both nations was defining. In the UK, we kept calm and carried on. In the USA, they did away with many freedoms and became an armed camp. The polarisation and division we will from $2 billion dollars of telly adverts over the next 60 days will seek to validate cynicism, division and hate via pure, raw, evil hatred.
The subtext and undercurrent of the President’s speech was remembering from where we came. This election has to be about taking our government back from the special interests threatening it from within by creating diversions, divisions and apathy amongst us all.
No more. Do not let corrupt government officials deny the single most important democratic right every person in the US has, their vote. Do not buy into the cynicism and hate of opponents as enemy. Election 2012 will be the most important vote cast anywhere.
Send a message that corporations are not people, my friend, and if the entire UK can elect a 650 seat Parliament in 90 days spending £31 million pounds (about $50 million dollars) even multiplying it by 6 to get to the US population size means $300 million vs. the nearly $7 billion dollars the US will spend.
You can believe in a place and sentiment called hope. You also have to get out there and fight for it with your vote.
President Obama made that very clear in this speech.
Denis G Campbell is the author of 6 books including 'Billionaire Boys Election Freak Show,' 'The Vagina Wars' & 'Egypt Unsh@ckled.' He is the editor of UK Progressive Magazine and provides commentary to the BBC, itv Al Jazeera English, CNN, MSNBC and others. His weekly 'World View with Denis Campbell' segment can be heard every Thursday on the globally syndicated The David Pakman Show. You can follow him on Twitter via @UKProgressive and on Facebook.
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