I write a lot about the American dream, and how we expend our time and energy in pursuit of it. The "dream," itself, isn't good or bad, it's just a dream. What makes it either good or bad, is what we give up to attain it. If we give up integrity in the pursuit, it's bad. If we give up what's good and decent in our being, it's very bad.
Sometimes, the price that's paid to realize the dream becomes bigger and more expensive than the dream itself.
In walks Scott Walker, governor of Wisconsin. Assuming the office on January 3, 2011 Walker has already made a splash with his party, and has grabbed a large portion of the national mega-media spotlight. Palin did it by becoming John McCain's running mate. Walker is doing it by becoming the first Republican governor to challenge his state's time-honored reverence for employee unions. Other Republican governors are expected to follow his lead.
A recipient of Koch brothers money during his run for the governorship, Scott Walker came to the position bought, if not bossed. Barack Obama is often described as a Manchurian candidate. We could say, with a measure of accuracy, that most elected officials, those who have taken vast sums of money from a cadre of donors knowing full well that pay-back is expected, or, once in office, taken large sums of money from lobbyists with similar goals, are effectively Manchurian candidates. The difference: these public officials knowingly do the wishes of their benefactors; a Manchurian candidate, unknowingly.
I put Governor Scott Walker in the "knowing" category.
Thank you, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, for waking a sleeping giant.
Thank you for the awesomely uplifted spirits of Wisconsinites from Superior to Kenosha and Eagle River to Platteville, who trekked to the state capital to defy your union-busting grab.
Thank you for the caravans from North Carolina and New Jersey and Utah who came to a small city in the Snowbelt to join the cause. They know this is not Wisconsin's fight alone. They know that in fifty states, we all are targets of a nasty national conspiracy to destroy unions and the middle-class society unions have built.
Thank you for those whose signs proclaim, "Former Republican."
Gov. Walker, when you concocted a fake budget crisis to have an excuse to rush a union-busting bill through the Legislature, you showed yourself to be as deaf as the Hosni Mubarak so many signs have compared you to.
I've never felt so rejuvenated as when marching with thousands on cold evenings in Wauwatosa and Menomonee Falls shouting, "This is what democracy looks like." It evoked my memories of long-ago marches for civil rights at home and peace in Vietnam. 
This much I know: Were it not for unions, the American dream which undergirds American exceptionalism, a term we hear thrown about now with the ease of a baseball, would not be something in which this country takes pride. Unions gave us 40-hour work weeks, weekends, pensions, and other concessions from Big Business, hard-won worker benefits too innumerable to recount.
I don't happen to believe, as some Republicans do, that unions are bad--bad for businesses, and bad for America. Without unions, compensation for a days' work would have been at the pleasure and munificence of employers. The rise of the middle class would have looked more like a molehill, than a rolling hill, and American exceptionalism and the American dream wouldn't have entered our national, political lexicon.
George Carlin, now deceased, says it best in the following video clip. "A high school dropout, Carlin enlisted in the army, [where he] got his high school equivalency....[O]n June 22, 2008, Carlin died of heart failure," most likely the result of a broken heart, given the deep disappointment he carried for his beloved country.
Although a comedian, Carlin had a Solomon's wisdom grasp of the American condition and an amazing insight into what makes our country tick, and what is needed to seize the American dream.
The audience laughed, clapped wildly, and cheered. It would have been better had they resolved to be M.A.D. as hell, but they weren't. Under the heading of TrUSt?, I warned that government shouldn't receive our unquestioning trust.
On another blog, I posted this observation on the current political scene unfolding before us:
Unfortunately, politics is a game. It’s a game that’s played for the players and not for the spectators, who can find their fortunes reversed and sacrificed so that the players can assure a win.
The difference between Repubs and Dems is that the Dems don’t play as ruthlessly as the opposing team: they usually follow the rules of the game, don’t foul as often, and believe that the spectators should have some stake in the outcome of the game. But make no mistake about it, Dems are as eager to play for the sake of the team, as Repubs, but Repubs are out to play for themselves and themselves only, and the spectators be damned, if they get in their way.
4 years ago