Mr. Bush would be well-advised to listenSteve Hammer
On Thursday, George W. Bush will take the oath of office for another four years as president of the United States. The inauguration will be accompanied by a parade, military flyovers and all sorts of hoopla. You can call Kennedy a liberal, but what he was talking about is the American Dream revisited and revised to face the new fears and dangers.
For Republicans, it's a time to celebrate another four years of deception, unpopular wars and moral hypocrisy. For the rest of us, it's time to find some property out in the hills until things blow over.
A lot of liberals are alarmed at the prospect of another four years just like the last four. But not me. Personally, I enjoy social turmoil and I expect to enjoy the period between now and 2009, when John Kerry or Hillary Clinton takes the oath of office.
Everything is better during times of revolution. The art, the music, even the sex is said to be more exciting when a country is falling apart. I expect to read some great literature, hear some awesome music and enjoy all of the rest of the rewards that a crumbling society brings.
For liberals, it's a win-win situation. Because Bush has never kept a single promise he's ever made, we can discount the gay-bashing, the slander about his opponent's heroic war record and the untruths about health care.
We can look forward to a historic expansion of the welfare state, continued increases in government spending and absolutely no action on gay marriage, abortion or any of the social issues on which he campaigned last year.
Meanwhile, our true heroes will continue to fight the good fight against imperialism, racism and other social injustices. We can't lose.
Heroic voices are still being heard. Last week, Sen. Edward Kennedy, a man who stood with his brothers and with Dr. King when it counted most, gave a speech that went unreported by the conservative media.
But his words are worth examining at length.
"I categorically reject the deceptive and dangerous claim that the outcome last November was somehow a sweeping, or a modest, or even a miniature mandate for reactionary measures like privatizing Social Security, redistributing the tax burden in the wrong direction or packing the federal courts with reactionary judges. Those proposals were barely mentioned - or voted on - in an election dominated by memories of 9/11, fear of terrorism, the quagmire in Iraq and relentlessly negative attacks on our presidential candidate."
He correctly noted that a shift of fewer than 60,000 votes in Ohio would have swung the election the other way. He reminded us that now is not the time to abandon our principles. "The last thing this country needs is two Republican parties," he said.
He outlined a progressive blueprint for the future, based on equal opportunity, social justice and fairness.
You can call Kennedy a liberal, but what he was talking about is the American Dream revisited and revised to face the new fears and dangers.
He proposes that every child in America, upon reaching eighth grade, be offered a contract between them, their parents and Uncle Sam. "If you work hard, if you finish high school and are admitted to college, we will guarantee you the cost of earning a degree," he said.
He's introducing legislation to guarantee all American workers seven days of paid sick leave per year. "For too many Americans, an illness means a cruel choice between losing their job, or neglecting their sick child or sick spouse at home," he said.
He's introducing a bill to expand Medicare - a governmental program which has worked well for 40 years now - to cover every citizen.
He also discussed a topic near and dear to the hearts of conservatives: the teaching of values in schools. Kennedy agrees with them.
"Our founders made the values of justice, equality and civic responsibility the cornerstones of America's strength and its future," he said. "Teaching these fundamentals should be the mission of every school. It's not enough to deliver the knowledge and skills needed to compete in a global economy. Equally important are the values that create an informed and engaged society."
He talked about the real way to reduce the number of abortions: by providing education and reducing unwanted pregnancies before they occur.
He went on to discuss the war in Iraq, our need to repair international relations and many other goals which all Americans can share.
He concluded by noting the outpouring of support for the tsunami victims as proof of Americans' basic goodness. He quoted his brother's inaugural address, made some 44 years ago: "If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich."
The entire speech is linked on my Web site and at http://kennedy.senate.gov.
It was a counter-inauguration speech. When the president speaks on Thursday, expect him to outline a dream scenario in which the rich get richer and the poor stop complaining. It will be couched in the guise of compassion, but it's the same kind of compassion shown by the workers at slaughterhouses.
Remember that, in these dark times, we still have visionary leaders such as Sen. Kennedy and Sen. Kerry. And we have the greatness of the American people and our ancestors to guide us.
May God continue to bless the United States of America.