The American Creed reminds us that we all are created equal, and that our compassion for each other is the very basis for our democracy and our honor. In times of greatest crisis, we are called upon to assert our Creed, as we originally did during the American Revolution, or to reaffirm it, as we did during the Civil War.
Lincoln re-asserted our Creed with eloquence and persistence during the Civil War. He called us to the “better angels of our nature,” reminded us of the values upon which this country has been founded, and so led us through that time of great crisis.
The Mega-Rich have declared war against ordinary Americans:
Although current circumstances have not been labeled as such, we are in another Civil War. This time it is not the North against the South. This time it is the Mega-Rich against ordinary Americans.
It is the Mega-Rich who have declared and are waging this war. To do so they have bought politicians from both political parties, in order to change laws and regulations, so that they are free to do as they wish. And what they wish is to make as much money as possible and to increase their power in every way possible, even when that means sending ordinary Americans into poverty, destroying the environment, and gutting democracy. They will stop at nothing, and they take no responsibility for the terrible consequences of their greed.
Make no mistake about it: the Mega-Rich have been getting what they want, and the US government has been enabling them to do so. We are in another Civil War, only this time we have not had a Lincoln to stand up and remind us of our values.
The empty promises of Obama:
Many thought we might have such a man in Barack Obama. During his presidential campaign, Obama spoke eloquently of empathy for the disadvantaged, and the importance of restoring the rule of law where it had been broken during the Bush administration.
When he became President, we waited for Obama to remind the country of our Creed and to promote fair policy and laws based on that Creed. We waited for him to attempt to restore equity and balance to our financial and legal systems, to prosecute those who had violated our Constitution and core values, and to make good on his campaign promise to deliver “Change We Can Believe In.”
We waited. And waited. And as we waited, gradually our situation became clear: we can wait forever, and it never is going to happen. Obama is not going to re-assert the American Creed.
While we wait, Obama chooses Wall Street insiders for his financial advisors, men who reward their scheming and irresponsible brethren with billions of unearned and undeserved dollars. While we are waiting, Obama is breaking promise after campaign promise to return the country to respect for the Constitution. Instead, he systematically lends the full weight of his support to illegal wiretapping, indefinite detention, torture and a host of other draconian, Bush-era violations of our country's values and laws.
Instead of reminding of us our core American values, instead of having the courage to act on those values himself, Obama has seized this time of moral crisis -- and made things worse. Much worse. Now it is inescapably clear that Democrats as well as Republicans are firmly entrenched in policies that undermine democracy and line the pockets of the Mega-Rich and their corporations. On a moral level, Obama has been found to be utterly wanting. Instead of being Lincoln, he has been Bush.
From trance-state to moral outrage:
From a psychohistorical perspective, one of the most interesting aspects of Obama's presidency is to see just how many of his supporters still firmly maintain their trance-like belief in his good or progressive intentions, even as he duplicates many of Bush's most reprehensible policies.
The problem is not only with Obama. The problem also is with both political parties and the fact that they cater to and are controlled by the corporations and the billionaire oligarchs who own them.
The alternative to continuing to believe in Obama would be to understand that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats, except in very rare instances, represents the interests of the people. Awakening to the recognition that neither Obama nor Congress is going to "save” us from what the Bush administration hath wrought could cause many to lapse into hopelessness. Another option - far more productive and empowering -- would be for people to feel the anger of moral outrage, to speak out, and take to the streets. This, at long last, is what we see happening in Wisconsin, as those brave citizens repeatedly chant, "This is what democracy looks like!" It is they who are challenging and inspiring us to re-assert our American Creed.
We, the People are being called to lead:
If We, the People allow the war of the Mega-Rich to continue unabated, we too will have been found wanting. To passively wait for someone to save us - hoping for a political leader who speaks about and acts upon the values of our Creed -- is naïve and ineffectual. Now is the time for us to realize that it is not a President who will lead us in this time of Civil War. It is up to you, and me, our neighbors, and anyone else who chooses to remember the true meaning of the American Creed.
We, the People - you, and I - have the power to lead. We must lead our leaders, and show them the way. Each of us must find in our heart the power of compassion and empathy upon which this country was founded. The only hope for American democracy is for each of us to feel moral indignation and outrage when we see those values ignored. We must have the courage to express our caring and passion with the same deep conviction as did our Founders.
Eloquently, powerfully, the people of Wisconsin -- and many in the Middle East -- are showing us the way.
It is up to us to restore democracy:
When the wealthy and powerful go too far - as they always will if we allow them to - it is up to the People to restore the moral order, to restore democracy. It is up to us to remind our “leaders” - who are supposed to be “public servants,” not corporate lackeys - that “democracy” is People power. Not Mega-Rich power, but People power.
Democracy is your power to wield. It is power born of your inherent worth, born of your respect for the dignity of every person, and your insistence that the laws of this land reflect the magnificent Creed that has given us our common meaning and purpose for 235 years.
If you, and I, and our friends and neighbors do not stand up for our deepest human values, then the American Creed will be trampled and forgotten, while the Mega-Greedy endlessly gorge themselves until they completely consume our lives, our democracy and our very planet.