Curtain Raiser

We Don’t Care for an October Surprise, Colltalers

The worst possible news about September hit us at its very last days: the 2000th American just got killed in Afghanistan, along with the likely three times as many Afghans. Whereas you know that for sure, it’s not very clear for what.
All that war has accomplished so far, besides the massive loss of life and astronomical cost, is to increase both the hatred towards the U.S. around the world, and the power of this country’s military defense complex.
With already a budget that’s many times that of all Western nations combined, and determined to get even higher, our armed forces are arguably doing more harm to our standard in the world, than good preventing it from retaliate back at us.
In the process, it has also engorged the domestic underground power of shadowy security agencies, now fully engaging, and capable of, monitoring the lives of every citizen within our borders. Its excessive power in doing so remains unchecked.
These twin fists, ready to respond to aggression or dissent in equal measures, so far have failed to defend Americans aboard, or prevent illegal guns to flood our streets. What, one has to wonder, are they actually doing with their time and money?
In the meantime, we enter the final leg of President Obama’s reelection campaign, and neither his speeches, nor the debates he’s about to have with the still powerfully-funded Republican candidate, are likely to touch either of these issues.
Instead of a safer world, what we’ve been getting back from Afghanistan are planes full of body bags and damaged men and women, bound to live the rest of their lives battling inner wars with prescription drugs and isolation. Mostly, the latter, actually.
To his credit, the president who inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, has being mostly undermined by the opposition’s mandate, expressed on day one: to sabotage every one of his initiatives in Congress, and turn him into a one-term president.
The fact that the GOP now finds itself at loss to throw anything else at him, since it has in the past four years, is no small measure of President Obama’s strength of character. In fact, if anything, what he may have going for his reelection may come mostly from his ethics and sense of duty.
At the same time, he’s indeed failed to reign in those who ran the economy to the ground in the first place. To this date, the Wall Street high rollers, who amassed an obscene personal wealth on the back of millions of Americans, remain unaccounted for and not even near to face their day in court, or time in jail.
He hasn’t closed yet the infamous Guantanamo jail, nor has endorsed the rule of law, when it comes to those accused of acts of aggression against this country. And, honestly, made a mess of letting whistleblowers and dissenters be submitted to the same illegal military detention tactics used against certified terrorists.
Nevertheless, he’s still the only rational choice to lead the country at this time. And if grassroots movements such as the Occupy Wall Street, along with immigrant rights organizations, and the still relevant labor unions gather enough popular support as they need, the president’s second term may just be able to accomplish what most people want.
It is true that we’ve grown jaded about this proverbial ‘popular support.’ In the U.S., circa 2012, it’s more likely to get people on the streets fighting for a certain chicken sandwich, or a bigger cup of soda, than to help underpaid teachers and firefighters remain capable of doing their job.
We talked about casualties in the war, but we hardly consider part of this nation’s political equation the role that should be assigned to Veterans, since they’re now so many, and are so impoverished, and have given so much to us.
This highly insulated less than 1% of the general population, has paid a heavy price for their patriotism, but somehow their contribution remains locked within a set of shallow parameters: bravery, discipline, weaponry, line of duty. Never political activism or fight for better health care for the broken and the wounded.
A month from the election, few are expecting an October surprise, of the kind that has hardly happened in a generation. And even fewer would like to see one, that would, most likely, bring up even grimier news.
But it’d be irresponsible for Democrats and the middle class of this country to consider the reelection a given. There’s still an unbelievable high number of fund raisers to be held by both parties, and no one can be sure about what’s being done behind the scenes to prevent large segments of the population from voting for the president.
In this month, fifty years ago, the Beatles released ‘Love me Do,’ a bare-to-the-bones youth plea for unrestricted love, that in its marvel of reductionism and single-mind message, was capable to mark a whole cultural revolution, while the world was still in the throes of the Cold War.
In some ways, it feels as if it all happened much longer ago, for we’re not about to re-enact the 1960’s idealistic claim of love as a social redemptive force anytime soon. We’re way too twisted for that now.
But on the other hand, it also seems like yesterday when we still held our hopes high for what a young president could do for the country, as long as we too were interested in doing for it more than what it possibly could do for us.
Dreams do get assassinated, we know now. But we still don’t seem prepared to commit them to the ground just yet. Something to do with the makeup of this current living crop of humans, perhaps. Whatever it is, it must be part of what made you get up this morning.
If all we need is a new start, then a new month is as good as what we’ll get for now. Picture yourself in a boat on a river, or sober yourself up till it hurts. There must be a way for doing both and remain alive. Carry on to the best of your ability and good luck. WC



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