“I prefer peace. But if trouble must come, let it come in my time, so that my children can live in peace.”
— THOMAS PAINE
June 2022

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Wanted: Leadership

Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse.

Since the Uvalde shooting the country has gone into its predictable stance. Denunciation of evil, moments of silence, rationalization of God’s will. Each of these is a kind and human response, but sadly none is going to stop the next madman from shooting up a different school. And the Republican elected officials look uncomfortably past the grief and keep doing nothing to change anything.

On this, the Memorial Day weekend, think about this. Is a country which can have so much wealth but so much senseless violence what the soldiers buried in Flanders Field died to protect? Did the young men who landed and died on Omaha Beach do it so some mentally ill person could buy and use an assault rifle on innocent people? Hell, they hadn’t even heard of weapons so potent they could destroy a child’s head so his parents couldn’t identify his body. Would they have stepped up to Nazi murderers to preserve a democracy threatened from within by gun worshippers who have brought us to a place where there are more guns than people?

Of course not.

But the bought and paid for elected officials who accept things as they are quickly label the mass lament as “just political.” Well of course it is political. Any affliction of the body politic crying out for a solution is inherently political. And their studied retreat to old slogans and shibboleths is equally political.

So the solution must be political, period. This government will not do the trick, because this government is hopelessly indifferent, incompetent and corrupt. The Supreme Court is busy marching backward into the fantasy land of originalism. How do we get another government? By voting!

But when and for whom? This is the hard problem—where is JFK, Franklin or Teddy Roosevelt, Bobby Kennedy, Martin Luther King, or any politician capable of bringing people out of their stupor and to their feet? Maybe all the way to the streets? Unless we are hopelessly screwed, that person has already been born, but has not yet broken the surface. We would risk demagoguery embracing such a leader. But we face it now, in the person of Trump, or the Fox TV talking heads, or the Senate Republicans. A plague on all of them, anyone with integrity and a soul would be better.

We need a new political force, call it Four Freedoms, the name given to Franklin Roosevelt’s State of the Union speech in January 1941. Hitler had already conquered Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland and France, and was attacking England. FDR was stymied by isolationist politics at home, and it would take Pearl Harbor, nearly a year later, to bring the US into the war. But the handwriting was on the wall.

Against the bloviating of the MAGA right, consider what Roosevelt said:

“In the future days, which we seek to make secure, we look forward to a world founded upon four essential human freedoms.

  • “The first is freedom of speech and expression—everywhere
    in the world.

  • “The second is freedom of every person to worship God in his own way—everywhere in the world.

  • “The third is freedom from want—which, translated into world terms, means economic understandings which will secure to every nation a healthy peacetime life for its inhabitants-everywhere in the world.

  • “The fourth is freedom from fear—which, translated into world terms, means a world-wide reduction of armaments to such a point and in such a thorough fashion that no nation will be in a position to commit an act of physical aggression against any neighbor—anywhere in the world,

“That is no vision of a distant millennium. It is a definite basis for a kind of world attainable in our own time and generation. That kind of world is the very antithesis of the so-called new order of tyranny which the dictators seek to create with the crash of a bomb.

“To that new order we oppose the greater conception—the moral order. A good society is able to face schemes of world domination and foreign revolutions alike without fear.”

We need to vote the bastards out. Anyone from either party who votes against cloture on gun safety legislation must go.

And we need a politics that goes back to basics, that eschews politicians who pander to the worst in us and believe no one will notice their craven cowardice.

Four Freedoms!

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